What’s next for you, Jon?
Well right now I’m getting ready to go on tour – Belgium/Holland, then Australia. The tricky bit is that halfway through the Holland tour, I am supposed to be on Portuguese national TV, so we have to fly from Amsterdam to Lisbon and then back the next day. Crazy.
Who were your main musical influences growing up?
I have SO many influences, far too many to list, but I always like to mention two of my biggest influences who are geniuses but also happen to still be hard-gigging independent musicians playing small venues. One is Preston Reed, an American guitarist now living in Scotland, and a true pioneer of crazy modern acoustic guitar techniques. The other is Nick Harper, troubadour, guitar and vocal virtuoso and one of the great live performers.
Which song do you wish you had written?
I don’t really think like that. Songs come from a very personal place for me. I don’t see how I could have written any song I didn’t write! I don’t believe really in the “craft” of songwriting. I don’t want to write the perfect chorus, I want to express myself.
When did you first start playing guitar?
I started taking lessons when I was four years old, but in fact I already knew a couple of chords! I had Beatles chord books in Spanish that a relative bought me when he was on holiday. I figured out a song or two!
What are you listening to at the moment?
The Slits. (Punk band from 1979, a bit new-wavey, you’ll like it if you like Talking Heads). My friend Vince was aghast the other night that I had never heard of them. He said he would no longer be friends with me if I didn’t like them. Although he was pretty drunk – we’d been to see bluegrass singer-songwriter Austin Lucas play at The Brudenell in Leeds, and Vince got him to autograph his chest.
What’s the best thing about going on tour? Do you enjoy it?
I love touring. The best bit is trying to figure out the town, the venue, the atmosphere before the gig, then during the gig trying to communicate to the audience what the songs are trying to say, what sentiments they are trying to express. Every country, town, venue and audience is different. I love playing, it is cathartic, but also at great gigs you don’t only get stuff out, you get stuff in as well.
Who are your favourite guitarists? Are you self taught or did you have lessons?
I have so many. Michael Hedges, Bukka White, BB King, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Vai, Bob Brozman, David Fiuczynski, Stanley Jordan, Thomas Leeb, Andy McKee, Pino Forastiere, Amrit Sond, Sergio Altamura, Erik Mongrain, lots and lots more.
Do you have any tips for wannabe guitarists?
OK, this is brutal but important. By picking up a guitar, you have already done the most boring and cliche thing you could ever have done in all of music. So be original. Be yourself. Don’t search for the perfect sound, because that’s outside you not inside. Pour music inside you, learn, listen and understand. Then swish it all around, and find the sound inside you. If it takes days, weeks or months you haven’t done it right. Good luck.
Describe yourself in three words?