Jon Spencer of the Blues Explosion: My Life in 10 Songs

From Pussy Galore to 'Freedom Tower,' the combustible blues-punker looks back

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Blues Explosion, "Hot Gossip" feat. Chuck D (2004)

Working with Chuck D. Who would have thought? What a sweet guy, what a nice guy. At that time Russell Simins had a studio on West 28th St., I think it was. It was in the Flower District, which is no longer even the Flower District. But he had a studio, it was on the 15th floor or something and from one of the windows you could see the Empire State Building. Damage [from 2004] was written there and there's a lost album between [2002's] Plastic Fang and Damage. And we're gonna try to put this out. We always call it "the black album." A tribute to Prince's Black Album. We wrote tons and tons of stuff and it was a proper studio, so it was all being recorded

You know, it's one of the few overtly political songs [in the JSBX catalog]. This was after 9/11, we are a New York band we are residents of New York City. That song was coming out of a great frustration and horror, not so much with the events of September 11th, but with seeing how the rest of the country. . . You know this was something that happened to us, in a way. That morning I was taking my son to school. I'm on the M14 bus going crosstown and looking down 6th Ave, you could see fire. The first plane had just hit so it was something that was very, very personal to all of us in the band. And then to see how things went down following that and the ways in which the government and this country used something. . .Maybe this is entirely naïve or I'm oversimplifying it, but I was in the middle of this thing. We all lived through this you know, and it felt so bad to see all this wrong done afterwards, in our name.

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