Rant ‘N’ Roll: Southside Johnny’s On The Phone

Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes will perform Sunday, July 3, 5:30 p.m. in Asbury Park at the Stone Pony Summer Stage on Ocean Avenue. The phone rings. When Southside calls, you answer.

Aquarian Weekly: Hold on, I gotta get this new-fangled digital thing going. I miss my old Radio Shack tape recorder from the 1980s.

Southside Johnny: Tom Waits had one that I coveted.

AW: I dug your all-Tom Waits CD that you did Sinatra-style with The La Bamba Big Band [Grapefruit Moon, 2008].

SJ: It was a wonderful experience but expensive! When it was finally finished, I’m listening and it just seemed so, uh, adult. I still don’t feel myself very adult…or mature. If you spend your life in rock ‘n’ roll, I don’t think you ever really grow up. Except when you try and run upstairs to the gig and realize you can’t make it to the top without slowing down.

AW: Dude, I’m 65. You’re 67. You’re a friggin’ athlete the way you gig so much. It’s got to take its toll on that old-man body of yours.

SJ: [laughs] I’m an athlete like English dart-players are athletes with a big mug of beer in their other hand. It is strenuous. I’ll grant you that. Our two-hour show is highly energetic. And when I hit the stage and the music starts, I get lost in it all, carried away, and by the time it’s over, I think, “that was quick.”

AW: Sure, you’re taking in all the love from your audience. It’s the before and after that’s grueling.

SJ: Right. We just got back from Europe where we did 15 shows in 20 days with all the driving in-between. We were caught in a multi-car crash in Germany where we were stuck on the highway for 11 hours. When we got to the gig, we rushed in, and all the crew were so great setting up all the equipment real quick and we were only 30 minutes late. I HATE BEING LATE FOR A SHOW! I actually have nightmares about that.

AW: You must have been freaking out on the highway in the middle of bum-fuck nowhere.

SJ: There was a lot of tension on the bus. It was a logging truck and all the logs spilled out over the road and it took them forever to clean it up. A guy died. It was terrible. I remember an earlier tour where we were cruising on the no speed-limit Autobahn at 120 miles-per-hour…and people were passing us.

AW: On July 3 in Asbury on Ocean Ave. at 5:30, I understand you’re going to be again playing your extensive collection of early R&B vinyl classics before and after the show. You must have some collection! Where does the great “Down Home Girl” by Alvin Robinson [1964] fit in?

SJ: Love that one! On the Redbird label, oh yeah! We did an Alvin Robinson [1937-1989] mash-up in The Poor Fools.

AW: I loved that Poor Fools CD you did [Songs From The Barn, 2013]. You gotta do a follow-up, man!

SJ: I know, I know, but I’ve got other things to do…like work for a living!

AW: But this is your work! What are you telling me? You still have a day job?

SJ: [laughing] No, no. In fact, that’s the most amazing thing of all about my life: I’ve made a living all these years doing what I love to do. It’s hardly “work.” And y’know what? The fact that I can still get away with that, astonishes me. I’m very grateful.