September 28 2018

Annie O Presents: Jonathan Rice

Los Angeles-Standard Sounds
To say he's a singer-songwriter, would simply not do the illustrious career of Jonathan Rice justice. The Scottish-American has not only had stints as a producer of renowned films, he is also known as Instagram's very own beat poet, and author of his very first book, Farewell My Dudes: 69 Dystopian Haikus.

Annie O, the powerhouse behind The Standard's Annie O Music Series, caught up with the artist just before his anticipated show at the Penthouse of The Standard, East Village.

Where are you based these days?

I live on the western edge of Los Angeles. I’ve lived all over the city during my fifteen years here, but never by the beach until now. It’s quiet. I like it.

How many solo albums have you recorded?

I've recorded four solo records.

Can you tell us a bit about your new album and what it means to you?

This record means a lot to me. It was made during a difficult time in my life, and I can hear that in the songs and performances. I like to think of it as a long walk home, alone at night in Los Angeles.

Tell us about your new single “ Meet the Mother” and the humor behind it.

This song is an outlier in my catalog because it’s my attempt at writing something funny. I ended up in a conversation with Bill Murray one night about relationships, and he told me, ‘Well, you’ve got to meet the mother.’ I carried that phrase with me for years. It felt totemic. I don’t necessarily think that we are just facsimiles of our parents. Real life is way more nuanced than that. But songs aren’t real life. Songs are shorter. I always wanted to write a song that had a cyclical refrain, kinda like ‘You don’t miss your water till your well runs dry.’ The song is written in a pretty traditional style, but Tony Berg and Mike Viola kind of went for a Suicide meets Nebraska thing with the production.

You have released your first book, Farewell My Dudes: 69 Dystopian Haikus, what is the main idea behind this concept?

A couple years ago I started writing haikus and posting them on my Instagram. They made me feel less self-conscious than just posting pictures of myself. They are kind of a playful look at our strange, ultra-wired world. I call them “Dystopian Haiku” because unlike the traditional Japanese haiku they are not meditations on the natural world and its beauty. They are more like texts from your stoned cousin at 2am.

You are called a beat poet for the Instagram generation- is that a fair assumption?

I don’t think anyone else wanted that designation so it fell to me to run with it.

You presented some of the poems as video readings, specifically one with Anne Hathaway, have you collaborated with her on other projects?

Anne chose to read one of my poems on her own volition, most of the folks who’ve read them on Instagram did the same. Some I have reached out to, as well. I’ve worked with Anne a bit over the years. We made a film together called Song One in 2014 that’s about how music connects people.

Any future touring? How big is your band?

I plan to go all over with this record. The initial touring will all be completely solo. That’s the kind of record I made, one that can be performed in the starkest presentation.

What are you listening to these days more than once...

The “Trouble No More” record from Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series. It’s the “Christian-era” stuff. It’s gold.

What can we expect from your performance at The Standard, East Village as part of the Annie O Music series?

I’m going to read some poems that will hopefully make you laugh and sing some songs that might do the complete opposite. You will leave the hotel in a state of emotional confusion and stumble out into the night, wondering what just happened. I mean, that’s what I’m going for, anyway.

INTERVIEW BY
Annie O