This is the folk that Jack built

By Paula Yeoman

Paula Yeoman meets a musicisn who gives all his tour profits to charity.

Jack Johnson is looking forward to touring and says he feels right at home in New Zealand
Jack Johnson is looking forward to touring and says he feels right at home in New Zealand

Jack Johnson returns to his laid-back roots on his new offering From Here To Now, an album inspired by family and his Hawaiian home.

After delving into darker material on his last two albums - well, as dark as a Jack Johnson record gets - the singer-songwriter dusted off his trusty acoustic guitar and wrote most of the songs on his front porch in between dips in the sea and surfing.

He also called on long-time friend and producer Mario Caldato jnr, who worked on his earlier surf-folk offerings On and On and In Between Dreams.

"We both had our first kids during the last album we did together. So, more than anything, we wanted to get our families together again before too much time had passed. He brought his family out and all the kids were playing around the studio."

It's this cosy laid-back warmth that seeps into the title track and songs like Washing Dishes, Don't Believe A Thing and You Remind Me Of You.

It's also the sound that first endeared Johnson to New Zealanders in the early 2000s and why he's always held a soft spot for Kiwis.

"Things really connected when I first came to Aotearoa," says Johnson. "It was so interesting for me; hearing all the different words. Even the word Maori - in Hawaii the word is Maoli, which just means person. And then there are other words like aroha and aloha. The cultures have so much to do with each other."

So Johnson is thrilled that he gets to kick off his first Australasian show here.

However, he's now a little disappointed that he's only playing in Auckland and won't be travelling the country, surfing as he goes, as he's done in the past.

"That's the thing, I start looking at the touring schedule and I'm like, 'Wait, why are we only playing in Auckland?' and then everyone reminds me that I'm the one who didn't want to tour much.

"It's hard, because I have to make sure I find the right balance between family time and playing music," he says.

Besides, these days it's more about giving back than it is seeing the world as 100 per cent of his tour profits going to charity.

It seems like a lot to give away at a time when album sales are at an all-time low and touring is where the money's made.

But Johnson just shrugs and jokes that all it means, is he'll be forgoing the "really nice big Hummer or Ferrari".

Jack Johnson's new album From Here To Now is out on Friday, September 13. Johnson will perform at the ASB Theatre in Auckland on December 3.

- Herald on Sunday

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