In Conversation With . . . Jon Middleton of Jon and Roy

Jon and Roy is the name of a west coast duo that merges reggae and acoustic folk to create original, mesmerizing music that showcases thoughtful lyrics. See the Voice review of their latest CD, Another Noon, here.

The duo comprises singer-guitarist Jon Middleton and drummer Roy Vizer, with indispensable musical aid from bassist Ryan Tonelli. The opening riff from one of their songs was recently used on a Volkswagen commercial.

Jon Middleton, who also writes the songs for the group, recently spoke with Wanda Waterman St. Louis while he was travelling from Victoria via BC Ferries to sing the national anthem at a Vancouver Canucks game.

Influences, Musical and Intellectual

Nirvana, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley?those are the three big influences for me, musically. As for books, I’ve been influenced by Tom Robbins and the book Cosmos by Carl Sagan. I like the way Sagan portrays science; instead of reducing science to numbers he brings it to a level where people can relate to it without separating it from the spiritual side of existence.

Staying on Top of Your Game

Being on tour everything all blends together into one big, weird experience. We haven’t had to camp out on the side of the road in minus 20-degree weather or anything like that but touring is definitely its own thing that takes getting used to.

I’m starting to enjoy it but It’s very tiring. There’s a lot of waiting around, not much exercise, not great eating, and alcohol is a little too readily available. You definitely have to put the time in to look after your health. Your body feels depressed after a short time of not sleeping or eating properly, and when you perform you want to be on top of your game. The biggest thing I do for my health is walk a lot. I walk just about everywhere I go.

Songwriting: The Insignificance of Time

Generally songwriting starts with just fooling around on the guitar and coming up with a riff or some chords. Sometimes it will all come out in an hour and sometimes it will take over a year to come together as a full song. On Another Noon over half the songs came to me over the summer, but there are a few songs that have been lying around for between two and five years. The title track was written pretty much start to finish on a work break.

Rehearsals

Our rehearsals are pretty casual. We’ve got a jam space in Roy and Ron’s basement. I’ll bring something I’ve been working on downstairs and then we jam on it a bit. We like everyone to add his own improvisations without too many restrictions.

There’s a lot of freedom in what Roy and Ryan and I are able to do. we’ll definitely make suggestions on each other’s playing, but I think the best way to make music is just to let everyone do what they want to do and then refine it afterwards. Otherwise It’s just too controlled and contrived. The songs we really enjoy playing are the ones that come naturally.

%d bloggers like this: