JOff WilsOn

An Interview with JOff WilsOn of The Bowery Boys
Interview By Cary Doll.
Photography by Alan Rand

1. WHEN DID YOU FIRST PICK UP A GUITAR? DID YOU TEACH YOURSELF? HAVE YOU ALWAYS PLAYED LEFT-HANDED?

I first picked up a tennis racket and pretended to play when I was about 8 or 9. I got my first guitar when I was about 13. My Mother bought it after much pestering. I mostly taught myself and always played lefty. In the beginning it was awful, my older brother knew a few chords and said if I am to play lefty I should restring the guitar, so I did and it was much easier to learn for me.

2. WHO WERE YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCES WHEN YOU WERE A KID? HOW ABOUT NOW?

I was basically attracted to the blues and Chuck Berry type of rock and roll. My first guitar hero was Alvin Lee from the band Ten Years After, I then got absorbed into learning “Ramones” and “The Jam” songs. Now I don’t really have any musical influences other than myself. I like to be organic like that.

3. IS JOFF YOUR REAL NAME OR IS IT A  NICKNAME?

It is my real name, short for Geoffrey. My Mother named me.The e is silent in this pronounciation but not everyone knows that, they think it is a fancy spelling for Jeffrey, that is a totally different name but close. Like Dan and Don or Jan and Jon.

4. WHAT CLUBS DO YOU LIKE TO PLAY IN THE BEST??

I really like the Bowery Electric, it has a great stage and the room has a great vibe.

5. WERE EITHER OF YOUR PARENTS MUSICIANS? DID THEY ENCOURAGE YOUR INTEREST IN A MUSIC CAREER?

My Mother played a bit of piano when I was growing up and she played some violin when she was young. I didn’t know my father as he left when I was small but I think he liked music.

6. WHEN YOU WRITE MUSIC, DO YOU WRITE BOTH THE MUSIC AND THE LYRICS OR JUST ONE? DO YOU COLLABORATE WITH THE OTHER MEMBERS IN WRITING SONGS?

Sometimes the words come first and other times the music comes first, I mainly write alone but I have helped others with a few words or a chord change in the past.

7. TELL US WHO IS IN THE BOWERY BOYS AND WHO IS IN THE PURPLE HEARTS?

The Bowery Boys and The Purplehearts are the same band. I changed the name to Purplehearts but now we are back as the Bowery Boys because there is an ’80′s band called the Purple Hearts and they are still played on radio so it got confusing. I am the founding member of the Bowery Boys and have had many members come and go through the yrs.

8. DO YOU PLAY OTHER INSTRUMENTS BESIDE GUITAR? WHAT INSTRUMENTS?

Yes, I play piano, bass, drums, harmonica, and now I am trying the fiddle.

9. HAVE YOU DONE SESSION WORK? FOR WHO?

I once played a guitar track for a friends album but not really any other studio work. Live I played guitar for the “Jim Carroll Band” for a few shows, of which only one was recorded. That was a lot of fun.

10. TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORKING WITH DAVID PEEL.

David is a larger than life New Yorker. In your face and fearless. We became friends living near each other. He is very supportive of me always pushing me to record something. I had no idea who he was when we met about 6 yrs ago. I was knocked out when I saw the 2 You Tubes of him performing with John and Yoko in the 70′s. I help him out on bass when he performs. When I first played with him I was psyched because John Lennon played bass for him once and there I was, stepping into those shoes.

David is a lyricist, not much of a musician, he only knows a few chords, so I help him with the musican part. His lyrics are rather political and that isn’t my bag but I help him out because he is my friend. I don’t know what he was like when he was younger but I find him to be very smart and honest. He is very hip to the modern world.

11. WHO IN THE MUSIC WORLD GIVES YOU THE MOST INSPIRATION?

Life itself inspires my music when it comes to writing and performing. But I really like to listen to Chet Baker and Art Tatum and a few other Jazz musicians. I rarely listen to rock at home. I quite enjoy Indian and Japanese music too.

12. WHY DID YOU GET INTO MUSIC AS A CAREER?

I wouldn’t call it a career because I rarely get paid and I never made an album to sell. I intend to make one this year though. I have to sort through my junk drawer full of unfinished demos first, some of the better ones I put up on myspace.com and reverbnation.com

It is my passion to create and play music.

JOff WilsOn at facebook

Alan Rand on Facebook