We’re not gonna lie to you, what you’re about to see might terrify your brain space or arouse your nether regions. Whereas bands of other stripes have all but given up on selling good olde gosh durn sparkling platters of aural sex, aka the “record album”, Jonny Polonsky says, “Nay! I will sell my ear hole stimulation devices one unit at a time, the way real people are used to buying real Made in the USA type products — via a dazzling infomercial on late night TV.” (editor’s note: not an actual quote).
WARNING. The video you’re about to see is NSFW (not save for wussies). While it remains part of this balanced breakfast, it isn’t a good source of soluble fiber. Excessive use might lead to heart palpitations, rug burn, reverse vertigo, music genre dysphoria, acid rock reflux, nerd association or guy hives…
WHO is Jonny Polonsky, you ask? Who ISN’T Jonny Polonsky, we say! As a scrappy youth in Chicago, he recorded demos and handed out cassettes, one landing in the hands of Reeves Gabrels (Tin Machine) who handed it to Frank Black (Frank Black) who produced a stirring demo that got young Jonny singed to American Recordings, a label owned by Rick Rubin (star of the film Krush Groove). Jonny went on tour with Lollapalooza and recorded and/or toured with the likes of a regional prison entertainer, Johnny Cash, a Super Diamond tribute act named Neil Diamond, and perennial Fox News terrorism watchlist darlings, the Dixie Chicks.
For his latest album, Fresh Flesh, Jonny recruited the likes of Mark Lanegan (Mad Season) and Kevin Haskins (Tones on Tail). Popdose just had to know more, so we wrote up some questions and mailed them to the PO Box in Golden Colorado and waited 6-8 weeks for Jonny’s reply.
POPDOSE: How did recording in Malibu influence your record versus where you’ve recorded previously?
JONNY POLONSKY: The aptly named Shangri La Studios is located right in the heart of beautiful downtown Malibu. Boasting a grand sweeping view of the Pacific Ocean, charms of hummingbirds flitting about the palatial grounds, and a grapefruit tree planted by Eminem himself, recording at Shangri La is an experience not soon to be forgotten. An absolute delight for all six senses, from load in to emotional breakdown. Plus it was free (I work there). A world class studio in beautiful surroundings with a relaxed atmosphere, working with friends. Easy peasy.
Is this a record to have sex to, drive cross-country to, tear down the political establishment to? What’s the call to action when people rock out to Fresh Flesh?
Our motto is Make Love AND War. Righteous, non-violent warfare against systemic oppression and spiritual genocide. We trip with the people and for the people, because we are of the people.
If the Infomercial is successful, what other venues are you considering to hawk your album? QVC? Airport kiosk? Learning Annex seminar?
We are currently in talks with Elon Musk, Jim Bakker, Anthony Robbins, and the estate of Jack Kevorkian, about producing a Fresh Flesh Subcutaneous Holographic Implant© and introducing it into their respective business models and/or curricula. We are dedicated to delivering a quality experience that, while certain elements may appear as disparate and orthogonal to the original scalar product, it still maintains a structural integrity in its statistical independence, resulting in a pure linear transformation. No listener left behind!
Did you own any K-tel or Ronco records as a kid?
I’ve always loved compilation records and greatest hits. I can’t remember if I owned any from those specific labels. But I realize in retrospect that comps, TV show themes and commercial jingles had a huge impact on my songwriting. It’s no easy feat to fit a complete musical thought in a minute or less. And greatest hit comps are, of course, comprised only of peak moments. I think it inspired me to be as direct as possible, and to keep the vibe up. If something is not screaming to be there (a chorus, a lyric, a song on the record, etc.), leave it out. Some favs: Green Acres, Good Times, The Jeffersons, The Odd Couple, M.A.S.H., Cheers, Three’s Company, Sanford and Son. Classic songs.
You’ve jammed with some legends on stage and in the studio — which one(s) caused your biggest Chris Farley Show moment of totally geeking out?
So many great memories… performing ‘Mountain Song’ with Perry Farrell outside on the lawn at the Playboy Mansion, tricking Neil Diamond into asking me if I was playing the melody to ‘Springtime for Hitler’ (I wanted to hear him say the word “Hitler”)… a sweet moment I’ll always cherish is playing bass at the Fonda Theatre on ‘Back in the USA’ with Lemmy singing. As he ambled off the stage, he looked in my eyes and gently placed his hand on the side of my face. Lovely.
Are you an honorary 4th Dixie Chick?
I saw you play guitar in Hedwig & The Angry Inch, what was it like to go Broadway — since technically, it was in Chicago at Belmont and Broadway from what I recall — ?
That was an absolute blast. Actually I should say it was an Absolut© blast, considering all the drinking we did next door after the shows. I love those songs, and it was so much fun getting dressed up and made up every night. The band was on fire too, after months of playing every night. Great experience.
You have a slew of big name guest stars on this album — if you could form an official supergroup for an album and tour, what would be the dream lineup?
Alex Van Halen on drums, Bootsy on bass, Benmont Tench on B3 and piano, Oneohtrix Point Never on synth, Steve Vai on guitar, Fred Schneider on Fred Schneider. That’s a good start.