He's got a little old. Joe Jackson was an artist from the beginning who didn't care much about youthfulness. On his new studio work "Fool", the British stylist looks back on his career, which began forty years ago with the album "Look Sharp!", and on a good century of classical songwriting from George Gershwin to the Beatles and Kinks to the present day.
When we face Joe Jackson in a Berlin hotel in December, he has visibly aged compared to the last interview we did with him. He seems exhausted and moves sluggishly (he had slept badly the night before, we learn afterwards). Thus the snapshot of his appearance stands in stark contrast to the power and vitality that his new album "Fool" exudes.
eclipsed: You went to the studio right after the last tour. That's more like making jazz records. Is "Fool" a pop album in a jazz suit?
Joe Jackson: If it were a jazz record, there would probably be much more improvisation. But there are hardly any improvisations on the album. But she's very spontaneous. Since my very first album I haven't made a comparable production. Just four guys in a studio. It's really a tape album. I don't know why more musicians don't make albums like this. I don't even know why I don't do albums like this more often myself. You need a regular band for that. I've been working with these guys long enough to take that risk. I just have to start the engine, and it runs by itself.
eclipsed: Do you take the luggage of your famous pop albums, your symphony and your jazz records with you in such a production or do you throw it off beforehand?
Jackson: When I work on a new project, I don't think of anything else. I wonder what the material I'm working on at the moment needs and how best to deal with it. For me, my records are windows into a certain time of my life. But they're not autobiographical. I'm not abusing her as a diary. But of course I always reflect the time in which the songs are written. At the same time, everything you know flows into such a production. Most of it happens subconsciously. It's creepy. When I sit at the piano and try something out, the ideas come over me and suddenly I have half a song. It's like the stuff's already here. I just have to finish it.
eclipsed: Sounds like the rush of ideas is often too much for a single album?
Jackson: Many songs remain unfinished because I don't find them interesting enough. I often start with an idea that I like, but I don't manage to develop it further. Even if a song develops too much in a direction that I or someone else has already taken, I drop it. Sometimes I change it or write a new text. It's a constant experimentation. But if I manage to bring something to life, to give it a feeling of reality, then I know that I have something.