There seems to be a great camaraderie between Jack Jones and Rick Price. You may be like me and only remember them for their 90s Australian chart successes as individual artists, but there is a lot more to know than that.
In our discussion about their collaborations, separate musical careers and life in general, there was plenty of laughter and mutual appreciation for music and fun.
The album is certainly long-awaited. “Yeah, we’d only been talking about it for like 20 years (laughter),” Jack said.
After the laughter subsides, Rick explains the impetus for their collaboration in the form of the ARIA-charting Hotel California album.
“The initial inspiration came from a book that was titled Hotel California and it documented the history of that west coast lower canyon area of Los Angeles where groups like The Eagles, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, The Byrds, The Mamas and The Papas they all sort of sprung out of that region. We thought it was worthy of presenting music that came out of that period. It was a lovely combination of the fact that Jack and I had been looking for an excuse to make a record together and there it was.”
The two artists have much more of a history together than you might think. As they reveal this history and how they plan to bring the album to life, you get a sense of artists who have been together for years.
“We met quite young, like in the 90s, and we did a bunch of shows then and after a few tours together thought we should really do a record or something,” Rick said.
“We’ll be using a full band for this. We’ll also be doing our respective hits from our previous life. It’s kind of like the California Dreaming Rick and Jack Greatest Hits tour (more laughter in background).”
It’s pleasing to hear Jack say the audience will still get to experience the classic hits that made them wellknown to Australian audiences in the 90s.
“The other thing that this record has done is, like when we used to do our acoustic gigs together, we’d go on together and play a couple of songs together then I’d go on and do the first set then come Rick would do his set, then we’d go back on together again at the end,” Jack said.
“This record is every song with us singing together so we’re looking to do some of our own hits in a similar way. I’ll do a little bit of ‘Heaven Knows’ or a bit of ‘Days Go By’ hopefully a bit lower than the original key and Rick will take a bit of pressure off me with a bit of ‘Hold me in Your Arms.’ It’s fun man, it’s gonna be fun.”
I was intrigued to learn about their current lives as residents of the USA, and their very early musical careers that lead to them to becoming household names in Australia.
“Coincidentally, without even knowing about it, we both migrated to America at the same time, in about 2009,” Jack said.
“We’ve had similar experiences, the planet’s a small place now and it’s easier to get around. The great thing with music is collaboration and that was a big part of my reasoning for going to America. It makes for a richer life experience but it also makes going back to Australia even more pleasurable because I think as Australians we all know that we live in a lucky country.”
Rick yells: “Aint that the truth!” in the background.
Rick now lives in Nashville and Jack in New York, with both places clearly influencing their current careers.
“There’s an energy about places like LA, New York, Nashville they all have a sort of certain vibe. When you grow up in a place like Australia it’s easy to take it for granted. Like I love New York, there’s no other place in the world like it. It can be an absolute assault on the senses too, it can be a brutal place to be so you know when you go there it’s like this is amazing but it’s a different place to call home.
“One of the great things I love about Nashville is being able to have access to such greatness whether it be engineers, mastering guys, musicians obviously. Rick’s got a treasure trove of unparalleled talent and artists to work with there. Like the guy that played the pedal steel solo on Linda Ronstadt’s ‘Blue Bayou’, like he’s sitting playing right next to us, playing on our record! And I’m like ‘really, seriously, that’s amazing.’ That is something that I think is really special. Its places like that where all these cats are.”
Both artist have interesting stories for how they built their illustrious careers.
“I begged my mum for a ukulele when I was two when I saw a guy on the street playing one,” Jack said.
“I think that was the first time I showed interest. My mum has cassettes of me singing and stuff when I was little. I really just wanted to be a guitar player, or I wanted to be like the musical director for Lionel Richie or something. The whole gig for me playing with the Sons came out me being asked to join as a singer, and I was like ‘I’m not a singer’ but I’d love to play guitar in your band. I then auditioned as the guitar player and I got the gig. It was just sort of fortuitous that we had a sound check one day and our singer was sick and I just stepped in and it went from there.
“Since then I discovered more bands that I couldn’t listen to as a guitarist. Like I couldn’t listen to the Beatles because I was like ‘Oh my god they’re out of time’ or ‘George’s guitar isn’t tuned’ and then once I became a songwriter I was like ‘you’ve missed out on so much.’ That was my trajectory and it kind of comes full circle back to this album because a lot of those artists are singer-songwriters.
For Rick, music is in his blood.
“I grew up in a musical family, we lived in the country so by the time I was eight we had a family band and we would play at country barn dances every weekend. I went to a Catholic school so I would sing in church choirs, I’m just a singing fool from a very young age.
“Self-taught instruments, drums and guitar. I was singing in nightclubs when I was 11. I became a professional musician right out of school. I moved to Sydney when I was 18, slept on couches, joined a few bands. I then made a bit of a career as a session singer in the studio but I realised I wanted something more. I had a desire to have a bigger career in music so I just went about writing songs.
“Then as a session singer I was the singer for a commercial called The Bicentennial and that got me some attention from record labels and things and that inspired me to write songs. I got a manager and it went from there.
“I was doing background vocals for a girl called Collette, do you remember her? I was her vocal advisor you might say and I was putting all the background vocals together. She was being produced by this American producer called Mark Berry and he said (in an American accent) ‘Yeah you’re pretty good, you got some songs?’ He then showed his manager my songs and that’s how I got a deal with Sony Records, went to America and did my first record.”
Fortunately for us, their journeys have brought them back together, and now a new album to give us a taste of their musical bond.
“It’s nice to come back and play for a group of people that you’ve got a longer history with,” Jack said.
“Maybe we’ve grown to appreciate that more in recent years, not that we’ve ever taken it for granted. But after you embark on a journey outside of these shores you sort of invest a lot in that so you get the opportunity to miss your history too.”
California Dreaming is out now.