Jonny Lives! lush & dirty, glossy & gritty Lower East Side sound blares with an urgency that'll push you out of the way if you don't move with it.
“The East Village of NYC is our muse. People are up to no good every night; there's a copious amount of debauchery going on, and it's all inspiration for our music.”
That's Jonny Dubowsky, namesake and leader of Jonny Lives!. Hailing from the same scene that championed The Strokes, the Mooney Suzuki, Fountains of Wayne, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Jonny Lives! takes cues from the Brit-pop, rhythm ‘n blues, and LES punk scenes of the 60's and 70's and updates it with unbridled, anthemic rock..
Road-testing in the UK proved that Jonny Lives! is on to something. NME Magazine raved: “Jonny Dubowsky quakes like a hairless hellcat,” and “Jonny Lives! are so pant-droppingly brilliant that this reviewer has just been ordered to sex them down so you don't eat the magazine from sheer lust and excitement. So yes, ahem, Jonny Lives! Quite good. Ones to watch.”
NME also wrote “indeed Jonny does live.....but we had no idea he was in a shit-cool NY rock and roll band…On ‘Get Steady,' Jonny Dubowsky manages to sound exactly like 'Raw Power' era Iggy.”
There is no higher praise than that, folks Dubowsky, who graduated with top-honors from NYU as a philosophy and literature student, has been “inspired by great writers: Walt Whitman, Marcel Proust…I read a lot,” he chuckles. Christian Langdon (guitar/vocals), Tommy USA (bass), Jon Weber (drums) bring the noise with a delivery that articulates what's possible when a group of individually talented artists with obvious respect and affection for each other put it all together. Yes, Christian is “a Langdon” – the younger brother of a certified rock family, Tommy USA laid down the groove in White Light Motorcade and on Liz Phair's White Chocolate Space Egg, and Jon Weber played drums in John Cameron Mitchell's debut cast of Hedwig and The Angry Inch.
“We're enchanted with The Kinks, the Stones, and The Who,” says Jonny, who writes “little vignettes…I paint a situation out of thin air, play around with the characters, and tell whatever story I want to tell.”
”'Get Steady' came from a crazy 48 hours in the UK. We’d had an insane time touring with the Kaiser Chiefs and were all out one of those final nights. Dave Grohl, who we’d met through mutual friends, was there – and not a few female fans. The bar owner hooked us up with a bottle of tequila, which we busted open and began trading shots and creating a spectacle well into the night. NME’s Music Awards were the next night – another alcohol-fueled outing, this time with The Hope of the States and Kings of Leon. Walking around, smoking cigars, drinking straight from the bottle, wrestling with the Queens of Noize as they DJ’d, getting felt up by Peaches on the dance floor…the energy in the room just kept amp’ing up as the night went on. When the party wrapped, the sound cut off and the lights came up, all of a sudden this blaring, urgent riff came into my head. It remained as the party moved to the hotel, where I got my first lesson on proper hotel-trashing…”
“From the party, straight to the airport, I flew back to NYC with a foggy head filled with that same sleazy, psychedelic groove from the night before. Once home, I headed straight out to Niagra to continue what will go down in history as one of the best weekends ever. It was one of those nights where no one’s worrying about a thing except living it up. Right there I grabbed a napkin and turned my weekend into this song. Every time people hear it, I want them to feel that. The release of putting the bullshit aside, rocking out, laughing with friends, going nuts…knowing no matter what happens during the week, the weekend’s around the corner for you to do whatever it is that makes you feel alive.”
From the street to the art-scene, Jonny’s “Everybody's Trying to Break You Down,” on the other hand, was inspired by Yoko Ono's exhibition of interactive performance art at Carnegie Hall.
“She stood on stage wearing only a burlap sack, and everyone in the audience came up and cut off a piece, bit by bit, until she was naked. The song is about a bartender who hates where she is in her life, who feels like everybody is picking her apart, taking pieces of her. It's from the perspective of a guy who is in awe of her and doesn't understand why she's letting people treat her that way.”
“Cliché,” featuring some guest-star guitar cameos, is a night in the life of a New York summer…
“It's fucking hot, sticky, muggy…and people are out for cheap one-night stands at that point. The whole sweaty sentiment, ‘You wanna fuck or fight?' It doesn't matter what story this guy tells. ‘It's a cliché/Everything I say/And all the games that we play/Every single day/You know you wanna.'”
With a strong fan base for their live shows in the UK, a hand-full of impressive performance write-ups, and some fucking brilliant rock songs, Jonny Lives! is currently haunting the East Village – gigging, drinking, writing, and…living.
“There's a lot going on, and it mostly happens at 3am when everyone else is asleep. But not us. We're out every night writing about life as it happens.” Here's your invitation to join them.