By the Way

Things are only getting better for synth rocker Howard Jones

Howard Jones will be at the House of Blues in New Orleans on Wednesday, Dec. 7.
Howard Jones will be at the House of Blues in New Orleans on Wednesday, Dec. 7.

It’s no secret that my favorite decade for music was the 1980s.

That’s a blanket statement and it in no way means I don’t love music from all decades, because I certainly do, but there’s something about turning 10 in 1980 and coming out 19 in 1989 that makes the decade extra special for me.

Everyone has their favorite albums of the ’80s. My short list includes records from The Cure, Guns N’ Roses, Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, The Police, Human League, Husker Du and Jane’s Addiction. And somewhere right in the middle of that list is “Dream Into Action” by synth master Howard Jones.

Jones will be performing at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the House of Blues in New Orleans. Tickets are $25 and available here.

Do you enjoy playing a city with a deep musical history like New Orleans?

Absolutely. I’ve always absolutely loved coming to New Orleans. It’s so so different than anywhere else in the U.S. and it’s a thrill to be playing there. We don’t often get to play there, but I made it a point to get a show scheduled there on this tour.

You went on a pretty extensive tour during the summer with the Barenaked Ladies and OMD. Did that expose you and your music to a different audience?

I really enjoyed it because I got to play some places that I’ve never been — places like Montana. I also got to play to an audience that was different than my core audience. I was able to make lots of new fans and new friends. It was such a great tour to be on. We all got along so well.

I’ve seen people on this tour now come up and tell me they saw me on the BNL tour and they wanted to come see my show. It allowed me to reach out to a different audience. It was great.

I was really excited when I saw you sitting in with The Roots on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” this summer. What a great band.

It was amazing. The only regret is that you don’t have longer because the show’s such a tight schedule. We were rehearsing in a tiny room off camera. It was just amazing playing with them and jamming with them.

The guys are musicologists. I bet they were equally as excited to be performing with you.

I was very honored. They knew me and knew the stuff. It was great.

What was the thing that you saw or heard that made you want to pursue music?

There was one moment actually. I was brought up in a musical family. I learned to sing and play piano. But when I was 14, I went to the Isle of Wight Festival and saw Jimi Hendrix and The Doors and The Who and Joni Mitchell. But more so than any of those, I saw the first major performance of Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Keith Emerson had a Moog synth on stage and it made the most incredible sound and no one had really done that before. And I thought, “There’s nothing else for me.” It was set in stone and I never gave up that dream.

What about when you were in your early 20s in England. How did the emergence of the Clash and the Sex Pistols and the UK punk scene influence you?

The punk scene was clearing the excess of the ’70s and the out-of-control music scene. Punk cleared that away. If you went to some of my early shows in 1981 or 1982, I was doing one-man shows with a very punk attitude. I was even singing like Johnny Rotten. You can hear that punk attitude in my early recordings. I was into Scars and things like that.

You were part of the Live Aid show and you’ve done shows for Amnesty International, among other causes. Do you miss the activism era in music?

I think you’re right. Especially in this time we are in now, I think artists need to stand up and speak out for what they believe in and what their audience believes in. I think we’re in a time when it’s much more necessary. I think art and music have a role to play to help keep people strong.

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