Jack Johnson, whose album In Between Dreams is nearing its 10th anniversary, is known for his mellow music and — keyword — presumably soft nature, but he is also one of the most politically active musicians in the country.
He has always been environmentally conscious, and he has partnered with the organization HeadCount to mobilize millennial voters via social media. Now finished with a lengthy world tour, he is focusing on politics during election season.
"We started realizing, our whole touring crew, that we're gathering people every night and there's some simple things we could do to motivate especially a younger crowd that are coming to their first show," Johnson told Rolling Stone.
"It's always a balance for us to create an atmosphere where people can learn and get inspired but not get preached to," he continued. "We tend to have an area with nonprofit groups set up where people can go. We try to incentivize people to get there with sometimes unannounced acoustic shows earlier in the night by myself and friends, or other times it's just ways they can win tickets to sit on the side of the stage. It's all tied into things we were naturally doing, which was trying to create an atmosphere where kids could get inspired."
What influenced him to take this directive?
"All the music I grew up on, the bands had things to say besides just in the songs," Johnson said. "That's why I was interested in them, because the songs were one vehicle they had to share ideas. When I'd go to their concerts and things I would learn about some new path they'd take me down, a new trail that was inspiring. So I try to emulate that same thing that all of my favorite musicians had done for me."
Johnson's most classic album, In Between Dreams, is nearing its 10th anniversary. He mentioned there might be a re-release of some sort in the works.
"A friend just sent me a few live recordings, the same guy who's run the front of [the] house for us since the very beginning, in 2001 or so," Johnson said. "He's got all these old recordings. Sometimes he'll send me really cool little things like, 'Hey, look what I just found!' He recorded any show we've had the capacity to record since the very beginning. He always sends me stuff where Kid Koala's spinning records with us and doing some trippy thing with phone tones from shows back in 2002.
"Sometimes I think it would be fun to dig through all the old sit-ins we've ever had. We were lucky to be part of that tradition and to see it early on, opening for bands like G Love & Special Sauce or Ben Harper — just the collaborative spirit. So anytime there's ever been a musician in-house, we've always invited them to come up on stage with us. I think it would be fun to put out a collaboration album with all the live moments of different people sitting in."