We sit down with Jack Johnson and discuss his new album, From Here, To Now, To You, theater touring and surfing Waikiki.
How is From Here, To Now, To You (in stores Sept. 17) different from your other albums?
There’s a lot of guitar on this record, it’s open-tuning, kind of a slack-key tuning I just stumbled on because one of my kids knocked my guitar over and broke one of the tuning pegs off the guitar. I ended up tuning it down to b-flat so I couldn’t change that string … so I just changed the whole guitar around a bit.
I didn’t know what it was, I kind of played around with it for a while … then Kawika Kahiapo told me that Cyril Pahinui plays in that key sometimes. Maybe half the songs are in this open-tuning, the b-flat.
Where were you drawing your influences from for this album?
A lot of the songs are (about) just seeing the world through my kids’ eyes, being a dad—it’s such a fun time to have three kids under the age of 10—such different experiences. Other songs are love songs for my wife.
What’s your favorite song on the album?
There’s one called “Never Fade,” I like it a lot. It’s the fourth track on the album and … that one just came out about exactly how I wanted it to be. It’s a song about the first time I met my wife when we were 18 years old. Because I write a lot of love songs. (chuckles)
“You Remind Me of You” is such a beautiful song about your children. What was it like to write this song?
That’s a song that’s been around for a while, that’s almost been on a lot of records. When I just had one [his oldest son], I wrote this part: you remind me of you. It was always this little thing that was around. I never finished it.
Then the next kid came out … then the ‘you remind me of you’ made even more sense. Then I got my little girl finally, and she was completely different.
Your tour for this album takes you to theaters across the U.S. Was that influenced by your theater tour of Hawai’i last year?
We did that little tour in Hawai’i, and it was really nice.
I’m excited to get back in the theaters, because some of our most memorable shows over the years have been in theaters. It’s really nice because everybody has a good seat in the house. There’s just something about the theater … you can tell more stories and have more like a conversation with the audience—there’s no separation between you and the audience.
Any special Waikiki memories?
I love surfing in Waikiki. When I think back, the difference for me, growing up on the North Shore, we’re always trying to find spots that are not so crowded. When I went to Waikiki, it was always about the excitement of being in a social situation or being surrounded by people. So, it was always fun to go surfing with all our friends from town, and then to be able to come in [from the water] and have that ‘city’ life—especially when you’re a teenager.
My friend Kalani Robb used to have a boat on the Ala Wai, so we’d go into town, and surf all day, and then crash on the boat. So, that’s a fond memory for me.