Did you and your family have a good summer?
Yes, thank you. We had a great summer. I got to take my wife and children to Corpus Christi (where my wife grew up) for a vacation. We spent some time with her family and got plenty of beach time. I was able to be productive while recording and working on new material and still enjoyed doing a lot of fun things with my family this summer. It's been very nice.
You chose to leave Jah Roots not to long ago and have now started focusing on a Solo career. What lead to that decision?
There were many factors to the break-up of Jah Roots. To be very honest after close to six years on the road together I had just had enough of being away from my family and missing birthdays and important events in my life. With my solo career I am now able to include my family ALOT more in my traveling and touring and haven't missed a birthday since the breakup. Also there were financial discrepancies and management difficulties that were intolerable. There had been many disagreements for the past five years and I was very unhappy with alot of the decisions being made about the future of Jah Roots. I decided it was time to break free & do my own thing.
You recently went into the studio with Cas Haley to record "Favorites", a collection of classic covers, how did you and him come together for this project and could you tell us a little about the album?
Cas and I met in 2005 I think, haha... we met as both of our bands were touring and I reached out to him on myspace after I heard his music and suggested we tour together. He was down and Jah Roots & Woodbelly became a midwest touring force. Then Cas auditioned to be on Americas Got Talent and ended up becoming the 2nd place winner for the 2nd season. A couple years later and after he had released his first solo album and I split with Jah Roots we were still very good friends and enjoyed being on the road together. We had done an acoustic tour together shortly before the Jah Roots split and that is where the "Favorites" idea came about in my head. Each night on our acoustic tour we would cover some reggae classics and the crowds LOVED it!! Each night on our acoustic tour we would cover some reggae classics and the crowds LOVED it!!
So a couple months later I called Cas and said we should record an album of those covers that everyone loved hearing us sing. He loved the idea too so I went down to Texas to start the project. We recorded @ Big Karma Records, a home studio in Paris, TX, literally a 2 bedroom vacation home turned fully into a recording studio owned by a great man named Jim Slaton. Jim put up the finances and opened his studio up to us to recored "Favorites". We knocked the album out in a little under a week and sent it off to be mastered by Rob Fraboni (who has mastered Bob Marley's entire discography & produced artists like Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton & The Rolling Stones to name a few). Shortly after we had the album mastered and were ready to talk with different major labels about distribution our producer and friend Jim Slaton died of a heart attack. This was a major shock & devastated all of us to say the least and understandably caused the album to be delayed in its release. A little longer than we had expected but now we are close to being on board with a major label for distribution and the album should be out very soon. Cas & I are both very proud of this record & excited about it's release!
Take us through the process of taking a classic song and making it your own?
Well, first it comes from a deep deep love of the original songs. Cas & I picked each individual song ourselves because they are songs that are very dear to our hearts. We just wanted to do something that the fans would love and that the original artists would appreciate (we hope, haha). We just put our spin on them, the way that we like hearing them. The first time we played the Third World song "96 Degrees" together I was floored at how good our harmonies sounded together and said "Cas we HAVE to record that" and then when we played them for audiences and read the feedback on our videos and saw that the fans were as passionate as we were about them and it just seemed meant to be.
Are there any songs that didn't make the album that may be on a future record?
Nope, we recorded 10 songs and used them all. Not that those are our only favorites there were many songs we love and talked about doing but we decided on these 10 and never turned back haha
You have such a great, unique voice when you sing. When did you realize that you had this talent?
Thank you so much for the kind words. I guess when I was about 15 I realized I had a knack for singing and playing guitar. I started my first band and opened for my Dad's band locally. When I was 16/17 I really started getting into soul music (Otis Redding, Al Green etc.) & found out that I sang along really good to artists like that & my friends seemed to agree. I started a band called Phen with some of the members of Jah Roots in the late 90's that was focused more on soul/pop/r&b. Then at about 19/20 we really started getting into reggae and decided to exclusively play reggae music and changed the name to Jah Roots. Shortly after we started playing reggae and opening up for authentic Jamaican reggae artists I started to hear from alot of these Jamaicans that I sound alot like Jah Cure & this influenced me further & I really got into Jah Cure's music & I am still influenced by him & his vocal style today.
Growing up, who were some of the artists that inspired you into making music?
I was and still am inspired by so many different artists. As a kid one of the artists that got me into playing guitar was Slash from Guns and Roses haha I though he was awesome and that is why I started playing guitar cause I loved his leads. As I got older & started to widen my musical horizons I really fell in love with Otis Redding and I feel he is the reason I started singing passionately. Another artist I had a deep infatuation with & was very inspired by is Ben Harper. But, when I first heard reggae my whole perspective changed and I became influenced by a whole new world of reggae singers (like Jah Cure, Garnett Silk, Terry Linen, Turbulence, Ali Campbell, Glenn Washington, I could go on and on) they really helped mold my voice into what is is now.
What is more challenging writing the music or the lyrics?
Well, I know what I like to hear musically so to me writing the music is easy. I feel like the lyrics are a little more challenging as I don't wanna just write some simple non heartfelt lyrics. I want to write conscious lyrics that are relevant and that matter to me & to the world around me and are still catchy. I really have to buckle down & go to "that place" & write what is on my mind & in my heart.
Definitely. It was the perfect title, it summed up all of the changes that were going on in my life at the time. Not only with the band but with the effects that the split had on my life. Fortunately, all of the changes have been for the better and my life is great.I read about your recent run-in with the LAW. Can you tell us about that experience? Will this stop you from getting political in your music?
Well, I had no idea that there was even a situation with the law until my home was raided by the local Springfield Police in January. After they singled me out ransacked my home & terrified my family they finally informed my wife & I that there had been a pending investigation into all 6 members of Jah Roots. They claimed the investigation was based on complaints that we were advocating the use of marijuana via our shows & social networking sites. After only finding a very small amount of personal use marijuana we were not arrested & they left our home. Several months passed & we were summoned to appear in court where my wife & I were sentenced with 2 years supervised probation & told that we can not advocate the illegal use of marijuana via live shows or social net-working sites. A blatant stomping on of our 1st amendment rights. But this event will never stop me from speaking the truth in my music. That to me, is what reggae is. Message music & truth music. So much so that the State of Missouri didn't like what I had to say and the impact it had on the fans. But I have an attorney to help me get through the loopholes and am still to able to perform my regular set at concerts but just cant partake for a while. It's unfortunate but this too shall pass.
Do you plan on having The Soul Riddim Band be your official backing band? Should we expect to hear them on any future recordings?
Yes, The Soul Riddim Band is my new band for sure and we are in the process of getting things together to get a new album out asap. They do a great job of mastering that Jah Roots sound that everyone loves yet adding their own unique spin to the tunes. They are a great group of guys that I am honored to have back me. They still have the passion for reggae and playing reggae that I felt some Jah Roots members had lost. They will be my regular touring band but sometimes I get offers to play in other places where a backing band is provided like my upcoming trips to Hawaii & Guam. It's much easier on the promoters to just fly me out and they have amazing local backing bands that learn my songs to a tee.
I see that you are always trying to get some sort of music out to the fans through the internet. If its not a new song on myspace, it's a new jam you posted on youtube. How difficult is it to promote yourself day in and day out without the corporate backing?
It is difficult but what alot of people dont know is that I single handedly did all of Jah Roots promotion, booking, marketing, etc... from my home computer, 10 hours a day everyday that I wasn't playing (everything except manage money). This is the reason for Jah Roots success and I felt like I had put too much time and effort into something that other members didnt feel I was doing a good job of. So I decided I would just do it for myself and it seems to be working just fine, again. It is hard work but very self gratifying.
With already so much accomplished what are some of the goals you still have set?
I would love to travel & play in Europe, South America, New Zealand, etc. & record in JA. I want to show my kids and wife the world, getting to see Ancient Ruins, that is probably my biggest interest outside of music. In April I am scheduled to play the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and am excited to see the Mayan Ruins more so than playing in Mexico haha. My wife and I are extremely infatuated with ancient ruins and culture & we desperately wanna see places like Baalbek, Persepolis, Nemrut Dagi, Angkor Wat, I could list so many places. So I would say my goal is to have the ability to travel with my family.
Which song of yours is your favorite for people to listen to?
Oh man, I have alot of songs I am proud of musically and lyrically. I think the song that I seem to get alot of feedback about and seems to really strike the heart of my fans is "Babylon Respect Lower" which is on the 2005 album More Herbs For The Youth. These lyrics are always very relevant to me and others lives and it seems more so everyday. Here is a verse from the song to give you an example.
"so they lock up I Idren with rapists and murderers
just for what, burning the herb
calling us "burnouts" with no motivation
well i say ive got no motivation to be in this babylon situation
no man, no motivation to be in a babylon situation
no 40 hours of money work for me
splitting myself into 2 personalities
I can only live for my family
and the blessings of Jah unto me"
Josh Heinrichs Links
Oct 8 2009 King Cat Theater Seattle, Washington
Oct 9 2009 The Reef Boise, Idaho
Oct 15 2009 Oceans Beach Bar & Grill Kihei, Hawaii
Oct 16 2009 UH Hilo Hilo, Hawaii
Oct 17 2009 Kulia Roots Fest w/ Ooklah The Moc, Inna Vision, Stranger & Dubkonscious Honolulu, Hawaii
Nov 14 2009 The Kinetic Playground Chicago, Illinois