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A Dirty Dozen with JOSHUA AUBREY JACKSON from MAKE SURE – March 2024

| 1 April 2024 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “Auburn, Alabama’s Make Sure, the project of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joshua Aubrey Jackson, recently announced the forthcoming release of the sophomore album June on April 12. Today, they have shared the video for “Burning Heap.” Make Sure just confirmed an appearance at AudioFeed Festival this summer. The event takes place at Champaign County Fairgrounds in Urbana, Illinois from July 4-7.” We get Joshua to discuss new music, influences, and more.

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

One thing I enjoy about recording is the ability to layer stuff. I tried to make every song on this album with that in mind– someone could listen to it multiple times and hear new elements every time. But the songs themselves have to be good before the whole layering thing matters, so I worked a lot to make the foundational elements strong. As far as hidden nuggets go, I’m not really hiding anything. This record is a lot of things but “cryptic” isn’t one of them.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

I listened to albums a lot as a kid. As a teenager, my friends and I would get together and jam as often as possible. I started making records in high school and haven’t looked back since!

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

I saw Godspeed You! Black Emperor when I was 16. They were a big influence on me. I loved how epic they sounded. Their concert was like three hours long but it was totally worth it. And there were other bands that inspired me greatly, like Smashing Pumpkins, My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Elliott Smith, Nick Drake, to name a few.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

James Iha. I love his music and it would be amazing to work with him. In fact, a major inspiration for the album June was James Iha’s first solo record, Let It Come Down. Its influence cannot be understated. I think if someone has heard that album, June would make a lot more sense to them.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

I run and bike often, that helps my sanity for sure. I love spending time with my soon-to-be wife. I love going to church. I’m a pretty big nerd when it comes to Star Wars and superheroes. I enjoy spending time with my friends. I’m not really a party guy, definitely more of an introverted person.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

I usually say something like, “we’re alternative.” It’s easier if you’re in a bluegrass band or something because you just say “we play bluegrass.” No further questions. Alternative rock casts a pretty wide net so it’s harder to pin down. I’m always grateful if someone says we sound like this band or that band, because the person sharing that with me probably means it as a compliment.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Lately I’ve been doing solo gigs, so I suppose I do all of those things.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

I saw Jeremy Enigk from Sunny Day Real Estate play a solo set at Furnace Fest. I met him afterwards and I was so awkward and nervous. He was incredibly kind, regardless.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

My favorite part is the writing and recording process. If I were no longer a musician, I might be an athletic trainer or a screenwriter.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I’ve always wanted an interviewer to ask, “Would you like a million dollars?” To which I would say, “Yes.” Then I would pay off my student loans. And for a question I’m tired of answering, it’s about a misunderstood lyric in my song “Okay Sea.”

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

“Okay Sea” is the last song on my album Ninjutsu. At the end of the song, I repeat the line, “Okay, see you never.” If I could do it over again, I might change it to something like, “Okay, I’ll see you never.” The reason being is that some people think I’m saying, “Oh Casey, you never.” That’s silly to me for three reasons: first, it really doesn’t make any sense, and it’s a pretty flat line to end a record on. Second, that wasn’t the girl’s name, and even if it was, that feels gross to me, like I’m playing the victim card to my last breath. Third, it misses the thematic through-line of the whole album, which is grief portrayed as the ocean tide. The first lyric on the album is “There’s a big sea between you and me.” In the last song, (“Okay Sea”) I sing, “I can be okay with the sea, and join the human race. Okay, see you never.” It’s about reaching a point of acceptance. If I were truly singing “Oh Casey, you never,” that vaguely suggests I am still bitter, holding on to my disappointment, which is antithetical to the journey of the album– it starts with denial and anger, and ends at acceptance.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I would love to see Nick Drake recording Pink Moon. That’s always been one of my favorite albums. It’s an amazingly stripped down record for how immersive it is. I’d enjoy watching Nick Drake and John Wood put it together. 

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Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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