INTERVIEW : 2011-08-03 Don't Try : A Conversation With JA (by Michael Allshouse)

SM: Hello Joseph, how are you?

JA: Hey, Mike how are you doing?

SM: I’m fine and you? I hear you’re having some problems with the touring van.

JA: I’m staying in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, the very hotel where John (Lennon) and Yoko (Ono) had their bed-in. So you know?

SM: That has to be pretty awesome.

JA: (laughs) And the van, it’s an eight-cylinder and I guess a couple of cylinders aren’t firing. So, I don’t know what that means, do you know what that means?

SM: Me? I have no idea. All I know is I’d be stranded somewhere.

JA: You are in Pittsburgh, right?

SM: Yes, sir.

JA: We are enemies!

SM: How so?

JA: Because I am a Browns fan.

SM: Oh no...

JA: (laughing)

SM: Maybe we shouldn’t make that too know here in Pittsburgh...

JA: Yeah, yeah... you might want to keep that out of the article. (laughs)

SM: There is no quicker way to turn a Pittsburgher against you than being a Browns fan.

JA: Well, you guys won. So let’s just face it. (Won) the whole time, so.

SM: We are winning for the time being, but Cleveland is a team on the rise. We got to watch out.

JA: I hope so, it has been a lifetime of heartbreak.

SM: So, with the van broken down, is this going to delay the tour at all?

JA: No. The van is ok, it is a little shoddy, but it’s alright. It got me here. It was in the shop for a second, but it will be fine. We have no show tonight, but we hit Toronto tomorrow and that is like a 5 or 6 hour drive.

SM: Just wondering because you have a show here on Friday. I guess you have a lot of traveling ahead of you in the next few days.

JA: It’s fine. I’m used to it by now.

SM: So on to your latest album, “The Graduation Ceremony.” It came out it May?

JA: That seems like a long time ago. I guess so, huh. I really don’t remember the exact date, but I guess it is a couple months old now.

SM: In doing some research, I read that “The Graduation Ceremony” spawned out of two different records you were working on.

JA: Yeah, in a way it did. I have been working on this album called “The Ballad of Boogie Christ,” which is sort of like this psychedelic-soul record. It is sort of a big production and I have been working on it for a couple of years now.

I started to write a few more acoustic songs, “Out on a Limb” being the first one, and I recorded it during the recording sessions of “The Ballad of Boogie Christ” and I really liked the way it came out. So, I just started on working on the record alongside the other one and just finished it. And the thing about it is Jim Keltner came in to play songs on the “Boogie Christ” album and he turned around and played on all the songs on “The Graduation Ceremony.” So I had an acoustic/singing Jim Keltner record. All of a sudden, that started taking precedence.

SM: So, let me get this right; the album that you were working on is called “Boogie Christ?”

JA: Yeah, it is “The Ballad of Boogie Christ.”

SM: Now, is that a concept album? It sounds like it almost has to be.

JA: Yeah, kind of.

SM: The title alone paints that sort of picture. Do you mind me asking what it is about?

JA: It is either about someone that is enlightened or insane.

SM: Uh huh, that is simple enough.

JA: (laughs)

SM: That kind of flows into my next question. I read on a PR release that you don’t have writer’s block; you almost have the opposite of it?

JA: I guess part of my predicament is trying to keep a focus on one thing long enough to fit in the cycle of whatever of I’m promoting or presenting to the people.
As opposed to just throwing stuff out there to the point where people don’t pay attention.

SM: I like him, but it is kind of like Ryan Adams that tosses stuff out at a moment’s notice...

JA: The thing is too, you know, people tend to think that when people are prolific, that it means that they don’t edit themselves and they are putting out sub-standard stuff. But I really don’t think that is true.

I was recently asked to do this thing for this radio station in New York called WNYC, where they were doing pick a year and tell us what it means to you. I picked 1977 and I was looking up things that had come out in 1977 and something that struck me was (David) Bowie put out “Heroes” and “Low,” two classic albums. Iggy Pop put out “The Idiot” and “Lust for Life” that year. And then you think about The Beatles and how long their career really was and how many records they put out.

I think the opposite is really true, that when people are flowing and not being too precious about stuff, that is when magical things happen.

SM: That is very true.

JA: But that seems like that is not how people paint it nowadays.

SM: Yeah, it is like people think that people let it go to the head and they can just throw out whatever they want, that it is supposed to be good or it is supposed to be that and it is not taken for face value. And everyone today has lost perspective, like you said with Bowie and Iggy, Queen was another one that put record after record out through the 70s and 80s...

JA: Or The Stones or Bob Dylan. Really when you look at, like, everybody that did the classic record, they were all done pretty fast. It is the rare bird that it is like this long arduous, over-thought, overwrought thing that comes out as a classic record. It is not the Stanley Kubrick syndrome in rock and roll; it is usually the opposite. But I don’t know why nowadays that it doesn’t get taken like that.

SM: It’s almost like instead of appreciating the flow of music, we (as a society) have ADD and can’t stay focused on one thing to appreciate what someone is doing.

JA: Yeah, exactly. Well, there is something I always think about; on Charles Bukowski’s tombstone he put, “Don’t Try,” which was his philosophy to writing. It is sort of like a punk rock, it seems like punkish, bratty thing to say, “don’t try,” but it is actually a very intelligent, deeply philosophical thing to say. It is like Zen almost. I would say as opposed to having writer’s block, I would say I have “don’t try.” I don’t really try, I don’t feel the pressure to write anything or not write anything. I’m a little bit backed up in terms of material I could release. I am cognizant of the fact I shouldn’t try and throw too much stuff because people then resist it for some reason.

All cylinders are still firing (with me). I just did another interview with somebody and they told me this Richard Thompson quote, which I thought was amazing, “The secret of my success is my continued failure.”

SM: Wow, that is...awesome.

JA: And I can totally relate to that. I just feel like I have this hunger that hasn’t gone away and I feel as hungry as ever, but not in a negative way. It has actually turned quite positive, because I still feel completely inspiring and useful about the whole thing. I don’t feel bloated and it’s done or anything like that at all. I feel like it is in a good place, a healthy place. Bukowski always used to talk about that like how he was so happy that he didn’t really get any of the prizes until late. He was always going on about, “Thank you so much for holding out on me.” And I think that keeps the work strong.

SM: Yes, it doesn’t go to your head like if you get the accolades early in your career.

JA: Yeah, it doesn’t become this heady thing and if you have massive success, how can it not be a heady thing. If everybody is paying attention to you, on one level it is great and it could be nurturing, but it could be the opposite.

SM: I don’t understand how people do cope with instant success, because I would think anything that you had following through your mind as your next step would automatically stop.

JA: Right, or just become analyzed to death. You would have to have a certain amount of not caring and not trying; you always got to incorporate that.

SM: You started your own record label. How is that working out?

JA: It is a mixed bag. I started actually for “Nuclear Daydream.” It has been pretty cool. It started out right on top of the record industry completely collapsing. It is not a controlled environment to assess the situation, let’s put it that way. It is like throwing something on to a complete pile of chaos and see how it deals with it. It definitely feels like it is the way things are going.

SM: I was just going to ask how you think the music industry is going now; CDs are gone, everything is online.

JA: I am surprised that CDs are as prevalent as they are.

SM: I just picked up a couple the other day and they are just vanishing from stores; stores aren’t carrying them anymore.

JA: I don’t know. I don’t really have an opinion about it. It is what it is, you know. It is the way things evolve. I don’t think it is either bad or good. I know, personally, I like having access to the music I have access to in the simple way I have access to it. It is not a romantic thing to say, but...I do like that. I know that is really not the party line... (laughs)
SM: It’s true and it is nice to hear someone say it. It is nice to be able to want to hear something and instantly go and have it.

JA: And, you know what? As much as I love vinyl and everything, and I have a massive vinyl collection, but right now my vinyl collection is in storage because of where I live in New York. I used to have a bigger space, but now I got a studio space and I have a recording studio with equipment that I need to make work. I don’t have the room for a massive vinyl collection. It takes up a lot of room. I mean, if you have a big record collection, that is one side of the thing people don’t talk about; unless you have a big space it takes up a lot of room.

SM: I would think it could be one or two rooms worth dedicated to a big collection.

JA: You could dedicate rooms to record collections for sure, easily.

SM: And bringing this interview full circle in relation to The Beatles, last year, you were part of the, quote-unquote, super-group, Fistful of Mercy (with Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison). How did that come to happen?

JA: That came about because I was going to LA to play the Trubador for two nights and I thought I should try and change it up. I was just going through my phone and I thought I will call Ben and see if he wants to, well, at least tell him I’m playing and see if he wants to sit in on one of these nights. Just to make it different. He was, like, “Hell, yeah.” He sat in both nights.

Then I was like I am in town for a few days, we should get together and write something. I just figured we would write and record one song or something.

And then he asked me if I knew Dhani and I didn’t and I asked him, “Why? Is he in our band?” and he said yeah.

So we three just got together and we had three days in the studio. After the first day, we had three songs and we thought that if we can do three songs by the end of each day we can have a record. So then that became our goal and we met the goal and that was the record. We sat on it for a couple months, and we figured it would just come out like as is, but then Jim Keltner ended up playing on it. I really like the way that came out.

INTERVIEW : 2000-07-13 Arthur's Theme (by Eric Waggoner)

Joseph Arthur is in the middle of a long series of phone interviews from the U.K., where he's currently recording. Out of hundreds of variations on the same questions, what's the one thing he doesn't want to be asked?

"Oh. Ahhhh . . . 'How did Peter Gabriel get your demo tape?'" he finally answers in a slow, drawn-out baritone.

You can't fault Arthur, who once wrote a poem titled "Interview Nightmare," about not wanting to tell the Gabriel story again. It doesn't take long, really: Ohio-born Joseph Arthur, a young and very talented songwriter, had moved around, played local venues and done some recording before landing in Atlanta in the mid-'90s. While there, a variety of personal and artistic projects he'd put his energy into went south, all at once. In the middle of everything crumbling around him, he made a solo four-track demo tape of new songs: dark, brooding material he created in a room in his small apartment, sleeping bags tacked up over the windows to shut out the world.

Eventually he came out of his funk a bit, got a job selling guitars at a music store and began passing his tape around to friends and record labels. One evening, he returned to his place, stowed his bike in the bathroom as he always did, and found a message on his answering machine. It was Peter Gabriel, calling to tell Joseph Arthur that he wrote great songs, and that he'd call back.

Which is how a young tunesmith and former guitar hawker from Akron became the first non-world music artist to be signed to Gabriel's Real World label.

It's a fantastic story, of course, but it's been told enough; and at any rate, Joseph Arthur isn't and never was Gabriel's protégé. His latest album, Come to Where I'm From, is a remarkable record, and every bit his own. An arresting mix of lyrical frankness and noisy but nuanced production from Arthur, T-Bone Burnett and Rick Will, Come to Where I'm From is equal parts raw emotion and sophisticated sound manipulation -- think Daniel Johnston's or Lou Barlow's home recordings with a touch of Latin Playboys and you're getting close (Tchad Blake of the Playboys, in fact, mixed three of the songs onCome to Where I'm From), but not all the way there .

Joseph Arthur, you see, is a seriously inventive person. Touring solo, he uses digital recording equipment to create backing tracks by beating on his guitar, breathing into mikes, playing simple rhythms and strumming basic chords, looping them, layering them one by one, and playing and singing over his self-created-on-the-spot rhythm samples. Then, one by one, he removes the layers he's built, allowing the audience to watch him disassemble the song right in front of them. It's a process he began during a previous tour, and one which informed the sound of Come to Where I'm From: "That album was influenced by the live performances because I knew I could do it, experiment that way. I followed more my own instincts on this one." The resultant sound is both intimate and raucous, somehow recalling noisy outings like Tom Waits' Bone Machine and quiet DIY efforts like Lou Barlow's Another Collection of Home Recordings simultaneously.

In addition to writing and performing music, Joseph Arthur is an accomplished visual artist who creates the art for his album covers and packaging. In fact, he's already been nominated for a Grammy, though you might not remember; it was for Best Recording Package, for 1999's Vacancy EP (he lost to Asleep at the Wheel's Ride With Bob).

He's also a chronic road journalist and poet in the vein of Patti Smith (and yes, the comparison is carefully made). Joseph Arthur, in short, is an artist with a lot of creative outlets, and as Kris Kristofferson once said of John Prine, he might be so good we'll have to break his thumbs.

All this energy notwithstanding, Arthur's take on what he does is decidedly egalitarian: "Well," he says quietly, and pauses. "What are the limitations? Don't you decide what the limitations are? Some people decide, 'Well, I want to be a musician,' so they do that. And some people say to me, 'I can't sing.' And I say, 'Man, you can. . . . I mean, someone else might have a prettier voice or whatever, I don't know what your voice would sound like . . . but you can play to your strengths.' Decisions are a limitation as well. I'm up for freedom. I like people who take chances."

Taking chances isn't always appreciated in a culture that assumes that individual talent expresses itself in only one medium, and here we have to go beyond musical comparisons to get the full measure of Arthur's reach. Henry Miller had to go to France, and Paul Bowles to Africa, to find out what they were capable of; and Patti Smith and Antonin Artaud received only belated recognition for their visual art. Arthur knows, even if he doesn't boast the ego to claim it for himself, the tradition he's working in: "All those names, man. I like them all." In Arthur's extensive body of work, only part of which is musical, there are echoes of Frank Zappa's vision of a lifetime's artistic output as a single project unfolding over time, in a number of different media.

"I agree with that, definitely," says Arthur. "I think because I'm coming at it sort of through the back door, putting the art on the album covers and not, like, doing gallery shows, it's easier for people to accept. That resistance [to artists working in multiple media] isn't just in the States; I find it, too, in England. But really, I haven't had too many problems with it. People seem to accept it." People very likely accept it because they have no choice; Arthur's talents are simply too great to dismiss. But along with his technical skill comes a disarming openness that grows more evident with repeated listenings.

In an interview with National Public Radio in 1997, the year of his first release (Big City Secrets), he referred to his music as the sound of "somebody struggling to heal over experimental folk-rock with an identity crisis." At first blush, that disarming description might apply to any dozen slowcore/emo performers; but in the few years since Big City Secrets, Arthur's lyrics have gotten as unpredictable and rewarding as anything in Paul Westerberg's glory era. From the new album's "History": "You're your mama's shit eatin' grin and your daddy's double chin/You're the first pair of shoes you ever went to school in/And you're the kid pretending she's in prison/Behind the bars of a jungle gym." Or, from "Ashes Everywhere": "I can't deal with what you have done/Reincarnate I wonder who I might become . . ./I don't have nothing, now I want me some/First some of you, then some of everyone."

Like J. Mascis, another semiconfessional songwriter whose voice his slightly resembles, Arthur has been criticized for simply undergoing therapy aloud. But he isn't merely howling, or opening a vein and letting it drip onto DAT; what lifts Arthur's work above simple catharsis is both the skill with which he executes it and the articulate, dynamic project that his art has become.

Take his Web site, for example (www.lanset.com/kthalken). "When I first started looking around, I was sort of surprised at how uninvolved people are with the medium. The woman who started the Web site is very content-oriented. And it seemed strange that so many [band-related] Web sites were just another advertising arm. I think of what's going on with our Web site as part of the whole artistic project."

Arthur's pride in the content of the Web site is tough to dispute. To take only the most obvious example, it actually forces the visitor to hunt for links to buy his music (hint: It takes at least two clicks and a lot of scrolling). Assuming that in a hype-saturated business anyone who wants to find Come to Where I'm From via Amazon.com or Tower Online can do so pretty easily, Arthur's Web site forgoes the hyperventilating what-the-critics-are-saying copy found on 99 percent of band sites in favor of (get this) actual substance; visitors can look at Arthur's artwork, track touring information, read full biographies of his collaborators and access sound and video files without having to wait for a thousand gigabytes' worth of Flash or Quicktime files to load. He regularly posts entries from his tour journals, including poems and straight prose ("Instant publication," he says, tongue firmly in cheek, "whether it's good or not"). The primary colors are black and olive, the primary page content is straight text, and the site is absolutely filled to bursting with material.

And lest you think his site is entirely self-contained, be advised that you, yourself personally, can post reviews of his albums and anecdotes from his concerts. Judging from the quality of the posts currently available, however, you'd better have at least a few synapses firing. There are scant posts along the lines of "New Joe album Roxxx!" or "the Toronto show was AWESOME!!!" The overall quality of the public entries on Arthur's Web site, particularly the show anecdotes, is exceptionally high -- not just for inclusion on a Web site but as examples of the language; and not all the reviews are without reservation ("Sometimes he can be a mealy-mouth," says one otherwise positive post, apropos of Arthur's vocals). This kind of interactivity, in a business filled to the teeth with fluff PR campaigns masquerading as official Internet sites, borders on the revolutionary.

It also gives a good impression of what Joseph Arthur's fan base is like. As one listener, also named Joe, offers of Come to Where I'm From, "I still feel like I have a cool secret that no one knows about." The secret is out, undeniably; but there's no getting around the fact that the relationship Arthur is creating with his listeners is symbiotic and distinctive, particularly given the very personal nature of his writing. Is he worried, then, about the possibility of fans connecting too closely, wallowing in his suffering vicariously?

"I've thought a lot about that," he says, "especially in terms of the songs about despair. But I think when I've been really down, I've looked for that, that kind of connection. You know, people go into therapy or meetings, and they say, 'I'm really fucked up, and this is what fucked me up.' And other people say to them, 'Yeah, I'm really fucked up, too,' and it helps, the connection. It makes them feel better."

There's that word again. But if we're to take therapy as a metaphor, is there an end to it? Will we ever come through the other side, healed up?

"Maybe . . . but then other things happen. Getting validation doesn't take away the feeling. I'm stillworking through it. Someone else can tell you, 'I feel the same way,' and it helps, it's nice, but it doesn't negate it. I don't have any answers for that."

Nonetheless, Arthur's the one writing these deeply personal songs. Does it feel dangerous for him to do so?

"I don't know," he says, and laughs a very open laugh. "Maybe I'll regret it."


INTERVIEW : 2011-03-29 Time Out Hong Kong Interview (by Adrian Sandiford)

Signed by Peter Gabriel to Real World Records in the mid-1990s, Ohio singer-songwriter Arthur has been a persistent darling of the critics, with seven albums of rich, creative folk-rock; success as a visual artist; and – in recent years – member of a supergroup with Ben Harper and Dhani ‘George’s son’ Harrison (Fistful of Mercy, if you were wondering). We grabbed some phone time with him on his way out of a Mexican restaurant in LA, having recently filmed a spot on Jimmy Kimmel’s TV show.

You’re known for recording your live shows and making them available immediately after the gig. Is that something you’ll be doing in Hong Kong?

That’s a good question. I don’t know yet, but I hope we do. It’s something we’ve been doing for a long time and I think I’ll always embrace it. I’m not precious – if it’s not perfect, it’s OK, you know. Especially now, because every gig winds up on YouTube, so there’s less pressure; people are recording me all the time and everything you do is a click away. So I think you just have a less precious attitude. I think I was one of the first, if not the first, to do that; Peter Gabriel was the person to give me the idea to do it.

Peter Gabriel is said to have “discovered” you. What’s your relationship with him now?

Our relationship is in a good place and I love him dearly. I consider him part of my family in a way. I mean he mentored me. I was on his label and so we’ve got a very close relationship. He really opened up his world to me, and taught me a lot. It’s such a strong part of my history. When I look back at it I feel very lucky. It’s over now, that aspect, but I still have a lot of love for him and his family, and am still really close with them.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Akron, Ohio, which was a pretty dead industry town. All the factories had, like, died out. I grew up in this suburban landscape. It wasn’t too terribly tough or anything. It wasn’t a lavish environment. It was kind of like a ghost town. I think it fostered going into my imagination a lot, because there wasn’t much to do. When you come from a place like that, you end up turning to your inner landscape, and making art and music. I didn’t have a back-up plan. I never went to college. I just went for music and never looked back.

You’re known for using your paintings as album covers. Do you worry the rise of digital is going to lead to the demise of sleeve artwork?

Things evolve, they change; I mean there are definitely worlds that start dying out a little bit, but then new worlds open up. There is so much creative potential in the digital age that I can’t feel very bad about whatever we’re losing. Not to say I don’t love the album sleeves, but there’s so much other potential in terms of accessible filmmaking, having a recording studio on your laptop, stuff like that. The potential is awesome. The more technology builds, the more potential there is for new kinds of visual landscapes and digital art that we’ll be able to explore with music. There’s so much to choose from – there are so many worlds opening up. Nothing good can come out of wishing it was different.

INTERVIEW : 2011-04-26 FasterLouder Interview (by Paul Busch)

Speaking to FL prior to leaving New York, Joseph Arthur is barely hiding a drop of pre-travel jitters and angst. “I am in Brooklyn right next to where my nephews are sleeping so I am trying to talk low. My brother in law is trying to install some things on my computer and I am attempting to get ready to go to China tomorrow and leave here for three or four months. Whereas I have one more evening to pack and I have not started packing and whereas I am stressed out complexly beyond all measure and I have five Australian phone interviews to do back to back, and that is how I am. Do you believe it? But I have accepted my fate and decided to be chilled for the next whatever period of time.”

In 1996, Arthur was signed to Peter Gabriel’s label Real World, becoming the first American onboard there. He has now released 7 studio albums and gaggle of EP’s and collaborated with many. His visit to Australia will be his first and will also introduce punters to Fistful Of Mercy, with Dhani Harrison and Ben Harper.

“I have known Ben for awhile,” Arthur explains, “I was playing on the West Coast and had two nights at The Troubadour. I was thinking I wanted to make one of the shows different than the other. So I called up Ben out of the blue and asked if he wanted to join me and he said ‘hell yeah dude’, and he ended up sitting in for both of the shows. I was like well, since you are here we should record something and he was cool with that. We got Dhani and we went into the studio for three days and we had nine tracks of great vocal harmonies. I like to say that we are influenced by the idea of Crosby, Stills and Nash. I have not listened to their music much but it was like that idea of male singers singing together all the time with great harmonies. A month or so after that we had the notion to call Jim Keltner, who Dhani had grew up around, and Dhani called him up and he played on the record and it was this magic unfolding.”

As I Call You Down, their debut album is a startling collection of nine tracks. Gorgeous harmonies throughout and each artist makes this ensemble very extraordinary. There are similarities to other 60-70s male folk/country artists that will cross your mind as you listen, and you should listen. Besides this collaboration, Arthur has a new album The Graduation Ceremony coming out very soon.

“I was working on another record for the past two years. It is kind of like a big concept album with big production and it ran away from me a little bit, so I made this record in response to that. I just wanted to do something simple and song based and I was fortunate enough to have Jim Keltner play drums on it and John Alagia [John Mayer and Dave Matthews] helped me produce it the rest of the way home over about a month in Los Angeles. It came out really well, so we decided to put it out before the big production record comes out. I was going to leave it like that and Jim came to work on The Ballad Of Boogie Christ. I asked Jim if I could play him some of this other stuff I had just recorded and he played on the first one. We ran down through the whole record and he played through each song and I was like ‘Holy Shit, we just got Jim Keltner to play on the entire record!’.”

Arthur keeps up a fairly busy touring schedule and is prolific with his writing, releases and his visual arts. Drop into his website and check out his poetry, his discography and drop into the virtual Museum of Modern Arthur to view his artwork. “It is always a challenge to get music out there or a series of challenges,” he says, “When I used to have record deals I was always working projects through a record company and I had to get them excited about it. This was a challenge when your sales history, like mine, is spotty. It is more difficult to push them through. Then when you have your own thing, and your own label and distribution, there is a different series of limitations and things to deal with. There is no EASY way as far as I can tell. To put something out there and to try and make people aware of it is the trick”.

“I don’t care if the social networking gets left behind at times and it is not a good career move. You get to a certain time in your own sanity and your own sense of humanity is more important than being connected. I am someone that invests a lot into this music stuff and career and everything, but I can only go so far with it. You have to put your spirit and humanity above it.”

INTERVIEW : 2010-05-26 Playing Hard To Get With Art (by Fred Mills)


The modern-day Renaissance man talks music, collaborations, squatting (!), and what it’s like to own a “badass easel.”

Born in Akron, Ohio, in 1971 and nowadays living in New York, Joseph Arthur has been a professional recording artist since the late ‘90s when he became the first American to be signed to Peter Gabriel’s Real World label. 
Since then he’s released seven critically-hailed studio albums and – his most recent one was 2008’s Temporary People, released on his own Lonely Astronaut Records – and a slew of not-merely-stopgap EPs, including four thematically-linked titles in 2008 alone. 
He’s also been the subject of a documentary film, You Are Free, and his song “You Are Free” gained international attention when Michael Stipe of R.E.M. and Chris Martin of Coldplay re-recorded
it as part of a Hurricane Katrina benefit project.

In some circles he’s known equally well for his work in visual arts, and it’s unquestionably an understatement to label him as prolific a painter as he is a musician. He began drawing and painting as a child, and although encouraged by his mother to develop his talent, he never had any
formal art training. Yet over the years he’s had a hand in the creation of each of his strikingly designed record sleeves, and with the establishment of his Museum Of Modern Arthur (aka MOMAR), he became unique among the musical community for operating an art gallery where fans and collectors could literally walk in and view his abstract renderings on canvas and paper. 

MOMAR operated for a couple of years starting in 2007, but following a dispute with the landlord of the building the gallery was housed in, it has since moved online and now does business as a so-called “virtual gallery.”

What’s more, on recent tours performing as a solo act (he also tours with his band the Lonely Astronauts), he employs loops and effects to create a full ensemble sound while additionally devoting a portion of each concert to live painting – with a twist. Not content to merely set down his instrument and pick up a paint brush onstage, during a song Arthur will set in motion guitar and percussion loops then, holding a microphone in one hand and his brush in the other, begin work on a fresh painting while singing the song.
In a sense, it’s as crazy as it sounds, but as you’ll learn from Arthur’s comments, the process is a lot more complex than it may appear. (Worth noting: Arthur sells the paintings at the conclusion of his shows, and he’s been donating 100% of the funds to Haitian relief efforts. His current tour dates, including a string of shows in Philly, NYC and L.A. that kicks off this week, are listed at his official website.)

I talked to Arthur last year by phone just prior to his embarking upon a solo music-and-painting tour. In the background were lots of crowd noises and, at one point, the rumbling sound of what appeared to be an approaching then departing subway train. Far from being distracted by the setting, however, Arthur was as animated and forthcoming an interview subject as they come.


BLURT: Your work as a visual artist is well known, of course, and the fact that you have been doing
these solo performances where you play music and paint onstage during the show almost seems to take that notion to an uncharted level. And I understand that for your upcoming tour you’ll continue to do the painting and playing thing?

JOSEPH ARTHUR: Yeah, the van’s [on the road] right now, in fact, carrying one of the baddest-ass
easels you ever saw!

I’ve never heard of an easel described as “badass.”

[laughing] You know, it’s weird; I’ve never thought of an easel as “badass” before. Except before this week! When I used to paint live, which I did years ago, I’d do it on a big piece of plywood and just roll raw canvas on top of that, then lean it against a wall. Then on the West Coast tour I started
using an easel, but it was kind of too small. So I made sure to get “the real shit,” you know? So that’s what’s got me thinking of easels as badass!

I watched a video of you live on Seattle’s KEXP painting and singing, and while we often talk about artists marrying disparate disciplines I don’t think I’ve ever seen that notion done in quite so literal a fashion as you. Is there a precedent for that?

I don’t think so; I’ve never heard of anybody singing and painting at the same time. I know that
people paint live [in front of an audience], and people obviously sing, but I don’t think anybody else does both at the same time.

If Ed Sullivan were still with us you could fit right in with the guy who’s spinning plates and telling jokes at the same time…

Yeah man, and put some cymbals between my knees too – I’d be good to go! [laughs]

Tell me a little about your background. I know you grew up in Akron and then after finishing
high school moved to Atlanta in the early ‘90s. Did you attend art school anyplace along the way?

No, no, and I’ll tell you this part: selling jewelry in Little Five Points [bohemian/artsy section of
Atlanta] was my art school education. I met all kinds of artists and interesting characters there.

Then if you don’t have any formal training, when did you first become interested in painting professionally, and how did that evolve for you?

It’s funny; I was dating this girl I Atlanta, and she invited me to go to a museum show in Alabama. And to me, coming from Akron,
I thought of a museum show as something that would just be boring – you know, Renaissance paintings or something. So when we went, it was Basquiat! It was a mind-blowing experience. This
huge retrospective of his work. And I had already been painting by that time, my own kind of abstract stuff, but I didn’t know you could take that stuff seriously. So that opened my mind a lot: “Okay, yeah, there’s an audience for this.”
And the fact that he was so amazing was inspiring to me too. Then I found out who else was out there – Cy Twombly, Rauschenberg, de Kooning – and started learning more about painters.

Then you really start to teach yourself through looking. It’s kind of the same way you teach yourself music – through listening. Like when you first hear Bob Dylan and you go, “Oh my God…” Then you start spinning off that and listening to other people and you figure out how to write songs through listening. Same thing with painting.

It was interesting, too, working on album artwork. Working in Photoshop with somebody on album artwork and watching the way they would make layers, and put layer on top of layer. That taught me more than anything else, because I thought, “Oh, it’s all about layers. I get it.” It was like a lightbulb going off over my head.

That’s interesting how something as tech-specific and digital as Photoshop would be an influence on your physical painting.

Exactly. That’s the point. It was from technology, and I could bring that into my organic work. It
was like attending a Master’s class. So I never went to art school, but I feel like I had art school laid before me along the way. When you’re open to it, the universe kind of provides, you know?

You just laid out the parallels between a self-taught musician and a visual artist with no formal training, the learning process. Yet people may tend to think of the musical arts and visual arts as so wholly separate disciplines that they use different portions of the brain, so to speak. Do you feel that the respective inspirations may come from the same place?

I do, absolutely. That’s why I paint live, too, because I think of music in painterly ways, and I
think of painting in musical ways. It’s like how I was describing Photoshop: when I made my first record, for the producer I would bring in these songs and he would basically put these angular, crazy, fucked up things over the top on them. And I was like, “Oh, I get it! You’re supposed to try to fuck ‘em up as much as you can without destroying ‘em!” [laughs] That’s how it registered in my brain, literally.

And then of course, there’s a line: the more you fuck it up without destroying it, the better. But then you’re closer to the line of destroying it, and for some you will destroy it.

For some, say, James Taylor, that song’s destroyed. But then for others, like My Bloody Valentine is the perfect example of something that’s almost completely obliterated yet at the same time is this thing of shiny beauty that’s just amazing, and that’s [Kevin Shields’] genius right there, that he could create all those layers and textures and have this amazing thing.

Have there been any instances where one of your songs inspired a painting, or vice versa?

Well, it’s hard to say specifically that, “Oh, I looked at a painting I did and now I want to write a song about the painting” or vice versa. I don’t know that that’s ever really happened. But they inspire each other in that they spin off each other.
I guess that’s how they come together live. Particularly my live solo shows –they’re kind of like an example of my home environment. Even to the point where I loop myself and record myself in front of people [onstage]: that’s what I do at home; that’s four-tracking. And then I also paint. A lot of times I do both at the same time at home. You’ll work on music, and then you want to go do something else but you don’t want to just go lay down or read a book because your imagination is going strong, so [you go paint].

I was going to ask how much time do you devote to painting versus music in any given day or week, but you’ve got the best of both worlds while touring.

In fact, on the last tour I was selling a lot of paintings that weren’t necessarily live paintings
but ones I did at soundcheck. It’s almost like I go to paint “Factory-style”. [laughs] I mean, it’s  possible to approach art in a cold way that I think is really healthy for it.

Why is that?

I think art responds well to when you kind of don’t give a fuck about it, do you know what I mean?
When you get all precious and ritualistic about it, “it” kind of shies away from you. Almost like a girl you’re trying to date: if you worship her and stuff, she’ll just go, “Ooh, get away from me!” But if you’re kinda casual about it, she’ll like you – and the art will like you.

We’ve just arrived at a good title for this piece: “Playing Hard to Get with Art.”

Oh yeah, exactly – exactly! The rules of seduction apply across the board.

You’ve had a hand in all your record sleeves, some of them displaying your original art and others
incorporating various photographers’ work – in the latter instances, the sleeve credits suggest a collaborative effort, however. Is collaboration a positive artistic value in your mind?

Big time. And more and more, recently, especially in music. I’m almost more interested in what I would come up in a collaborative way with somebody than on my own. That’s different from how I was, say, ten years ago; that would have been the opposite, more like “I just wanna produce it myself
and play everything on it.” Like I had to prove something to myself, I dunno! But now I like the idea of writing with other people.

Now, it’s easy enough for you to work with a fellow musician, and even do it on the fly – say, with
Peter Buck or Ben Harper, who I know showed up at a couple of your West Coast shows and sat in with you. If all else fails, whip out “Louie Louie,” that sort of thing. But is that level of collaboration even possible visually, given that painting is considerably more solitary an activity by nature?

It’s funny, because a painter friend of mine recently said she’d like to paint with me sometime, and
she does stuff that takes months, whereas I’ll work on a painting for ten minutes. So I’m thinking, jeez, I’d feel weird about ruining one of your paintings! [laughs] You know? But yes, it’s less of a natural thing for two painters to collaborate.

But like I said, I’ve definitely collaborated with people on Photoshop and stuff like that. And [art designer] Zachary Larner on my early record sleeves; some of my favorite ones are collaborations with him. [See 2000’s Come To Where I’m From for an example of Arthur and Larner’s sleeve design.] So yeah, particularly now in modern times, it’s possible. Photoshop in particular.

You don’t have to worry about fucking up someone’s canvas in Photoshop – you can always return to
the source on the computer.

And you know, that’s one of the biggest challenges to painting, particularly live painting: your tendency is to just keep going until you obliterate what was in there in the first place, because it’s hard to conceive that something “simple” can be great, as the mind’s nature is to go, “No, I must work on it and think on it and really contemplate it for months and months for it to be great.” That can be far from the truth, and with live painting there’s no chance of that because you leave your mind no space whatsoever.
The mind is kicked out of the equation, and that’s what’s great about it.
Usually half the time I’m doing it I think, oh, this is terrible, it’s not working, and this is an important show and I really wish this painting was good… Then once I’m done and the show’s over and I go offstage and look at it I usually go, “Wow, that’s pretty good…”

Your mind is going one direction while the muse is veering in a different direction?

Yeah. The muse is under the pressure of the audience. It has no time to let the mind beat it up to the point where you sit down on the couch and get depressed! You’re in front of a roomful of people where you’ve set up the uncomfortable situation of “paint something that’s alive and that works” for them.

You’re saying that it’s not like being able to change the setlist in the middle of a concert.

No! And you can’t say to the audience, “I was just kidding! I know that there’s this badass easel
here, but just kidding about this, just ignore that…” You can’t do that.

I wasn’t actually ever intending to play and sing at the same time. The first time I ever did it was in L.A. at the Troubadour a few years ago, and I was just gonna walk out onstage, draw a little something, then say good-night. Maybe even more artsy-fartsy than that, just paint a little backdrop at soundcheck, then work on it a little in the show. That’s kind of how I did it. But the next day an
interviewer said, “Oh, so I hear you are painting and singing at the same time.” Well, no, I hadn’t planned that. But the light bulb just went off that I could. I was still self-sampling, so I knew I could enter in a loop and sing and do it. I thought, “Oh my God, that’s a great idea.”

Earlier you mentioned a few artists that inspired you. Is there any living artist that you admire who you’d like to have the chance to work with?

Well, Cy Twombly. I love him. I’d like to meet him. Most of the painters I know about are dead. He’s alive, but very old.

You may have stoked some potential collaborative fires with the coloring book contest for your
recent Color Me Courageous art/coloring book too. [For the competition, Arthur solicited fans to submit their own Arthur-esque renderings, yielding an impressive field. The winner was a four-year old. Go here at Arthur’s website to see that and the runner-ups displayed gallery style.] Some of those paintings were hugely impressive. The opportunity for a kid to have their stuff displayed in such a high profile fashion, to be associated with a “known” artist so to speak, is beautiful. It’s fantastic encouragement – my 9-year old son has an outstanding art teacher who has consistently encouraged
him to develop his talent, and that’s important. A little encouragement can go a long way.

That’s awesome. Yeah – the contest, the four year old that won, especially. And a little encouragement does go a long way when you’re young, for sure. I think as long as kids don’t get discouraged, you know? Like, my mom, when I was a kid, would tell me, “You’re really good at drawing!” And I would go, “Really?” Because my sister could draw realistic and I couldn’t; I didn’t draw like that. I was more [abstract]. So I asked my mom why, and she said, “Because your drawings have personality.” And I was, wow. That blew my mind when I was young. And I just never stopped painting after that.

The MOMAR [the Museum of Modern Arthur, his online virtual art gallery, which initially operated, starting in 2007, as a physical artspace in Brooklyn until being ejected by the landlord of the property] – tell me how that’s going these days. I would imagine you were unhappy when you got shut down.

Ahh, well… to tell you the truth, not actually. I did have pangs about it for months after it was closed. Then I had regrets: “Oh, we could have done this…” But not necessarily about it remaining open. It ran its course, and was open for two years. When we opened it our financial people were like, “Dude, you’re not going to be able to keep this open for four months!” So it had its great life and we threw some great events and I’m glad we did it.

Plus it was hard for me. I had to live illegally in the back of it; that was one of the ways I could make it happen. That was rough.

You were squatting in your own space?

I was squatting for two years. So you know what, I actually am relieved that I’m back to a private
lifestyle! [laughs] But it was good. It was epic! A cool place, and it had a great moment. And hopefully maybe one of these days I’ll get a chance to open something else up.

In talking to you, I was getting the feeling that you’re always a step or two on the path to the next source of inspiration or opportunity to create something different.

You know what else I’ve found out? Over time, things have a way of repeating themselves in this
weird way. Things have seasons in different forms. So I think you’re right. I think MOMAR will open up in different form.

INTERVIEW : 2000-06-06 Joseph Arthur Talks Mean “Chemical,” Difficult Art (by David Basham)

Singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur wrapped up his mini-residency tour in support of his new album, “Come To Where I’m From,” following a show Monday night in Minneapolis, and the video for the first single, “Chemical,” has just been added into rotation at MTV2.

The minimalist “Chemical” clip was directed by famed photographer Anton Corbijn, and although Arthur is known as a soft-spoken artist who is as willing to display his paintings as perform his songs, he told MTV News that he actually enjoys the track’s malevolence.

“It’s about addiction, I guess,” Arthur said of the song, “or taking drugs… but I like the lyric ’Putting myself in jail/Hoping to see you fail.’ I like saying ’hoping to see you fail,’ because it’s so mean-spirited. I rarely hear something that’s so purely mean, and there’s nothing redeeming about saying [that line]. That was my favorite part of the song,
and [the fact] that it was in a pop tune.” [RealAudio]

Last year, Arthur and artist pal Zachary Larner shared a Grammy nomination for Best Packaging for his “Vacancy” EP, and Arthur said coming up with the cover image for “Come To Where I’m From,” which features a series of highly-stylized wraparound portraits, may have been the most difficult part of putting the album together.

“Oh, man,” Arthur recalled. “I must have spent as much time on the artwork of the album as the album [itself], along with my friend Zach Larner, who contributed a lot of ideas and inspiration and love into that, too.

“Kind of like in a similar tip of [what producers] T-Bone [Burnett] and Rick [Will] did with the music, Zach was with the artwork. It wasn’t all put together by me, and I didn’t do it by myself, but
we spent a lot of hours
on it. I don’t even know why it takes so long, but it just does.” [RealAudio]

“Getting the cover is really hard, you know, wondering, ’What’s going to be the cover?'”he added. “Then changing your mind. It’s weird. A lot goes into making a record, and it’s those kind of decisions [that] are brutal, more than going and recording some tunes or making a painting. Just making decisions is what’s the most difficult part, I think.” [RealAudio]

Arthur has lined up gigs in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Austin, Texas over the next few weeks, after which he will head over to the U.K. for an appearance at the Glastonbury Festival on June 24.

For a sample of some of Arthur’s paintings, be sure to check out an officially sanctioned fan site (www.jps.net/kthalken)
that Arthur specifically sends digital copies of his artwork to while on the road.

INTERVIEW : 2003-02-26 Come To Where He's Been (by Hobart Rowland)

Come to where he's been
Atlanta and beyond -- Joseph Arthur's expanding universe

LIFE LESSONS: Atlanta made a lasting impression on onetime resident Joseph Arthur. Too bad the reverse wasn't true.

"It was the first place I lived outside of my hometown. I was just really thrilled to be ... away. I didn't go to college, and just wanted to gosomewhere."

That somewhere was Atlanta. And from there, it was as if Joseph Arthur had been shot out of cannon. His career trajectory is a marvel of breakneck efficiency. In a matter of months, the nobody musician went from eking out demos in a basement apartment behind Fellini's Pizza on Ponce to indulging his copious muse at Peter Gabriel's Real World studios in Wiltshire, England. What followed was a string of compelling and eccentric releases -- 1997's Big City Secrets, the 1999 EP Vacancy, the full-length Come to Where I'm From a year later, and his latest,Redemption's Son -- steeped in a darkly flamboyant, preternatural singer/songwriter aura unlike anything since Jeff Buckley.

Arthur spent four years in Atlanta, and he might've stuck around longer if it weren't for that life-altering answering-machine message from Gabriel. One of Arthur's tapes had found its way to Sir Sledgehammer, who promptly made the Akron, Ohio, native Real World's first rock signing.

Most of the details of Arthur's stay here are less than compelling; some are even embarrassing. "I got a couple of bad write-ups along the way -- like, in the Music Menu. I never made any sort of impact in Atlanta," says Arthur.

He worked at Clark's Music on Ponce (now a pawn shop). He played bass ("slap-and-pop style," he giggles) in funk-rock band Ten Zen Men. He played bass in rock band Bellybutton. Finally, he started writing his own songs on an acoustic guitar, and things started opening up.

Arthur wasn't new to songwriting. "I was writing songs, but it was the early '90s, so the main key of the song was getting people to rock in the mosh pit. Then I realized that if I just divorced myself form that scene, then I could be free to write what I wanted to."

Ultimately, that meant divorcing himself from Atlanta entirely in 1996. Yet Arthur, who spent a year in London before moving to New York, still has a soft spot for the city -- even if the Big Peach wasn't always a doting host. "It was like growing up," he says from his apartment on Manhattan's East Side. "I spent my college years in Atlanta smoking pot. ... No, not just that, I cleared my head. I transformed in Atlanta; I got straight in Atlanta. I met a lot of really great people."

One of those people was poet/spoken-word artist Mikel K, who was the first in a long line of artist/musician types to pass along the demo that found its way to Gabriel.

"I never even knew Peter Gabriel had a record company," Arthur says. "Mikel K gave it to Joe B, then he gave it to Harvey S, then he gave it to P.G. It just crawled through the system."

"Sorry, I'm painting right now."

Joseph Arthur apologizes for sounding distracted. He's salvaged some old dresser drawers on the street and is busy painting them as he talks. "Damn, dude, I've got some old art supplies," he says with mild disgust. "I haven't painted in a long time."

Anyone familiar with Arthur's albums knows his painting abilities go beyond furniture revitalization. His artwork -- colorful, brash, often disturbing self-portraits rendered in a manic slash-and-burn style -- lend an epic peculiarity to the album covers for Come to Where I'm From and Redemption's Son.

"With Come to Where I'm From, there's a self-portrait with two cockroaches with eyes facing off in a war with the self," Arthur explains. "On Redemption's Son, there's a humanoid figure that's grown wings and is moving from the dark into the light."

A nourishing optimism pervades not only the album's artwork, but its content as well. In both its lush production (by Arthur, with Tchad Blake) and the grainy warmth of Arthur's vocals, Redemption's Sonis restrained and somewhat conventional, its refined pop melodies bathed in a refracted glow like sunshine filtered through a cracked stained glass window. Arthur elaborates on how Redemption's Son came together:

"I had shit-piles of material and went to go mix it with Tchad [Tom Waits, Paul McCartney]. I just picked songs that I wanted him to mix -- and when we ran out of time and I had to go, that was it. Then Tchad went through a lot of the other material and put together four EPs [the limited-editionJunkyard Hearts series]. It was nice to turn the shit over to him at that point because I'd been living with it for so long."

The weeding-out process resulted in a 75-minute album whose many dips and turns make the journey somewhat protracted, though ultimately worthwhile. Still, Redemption's Son is a far cry from his '97 debut, Big City Secrets, a tortured gail-force blast of cleansing self-confessional air that manifested itself in an eccentric avant-folk style. After the album received only cursory attention, Arthur kept quiet until 1999's Vacancy EP, whose bleak cover art earned Joseph and pal Zachary Larner a Grammy nomination for Best Recording Package.

Then came 2000's Come to Where I'm From, an album so wracked with inner torment it seemed its protagonist might bleed himself dry (if he didn't hang himself first). Fractured sonic webbing, experimental flagellation and uncompromising stylistic extremes conspired with Arthur's vocal histrionics to give the effect of an extremely creative soul bouncing off the walls to be heard, whether it meant serenading a fickle public with crafted pop melodies or ripping the front door from its hinges and screaming until his face turned purple. The dichotomy worked: Perhaps swayed by their own millennial neuroses, critics connected with Arthur's antsy volatility in a big way, and Come to Where I'm From made it onto many year-end best-of lists.

Redemption's Son invites human contact in more obvious ways, even as it details the sometimes-toxic reaction of skin on skin in unnerving detail on tracks like "Favorite Girl" ("I've been so happy being unhappy with you"). And "Dear Lord," "Let's Embrace" and the title track suggest Arthur is becoming increasingly at ease with his own spirituality, comfortable in the resolution to heal thy sorry-ass self through love and faith.

It's never easy to address such subjects without listeners feeling they're being spoon-fed someone else's pat recipe for salvation. But while the potential turn-offs could've been many, Arthur averts disaster with a mixture of imagery and impulse.

"I write from the unconscious, so I don't really think about it," Arthur says. "I don't know what to think about all that stuff. But I use it to help me in life. And it does help me."


INTERVIEW : 2013-12-12 Jingle Punks Interview (by Bianca Ker)

You get ready to go to a show, get on the streetcar, you’re running a little late, so you hurry downstairs to the venue, open the door and…

It’s empty. Chairs are stacked on top of the tables, and the whole damn place is cleared out.

Shit. You got the wrong day.

Alright. So I missed Joseph Arthur’s show at The Drake Underground, that was a major fail on my part, because I’m sure it would have been a great show. I also might have offered to buy him a beer after his set…I’m the worst. However I was lucky enough to speak with Joseph over the phone beforehand. He had just gotten back from his European tour and walked around Brooklyn while we spoke.

You may have heard of Joseph Arthur, you might not have, but you’ve more than likely heard his music without knowing it, either on “The O.C.,” “The L Word,” “The Bourne Identity,” or one of the many other television and films his music has been placed in. While he’s never had that “big break” moment that transitioned him over to the mainstream, that’s what drew me to him and his story. Joseph spoke about what it’s like to be an independent artist, how the industry has changed just while he’s been part of it, and ultimately what it means to be a working musician.

On touring

I used to go tour before there was the Internet. When you toured Europe then, it was really like a foreign land. You had three TV channels in some foreign language. You just got lonely and wandered around the city. Now you never really go away. I’m so glad I had that experience of being a stranger in a strange land. That’s just a concept for people nowadays. There’s a real poetry in that.

On his new album, The Ballad of Boogie Christ.

It’s a concept album that I’ve been working on for 5 years, on and off. It leads itself to be a character in a theatrical. It felt like a great jumping off point, to build a story around. I just began doing that. But as I started doing that, it had a real ambition to it. I started making other albums around it, because it overwhelmed me. It felt monstrous, which is a great tool to use as an artist because you can sort of rebel against projects, and that’s a really good energy to get into, to sort of react off of projects. This one was good for that. I got a couple good albums out of it.

On Music Licensing for TV and Film

The music business is in a constant state of flux, I don’t think anybody’s got it figured. I remember when that “O.C.” thing happened, and at that time it was still kind of considered selling out if you gave one of your songs to a show like that. Like there was an uncool factor to that. I remember talking to my manager thinking, “Should we do this?” We were seriously considering not even doing that. Which nowadays seems absurd.

It’s almost got to the point that it’s like having a radio hit. It would be like saying, “Oh, if you have a radio hit you’re selling out.” I’ve watched the whole spectrum change. When I got discovered, or put out my first record, we had cassettes, and you were lucky as hell to get a magical thing called a “record deal” that got your stuff out there to more than 10 people. Nowadays with the Internet, everybody has the exact same distribution network to go through.

On being an independent artist

For me it’s always been kind of a struggle, but not in necessarily a bad way, because it’s fueled my output. There’s this sort of inner connection between the struggle and the work. I don’t think I would fight as hard as I do if it were just easy for me.

If you’re a cult act, or don’t have a big fan base, you kind of have to get your exposure where you can. Integrity is something you can afford. I always keep that in mind. If you’re an artist that’s really, really successful, and there are different rules for different people.

‘The Ballad of Boogie Christ’ is out now on Real World/Lonely Astronauts


Newsletter 2013-05

Joseph has added some new exclusive items to his PledgeMusic Campaign for the new record 'The Ballad of Boogie Christ', to be released June 11th! Only 12 days until its release!

The Southern Session DVD - Shot in Atlanta, Austin and Ashville USA in February 2010.

"Who Is Boogie Christ?" T-shirt - Only available for pledgers!

Original Paintings by Joseph Arthur 

"I Miss the Zoo" Poetry Book - The first book of poetry since Notes From the Road Volumes 1 & 2 in 2000.

Rare Out-of-Print Vinyl Albums - From Joseph's personal collection.

Digital Download: "Cocaine Feet" - A live performance from Birmingham, AL.


June 7, 2013
Live at Drew's
Ringwood, NJ
Address: 247 Cupsaw Dr.
June 13, 2013
Bowery Ballroom
New York, NY
June 15, 2013
Lincoln Hall
Chicago, IL
June 17, 2013
Triple Door
Seattle, WA
June 19, 2013
The Chapel
San Francisco, CA
June 20, 2013
The Troubadour
Los Angeles, CA
June 22, 2013
The Parish
Austin, TX
June 25, 2013
World Cafe Live
Philadelphia, PA
June 26, 2013
Ram's Head On Stage
Anapolis, MD
July 26, 2013
WOMAD Festival
Charlton Park, narr Malmesbury, United Kingdom

The first single from 'The Ballad of Boogie Christ' titled "Saint of Impossible Causes" has been added to these radio stations below. Please call your local station and request it now!

WXPN Philadelphia, PA
WFUV New York, NY
WFIV Knoxville, TN
WBJB Lincroft, NJ
WBJB Monmouth, NJ
WTMD- Baltimore, MD
Sirius Loft
WKZE Red Hook, NY
WJCU Cleveland, OH
WHRV Norfolk, VA
KCSN Los Angeles, CA
KSLU-Hammond LA
World Café
WTYD Norfolk, VA
WHRV Norfolk, VA
KDEC Decorah, IA

WJCU-Cleveland, OH
WNRN-Charlottesville, VA
WEXT-Albany, NY
WFPK-Louisville, KY
KSUT-Durango, CO
WMWV-Conway, NH
WCBE-Columbus, OH
WAPS-Akron, OH 
KRCL-Salt Lake City, UT
Maine Public Radio
KRVM-Eugene, OR
WUKY-Lexington, KY
KDTR-Missoula, MT
Mood Media Adult Alt(formerly DMX, Indicator reporter)
WFIT-Melbourne FL
WYEP-Pittsburgh PA
KTBG-Kansas City MO



Newsletter 2012-02

Download the NEW 24-track double album Redemption City for FREE at josepharthur.com!!
"Please don’t take the method or the freedom of this release to be any judgment on its value. I think it’s top notch, but it’s great to take advantage of what the internet is actually good at - IMMEDIACY. This is the first time I’ve released something while still inhabiting its space, I’m alive in the nowness of it! Join me there or here or here and there."

"We’ve set this up so you can just have the record. You can donate, pay what you want, or nothing at all. Passing it on, spreading the word, is better than money, but records are hard to make and expensive so if you dig it, Dig in!" - Joseph Arthur  READ MORE->

Call your local radio station and request the song "Travel As Equals" from the new free album 'Redemption City.' A free download of the Radio Edit is available at josepharthur.com.

A new video for "Over the Sun", the ninth video in an ongoing series from ‘The Graduation Ceremony,’ is now available on iTunes. The revolutionary music video is split to nine frames, and was shot entirely on a custom made multiple iPhone rig... Watch the video here and see behind the scenes and hear from the creators who made it happen.

Joseph will be exhibiting his artwork at Able Fine Art NY Gallery in New York City on from February 23rd through March 13th. Also Joseph will sing and play  at the opening night, Thursday, February 23, at 6:00-8:00pm. Please join us at the opening. Please stop by if in the area. Able Fine Art NY Gallery is located at 511 West 25th St., Suite 507, Chelsea, New York City.

Every month, Joseph exhibits an original piece of artwork at Joseph's Virtual Gallery, The Museum of Modern Arthur. The piece will be for sale on a first come first served basis at the Joseph Arthur's Official Store. This Valentine's Day painting for February is pictured right. Be sure tocheck back to see the new painting around the beginning of every month.

Brand new items in theJoseph Arthur Store include a new Luxe shirt, Notes From the Road books, and postcards, and of course the painting of the month.Check it all out here.

FEBRUARY 15, 2012
Barnes & Noble
Upstairs At The Square
MARCH 16, 2012
Club Helsinki
MARCH 17, 2012
City Winery
MARCH 22, 2012
The Horseshoe
MARCH 23, 2012
MARCH 24, 2012
Le Mouton Noir
MARCH 29, 2012
Au Vieux Saint-Pierre
MARCH 31, 2012
Le Boquébière
APRIL 12, 2012
for more dates please visitJosephArthur.com