Howard Jones is a synth-pop legend who’s been making catchy awesome music for over 30 years. We’re big fans (from our 80s days, and our now-days!)…so you can imagine our pre-zoom-interview energy last week! Please enjoy 12 questions with Howard Jones, Unlocking Connecticut style.
Who’s in? Howard Jones will be performing nearby next week. Wall Street Theater (Norwalk) Tuesday, Feb. 15th (we can’t wait!) & Daryl’s House (Pawling) Thursday, Feb. 17th.
Howard Jones Accoustic Trio Tour
Howard Jones Acoustic Trio will showcase an intimate stripped-down trip through Howard’s colorful 30-year music career. The acoustic trio will feature Howard Jones on electric piano, guitarist Robin Boult (Roger Daltrey, Dave Stewart, Fish), and Nick Beggs (Kajagoogoo, Belinda Carlisle, John Paul Jones) on Chapman stick. (Info from Howard’s website!)
12 Questions with Howard Jones
The last time we interviewed you in 2018, you were redoing your bathroom and you said you didn’t want it to look like a hotel bathroom because you travel so much. So, how did it come out?
It turned out very much not like a hotel bathroom and we’re really pleased with it. [laughs] Thanks for asking!
Did you tackle any other big projects during the pandemic?
I’ve done a lot of new songs. Three albums, actually, have come out of it. I found it very difficult to get on and do it because motivating myself was really hard. You know, it’s doom and gloom all around and getting in the studio…
I’ve got an electronic album coming out in the summer – the one we’re putting out with this tour, the acoustic trio. And then a piano-based album, which I’m waiting to have vinyl pressed, and that’s piano compositions that I worked on during that time.
Your 2022 acoustic tour will be bringing you around the states, across the UK, and all over Europe. Is there any one place/venue that you’re particularly excited about playing or one you haven’t been to before?
I love to perform, especially because we haven’t been able to do it for so long, over 2 years. We were in the middle of this tour when the pandemic hit and we suddenly had to pack our bags and get home. It’s become more like every gig is special now because we were robbed of it, and this is what I do. This is my life, performing for people.
There is one venue in London though that I particularly like, and that’s the Union Chapel where we recorded this live trio album. And it’s got the most beautiful acoustics. Honestly, it doesn’t really suit rock music and the loud stuff. But acoustically, you get this lovely warmth that comes back from the room. So I love playing there, and it records really well.
You’ll be touring with Robin Boult and Nick Beggs. How did this trio come about?
Nick was originally in my touring band in the late 80s, and then we went more electronic, and so Nick wasn’t involved. And then recently, I’ve just been desperate to get him back playing with us again. We’re such good friends. It’s so important that when you’re on the road you have a really great time with people and the people know you, and know where you came from. People I can talk to without fear, you know? Nick and Robin are two of my best friends in the world and they are absolutely exceptional musicians. It’s a joy to play with them and I really mean that.
We love the song “Hero in Your Eyes” on your latest album Transform. We want to know who’s your hero?
Well, you know I practice Buddhism, and the president of our Buddhist organization is a Japanese man called Mr. Daisaku Ikeda and he is my ultimate hero. I’m very inspired by what he writes, so I would say him.
Do you have a no-fail, get-it-done motivational song – like when you’re vacuuming and such?
I mean, “Things Can Only Get Better” is the one, really! I mean, it motivates me too. It reminds me when things aren’t going your way, you can always turn it around into something great and you can make things better if you have a hopeful attitude. That’s my go-to song of mine.
What are you watching/listening to right now?
Musically, one of my friends is BT, who is an amazing electronic artist. I’ve been listening to his latest album called Metaversal. It’s just exceptional. He’s a visionary.
And then I’m into the 3rd season of Ozark. It’s just so brilliant. And David Byrne’s American Utopia which was filmed on Broadway and it’s just an amazing visionary performance and I’ve watched that several times. I love that.
Did you pick up any new hobbies/skills during the past couple of COVID years?
Well, actually I’ve been cooking every other day. My cooking skills have gotten much better! I used to love to cook but there was always too much to do. I’ve become much better at cooking vegetarian foods and I’ve enjoyed that. Jan says that I spend too much time doing it. It usually takes me a couple of hours to do a meal. “When are you going to feed me?” (laughs) I have the same approach to it as I do my music; I get obsessed.
The Howard Jones Cookbook coming soon (not really, but think about it, Howard)!
Finish this sentence: What the world needs now is…
I’ve just been listening to Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s In Need Of Love Today” and I think that’s what we need today. We need people to really start caring about each other and watching out for each other. And respecting the differences and different opinions. And putting oneself in one’s shoes.
We love your Spotify playlist of your all-time 100 tunes. We love it! Was it hard to come up with 100 or could you have listed 200 if you were asked to?
That’s a really good question! I could have done 200; however, it took me so long to do 100. It literally took weeks to choose those songs because I wanted them to represent everything about the things I love in music. And they’re very diverse. Which ones to choose? It was very emotional, actually. I’d be listening to something and it would really trigger memories and I’ve realized again how powerful music is. It just gets right into the core of your being and brings back so many feelings. It’s an incredible medium to be working in.
Lora: Bev was just telling me the other day that one of your songs does that to her!
Bev: Yes, the beginning notes of “No One Is To Blame” makes my heart do this… *fluttery heart motion*
I’m so pleased to hear. Because that makes it worthwhile for me to do it.
In your 30+ year career – what are you most proud of?
Playing Live Aid was very significant for me because it was such a brilliant event and to be part of that with the superstars of that era.
And I did the Grammy’s with Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, and Thomas Dolby [Synthesizer Jam at the 1985 Grammy Awards]. I’ve realized how significant that was. It was obviously multiracial, for a start. It was 2 legendary people – Herbie and Stevie, and then the new boys on the block, me and Tom. And it said to people, look, electronic music is ok. These guys think it’s ok. Stop worrying that it’s not “real music.” It was a turning point for what me and Tom were trying to do – bring electronic music into the mainstream.
What are you most passionate about besides your music?
I’ve been practicing Buddhism for 26 years now. That is my main passion. I think that how we all live our lives is so important and how we treat each other. Someone can be the most successful person in the world in whatever they do but if they don’t treat people around them in a respectful way, to me, it’s meaningless. Buddhism helps me stay in a good frame of mind so when things go the wrong way, you don’t suddenly turn into a monster. No matter how bad it is, to always have a high, hopeful attitude. That’s really what I’m working on myself. That’s my passion.
You’ve been married to Jan for over 45 years. What are your secrets to a long and happy marriage?
What a great question! I met my wife Jan when she was 11. Obviously, we didn’t get together then (laughs). She was the sister of one of my best friends. Then when she was 14, I taught her how to play the piano. And then it was much later on our lives just intertwined, really. It’s almost like I feel that we’ve known each other from a past life. I can’t prove that, of course…
It’s being honest, it’s being respectful. It’s a commitment you make to a person. And I’m very happy to do that. I understand there’s many ways one can live one’s life and that it’s not the only way, to be with one person the whole time, and that’s completely fine with me. But with Jan and me, it’s this connection. We really understand and support each other. But we’re strong on our own. That’s really interesting. If you took one of us out of the equation, I know she would be fine without me, and I think she knows that I would be too. So we’re not like dependent. You know what I mean?
You want to be together, you don’t NEED to be together.
Thank you so much, Howard!
I’ve really enjoyed your questions! Thanks so much, I really enjoyed it. All the best to you. Bye!