JAD FAIR / HALF JAPANESE
month I had the chance to interview one of my favorite
musicians.....Jad Fair....He is the member of the famous band Half
Japanese and a visual artist. He also collaborated with many
important names like Moe Tucker, ,John Zorn, The Pastels, Yo La
Tengo, Thurston Moore, Teenage Fanclub, J. Mascis, Daniel
a pleasure to this colorful interview with my friend.....Jad
GLOBE: Jad, you are known as
the singer and guitarist of lo-fi
alternative rock group Half Japanese, a solo artist and a visual
artist with drawings as well as paper cuttings. What are you up to
these days? What are your plans for the rest of the year and next
FAIR: Most of my time now is
spent paper cuttings. I like to draw,
but the cuttings sell better for me, so that's what I'm focusing on.
I'm working on a new book of paper cuts, and also a book of drawings.
The quality of self published books has improved. I've released two
books so far this year, and plan to do more.
GLOBE: Half Japanese started in 1974.
Please tell us a bit about the
early days of Half Japanese. How did you decide on the name? Were
there any other names thought for the band? Would it be different if
you had started five years later?
When the band started, we had
David Stansky playing guitar. I
was usually playing drums or saxophone. My brother David would drum
on the songs I sang and I'd drum on the ones he sang. David Stansky
left the band after the first year and my brother and I took over
name was chosen by chance. We put words into two hats. The word Half
was pulled out of one hat and Japan from the other. We liked the name
because when people first hear the name they don't know what to
GLOBE: As Half Japanese, are there
any songs that haven't still
seen the light of the day yet, and is there a possibility to release
or re-record them someday?
We have a few songs which were
recorded during the session for
the album Hello which I hope to release at some point. We have
several songs recorded at radio stations and some good live
GLOBE: Which bands or artists -- can
we say -- had most influence on
the music of Jad Fair and Half Japanese?
FAIR: My biggest influences are the
Stooges, MC5, Velvet Underground,
Modern Lovers, Captain Beefheart, and the Shaggs.
GLOBE: Jad, you are in the music
scene for nearly forty years now,
you collaborated with a lot of different musicians and you are the
member one of the most amazing and wonderful bands of all time. But,
if you were to create your all time dream band, who would be the
members of this heroic army?
FAIR: I'm a huge fan of NRBQ. I
would have loved to record with them.
I did some recording with Terry and Tom. It would have been great to
record with the whole band.
GLOBE: Approximately ten years have
passed since the events of
September 11 in the U.S., and terror is a bigger threat for lots of
countries than ever. What has changed? And when we think about today,
doesn’t the world need the existence of real and honest bands more
than ever? For telling the youth what's going on, giving them the
spirit to not only get angry but to question everything. What do you
FAIR: It's more difficult now for
bands to tour in other countries.
Half of the flights I've made in the past few years have had long
delays. I'm sure there are many honest bands trying to get a message
across, but they are not getting the media attention that they should
GLOBE: Everybody knows about you
being the guitarist of Half
Japanese. Do you play any other instrument besides guitar?
FAIR: I played saxophone on a song
on Richard Hell's "Dark Stars"
album. I was asked to play sax on a song by Jon Spencer Blues
Explosion. I was out on tour at the time and wasn't able to do it. I
did a tour with Moe Tucker and played drums. I can do some things
alright on drums, but I don't play as often as I used to.
GLOBE: What were you listening to in
late '60s and early '70s, and
what are you listening to nowadays? Are there any unknown bands
you're into at the moment or you could recommend us to check out?
FAIR: In the 60s and 70s I was
listening to The Stooges, MC5, T Rex,
Bob Dylan, The Velvet Underground, and Captain Beefheart. Most of
what I listen to now is from the 30s and 40s. Amy Allison is a
singer/songwriter I think is great. I'm also a fan
GLOBE: Half Japanese also opened for
Nirvana during their 1993 tour.
Do you have any interesting/funny memories to share that you had with
them and in that tour?What do you remember from those days?
way I found out about the tour is funny. I was reading an
interview of Kurt Cobain in Spin Magazine. In the interview he said
that he's going to have Half Japanese open for the tour. I hadn't
heard anything about it before reading it. I called my booking agent
and she told me she was just contacted about it.
audience was younger than I thought it would be. We were playing at
colleges and I thought it would be mostly college students going to
the shows, but it was mostly high school kids. At the first show we
played some fast songs and slow ones. All of the fast songs went over
well, but the slow ones didn't go over at all. We played all fast
songs for the rest of the tour.
GLOBE: Now, as you are still
continuing playing live from time to
time and releasing albums,how do you compare the music scene in late
2000s to the music scene in the 80s and 90s? There are so much people
I know, who remember especially the early 90s indie-rock-alternative
scene with a smile on their face, telling how colorful and honest it
was, missing those golden days a lot. Was it a rare period of time
that showed us so many cool bands and unique, different but good
music all together at the same time –- at least compared to these
last ten years? What do you think?
There are many great bands
now, but they're not getting the
exposure they should. It's harder now for record companies to make a
profit. So much music is available for free on the internet. Less
people are buying CDs now. Because of that, record companies are not
promoting new bands like they used to.
GLOBE: In your career you
collaborated with many artists such as
Terry Adams, Norman Blake, Kevin Blechdom, Isobel Campbell, Eugene
Chadbourne, DQE, Steve Fisk, Fred Frith, God Is My Co-Pilot, Richard
Hell, Daniel Johnston, J. Mascis, Jason Willett, Monster Party, R.
Stevie Moore, Thurston Moore, The Pastels, Phono-Comb, Steve Shelley,
Strobe Talbot, Teenage Fanclub, The Tinklers, Moe Tucker, Bill Wells,
Jason Willett, Adult Rodeo, Lumberob, Yo La Tengo, and John Zorn.
Which one was the most unforgettable-interesting for you to work with
and what surprises can we expect in the near future from you in means
FAIR: It was a big thrill to get to
work with Moe Tucker. The Velvet
Underground was such a great band. Recording with Moe was like
recording with Ringo. I hope to record soon with Brave Combo. That
should be fun. I have projects started now with Daniel Smith, and
with Norman Blake and Bill Wells. Kramer and Daniel Johnston both
want to record with me again. I look forward to that.
GLOBE: As a visual artist, 4 books of
your art have been published.
Exhibitions of your paper cuts and drawings have taken place in
places like Tokyo, Glasgow, New York, Austin and more. Many album
were made by you. How did this all
start,what was your main
FAIR: Before I started playing music
I thought I would be an artist.
It's something I've always done. I spend most of my time now doing
paper cuttings. The paper cuts sell better for me than my drawings.
At some point I want to start painting.
GLOBE: Last question…..When you were
growing up, who did you
imitate when you stood in front of the mirror? :)
FAIR: Iggy Pop.
GLOBE: Any last words for Punk Globe
FAIR: Please have a look at
my site. jadfair.org. Thanks
to home page