TCG: On the new album, which songs came to you early on in the recording process?
JL: Well, I mean I didn't write this album for an album. When I got out of all the record deals and management deals, which took me over five years to be released from those, I didn't work in that time. And then when I did start to work, it was purely to challenge myself, to sort of prove my own self-worth to me as a songwriter. So the album wasn't for anybody else and it wasn't written for an album initially. It was just me sitting down writing. And eventually after having over two albums worth, it was time to do something about it. But, I mean some of the songs were written five or ten years ago. Some of them were written two years ago. Some of them were written in the studio. It was all a question of how to record it, put it together in such a way that still gave all the songs the best chance they could and still approach it on the most natural way possible, again which was using the natural ambience miking techniques, etc, etc.
TCG: What convinced you to return to the recording world?
JL: Well, I tell you it was a tough choice. I was having such a nice life not being in this industry, that the thing that really, really sort of motivated me to get back into this and to do this again was the fact that, if I did leave the industry I just felt that the last four albums were just not a good enough legacy to leave behind. And I just felt that I just wanted to do something on my own terms, because I felt that the last four albums had so much intrusion and influence by other people ... whether it was the label, whether it was the management or whether is was even the producers to a certain degree. I didn't feel that any one of the early ones was a complete true reflection of who I was and how I worked, and I felt there were moments, as I said, but not a complete body of work. So, this album was written for me. I wrote it for myself and to put it together and try and release it in such a way that there wasn't any interference by anybody and that it just got out there and hopefully they would see the real Jules underneath all of that. I just felt that a lot of the work was overproduced to a certain degree before.
TCG: I know the album was out in England first. How did you hook up with your new American label, Fuel 2000?
JL: Well, I mean we were just basically just looking at offers. What ever came in, we told them that our objective was to remain in control, to work with another company, but mostly oversee everything and anything that was going on. And because of their ties and links, they already had the Universal distribution in place. So it was much easier to go that route, and what was on the table at that particular point in time was exactly what I felt we needed. So that's why, as opposed to anybody else, we went with Fuel, because of what they offered to us, that we could still maintain control over everything that was going on.
TCG: Why do you feel that Photograph Smile feels like the first real Julian Lennon album?
JL: Well because it's the first time there's been no intrusion. That's the first time that other people haven't influenced me or made decisions for me on my behalf. That at the end of the day, not only co-producing it, but overseeing the whole project allowed me to do exactly what I wanted to do instead of being told what to do which was what the case was before.
TCG: How did you meet your producer Bob Rose?
JL: Oh, I bumped into him over many years, but actually how we got reintroduced was through an acquaintance of mine, whose now a great friend of mine, a guy called Greg Darling, who played keyboards on this and did a bit of co-writing with me on this. He used to be in a band called Darling Cruel, who I used to go and see a lot. He just did an album with Bob Rose, and I heard the album and I said I really enjoyed the simple production on it, the raw production. Then we hooked up in France, just got chatting about our likes and dislikes, about music and the industry, and then finally I just played him a couple of things and he said to me, "well, why don't we just go into the studio, no pressure this time, no time clocks, nobody knocking an the door saying it's not commercial or up tempo enough. You take charge, you finance it so it remains yours, and we'll bring a bunch of guys together that we both know and get in the studio and just play around." We were only supposed to go in for three or four days. At the end of the first week, we'd already done 11 tracks. So it was a very freeing and comfortable position.
TCG: Is Bob Rose from England?
JL: No, he's American. He used to play with Dr. John, he used to play in a band called Ambrosia. He's been in many bands but he's also done a lot of production. He's worked with Roy Orbison, Edie Brickell, you name it, and he's been on the inside of the industry too, so he's very knowledgeable about both sides of the story.
TCG: How would you compare him to your earlier producer, Phil Ramone?
JL: Well, it's a different scenario. They're both great producers, but this time around, it's me that's calling the shots.
TCG: What do you look for in a producer?
JL: I look for someone who I can bounce ideas off, that we can work together. That we have the same vision and the same goal with what the album's going to be like. Simple as that really.
TCG: Do you ever consult with George Martin?
JL: Why would I do that? (laughter)
TCG: On the new album, one of my favorite tracks is the song "Believe". It is a really beautiful song.
JL: Well, it's wishful thinking. It's hope, y'know. It's if everybody would let go of their anger and their judgments. You know their situation in life if everybody understood how simple it could be and how straightforward it could be, by respecting and having love in their lives that things could be a lot more different than they are now.
© 1999 20th Century Guitar
Background/Flowers from the 'Photograph Smile'
CD inlet by Angelika Letsch.
'Hey Jules' © 1998 - 2002 CJ Burianek