At the beginning of September Jamsphere positively reviewed Jacko Poli’s debut album, ‘The Chords for No Noise’, which Grant Henderson began producing in the Spring of 2011, with the talented multi-instrumentalist, Luke Hirst. Recently, the talented songwriter and project leader, Jacko Poli cleared his chest with some of his personal thoughts on his music and the business in general, in an exclusive interview with Rick Jamm.
‘The Chords for No Noise’ – Ten tracks that rumble, rock and whisper; from the raunchy album opener, “Let’s Get Lost,” to the single release,“Just For You” and right up until the closing track, “Dance,” Jacko Poli will transport you across a world of emotions and sounds, filled with numerous highlights. – Rick Jamm.
1. How long have you been doing what you’re doing and how did you get started in the first place?
JACKO POLI: Jacko Poli isn’t a solo artist, or singer/songwriter, a band, or even a musical collective. I am Jacko Poli, but I’m not the band Jacko Poli. I’m a songwriter who works with musicians and producers but importantly ‘Jacko Poli’ isn’t my vision alone – anyone Jacko works with does so as a collaborator, not as a gun for hire. The closest point of reference would be Kevin Rowland. He is Dexys, but it’s always about much more than just him. As someone who has been in Indie Rock bands over the last few years, I really wanted to do something that wasn’t all about shredding guitars and shouting lyrics – sometimes it’s okay to take your foot off the pedal. Jacko Poli launched in Summer 2012 with the release of the album ‘The Chords for No Noise’.
2. Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
JACKO POLI: Queen’s output of the mid/late 70s – I still love the breadth and scope of their songs and love the way their albums ebb and flow, fall and rise. From there, I discovered The Beatles and moved onto a lot of early 80s bands, like Talking Heads, Joy Division and Dexys Midnight Runners. I often think my musical influences are disappointingly obvious and obviously mainstream, but I can’t create a layer of cool for the sake of it.
3. Who do you consider the most influential and successful artist in your genre today and why?
JACKO POLI: He’s not the most successful, but Kevin Rowland is a legend and the man currently inspiring Jacko the most. The recent album and comeback tour were a triumph.
4. Describe the first piece of musical equipment that you actually purchased with your own money.
JACKO POLI: A really cheap acoustic Spanish guitar, which cost £35. It was awful, and lasted a month before I got something better.
5. Tell us something about your current instrument set-up? What brands are you using right now?
JACKO POLI: Jacko’s voice is the only sound Jacko produces. I do have a nice Norman acoustic though, which I write most of my music on.
6. Live gigging or studio work, which do you prefer and why?
JACKO POLI: There’s nothing like gigging for the big rush, the buzz of playing in front of an audience. However, much of the creativity behind what Jacko produces happens in quiet rooms and in the production studio.
7. What are your personal thoughts on TV talent shows like The X-Factor, The Voice or Britain’s Got Talent etc.?
JACKO POLI: People treated as trash, set up for TV ratings and to sell newspapers; karaoke filth for people looking for a get-famous-fucking-quick-fix. Cynical stuff.
8. Which of the Jacko Poli songs do you consider your personal favorite, from a sentimental point of view, and on which one do you think you delivered your best all round performance so far?
JACKO POLI: There’s a song called Undone on the album and it contains the line ‘I am untied, like a knot too tight to turn.’ That’s my favourite lyric. Haven’t written a better one yet, though I’m trying.
9. Which ingredient do you think is most essential in making Jacko Poli music, sound the way it does?
JACKO POLI: The lyrics are key, everything always starts with the lyrics.
10. If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you day after day to stay in this tough business. Is it joy, anger, desire, passion, hysteria or pride and why?
JACKO POLI: Jacko is continuously writing songs. The desire to write is what fuels (and justifies) the rest.
11. What aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and what aspect discourages you most?
JACKO POLI: Writing a new song is a buzz. Hanging about after a sound check for hours before you go on can drag. But even then, there are much worse places in the world you can be.
12. Explain your songwriting process. What comes first, the lyrics or the music and which instrument do you usually compose with?
JACKO POLI: Lyrics first. I get a line, or a phrase in my head and it usually all comes out in the space of half an hour. I usually write on an acoustic guitar (as previously mentioned) but sometimes write using a bass. I can’t play bass that well, but it helps me write music with a different rhythm and feel.
13. Tell us more about the technicalities of your recording, producing and mastering processes. How involved are and what parts are handled by others?
JACKO POLI: The album was written by Jacko Poli, conceived jointly by Jacko and Producer Grant Henderson and then realised with the help of musicians Luke Hirst and Sarah Smout. Jacko sings lead and leads the the direction of the music, but leaves the playing to musicians of greater skill. It was mastered by Carl Saff in Chicago.
14. The best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t, but now know you should have?
JACKO POLI: Kinks legend Ray Davies once said to me ‘You should join a band’. I looked him in the eye and said I would, but it took me about 8 years to action his advice. Obviously, Uncle Ray knew best…
15. This time in your career, as independent artists, which is the one factor you desire most (increased music distribution, better quality production, more media exposure etc…)?
JACKO POLI:I want people to hear the music, so it’s all about getting it out to a wider audience. Worldwide distribution is an interesting concept. Just being on iTunes doesn’t mean you have good distribution.
16. Which is your favorite distribution platform ( Tunecore, Audiolife, CD Baby, Bandcamp, Your own Website, etc…) and why?
JACKO POLI: Bandcamp is a great little site!
17. How do you handle criticism and who has been your worst critic up until now, if any?
JACKO POLI: Musically, I don’t except criticism at all. Why should I expend any energy dealing with other people’s negativity? Don’t like it? Fine. La la la – I’m not fucking listening!
18. Is going platinum or winning a Grammy important you? Where would you like to see your career within 5 years?
JACKO POLI: Jacko doesn’t desire fame or fortune – any money I might make goes straight back into making more music. As long as the music is going somewhere and ticking the boxes, that’s all that matters.
19. What do you think is the biggest barrier you have to face and overcome as an indie artist, in your quest to achieve your goals?
JACKO POLI: Time and money. If Jacko could have more of both, he’d be mighty grateful!
20. If you were not a music artist, what would you be doing today?
JACKO POLI: I don’t really know how to answer the question without making something up!