Im Interview: Jesse Ahern

Der Juli ist angebrochen und der liebenswerte Jesse Ahern dürfte wohl schon fast auf dem Weg zu uns nach Deutschland sein, um zusammen mit den Dropkick Murphys und Booze & Glory quer durch die Städte zu touren und uns damit allen eine wohlverdiente Pause von all dem Irrsinn dieser Welt zu verschaffen, die wir so sehr brauchen. Wer bei der letzten Tour von Chuck Ragan & The Camaraderie dabei war, dem dürfte Jesse bereits ein Begriff sein…

Allein mit Gitarre und Mundharmonika eröffnete Jesse die Abende und überzeugte direkt mit Charme, Witz, diversen unterhaltsamen Stories und natürlich auch mit seinen Songs und so verwunderte es kaum, dass all seine Platten, die er zu dieser Tour mitbrachte, bereits lange vor dem allerletzten Termin in Hamburg ausverkauft waren. Gut für Jesse, schlecht für mich, haha.

Jesse ist ein Mensch, der abseits der Bühne direkt im Publikum verschwindet und unfassbar gerne neue Kontakte knüpft und offen, ehrlich und am Leben noch für ihn fremder Menschen interessiert ist. Ein unfassbar angenehmer Zeitgenosse, der das Herz definitiv am richtigen Fleck hat und auch ohne Probleme, ohne Kompromisse seine Stimme lautstark erhebt, wenn ihn etwas gegen den Strich geht und für seine Meinung, für seine Haltung ohne Wenn und Aber einsteht.

Es macht mich wirklich sehr glücklich, dass sich Jesse zwischen chaotischem Familienleben, der nächsten anstehenden Tour und die Aufnahme seines neuen Albums die Zeit genommen hat, um diverse Fragen rund um seine Anfänge, die Probleme in den USA, die Tour mit Chuck Ragan & The Camaraderie und über seine liebreizende Familie zu beantworten.

Am Ende des Interviews findet ihr noch die kommenden Tourdaten: bitte DICK und FETT im Kalender anstreichen, Ticket sichern, Freunde und Familie mitnehmen und einfach mal eine unbeschwerte Zeit zusammen erleben.

Jesse Ahern. Ein Musiker, der definitiv viel mehr Aufmerksamkeit verdient hat und ich bin bereits jetzt schon gespannt auf sein neues Album. Ihr auch?!

Homepage I Instagram I Youtube I Bandcamp

Beginning

Let’s start from the beginning: how and when did you first realise that music had a very special place in your life?

Music has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was real young I would listen to the radio with my Mom. I’m not sure what local station it was maybe WBCN but I got turned on to a lot of the current music of that time which was the early 80’s so bands like U2, Bruce Springsteen and The Rolling Stones would be in heavy rotation. (I’m old!) My Mom had great taste and the first song I remember hearing was “Blowing In The Wind” by Bob Dylan but she played all types of music but Rock n Roll was probably the most prominent. Looking back now I can also thank my Dad who always had the Oldies station on in his truck. I can still remember hearing songs like “Tracks Of My Tears” by Smoky Robinson or Elvis Presley. The Oldies station played all the hits from the 50’s and 60’s and those songs mean so much to me now because they bring me back in time to when I was young and discovering the magic of music.

Which musicians/bands did you adore in your teenage years and how much did they pave your musical way later on?

I really love all kinds of music and always have. Bob Dylan, Public Enemy and The Clash were some of my first influences as a young teen. Punk and Hip Hop were big in my hometown so bands like The Clash and the Beastie Boys could be heard playing all the time. But I always dug deep into the roots of the bands I liked and discovered all the obvious like Rock n Roll and Reggae but also discovered the Grateful Dead which catapulted me into American music like Blues and Country and that list could go on forever! Everything I grew up listening too I ended up taking bits and pieces of and brought it into my own musical style.

What exactly mean music to you?

It’s always there in the background through the good times and the bad. As I get older I see it as a timeline of my life.

When did you realise that you have this talent to put all that is going on inside you into lyrics? What was the very first song you wrote and recorded back then and what feeling did it trigger in you when you heard it in full length for the first time?

I was 19 maybe when I 1st started writing songs. It wasn’t about having a talent at that time I just wanted to write my own songs. First song I wrote and recorded was Long Road and I remember feeling like hey maybe I can do this but also a little freaked about putting my feeling out in the world…

What kind of doubts plague you sometimes?

Doubt is always in the back of my mind. I grapple with imposter syndrome and always compare myself to other musicians. It can be taxing when trying to get things accomplished. I constantly have to remind myself that I write for me and not other people but if someone can relate that helps me stay on the path.

Where would you place yourself thematically? What topics are your songs about and what topics would you never want to address in a song and why? What inspires you?

That’s a tough question. I’ve never held myself to a specific genre so I feel like I’m always evolving. I guess you could call me a blue collar storyteller. My topics are usually whatever I’m living or going through. Just about everything I sing is autobiographical or something I see through someone else’s eyes. Nothing is off limits! If I feel I need to address I will. People inspire me.

What personal highlights in your musical career so far will you never forget?

Playing the Palladium in L.A. with the Dropkick Murphys was a surreal moment for me. Actually playing anywhere with them has been surreal. I love those guys! Playing with Rancid and having a great conversation with Tim Armstrong after one of the shows was like a “holy shit did that just happen” moment.

At the moment you are working on a new album. Can you already tell us something about it?

I’m very happy with the direction this album is taking. I’m working with a producer and we decided to keep it very simple. I think it will represent more of what I do live instead of having a backing band. It’s like saying here I am like it or not.

USA

„To the daughters of the world // we’re failing you over again“: When you think about Rebel, what thoughts and/or worries do you have about the future after all the steps backwards for women’s rights?

Scared shit! It’s frustrating to think we’ve come all this way just to start going backwards again. I want my daughter and others to have access to whatever healthcare they need. No one especially politicians should be able to have control over abortion rights.

Black Lives Matter: After all this deadly police violence, after all the massive demos and riots in the last few years: how much have these brutal acts moved back into the background? How do you perceive it at the moment? Why do you think PoC are still shockingly treated like second-class people, marginalised and ruthlessly murdered?

Maybe for some people it’s not on the fore front but it’s still happening and there are people fighting hard for justice and equality. I definitely feel like POC fight an uphill battle everyday. Racism and inequality are still very prevalent in our society and people just don’t seem to want to address the important issues of the systemic problems. I feel like we could all do more.

How do you deal with this issue with your children when questions arise about it? How do you try to educate your children about people of different skin colour, different origin? What is important to you?

My partner and I talk very openly to our children and I would like to think when these questions arise we will be prepared. We tell them that everyone is equal no matter what they look like or what customs they have. What is important to my partner and I is that we are a power of example and live the way we want to see the world.

It feels like hardly a day goes by that you don’t read again that there has been a shooting, a massacre. Where exactly do you see the problem that this happens again and again? What do you think needs to change and why do politicians hesitate for so long to do anything about it? How do you see the matter?

FUCK GUNS!! No one needs weapons of war! We need to Ban assault rifles, have background checks and waiting periods. Politicians are bought and paid for by lobbyists and the NRA being one of biggest is going to make changes to gun laws very hard. It’s all about money over lives.

How did you feel when you heard about the massacre at the primary school? What shocked you the most? How scared are you personally when you think about your children?

Devastated and heartbroken to hear about yet another massacre. What shocked me the most is that people are numb to it. Luckily I live in Massachusetts where we have strict gun laws but it’s always in the back of my mind that it could happen anywhere in the US.

„…America loves guns more than our youth…“ (Pam Bosley) What do you think about this statement?

I don’t agree with this quote because most people don’t feel this way! It’s more complicated and not blankets statement for how everyone feels.

What needs to change fundamentally in this country?

How much power we give politicians.

What gives you hope? What can build you up in the meantime, when all this news from all over the world brings you down?

Looking at my kids and knowing that they are the future. Meeting new people who care.

Family

How and when did you meet Kerri and what do you love and appreciate most about her? What makes her a great mother and partner?

Kerri’s sister introduced us! She actually said we would only be a fling and here we are 18yrs later. What I love the most about her is that she’s the most understanding person I know. She’s super funny, selfless and a loyal friend. The list could go on forever! She’s an awesome mother and would do anything for her kids. Without her I would be nothing, she’s had my back since day 1 and has sacrificed a lot of herself to help me and the kids along our journey.

What have you been able to learn from your children so far?

That you need to love and appreciate them everyday weather good or bad. They have taught me that I need more patience and tolerance but have also showed me how to love and be more forgiving. Having them around has made me appreciate living in the moment because things can change so quickly. Most of all kids have a funny way of showing how fast time goes.

What would you like to pass on to your children for life?

If I could pass anything on to my kids it would be keep a sense of adventure and that you can learn something new everyday.

How does your family cope with you being away from home so often? How are they and you coping? How have you managed over the years?

Well, I’ve always played music and traveled the road lightly but never to the scale I do now so we’re all learning how to cope at the same time. Some days are harder than others but at least nowadays we have technology like FaceTime to make it easier and we talk all the time.

What do your children say about your music? Which songs do they like the most?

My kids are my biggest fans. They love when I play at home and I take Jake and Rebel to shows. Waylon is still a little to young. I don’t think they have favorite songs and they sing the ones they probably shouldn’t lol

How do you deal with homesickness during a tour? What hurts you most as a father when you are on the road for weeks on end?

When I’m homesick I tell myself that I’m doing this to show my family there is another way of life other than a nine to five and if you want it you need to chase it. Hopefully one day we’re all crammed into a Winnebago traveling the US and beyond together – at least that’s how I see it! What really gets me the most when I’m on tour is when I can’t reach out and physically hold Kerri or the kids especially when they need me to.

Waylon, Rebel and Jake: how would you describe them and how much interest do they have in music in general? Will any of them follow in your footsteps?

All my kids are special in their own way – their characters! Just like everyone else I think they all have something to give to this world but it’s up to them to what they want to do. I would love to see all of them play music but that’s not up to me.

What are your favourite things to do with your family when you are home for a while? What do you like to do most?

I love getting up in the morning as a family and taking the kids to school. I love spending alone time with Kerri when the kids are in school. I love picking them up and spending the afternoon together as a family. I love playing in the yard and when the house is noisy and crazy and most of all I love to sleep in my own bed.

Chuck Ragan & The Camaraderie

How and when did you first meet Chuck and what was your first impression of him?

I didn’t personally know Chuck before our tour together. The tour came about through Ken Casey of the Dropkick Murphys. He made a call to Chuck and put in a good word for me and the rest is history. My first impression was this guy is the real deal. I honestly could tell that we were going to get along well which we did. He is a gentleman and the salt of the earth type. He walks his talk and that’s what I like about him.

What was it like for you when you were asked to support him on the European tour?

I’m a big fan so it was unreal to be put on tour with him. I’d only really toured with the Dropkicks up to that point so going out with Chuck was like branching out on my own and seeing how I could do with other acts. Looking back now it was a perfect opportunity for me and I’m very happy it happened and I will forever be grateful for people like Chuck and Dropkicks for giving me a chance.

What is special about being on the road with these wonderful people and sharing a stage?

We had a blast! We had so many good laughs on the long drives and we all had a lot in common which makes traveling so much more easy. I loved sharing the stage with them. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.

How would you describe the stage presence of Chuck Ragan & The Camaraderie? What flashed you the most?

Seasoned professionals but very humble. What flashed me the most was to hear Chuck thank the crowd night after night with such sincerity. You could tell by the smile on his face that he was nothing but grateful for his fans. You could tell the Camaraderie felt the same way.

How did the audience receive you? What was the response (and why the fuck didn’t I get a vinyl anymore, haha)?

I would like to think that I went over well. Some nights are always better than others but every night I did my job and warmed up the crowd. It’s always a good feeling when you can get the crowd clapping and singing along with you. Sorry about the vinyl lol I sold out halfway through the tour.

How would you describe Todd, for those who have never met him in person?

Todd Beene is one of kind. He’s a road dog with some great stories. Intelligent, interesting and fun to be around at all times. I could tour with him 200 + days a year and never get sick of him hahaha.

What do you admire about Chuck? What character trait do you envy him a little bit?

There’s so much to admire about Chuck but the one thing that stands out the most is how much time he makes for people. From what I know he’s got tremendous work ethic and his schedule is jammed packed but he seems to make it all work. He’s the type that gives everything his best and that’s admirable in my book.

What makes Justin so endearing?

Justin is good country folk, a gentle giant with a big ol’ heart. Seeing him side watching some of my set every night meant the world to me.

What immediately comes to mind when you think of Travor?

Let’s not forget about my man Travis. He had me laughing everyday on tour. So quick-witted and also a road dog with some amazing stories. First half of the tour was cool because it was just him in I in the back row of seats until Todd had to mess everything up lol

What restrictions did you have during this tour because oft he pandemic? What was particularly difficult for you?

We didn’t have many restrictions but we tried to be as safe as we possibly could. I got Covid in Belfast and missed a few shows so that sucked but overall we made it without anyone getting real sick.

What is the best thing about touring for you?

Best thing about touring is meeting new people and making friends wherever you go.

„Fuck buying tickets.“ What do you think about ticket purchases compared to guest list requests?

Obviously I wish everyone bought tickets but I don’t mind guest list requests. If someone want to be on my guest list maybe I’m doing something right hahaha The best of both worlds is when someone buys a ticket but you put them on the guest list because you really like seeing them at a show.

Some Words about…

Boston: Boston: what can I say “Boston You’re My Home”

Dropkick Murphys: absolutely love those guys…….. crew and band. I always say not that I know anything about the business but their the best in the biz. I owe so much of what I have to Ken and DKM

Heartache and Love: oh you know just an album I made during the pandemic with my good friend and Producer Brian Charles

Searching For Liberty: I always wish I took more time crafting the songs on this album but overall still proud of it. My favorite song on it is Junk. My man Zach Bloomstein recorded mixed and produced this album. I still dig the artwork and pink cover.

Tales From The Middle Class: made in the back room of Ryan McHughs house. I had a blast making this album it’s very chaotic but so was my life at the time. My son Jake sings backing vocals on Bankrobber

Ramblin’ Souls: Quincy MA best kept secret. Brad Bryan, George Camia, Scott Cunningham, David Mendoza and Kevin Fitzgerald (RIP Fitzy)

Spotify: necessary evil

Thomas Schindler: beautiful human being and a big fan of baseball

Lenny Lashley: one of my favorite songwriters especially his album Lenny and The Piss Poor Boys. He has a heart of gold and I’m honored to call him a friend

Germany: I love Germany. My wife and I want to move there with the kiddos

Jesse Ahern LIVE

Tickets für die Turn Up The Dial Tour: Hier!

03.07. Hünxe, Ruhrpott Rodeo Festival
04.07. Würzburg, Posthalle*+
09.07. Kempten, Residenzplatz*+
12.07. Wiesbaden, Schlachthof*+
14.07. Saarbrücken, E-Werk (Open Air)*+
16.07. Leipzig, Haus Auensee*+ (Plus Toxpack)
30.07. Ludwigsburg, Residenzschloss*+

*+mit Dropkick Murphys und Booze & Glory