About Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Few artists boast a wider appeal than Joan Jett. Beloved by punks, indie rockers, pop lovers, riot grrrls, metal heads, classic rockers, radicals and conservatives, she is 1) a genuine icon and an influential, trailblazing musician, going back to when she helped break down rock’s gender barriers and helped pioneer punk music with her teenage band, The Runaways; 2) a genuine star, with no less than nine Top 40 hit singles and eight Platinum and Gold LPs; 3) a renaissance woman, actress on stage and screen, and knowledgeable and entertaining host of “Joan Jett’s Radio Revolution” on Little Steven’s Sirius Satellite Radio’s Underground Garage (Channel 25); and 4) a continually challenging artist, not content to rest on past laurels.
All this and more comes together as Joan brings you her brand new album, SINNER, which is bound to delight and surprise even her biggest fans. On the one hand it’s pure Jett, with chunky, kick-ass riffs, robust vocals, and catchy hooks on the likes of “Five”, “Watersign”, “Baby Blue” and “Tube Talkin” (all with Bikini Kill /Le Tigre’s Kathleen Hanna) and A.C.D.C. It’s the kind of music she’s been known for since her smash hit “I Love Rock n’ Roll” spent eight weeks at #1 in 1982 and spurred 10 million sales of her LP by the same name. On the other hand, SINNER is a thrilling restatement of her original punk roots, on the boldly philosophical “Naked” and the provocative “Five”. SINNER is, in short, a blasting, aggressive record.
Joan, who’s been writing great rock music since she penned “Cherry Bomb” at 15 years old on the Runaways’ debut LP, insisted on testing herself anew on SINNER. “If anything, the lyrical content might be expanding”, she explains ” it’s not all about falling in or out of love.”
For example, there is “Naked”. “I think everyone’s first image of the word “naked” is about being physically naked, and this isn’t that at all. This is about introspection. This is a very lonely song in a sense. I think it’s kind of cool to go inside and figure out what’s behind the emotions of what makes people who they are. It can be scary to think about it all”.
The album kicks off with “Riddles” and pulls no punches.
“Five” is about the tabloids.
At only 17, Joan was headlining clubs like CBGBs with bands such as Tom Petty, Talking Heads, Television and Cheap Trick opening up for her, and she later toured with the Ramones. Joan has since worked with Bikini Kill, Peaches, Ian MacKaye of Fugazi, Lars Fredrickson of Rancid, Bratmobile, L7, The Gits, The Replacements’ Paul Westerberg, The Sex Pistols and Blondie among others. Joan produced G.I., the lone album of the seminal L.A. punk act, The Germs.
About her Sirius radio show, “That’s been interesting, and different. I never aspired to it, I’m really kind of shy, so for me to get on the radio and talk, I had to build up to it. But I’m having a good time, and I get to turn people on to different things!”
Another is her ongoing acting career. She’s appeared in movies like Light of Day (with Michael J. Fox and Gena Rowlands), the indie films Boogie Boy and The Sweet Life (she and her Blackhearts sing the title song) and was actually killed in an on-screen karate fight with martial-arts legend Chuck Norris. On Broadway, Joan was in the original cast of The Rocky Horror Show. “I wanted to be an actress before I wanted to play the guitar!”
One of Joan Jett’s proudest accomplishments is the 25th anniversary of her record label, Blackheart Records. This company was forged during the trials and tribulations of trying to get a record deal after The Runaways, and she was rejected by every label out there….28 to be exact. Believing in themselves, Joan and her long-time songwriting partner and producer, Kenny Laguna, decided to be the masters of their own fates and pressed the records up and sold them out of the trunk of Kenny’s car. It was almost immediately that they had a hit on their hands, and the company has not only survived, but flourished, in a volatile record industry.
In addition to Joan’s long awaited CD, Joan and Kenny produced The Vacancies, a punk group from Cleveland. That Blackheart release A Beat Missing Or A Silence Added, has gone Top 20 on the college charts. The Eyeliners, a pop/punk band from Albuquerque, released No Apologies on Blackheart. Joan plans on signing more acts she believes in to Blackheart Records.
Jett stands at a point in her life where she can appreciate her past and longevity, but still look towards the future. It is an exciting time. “I went to a school reunion in Maryland not long ago and some people reminded me I had said I was going to go to California to become a rock n roll star! I hadn’t remembered that I had focused on it that early!!! To say that as a kid and actually do it is pretty cool. It just goes to show you that if you can believe in yourself, if you’re lucky and have the right timing, you have a shot. I’m an example of what can be, if you don’t give up!