When he's not playing Avery on the hit show Nashville, Jonathan Jackson is focused on his real life band, Jonathan Jackson + Enation.
The anthemic rock group, which includes his brother Richard Lee Jackson on drums, are a tight and versatile unit, and have been playing together for over ten years. On Friday at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville, they'll kickstart the Radio Cinematic tour in support of their fourth studio album. We asked Jackson about what to expect from their set list, his predictions for the next season of Nashville and more.
It's the eve of the tour. How are you feeling?
I'm feeling great. It's been kind of a whirlwind of getting ready and preparing the various songs and everything. But we're excited. We released the album in October and I've been itching to get out on the road, once my schedule opened up, so we're thrilled.
What can fans expect from the show?
We're gonna play a lot off of the new record. We'll probably be playing ten out of the twelve tracks live. We've been a band for over ten years, so we have some stuff in our catalog that we'll be playing. We've also been working on some really fun covers that we've never played before. Some rock bands that have really influenced us over the years like Pearl Jam, R.E.M., U2, Radiohead, so that's been a lot of fun to get some of those songs ready. For U2, we'll do "The Fly" from Achtung Baby. From Pearl Jam, we've been working on "In My Tree" from No Code, and Radiohead's "Exit Music (From A Film)" and stuff from OK Computer. We grew up on those bands and they've influenced our music so much that it's just been a blast working through that stuff.
Do you plan on doing any of the songs from the show Nashville?
We have a few of those in the set. One of them is a song that I wrote called "The Morning Of The Rain" and it's also on Radio Cinematic. There's another song from Season 1 called "Keep Asking Why" that we like to play, which is a really fun Americana, rock and roll song.
When did you last tour as Enation?
It's been a couple of years since we've actually hit the road, so it's long overdue. A lot of what we've been able to do over the last few years has been more one offs and flying out on weekends, with my filming schedule and everything.
How would you describe the band for someone who's never heard you before?
It's tough to talk genres these days, because everything's sort of broken apart, but it's rock music with a certain yearning in it. The bands that I mentioned like R.E.M., Pearl Jam and U2 were big influences. We don't necessarily sound like them, but there's similarities in our approach.
When I was 13 or 14 I saw a live DVD of U2 and it had a big influence on me. I love playing guitar as well as singing, so I grew up listening to The Edge and studying his approach to songs. I just love the way he looks for melodies with his playing. Over the years I've tried to figure out how the guitar as an instrument can be as melodic as possible with the vocals.
Since we've been a band for so long, we kind of have a musical instinct with each other. We've had other members through the years, but it's been the same three guys from the beginning. It's been fun to explore music as a three piece over the past three years, because each instrument becomes extremely vital.
Were you into country music or classic rock as a kid?
Yeah, a little of both. I listened to country music because my dad, he's a doctor, but he's also a country music singer and songwriter. So I listened to Keith Whitley, Don Williams, Alison Krauss, Garth Brooks, all sorts of great country artists. My uncle got me into classic rock. He taught me how to play guitar when I was little, and he was huge into The Beatles and The Who and everything.
We do have some folk music elements to our music as well. I love Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and that kind of stuff. We try to blend some of the louder edgier rock music with some more poetic, intimate stuff.
Is it special for you to play in the city of Nashville, given your association with the show?
Absolutely. The support we've gotten from the city here is just incredible. I've been living here for over three years now, and it's really fun for us to kick off the tour here in Nashville.
As an actor, you won five Emmys for your role on General Hospital. Is it fair to say that Nashville is kind of like a soap opera?
Oh, sure, it definitely has those elements. It's a character ensemble cast with all the different intertwining romances and relationships, very similar to soap operas. And there's high stakes drama and all of that. But one of the things I love about Nashville the most is how the music blends in with the story. It's a really unique thing that Callie Khouri created with the show.
Is there anything you'd like to see happen to any of the characters next season?
I'm always curious what the musical journey of the characters is gonna be, so it'll be interesting to see if Avery starts to have another go-around with some of his music. He put that on the back burner after a bad experience with his first record deal. But the obvious conflict and drama right now is between Avery and Juliette and whether they can make their marriage work.
What's the last good concert you've been to?
The Black Keys at the Bridgestone was really fun, and I got to see Buddy Miller live at the Basement, which was incredible.
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