R13: How are you doing on this rainy Friday evening?

PJ: I’m good, pretty exhausted which isn’t surprising given the breakneck speed that we just ran around the country, but I will say that it gives me even greater respect for people who do this more full time than I do because Frank had to do more work than I did, I just had to wake up to be available for the car ride.

R13: As you mentioned, you have just finished a short run of shows with Frank Turner, how did the shows go?

PJ: They went really well, Frank’s audiences are made up of some of the most warmest and most welcoming people, they were ready and willing to listen, I received some of the warmer and kinder complements about my music at those shows. I was amazed and surprised at how on point some of comments were as when you make music you’re not sure whether people will hear what you’re trying to put out there, but after hearing some of the comments I realised that my attempts are landing correctly.
Everything was so easy with this tour, I didn’t want for anything, the crowds, his crew and the promoters were really nice. I was chatting to my buddy today and he asked how it went and I said it was really good and didn’t say much more, and he said “What’s up? Why aren’t you talking about it?”, I had to explain that there wasn’t much more to say, I didn’t have any stories to tell or anything to complain about as nothing went wrong. Everything was easy on this tour and the crowds were awesome.
R13: That’s good, what kind of comments were you hearing?
PJ: For years people would referred me as ‘folk-punk’, I don’t hear that at all, I don’t listen to folk-punk and I don’t think I’ve ever written a folk-punk song but if that’s what people were hearing, I guess my approach wasn’t coming through the way I wanted it to. However; during the most recent shows people would reference Bryan Adams or Johnny Cash, so that was great as that’s music I do listen to. Frank’s audience is pretty variant in terms of age, but one woman approached last night who would have been about 50, I’m 33 and she said “I’m a bit older than you so I don’t know that this reference will make any sense but you have a couple of songs where your voice really sounds like Johnny Cash.” I don’t know if that’s true but it’s a massive complement.
R13: Yes it is, I’d take that any day!
PJ: It really is, it would be different if someone was comparing me to someone I didn’t listen to or someone I didn’t understand the concept of but there are a couple of my songs where there is a bit more of a country vibe, and I’ll sing a bit lower in parts of it, so it makes me feel really good that people are seeing the effort I put in through a similar lens.

R13: You mentioned that people has previously labelled you as folk-punk, for those who haven’t heard your music, how would you describe it?
PJ: My new record is kind retro-Americana or alternative country Americana, at the end of the day, they are songs and I’m a singer-song writer. I believe a large reason of why people would want to listen to my music is because the songs are good not because the chords in a track sound like a certain band. Sometimes, I like to believe that I can sing pretty well and can play some cool melodies but I consider myself a songwriter so if you believe in the genre of singer-songwriter that’s what I would call it.

R13: You released your latest album; ‘Where Were You?’, a couple of months ago, have you been pleased with the response to it?
PJ: I have been, some people have really surprised me in a wonderful way. I’ve been working on this record for quite some time and I knew that fans of my old music might not like it because it is pretty different. My goal on this record was to do the songs justice and take them to places they wanted to go, some of the recording techniques were fairly old skool, and some of the song writing choices I made I’m really happy with but I wasn’t sure if people would get them; I’m amazed very happily so, that people do get the references. I have been hearing some great things and even those who don’t review the album positively, have still made comments in line with what I was attempting so then it just comes down to opinions of whether they enjoy it or not but the greater vision was realised.
The other cool thing for me was that I realised it in May, and came over in June/July to play UK dates so it almost felt like a second release in a sense as a lot more people found out about the record, and then these Frank dates just kicked it in the butt again so it is a pretty exciting feeling as it is like a new release to a different crowd.

R13: What inspired ‘Where Were You?’?
PJ: Like most of my music, it is me trying to make sense of where I am, more emotionally than physically. I don’t have a permanent home so I’m in different places physically a lot of the time. I was trying to make sense of how I felt about my place in life and my connections with my friends and my family. A few of the songs are my interpretation of stories that people had told me. I cut one song from the record as I dig deep into a heavy subject and have my take on it; my younger brother is studying ethnomusicology, and he said one thing you have to be careful of in writing is procreating someone else’s experience. There is a difference between talking about your own experience, feelings and emotions and making someone else’s and making it yours; depending on the experience it could be more damaging or less damaging so we decided to take the songs off the record. The songs that remain are the songs where I’ve tried to make sense of my world. The album is relationship motivated but not in a romantic sense.

R13: You used to play in bands, how did you make the transition from being in bands to being a singer-songwriter?
PJ: I was into the greater punk-scene, I was in an emo band but that then became an indie-rock band. I was always writing acoustic tracks, my young brother is an amazing songwriter and would play mostly acoustic stuff, I always loved his music and was positively envious of his skill and the songs he was writing. I went from being in bands that were either my band, being a democratic member or being a hired musician; when I was a hired musician I had a lot more time on my hands to make music that would be related to a rock band; there was always an acoustic guitar around so it just seemed like a natural progression.
The story is much longer than you want to hear, but the end result is I got tired of people dictating what my future would be either by bands breaking up or people firing me. My brother convinced me to record a few demos and we made a record just for fun, so I took it on the road. I hit the road pretty much full-time in April 2009, and now here we are in 2015.

R13: You’ve noted that you get a lot more freedom as a solo artist, but do you miss the level of companionship that comes from being in a band?
PJ: I absolutely miss being in a band, this week with Frank and his crew was obviously not that, but it was nice to be travelling with people who are likeminded and who share similar experiences. It is nice to travel with other songwriters and be on the road with others, but the fact with bands is that it takes a lot to organise all those people, you need bigger vehicles, there are more flights to pay for. In the past few years, I have tried to piece together likeminded musicians who want to work with me in a way that would be equally beneficial.

R13: Do you find it hard readjusting to life at home after you’ve been out on the road?
PJ: Well, I’ll be able to give you a much better answer in about a week when I am back at work! For about four or five years, I’ve only worked a job a couple of months per year when I go visit my brother in North Carolina generally in the summer when I’ve gone to unwind and relax. Other than that, I haven’t been home for very long so I haven’t had time to readjust. I average around 200 shows a year so there’s not a lot of downtime.

R13: What sensible day job will you be doing when you get home next week?
PJ: I was working in a gastro pub in Philadelphia, when I’m not thinking about music I’m pretty much exclusively thinking about food and beer. When I moved to Philadelphia, I took the chance to work in one of these places, before coming out on this tour I quit, they said when I’m back if there is any shifts available I could pick them up which was very kind but I didn’t really have any plans to go back. About a month ago I was wondering what the heck I was going to do when I got home as I’d got rid of my apartment and put things in storage and my buddy wrote me to tell me that his band had been offered a really cool tour, we worked at the same place so I’m literally going to go back and be him for five or six weeks, take his shifts and live in his apartment. It is not permanent but it gives me a month to figure things out.

R13: As you mentioned, for the last couple of years you have been touring a lot, where has been your favourite place to visit or play a show?
PJ: Probably Austria and Germany, I’ve made friends there, I have great audiences, the landscapes are beautiful and there are restaurants and beers which I love so both the human side and the business side are satisfied in both of those places. Last year I had the chance to go up to Scandinavia and play a bunch of shows in Sweden, Norway and Finland which was great, the promoters were mind-blowingly wonderful, the food was great. As it turns out, I’ve been talking to a guy who owns a record store over there and he has told me that my record is one of his best selling records right now so I guess I’ve got to go back!

R13: What can we expect to see from PJ Bond for the rest of 2015?
PJ: The rest of this year isn’t looking too crazy, I have some shows I’m looking to do in the States as I haven’t toured with this record over there. I was offered a couple of things I had to turn down as they didn’t feel like smart decisions for me, so I’ll be doing some short runs. Due to these Frank dates, I think it would be cool to revisit some of these cities in the not too distant future, so I’ll be chatting to booking agents.
I actually really want to go home and work on another record, because even though this is new to everybody else I actually started recording it in 2013. I was touring so much that it took a while to finish it, once I’d signed to Xtra Mile there were contract negotiations and then I was put on their release list so I signed in September 2014 but the record wasn’t released until May 2015. I love this record and I’m very proud of it but I’m ready to work on some new stuff before touring gets a little busier.

R13: Do you enjoy the whole writing and recording process?
PJ: I do, I was stressed before the last recording process as I felt like it was a make or break record but once we got into the first day of recording I was a little unsure but feeling better, by the third day, I knew the record was going to be cool. We did four big days where we did the majority of the recording as we recorded live, there are only a couple of songs that have been overdubbed. I gained a lot of confidence and learned a ton from recording that way, so I’m hoping next time I’ll enjoy the process a whole lot more.
My writing process is equally exciting as it is frustrating because if you catch hold of something and can see it through to the end that is very exciting but it can be scary and frustrating. I have a couple of tunes that I’m excited about and have been listening to some records which I think will give some cool inspiration so I’m excited to get back home and sink my teeth into it.

R13: Now before I let you go and enjoy your Friday night, I have a very important question to ask; I heard you used to work in a pizza shop, what is your favourite topping?
PJ: Who told you that?!
R13: I do my research, what can I say?!
PJ: That is impressive! For a moment I was like ‘I never worked in a pizza shop’ then I realised that was my very first job. That is awesome. Favourite pizza topping… I’m going to go with mushrooms, I do love mushrooms on pizza but also because if you try and draw a cartoon of a pizza, I think they look the most obvious as a topping. Peppers and onions don’t look like anything, even meat apart from pepperoni could be anything. I have a tattoo of a pizza slice with mushrooms on it because I don’t eat meat and we realised that mushrooms are the most obvious thing.
I’m a pretty traditional guy if I go to a new pizza place I’ll always just get a cheese or margherita, if I’m getting a couple of pies I’ll start talking about other toppings.
R13: A pizza tattoo, that is interesting…
PJ: Like I said, I have a mild obsession with food when you mix that with friends who are tattooists and recklessness with your skin you end up with cruel, ridiculous, funny tattoos.

R13: I’m not sure it was that reckless given the consideration to mushrooms! Anyway, that’s about all I need so I’ll let you go find some food and beer and enjoy your Friday night.
PJ: Awesome, thanks for taking the time to speak to me, I appreciate it.