John Lee Hooker Jr.: All Odds Against Me
JLHJ: Very significant. I was held back for so long, all of the emotions and desires to let my gifts go, free them if you will. It was like a wild bull in captivity, and as soon as you let him go, he comes out with a vengeance. After being freed from prison and the long addiction of drugs, I was mad, mad because I have been held down so long by the darkness that blinded me. It made its mark with a Grammy nomination, W.C. Handy award, Comeback Artist of the Year," and California Music Award. It did very well. I was free inside of everything.
AAJ: You are presently doing a lengthy tour of Europe promoting your latest release All Odds Against Me. How is your music received there?
JLHJ: In Europe, they love us. My dad made it big over there before getting big over here. That's not the formula I am following, but they are just crazy about the blues. They appreciate us very much.
AAJ: On this latest release, you revisit the song "Blues Ain't Nothin' But a Pimp." This number, with its strong horn line, first appeared on Blues with a Vengeance. On this track, there was an animated video created. How did the video come about?
JLHJ: In my liner notes and acknowledgments, it mentions a gentleman by the name of Laurent Mercier, an animator. His dad was a jazz musician, who loves John Lee Hooker as well, as did his dad. He thought one day after hearing about me, seeing a DVD, how cool it would be to do a animated cartoon of someone's son whom his dad loved. He contacted management. I was contacted with the idea, and it didn't take me long to decide. I came up on cartoons. I dreamt of using my voice behind a character, so I jumped at the idea, but with caution saying to myself, "I can't believe this will happen." But it did. He asked for a song, asked which song did I felt had drama. I said, "Blues Ain't Nothin' But A Pimp."
AAJ: Of the tracks on this new CD, which are your favorites? Is there anything we should keep in mind regarding these tracks?
JLHJ: "Stressed Out "and" There's A Struggle." But I am really impressed by them all. Well one more, "The People Want a Change." The thing to keep in mind is: This music is a bowl, and all these songs are either about something I've witnessed or about my dark past. I am trying to educate the listener, and yet make them laugh, make them think, try to encourage them, telling them: You can do this, don't give up!
AAJ: When can your U.S. fans expect you to return to the states for a tour?
JLHJ: I will return to the states for a break in January 2009.
AAJ: Was there any one thing that your father told you that still rings true today?
JLHJ: Yes, that "People are funny son; just stay focused, and be true. Don't react to foolishness. Just stay professional, and be sure to keep on praying, and work hard. Failure is quick, success takes awhile. Be patient Junior, you hear?"
Bottom: Robert Ailstock
John Lee Hooker Jr., All Odds Against Me, (Steppin' Stone Records, 2008)
John Lee Hooker Jr., Cold As Ice (Telarc, 2006)
John Lee Hooker Jr., Blues With a Vengeance (Kent Records, 2004)
John Lee Hooker, Live at Soledad Prison (ABC, 1972)