FRIDAY 18 NOVEMBER
CROSSING BORDER (DEN HAAG)
De Duitse Kerk, Bleijenburg 3b, 22.30
Originally known for Lift To Experience‘s 2001 cult classic The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads, Josh T Pearson spent the following decade losing his faith and mind in the Texas back country. Having finally pulled himself from purgatory, the preacher’s son is now touring his heart-wrenching solo effort Last Of The Country Gentlemen and will play at this year’s Crossing Border festival in The Hague.
It’s pretty well known that your father was a Pentecostal preacher. Did church music influence you in any way?
Not in a conscious way. But the church music I grew up with is all about being lost in the epiphany. All the worship services lead to one particular moment where it washes over you. All the people and instruments take on their own melodies in the same key. I think when that’s ingrained in you from a young age it will always filter down – even to the acoustic guitar.
There was a huge gap between The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads and your solo record. What were you doing in between?
I was living in small town Texas south of Dallas in the middle of nowhere. I was working locally for different cowboys and cut myself off from pretty much everything. I didn’t want to be part of the business side of the music industry at all. It was a pretty conscious decision. After that I hit the road for a while and specifically didn’t put anything out. I needed to walk the Earth for a while to see where my headspace was at. Then gradually I began to play some songs live again along the way.
Given that your playing in Lift To Experience was awash with guitar effects, what made you switch to acoustic for your solo album?
I was basically just on the road and brought my acoustic because I couldn’t bring any amps along. But I started out on the acoustic way before I was in the band. I only switched to electric after Loveless came out. That was the album that made me go out and buy a Jaguar and a bunch of effects pedals. But part of the goal of this solo record is to play it as bare as possible. It’s an album that can rip your heart out.
You’ve described recording Last Of The Country Gentlemen as a ‘painful process’. Why did you decide to record it? Was it also therapeutic?
I was going through a terrible time and I wrote about it because I thought it would be cathartic, although it didn’t help me at the time. But I also didn’t have a goal in mind to make an album, which gave me a certain freedom to be truly confessional. In most therapy people are made whole and better by confession, that’s something not just limited to Christianity. So I took the collection of songs and made it into one straight piece. I wanted to have it as a confessional love letter from beginning to end.
How long did it take to actually record?
It took two days to do seven songs live. I went in the first day and it was a painful experience, almost like a documentary. It destroyed me. About twelve days later I felt strong enough to do it again and finished off the the remaining three or four songs. Then I didn’t get out of bed for about 8 months after.
You’ve joked at previous shows that your audience is only made up of ‘ heartbroken dudes’. But is it rewarding that your music brings people together in a shared sense of experience?
Yeah, I’m glad about that and it’s been healing for me. It’s good that it’s out there for people. But I also haven’t thought about it too much. I just hit the road and haven’t looked back too much since. I’m still surprised I even recorded the album. Maybe next year I’ll see more perspective on it. But now I’m just playing the songs and figuring out what to do next.
So are you looking towards recording another album already?
I still have to figure that out. I’m in a much better spiritual place than I was a few years ago. I played with a couple of drummers recently and it was sounding good. So I’d like to paint on a different canvas for a while. I seem to be doing ok mentally in terms of not being an asshole. I may go back to Texas and try out some songs on the electric and see what happens.