Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductee Joan Jett recently spoke with disc jockeys Preston and Steve of the Philadelphia radio station 93.3 WMMR. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the motivation to start her own label, Blackheart Records, in 1980:
Joan: "It was survival. We had no other place to go. We'd been turned down by all the majors and the minors. They didn't want anything to do with us. We just didn't know what else to do, but Kenny [Laguna, Jett's longtime producer and writing partner] said, 'Let's print up some records,' and we sold them in the back of our car, at the gigs, after the shows. That was before people even sold merch at gigs. It's hard to think back that long [ago], when bands didn't sell merch. You went to a show, you saw the show — that's it."
On whether, nearly four decades later, she ever looks back and feels surprised that the move worked:
Joan: "All the time. Every single day. That's part of the pleasure of it, that you stuck to your guns and you did it the way you wanted to do it and you didn't change who you were to do that. It feels very satisfying. You know it could never happen again [since] the business has completely changed. The way you go about breaking things today is a completely different mechanism."
On whether she feels "uncomfortable" due to the level of praise and adulation she receives:
Joan: "I don't think that the attention is uncomfortable, [but] it's a little uncomfortable, because you're just like everybody else. I got lucky and the timing was great — and yeah, maybe I brought a little talent, too — but all that combination, I didn't do it alone. You can never say that you did it alone. But I'm very proud of it, and I'm very aware of how much people, how much the music means to them. For a lot of people, it saved their lives — it really gets them through the toughest times. You realize it's not you – it's something about the music that you're just lucky enough to be the messenger [for], and to be involved and to let it come through you. I guess people relate to me somehow. I don't know if it's the underdog thing, and we all feel like such underdogs so much of the time. It's tough to struggle through life on any level. People like to see underdogs thrive."
On her toughest experience as an opening act:
Joan: "In the mid-'80s, we were having success in the States, but we were on the road in Europe — Italy, I believe. Now, I know what the story is, but at the time, we were playing with SCORPIONS and there was another opening act. There were two shows in one city. We did the show one night. The next night, the opening band wasn't on the bill, and we went out to do the show, and I got destroyed by this Italian crowd. They worked up loogies. They drenched me in spit. They were throwing stuff at me. I was covered from head to toe in dripping, gross loogies. I had no idea why or what that was about. I found out years later that SCORPIONS got the first band thrown off the bill because they wanted to go to a car show, so they blamed me, and they had a female lead singer saying that I didn't want to play with another girl."
On jamming with other artists:
Joan: "I'm not a big jammer. I feel very uncomfortable. I'm one of these people that like to be very rehearsed. I'm not good with just walking out on stage. It makes me very nervous. As much as I'd like to, I don't get asked a lot, but the few times I do, it'd be something, like, with FOO FIGHTERS, and we'd rehearse things. Sometimes I go out and just play with them, but if I have to play one of their songs or the NIRVANA stuff? I had to rehearse. I had to go through it. I can't just go out there and play it without practicing with them."
Jett was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2015. She will tour America with HEART this summer.
Photo credit: Roger Erickson