PJ Bond

PJ Bond

NIGHT AND DAY CAFÉ – 10/08/2015

Back in Manchester for a second gig in as many months, American singer/songwriter PJ Bond was playing the Night and Day Café in support of Frank Turner’s on his warm up tour.  Silent Radio’s Paul Clark caught up with him before his gig to chat about his new album and his tour.  

It comes across on the record and from talking to PJ Bond that he’s someone who enjoys being out on the road. It doesn’t appear to be the grind that it seems to be for other artists. This appreciation has permeated into his songwriting too; on his latest and previous releases there are references, although they are not of the clichéd woe is me variety, but more enjoying it for its rich experiences.

He’s been spending the summer promoting his fourth solo album Where Were You? Released on Xtra Mile Recordings in the UK. He has enjoyed his time of late and is pleased that the UK audience has been appreciative of his efforts so far. So too have his British record label. “I’m loving being with Xtra Mile. They feel like fans, I guess it’s different with other labels. I can call my label up at any time and they’ll get back to me.” He also seems to be revelling in the lack of pressure that they put on him too. “I’m not going to be a best selling artist. They believe in what I do and that’s encouraging.”

Though it can be something of a slog promoting a record, with each gig he seems to be making inroads into the consciousness of the UK audience. “The album may as well have been released yesterday, but I keep on plugging away with it.”

Having been a recent convert to his music, I have to say I like what I have heard so far. Discovering his latest album is good in itself, but the realisation that there are other albums waiting to be listened to is just as rewarding. You get a sense of his influences on his latest album, Where Were You? I could hear artists such as Wilco and Ryan Adams, who I love. When asked about his influences, he didn’t shy away from admitting that Wilco have been a huge influence in particular, especially their formative records. “The early releases Being There and Summerteeth in particular are huge for me, especially at the time that they were beginning to experiment with their sound.”

Growing up in New Jersey, you would expect that Bruce Springsteen would be an influence too, especially given the style that Bond employs. Initially he was resistant to the charms of The Boss. When he was growing up Springsteen was perceived to be ‘for an older generation’. For Bond he looked elsewhere for his formative influences. “I was listening to the usual teenage stuff, such as Guns ‘n’ Roses instead.”

It was when he gravitated to the more singer-songwriter related material that PJ finally found Bruce’s work resonated with him. He really threw himself into the task when he did, “I listened to 17 Springsteen albums in one day and then I finally felt that I got his work.“

Given that most of this tour it is just him, and a guitar, the songs on the record that have fuller band versions work well in a stripped down form. I asked him whether it was hard to translate the songs to play live in this way? “Not really, although I do like having the band, it hides the imperfections of my guitar playing.” Having seen him later that evening he has no worries with that regard. His guitar playing is very good, allied with his powerful vocals. This makes his songs come across as well on the stage, as they do on record.

One of my favourite tracks from the latest release, The Better Option in particular, was one he didn’t play tonight, Bond likes the ‘Stonsey vibe of that one. I liked the line on that song ‘I wake up on a slow train,’ that is one of continual themes from the record. Though in this case it’s not necessarily about travel, as Bond says “using travel a way of articulating something else. I asked that I get a sense of the road from a lot of his song. “I travel around occasionally tend to drift between relatives. Although, I need to go back home and get a job, I quit one three months before I went on tour.”

There is no sense that he will stop, despite the need to pick up work in the interim. The future seems to be more of the same for Bond, and he for one is not complaining.

“Maybe I’ll return to these shores soon. There’s a possibility of a tour down under in the winter too.”

Those that came early tonight to gain the best vantage point of their hero Frank Turner would have been rewarded for their troubles (namely the heat) with an accomplished set from Bond. Here’s wishing him a safe journey and hopefully he’ll be back this way in the near again soon.

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