Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes will forever personify the Jersey Shore rock & roll ethic; a sweltering compound of barroom funk, Muscle Shoals soul, white-punks-on-booze energy and a proud jubilation of the blue-collar mindset. So preternaturally East Coast they make Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band sound like No Doubt, the Jukes appear Saturday night at the Coach House, where the smell of salt-water taffy, Gennesse beer and steamed clams will supplant the eau de stuffed mushrooms and microbrew for one blessed evening. After years of floundering, the Jukes are back in a big way—their new album, Going to Jukesville, compares favorably to any of their classic albums from the '70s. I spoke with Southside Johnny Lyon last week.
OC Weekly: I actually think your new record is as good or better than anything you've ever done, even the classic albums.Southside Johnny Lyon: I can't deal with all that comparative stuff; it makes me nervous. Youhave to deal with it because I just said it.
No, I don't—I can live in my own world. I wanted to make an "up" album because I was sick of all the mope rock—you know, some good-looking 26-year-old guy with a record contract and perfect teeth moaning about how miserable his life is. But it's funny, the different responses—Bruce wrote an album about people's emotions in the wake of Sept. 11, which is his job. My job is for people to come out and lose their minds and forget all their troubles.
Okay, once and for all, who has a bigger dick: You or the Boss?
I never saw him naked, and I hope he never saw me naked.
You guys have been friends since you were kids and never saw each other's dicks?
What can I tell you? I try to avoid those situations. If there was something I wanted to see, I'd make the effort.
Your new album is so much better than his new album—clearly, Bruce Springsteen is your bitch. I think you should kick his fuckin' ass.
That's not true! I got what I wanted. He got what he wanted. I never wanted to be famous. I never wanted to have to talk to 83,000 fucking interviewers. I don't like being stopped on the street. It's a real effort, you know, "Oh, hi!" Jesus fucking Christ! Bruce writes Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan things; he wants to express certain things. I just like to have a good time, and when I'm off-duty, people leave me alone. I know Bruce real well, and I know Jon Bon Jovi real well, and I wouldn't want their lives.
Did you ever have to kick Jon Bon Jovi's ass for pretending his music has anything in common with yours just because he's a Jersey shore guy?
No, Jon's a very good friend, and he has been a good supporter over the years. And he's got some great songs. There's this kind of snob thing that goes on with him.
Did you ever sit down with him and say, "What's up with the hair problem here?"
Nope, I never do that kind of thing. You can't tell me "Living On a Prayer" isn't a great song, that it doesn't get something out of you.
Yes, I can.
No, you can't.
I just did.
To me, there's room for all that stuff. I grew up as the biggest blues snob. When the Beatles came out, I was listening to John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, Elmore James and Muddy Waters. The Beatles come out, and I go, "What the fuck is that?" The first records they made were as light and fluffy as Britney Spears. People like what they like. I'll hear someone listening to something, and I'll think, "Man, this is a real piece-of-shit album," but I don't want to take the fun out of anyone's life.
Well, you sure as hell tried to take the fun out of Eagles fans' lives when you made fun of them on your live record, at the height of their popularity. Did you ever cross paths with Don Henley after that, and if so, did you have to kick his ass?
I met those guys here and there, and they were always real nice. Of course, that was probably the drugs.
Why did so many people associate Mink DeVille with the punk rock scene when they really were just Jukes Lite? Did you ever shoot heroin with Willy DeVille?
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I know Willy, but I haven't seen him in years. And [The Jukes] got put in that punk thing, too. We went to England in '77, and a lot of the press over there said we were the "R&B Punks." And I was thinking, "No, we're not." But whatever.
So how about I round up a posse of mean, scary, Southern California music critics, and we'll help you kick everyone's ass I think you ought to kick? I've already developed a cool gang hand signal and everything.
Is there really such a thing as a mean, scary music critic? They all seem somewhat pliant to me.
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes perform at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 496-8930. Sat., 8 p.m. $26.50. 18+.