Busking, Surfing, Plugging in: Jack Johnson's Euro Trip - Rolling Stone
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Busking, Surfing, Plugging in: Jack Johnson’s Euro Trip

The singer’s new DVD documents gigs in France, U.K., Germany

Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson at the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival on August 24th, 2008 in San Francisco, California.

Steve Jennings/WireImage/Getty

“I’m trippin’,” says Jack Johnson, checking in from his pad on Oahu’s North Shore. “We have a brand-new baby in the house, my boys are throwing up and this is the first interview I’ve done in a long time.” To clarify: Four days before this inter­view, Jack and his wife, Kim, welcomed a baby girl; his two sons have the flu; and since his previous tour wrapped last year, he’s been holed up in Ha­waii. On October 27th, John­son will release a live CD from the ’08 tour and a DVD, Jack Johnson En Concert, which captures shows in Holland, France and Germany, as well as a massive gig in London’s Hyde Park. (Johnson will do­nate profits from the DVD to his environmental foundation.) Along the way, Johnson surfed a man-made canal in Munich and ran into J. Lo in Barce­lona. “We passed each other on the street,” he says. “I think she recognized me, but my wife told me I was full of it.”

I know you hate to be on camera. Have you watched the “En Concert” DVD?
I watched it once with my brother, and that’s probably the last time I’ll ever see it. I like to watch things with him because he’s my harshest critic. If you think my reviews in Rolling Stone have been bad, he heck­les me even harder.

On the DVD, you’re playing an electric guitar. What’s up with that?
That was the first tour I played electric. I got that red Gibson 335 at Guitar Center in L.A., when we were recording the last album. Going into a Gui­tar Center is intimidating, be­cause there’s always guys wail­ing away, and I’ve got nothing — I don’t have any chops. I can only play a few chords.

I enjoyed the scene where you’re running through Munich with a surf board under your arm, without a shirt.
I was at soundcheck, and somebody came over and said, “Do you want to go surfing?” I thought he was joking. The guy was like, “I’m serious. I have a board i n my car.” There’s a man-made canal in Munich that goes from wide to narrow, which creates this little stand­ing wave. I’d only seen them in surf magazines. It was really hard — I’d get on and get sucked right off.

There’s also a scene where you sit in with some kids playing music on the street. Did you ever busk?
I’d call it pseudo-busking. In 1997, I was going through Eu­rope after college. I always had a guitar, and I’d sit in parks and sing my own songs. I was afraid to go all the way, though. I couldn’t bring myself to put out a hat.

I saw you drag a glass of wine onstage. What kind do you prefer?
I’m not real picky. Just red. I hit my head pretty hard [dur­ing a surf accident when he was 18], and I lost a good part of my sense of smell. I’m not a connoisseur or anything. Just as long as it’s not rotten.

There’s a line in your song “Angel,” “Be careful when you’ve got good love, ’cause them angels will just keep on multiplying.” How many kids do you want to have?
It’s a pretty big deal when a female pops out in our male-dominated family, so I think this is it — we’ve got our girl. 

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