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Warlock Asylum International News

Art, History, Music, Politics, and Spirituality For The Modern Alchemist – circulation in over 129 countries

A Conversation With Recording Artist Prof. Jp of John-Paul Jones Group

Singer and songwriter John-Paul Jones is truly an amazing talent with a rich history and experience in the musical arts. Astonishingly, the John-Paul Jones Group is set to release a new album entitled Broke In Bridge City on February 5th, 2021. I recently had the honor of being able to converse with Mr. Jones about the new project, his band, and the relationship he has with music today. Enjoy!



Warlock Asylum: Before we begin, I would like to express my deepest thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions and share a glimpse of your career with our readers on the verge of releasing your epic new album titled Broke In Bridge City. Please introduce yourself. Who is John-Paul Jones Group?

Jp: I am a father, husband, son, brother, uncle, cousin & nephew first.  I am an educator who spends most of my daytime hours training aspiring electrical engineering technicians who specialize in renewable energy and distributed generation.  I am also the vocalist, guitarist, engineer, driver, producer, and founder of the John-Paul Jones Group.

Warlock Asylum: Can you share with us a little bit about your background and some of your early beginnings that shaped your outlook on life?

Jp: Hello, I am  John-Paul Jones. Everyone calls me Jp with a little “p”.  My father was also John-Paul Jones (RIP) and they called him Big JP with a big “P”. My son is John-Paul Jones III and we call him Little jp – though he’s not so little anymore.  I’m a 6th generation native black Iowegian from the Southeastern Iowa region around Lake Rathbun. And raised part of the 7th Generation.  We are nearly 10 generations of Iowa Black Legacy.

As you can imagine (about Iowa demographics) my family is one of few native black families in Southeastern Iowa.  We were established in Appanoose county in 1865 by our ancestor, an escaped slave who became a  veteran of the American  Civil war as a  member of the 165th Colored Regiment of the United States Army out of Keokuk Iowa Curry Oscar “Bunk” Reed.

I come from a long and proud and storied ancestry.  That family history and the tradition of oral history has shaped me.  My family is full of people paving new grounds by quietly integrating into the southeast Iowa community and across the state. My family comes from the same town as opera singer Simon Estes. As a matter of fact, Simon Estes attended school with my great uncle Joe Jones (RIP).

That being said with that family history of integration long before there were laws that encouraged it or made it mandatory my family was doing generations in advance. This has greatly helped shape my outlook as I can see beauty and influence in any person, culture, or circumstance. This perspective shapes my music definitely it also absolutely shapes my perspective on life

Warlock Asylum: What inspired you to get involved in music?

Jp: Honestly, the very first time I probably saw Dizzy Gillespie or Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong playing trumpet when I was a little kid. I was in love with bebop music and still am. So I was a trumpet player you know in school and learned how to read music, but I learned how to play by ear very quickly. I stopped reading music in the instructor. I pulled the same thing Eddie Van Halen did.

Trumpet led me to Dizzy & Bebop which led me to Miles, which led me to Herbie, which led me to Return to Forever & Weather Report, which led me to keyboards. However, learning the guitar… that happened when my friends began getting them.  I got one and the rest is history.  I must say one thing… I learned each instrument on my own.  The trumpet was the last instrument that I had formal lessons on.  But I did study theory, harmony, and orchestration/arranging religiously.

Warlock Asylum: It must have been wonderful growing up in a musical family. In what ways did the foundation that your parents set in place influence your future endeavors?

Jp: Neither one of my parents were secular musicians. They would often sing in church and at home. We would dance in the living room and there was lots of music in our home – jazz, country-western, blues, funk. Soul, R&B, classical, all of that was in our home. So yeah, I would say we were very much in a home that was full of music appreciators. It was a great way to grow up.

As one of four black kids in the school district (in 40 years) the other three being my brothers… I could not help but pick-up influences from what my classmates listened to.  So, I would say I have a well-rounded and inclusive music education.

Warlock Asylum: How would you describe your sound?

Jp: Authentic Heavy Blues delivered with cultural  Integrity.



Warlock Asylum: What were some of the obstacles that you had to overcome in order to make your career in music possible?

Jp: That’s an entire book unto itself.  The first obstacle was to leave my geographic location that facilitated my tiny rural lifestyle.  I struck out and hit the road that became a  full-time pickup musician, which amounted to being a  starving artist on several occasions. That wasn’t in the cards for me, so I returned to Iowa and continued my career in the electrical industry (Master Electrician).  Eventually, raising 3 kids as a single father.

The main obstacle was learning the music business (from Iowa) knowing that I was going to be an independent musician and artist.  By this time being a full-time touring artist was not in my life plan.  I’ve spent probably 35 years and tens of thousands or hours learning the ins-and-outs of everything from music publishing to record distribution to recording techniques to live sound reinforcement lighting to Logistics and much more.  First-hand knowledge was the biggest obstacle.   I spent my time and resources to learn as much as I could about how all of the major labels operated and then I just scaled all of that information down to my level of being a regional artist.

Warlock Asylum: How did the John-Paul Jones Group come together and who are its members?

Jp: Please understand something the group is my namesake of fathers and sons, to be a member brings you into a family of sorts.  Six years before the John-Paul Jones Group, I had formed another band called Jp’s Eternia which was a progressive rock band we played pretty much everything, but that’s what we described ourselves.

After going through multiple singers and other members,  I became frustrated with the “lead singer/frontman” line-up.  The bass player at the time convinced me to take over all lead vocal duties so I shelved Jp’s Eternia after two albums. Thus John-Paul Jones Group was born. This was around 1998.  John-Paul Jones Group has a “revolving door” versus a “burning bridges” policy.  This means you can leave the group and I will find somebody to fill your spot.  If they leave and you want to come back it’s usually all good and that happens from time to time.

Currently, my live band consists of David Bruce on drums and Steven Patterson on bass.  They are a killer Rhythm Section and I can’t wait for us to get past Covid and get back out playing live

Warlock Asylum: What were some of the things that inspired the creation of Broke In Bridge City?

Jp: Life… life experience that’s what inspired the creation of Broke In Bridge City.  I have a philosophy that I should be able to find something inspiring every day within my universe. This is a biographical album I tend to want to write about real things versus imaginary stuff. I prefer realistic situations that I have either observed firsthand or experienced personally.

Warlock Asylum: Can you explain the meaning of the album’s title? 

Jp: So I live in a river town and Bridge City is a metaphor for being in a great place under less than good circumstances.  And it speaks volumes of a life that many people lead in my community.  Every song on the album relates to this theme.

Warlock Asylum: It has been noted that much of the John-Paul Jones Group’s sound is reminiscent of legendary acts like Hendrix, Lynnott, Gallagher & Trower, and may I add Arzachel. In what ways is Broke In Bridge City different from some of your previous works?

Jp: Oh wow, THANK YOU! if you mean the old Uriel that recorded under that name that is a  really cool reference. I’m honored.  This album isn’t what I would say is so much different as it’s an evolution of every recording that I’ve made to date.   Every record in the past has culminated or trained me to get me to this place in time.

On this album, Angeliki, Chris, and I nailed the sound in my head that I spent 20 years searching for. We were finally able to get it to sound fresh and alive and absolutely not slick or polished,  but still, maintain the clarity that digital equipment allows for.  We captured the warmth of analog gear brought to the table.   We did not accomplish this by using some kind of special plugins.  We did it by using the old mic techniques from the 40s 50s and 60s and it worked.

Warlock Asylum: What are some of the themes covered in Broke In Bridge City?

Jp:

Song By Song Summary:
  • Blue Ruin (Right Now): is all about reflection and regret and closure within one’s life Journey
  • Broke In Bridge City: is literally about life in a place that’s not perfect but you somehow figure out a way to make a slight adjustment and have a better life
  • Ballad Of The Nine: is about the legacy of my grandparents story through to my children.
  • Better Be Yourself: is all about overcoming self-doubt and defining yourself before others do and it’s fatherly advice to my children, especially my daughter.
  • Blood Sugar Blues – is literally about the life day-to-day struggle that my loved ones and me with the diabetic illness go through. It has a tongue in cheek way for us to laugh at the situation.  Because it is what it is.
Youth Is Wasted (On The Young): is about coming to terms with my grief over the loss of the life of my little brother and of other young people. in my community.  I wrote this song 25 years ago during the year that my brother and others in my community had died. Many of them due to the decisions that young people make that result in tragedy.  This song was my soul searching and trying to figure out why these things happen.   The sad thing is with the young man in Wisconsin also making youthful choices with tragic results… the song is still relevant today….that’s why I re-recorded it to put on this album.

Warlock Asylum: Who are some of your current musical influences and did any of these artists shape the path of this album?

Jp: I will have to tell you that I do not listen to too much new music with the exception of independent blues artists that I know personally.  Contemporary artists that are on my CD player Christone Ingram, Kevin Burt, Avey-Grouws Band and The Bush League.  Right now, those four albums are in my CD player. Yes, I still use CDs and I still buy physical copies.  Although I am waiting for Anita White’s Album.

Like most people music of my formative years is what shapes me so I will have to tell you that I listen to a lot, but I tend to default to these artists: Jimi Hendrix – Rory Gallagher – Peter Green – Robin Trower – Phil Lynott – Frank Zappa – Miles Davis – James Brown – Curtis Mayfield there are many, many, more

Warlock Asylum: Tell us a little bit about recording at CopperTop Studio Hut and the approach that was taken in making this project distinct?

Jp: Recording at Coppertop Studio Hut is a joy the studio that I built in a little house that’s about 400 feet from my home.  The studio is modeled after Motown Studio A (by accident not design).  My process was pretty simple for this album I recorded the drums bass guitars scratch vocals all it Coppertop Studio Hut.

I sent a rough mix and stems to Chris Barber in  Sheffield UK he would re-record the drums using my mic placement techniques and specs, also adding his own in addition to mine.  Then Chris would send me back multi-tracks of great drums according to my specifications on sizes of TOMS and kick drums and types of symbols and all that stuff.

Once I got the drum stems back, I would record new bass,  guitars, vocals again at Coppertop Studio Hut playing against Chris’s new drum tracks that he had sent me.  What makes this process unique is we absolutely went after recording in the old 40s, 50s, and 60s style where they could not isolate each drum from each other or room ambiance. We use the rooms to create a very live feel.

Also, Angeliki Mourgela from Greece mixed the entire album at her studio in London, England. As a music producer, I put a self-imposed limitation.  No quantization, time alignment, auto-tune.  The songs must have a human feel if something was not feeling right after a mix.  I would re-record if necessary.  This only happened in one song.  I believe when you listen to this record, you’re going to feel like you’re sitting in the room with the musicians and you got your head in a speaker

Warlock Asylum: How much of Broke In Bridge City relates to your personal life experience?

Jp: ALL OF IT directly relates to my personal life experience as I said before I can’t really write unless I can relate so on this record every song is very personal.

Warlock Asylum: What can your fans and music enthusiasts expect to get from Broke In Bridge City?

Jp: Universal songs with an “every-person” appeal. The lyrics will inspire you to reflect and take stock.  But the music will cause you to bob your head and tap your feet.  We hope the combination will elicit a positive emotional response.

Warlock Asylum: Where can we expect to see the John-Paul Jones Group in the upcoming years?

Jp: We will continue to put on concert series such as the Patriot’s Picnic Concert Series and our upcoming new event series called the Iowa Soul Brothers Revue. Our schedule goes like this ( for anyone who wants to follow us).
  1. October through January live band and crew are on break and I go into the studio either write and record a new album or to post-produce a DVD sometimes it’s both
  2. February through April is pre-production for the live shows and promotional tours and appearances for any releases we may have
  3. May through September is our live performance season in which we perform concerts festivals fairs can we videotape all of them with a multi-camera crew for later release on DVD or video on demand
  4. That is my year and then it’s just rinsed and repeat the cycle so you can catch up with us by following us on our website Instagram blogger Facebook Twitter or YouTube
Warlock Asylum: Any final thoughts?

Jp: I hope that your readers will go out and pick up the album for the one you won’t be disappointed I believe Broke In Bridge City comes out February 5th, 2021 on Eugene’s trick bag records It is a physical-only release on CD & LP get it pre-order at https://johnpauljonesgroup.com/music.html  or it will Be available at all major online retailers

I want to thank you for taking the time to let me speak about my life and share my music interest with you.  I also want to thank your readers for their support of independent artists like John-Paul Jones Group.  Have a great year.

*On behalf of Warlock Asylum International News, we would like to wish John-Paul ZJones and his group all the best with their artistic Endeavors. 

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