Dear Guitar Hero: Joan Jett answers fan questions

Joan Jett answered fan questions in the November issue of Guitar World magazine, and the full article is now available online. Here’s a snippet:

I have really bad performance anxiety. Did you ever experience that? Any tips on how to get over it? — Amanda Hoffman

I’m always nervous before I go onstage…and I want to be nervous. If I’m not nervous, something is wrong. When I start performing my anxiety goes away, and I think that’s true for a lot of people. I would also say don’t think while you’re onstage. When I’m thinking, What are the chords? What are the words? then I definitely fuck up.

I have to be an empty vessel. If I don’t know the words, if it’s a new song or whatever, I’ll have the lyrics down on the stage. I’ll make it part of the show that the audience is seeing me learn a new song. Some people might think it’s stupid to be scared, but it’s a very natural thing and I think it can be a good motivator. Just keep it channeled and you can use it for a better performance. Oh, and I’d also say don’t party to get over it. It will affect your performance in a bad way. I know that from experience, too.

I read that one of the songs on Unvarnished was about living through Hurricane Sandy. Can you talk about that experience? — Paul

“Make It Back” is about how people come back after a tragedy. Specifically for me it was Hurricane Sandy. I live on the beach in a town called Long Beach [New York], and we got whacked. I was home for the hurricane, because I wanted to protect my house and what was in it. I had animals there.

It was really scary. It was also scary to see how little it was covered in the press. I travel a lot and there was no coverage, but the devastation was so severe. So that song was about seeing people be devastated and lose everything and collectively go, “What are we gonna do?” Then somebody or something changes the energy. And then it’s like you have to rebuild…or die. And then you see that spirit go through everybody, and everyone starts helping. It was a beautiful thing to see. And I saw it first-hand.

You’ve had great success with cover songs. How do you choose songs, and what’s the key to making them your own? — Tanya

Well, some of them have been suggestions. I trust my songwriting partner Kenny Laguna’s instinct a lot. Early on he suggested “Wooly Bully,” which was an obscure fun song that went over great live. But the songs come from all over. Like AC/DC [“Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”]. That’s a song I used to dance to at a club called Rodney [Bingenheimer’s] English Disco [in Los Angeles] before the Runaways even started.

They used to play British glitter music from the Seventies. And that’s where I got turned on to bands like the Sweet. Making it your own? I try and not change much as far as the arrangements go, because that’s what made me fall in love with the song in the first place. I think me singing and playing them is change enough.

Read the rest at guitarworld.com here–> http://www.guitarworld.com/dear-guitar-hero-joan-jett-talks-gibson-melody-makers-runaways-pre-show-jitters-and-more

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