Interview: Sean Bonnette describes his connection to Australia ahead of AJJ’s return for Yours & Owls

The Yours & Owls Festival is returning to Wollongong this month with one of its strongest line ups yet – featured on it is Phoenix’s own AJJ. The band formerly known as Andrew Jackson Jihad have been hyping up their wider Australian tour dates for a few months now, their return to our shores marking their first dates in this area of the globe since touring with The Smith Street Band in 2015.

Talking with songwriter and vocalist Sean Bonnette, he describes the upcoming tour excitedly – Australia has carved a special spot out in his heart.

“Australia had a lot to do with the last record we made, The Bible 2including the album cover art. The characters I was drawing that ended up on the album cover were actually born in Australia! I hope I can come back and get some more cool ideas for records.”

The Bible 2, released last year, saw AJJ focus on the live elements of recording music but as Bonnette expresses, he’d like future albums to perhaps head in a different direction.

“In this case I would say that the live and recording processes mirror [each other].” he explains. :We made two albums in the studio that were very much live and were focused on being with the full five piece band. For the last couple of years, I’d say our live show has mirrored that, while at the same time, trying to include in the set bits that hark back to the more minimalist approaches. I’d say, going forward, I would like to think that we’d be doing things that are a bit more studio driven and hopefully, a little more experimental. Outside of the rock and roll idiom. That probably involves going back to folk a little bit, too.”

A seasoned performer and of course, a seasoned writer, Bonnette and AJJ have been developing their craft for over ten years now yet there are experiences, such as touring, that haven’t lost their sheen over time. The concept of bringing music to crowds around the world as the band has been able to do remains one that Bonnette says is exciting and drives the creative element of the band’s ethos as much as it did when they first started working together.

“That core ethic has remained the same, for sure. Everything else, we try to change as much as possible. I always try to view touring as an extension;  whether I’m getting paid to do it or having to save up to go and do it, I view it as a worthwhile and fun vacation with lots of hard work.”

“I think it’s a very beautiful thing,” he says of touring. “it’s something I’m very grateful for. For me, music is its own reward; I get a lot of out writing songs. Then, thinking about how music can also be responsible for me seeing places that I never, in a million years, thought I would get to go to and what’s more, getting paid to go to those places? It’s just incredible.”

AJJ AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES

September 27th | Crowbar, BRISBANE
September 28th | Hamilton Station Hotel, NEWCASTLE
September 29th | The Lair, SYDNEY
September 30th | Transit Bar, CANBERRA
October 1st | Yours & Owls Festival, WOLLONGONG
October 4th | Ed Castle, ADELAIDE
October 5th | Club 54, LAUNCESTON
October 7th | The Reverence Hotel, MELBOURNE
October 8th | Wrangler Studios, MELBOURNE | All Ages