Pirate Power

Meet Jonee Earthquake, frontman of the eponymous folk/surf/rockabilly band

A black pirate hat and pair of mismatched Chuck Taylor high tops, one red and one green, often chording a vintage Japanese guitar or pedal steel — yep, Jonee Earthquake has a certain style. Taking folk, surf, rockabilly and punk as inspirations, Earthquake put them all in a jar, screwed on the top and shook it until out poured a volcanic potion. His band is now a trio, simply for simplicity, with his backup players rotating easily from a vast pool of former members. If you should catch him as he persistently tours the state and region, tell him we said “Arrg.”

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  • Two of my earliest influences were a U.K. band called Johnny Kidd & the Pirates and the U.S. band Paul Revere & the Raiders. I kinda borrowed that look and realized that if I only purchased one style of clothing, then I wouldn’t have to decide what to wear.
  • I have a whole closet full of white shirts, black jeans, black waistcoats, black tunics, red and green Converse high tops and black tricorn hats.
  • Around the time I was switching from folk music to punk, I was at the record shop at the mall. There was a guy trying to convince the sales clerk to stock his local 45. Being a chain, they
    said, “You gotta deal with the company head down in Boston.” 
  • As he was leaving, I asked if I could see his record. He said, “Sure, have a copy.”  That guy was GG Allin. We became friends and he taught me all about DIY . . .  how to have our own 45s pressed, organize our own shows and sell them ourselves at shows. 
  • I’ve never been happy with the sound of any of the recordings we made in a real studio. The clock’s always ticking. The producer/engineer has his own way he thinks we should sound. 
  • Now we just record everything the way we play it live, and I’m happier with that.   
  • Music starts with a string vibrating. The pickup captures that vibration and sends it to the amp and the tubes amplify the vibrations. A microphone picks up that vibration, amplifies it and sends it to the cutting lathe that cuts grooves in a disc of vinyl. The needle that picks up those vibrations sends it to the amplifier and then to the speaker, which then vibrates and
    your ear picks up the vibrations. 
  • Vinyl is good because it retains that warmth, but a CD can handle a lot more bass that would destroy a record groove.  A lot of today’s music benefits from CD technology, but it’s just not my cup of tea.  
  • We’ve probably gone through about 50 members since 1979.  Most band members started off as fans first. And there’s always the situation where a current member can’t play a show and so we call up one of the exes who can’t play full-time anymore.
  • Sometimes I’ll switch songs that are on the setlist for others once I see the audience. But we love it when the audience gets involved.When people compliment us for a good show, I tell them it was a good show because the audience was great.
  • Do I have a groupie problem? If you consider not having any groupies a problem, then yes! I have a groupie problem.

Musical Influences 

Johnny Kidd & the Pirates
This English rock band led by singer/songwriter Johnny Kidd scored numerous hit songs from the late 1950s to the early 1960s. Kidd was one of the few pre-Beatles British rockers to achieve global fame, mainly for his 1960 hit, “Shakin’ All Over,” later covered by many bands.

Paul Revere & the Raiders
An American rock band formed in Boise, Idaho, The Raiders were huge hitmakers in the later 1960s and early 1970s. Lead singer Mark Lindsay, organist Paul Revere and the rest of the band were known for dressing in Revolutionary War-style clothing and their massive hit song, “Kicks.”

GG Allin
Born in Lancaster, GG Allin is one of the most notorious figures to arise from the American punk rock scene. His shows earned him the title “Most Spectacular Degenerate in Rock ‘n’ Roll History.” Allin was buried in Littleton wearing his matching black leather jacket and jock strap.

Categories: People