Just Jinjer: Surgery & circus-midgets – and back with “Bright Light”

Just Jinjer have sold over a quarter of a million albums. They’ve charted eight No.1 hits and boast loyal fans around the world. Now, after relocating back to South Africa – and following drummer Brent Harris’s successful open-heart surgery – they’re back with a new single, “Bright Light”. The song has generated instant demand – and requests for more this generation-busting band.

Just Jinjer: Denholm Harding, Ard Matthews, Brent Harris

Just Jinjer: Denholm Harding, Ard Matthews, Brent Harris

This interview by Evan Milton originally appeared in the Cape Argus “Good Weekend” of 2014-08-31

Mention Just Jinjer and each fan will have his or her deeply-etched memory. The very early days, when the band were striding out of the shadows of being street buskers. The later early days, with a bizarre South African oddity that being a fan of the increasingly successful band meant  you weren’t a “cool” listener. One of their massive stage show where they sued their mix of evocative lyrics and superb stagecraft to create an intimacy with each person in the crowd – even when those crowds were 25 000 big. Shows across the United States and Europe. Headlining slots back in South Africa, while they were still based overseas. Stripped down acoustic performances in intimate venues like folk clubs, churches and open-air garden shows. The time they co-headlined the Nelson Mandela 46664 concert…

Vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Ard Matthews has established a successful solo and collaborator career; drummer Brent Harris and bassist Denholm Harding have a thriving corporate performance project, and Harris his own albums while Harding is more than active behind the music scenes, most recently as producer for the latest Prime Circle album. But when the trio unite as Just Jinjer, there’s a widely-appealing magic that happens in studio, and even more powerfully on stage. They’ve worked together for so long; slogged the long-hard road so many times; lived together in tour vans, hotel rooms and digs in London and Los Angeles that Just Jinjer is a marvellous musical entity that’s far more than the sum of its three part. The new song, “Bright Light”, is a case in point. Matthews penned the song; knew it was destined for Just Jinjer rather than a solo offering and, as soon as Harding and Harris got hold of it, another Jinjer gem ensued: a song that has all the hallmarks of becoming another classic.

Bright Light’, the single, presented itself and it’s been so well received with such a demand that we’ve almost been caught with our pants down. But we’re here and we’re ready and there’s a lot in the pipeline.”
– Denholm Harding, Just Jinjer
 
 
“We never officially split up,” says Ard Matthews. “While we did take a bit of a gap and pursue personal projects, Just Jinjer is back again. Times have changed and we’re in a more disposable market, so there’s no new album yet – although that might come. But here it is, a new single and, once we have enough singles, we might combine it into that old-fashioned thing called an album. For now, we’re just enjoying collaborating again.
 
Just Jinjer live on Evan Milton’s radio show, “Homeground Advantage” on Fine Music Radio. (L to R: Brent Harris, Ard Matthew, Denholm Harding).

Just Jinjer live on Evan Milton’s radio show, “Homeground Advantage” on Fine Music Radio. (L to R: Brent Harris, Ard Matthew, Denholm Harding).

 
“Just Jinjer has existed in many forms, but the core has always been the three of us since ’97 – along with many guitarists, a revolving door of sorts,” jokes Denholm Harding. “It was a very monogamous musical relationship and after 15 years, we said, ‘Maybe we should date and be in an open relationship!’ But now we’re found a way to get our schedules aligned again, and it’s just a very comfortable marriage – you know you can be yourself musically and creatively, and you know it’s going to work. The hiatus was just because we got really busy in our personal capacity, and there was enough energy to also keep the Just Jinjer machine going. A single means an album, an album means a tour, a tour means sponsors and it just wasn’t getting to that point. Now, the single presented itself – we wrote it pretty much by email – and it’s been so well received with such a demand that we’ve almost been caught with our pants down. But we’re here and we’re ready and there’s a lot in the pipeline.”
 
“There were some sold-out Just Jinjer gigs that I couldn’t play. It wasn’t great to miss those gigs, but the fact that I was alive… well, I could grin and bear it.”
– Brent Harris, Just Jinjer, on his open-heart surgery
 
Then, of course, there’s Brent Harris’s recent open-heart surgery, and an overwhelming outpouring of support on social media, and directly, from fans both far-flung and in nearby neighbourhoods. “It wasn’t part of the plan,” he deadpans. “But things happen, and you deal with it, and the support from so many people does definitely help. There were some sold-out Just Jinjer gigs that I couldn’t play, but ‘the show must go on’, literally. It wasn’t great to miss those gigs, but the fact that I was alive… well, I could grin and bear it.”
 
Harris has always been a striking figure – both behind the drum kit and off stage – well-built and muscular. After the surgery, he’s leaner, and with a more deliberate air. But he’s fit and getting stronger and, in truth, probably in healthier physical condition than many men his age. But is he ready for the demands of playing a Just Jinjer set – renowned for its pace and energy?
 
“In truth, the corporate thing that Denholm and I do, where I have to do the singing, takes a harder toll on my body, so playing the Jinjer gigs should be a breeze,” he says. “We’ve never been a big rehearsal band, and when I get back together with circus-midget (he gestures at Harding) and the clown (he indicates Matthews), we can just get together and play and it works. That’s why we keep on doing it. And the support from the fans is amazing. In a corporate band, you play a lot of covers and it pays the bills, but there’s nothing like playing your own music and having it received the way it is. It’s just…. great.”
 
“I think our music is just really straightforward. It’s incredibly honest, to the point of being cheesy… We’ve survived the fads that come and go… It’s turned into something which is pretty cool and something we’re damned proud of.”
– Ard Matthews on the music of Just Jinjer
 
The near-instant success of the new single begs the question of why Just Jinjer’s music has such wide and evergreen appeal.
 
“I think our music is just really straightforward,” says Matthews. “It’s incredibly honest, to the point of being cheesy, which has been part of our formula but is also something we’ve had to deal with, because it’s just what we do. It’s turned into something which is pretty cool and something we’re damned proud of. We’ve also survived any of the fads that come and go; there have been eras where we could probably have been cooler in some people’s books, but the fact is that we’re still here and we’re still rocking and, ultimately, that’s going to make us a lot cooler than any band who’s been around for two or three years, with big beards or scooped V-necks. Also, we’ve had a whole generation of parents who played our music to their kids and they just got it. It’s just honest music that’s easy to relate to and spans quite a few age groups.”
 

This interview by Evan Milton originally appeared in the Cape Argus “Good Weekend” of 2014-08-31

Just Jinjer - "Bright Light" - brand new single

Just Jinjer launched their new outing, and the single “Bright Light”, at sold out shows in Cape Town in late August 2014. The song is available on iTunes and via JustJinjer.com. The band are currently recording their ninth studio album, with a likely release date of late 2014 or early 2015. With an upswell of interest following “Bright Light”, regional and national tours will shortly be announced.
 
Just Jinjer interviewed by Evan Milton in the Cape Argus "Good Weekend" of 2014-08-31

Just Jinjer interviewed by Evan Milton in the Cape Argus “Good Weekend” of 2014-08-31

Just Jinjer: Denholm Harding, Ard Matthews, Brent Harris

Just Jinjer: Denholm Harding, Ard Matthews, Brent Harris

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s