Photo by Emmett Malloy

Photo by Emmett Malloy

Interview: Maranda Pleasant

We love this man. Jack on his love of Nature, Biofuels, Sustainable Food Initiatives, a New Album and a Tour donating 100% proceeds to Charity. He explains the meaning of Love and how we are all connected.

Jack Johnson: Hey, Maranda.

Maranda Pleasant: Hey, Jack, how are you?

JJ: Good, how about yourself?

MP: Good. I really admire your work. I was up late last night reading some of your initiatives on biofuels and your low-carbon footprint on your tours. I want to say thank you so much for being a pioneer of that. What is it that makes you come most alive?

jack-johnson_quoteJJ: Every time I get a chance to be out in the ocean. For me that mostly means surfing. Every time I get a chance to be out in the ocean, it’s like hitting a reset button for me where I just feel alive again, in perfect balance. Music can give me that, as well, but not as easily. The ocean is the way I know how to find it almost daily.

MP: What are some of the things that make you feel the most vulnerable?

JJ: The music brings me confidence and freedom. It’s also the thing that can make me feel the most vulnerable. Once I finish writing all the songs for an album, once I actually record them, that whole process is usually easy and enjoyable. The part where I feel the most vulnerable is when it’s all finished, I can make no more changes, I’ve turned it in, and there’s no going back. All of a sudden I hear the songs in a different way; that’s when I feel vulnerable.

MP: What do you do with pain when it comes in?

JJ: Sometimes I’ll write a song. When I’ve gone through something really hard in my life, sometimes it’s other people’s music. There’s a great songwriter, Greg Brown, who has really helped me a lot in my life. Other times it’s actually writing the songs and getting out of mind and into the song.

MP: What’s one of your biggest passions right now?

jack-johnson_cdJJ: Right now we’re getting ready to go and present these songs live. We get to record the song, put the songs out there into the world, then start actually playing them live. Once you bring all those people together and use that spotlight and shine it on something more important than myself, it’s really rewarding.

MP: Tell me about some of the causes that you’re most passionate about.

JJ: Sustainable agriculture—being from Hawaii, it’s something that you see firsthand. It’s a major issue there. 90% of our food is shipped in. That’s really taxing. Supporting local food production is so much healthier for people. It’s better for the local economy, and it’s a lot of fun. We get to go out into the schools and work with the kids on connecting them to their food at a young age, to actually see where their food is coming from, to see that their food is coming from the earth and not just from a supermarket. Once they make that connection, they can start to build upon that. It’s really neat to watch it grew. As they get older, they get to tackle those big issues of, if we can grow so much food in Hawaii, why are we bringing so much in?

MP: You’re so wonderful, by the way. I’ve heard so much about you for years and how you live from the heart. You seem to have so much beauty wrapped in integrity. It’s really refreshing. Your new album comes out September 17. You’re going on tour. Is it correct that 100% of the profit is going to charity?

JJ: Yeah, that’s true. We’ve been doing that since 2008. My wife and I made the decision back when I was struggling a little bit with the idea of going back on tour. I love playing my music and I love sharing the music with people. But at the same time, it is pretty taxing. One thing is looking at the environmental impact of all the trucks and buses and airplanes. I didn’t want to just be doing the small things we could to try to make that impact less. We get biodiesel wherever we can and we have refillable water bottle stations at the shows, to try to cut down on single-use plastic. We learned a lot from other bands. It’s good to try to make the industry that you’re a part of cleaner. We wanted to do something that felt like every town that we came through, we left in better shape than when we got there.

My wife and I have been working with enough nonprofit groups for a long time, whether Heal the Bay or Heal the Ocean or Surfrider Foundation. We started our own in Hawaii, the Kokua Hawai’i Foundation, and we started doing a once-a-year festival. We wanted to get that same feeling everywhere we went

MP: You’re trying to make your tour green?

JJ: We try to do as much as we can with greening the tour. It’s always an ongoing conversation. You learn a lot as you go, so we’re always trying to improve. We work with a great group called Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance that helps to make sure the biodiesel is being sourced from a reasonably close area.

MP: If we couldn’t love you more, we do! [laughing] What does love symbolize for you?


JJ: Love is when you find that thing, when you want to give more than you want to take. When you find the things that you love the most and you want to give those away, that’s love. It’s when you want somebody to be happier than yourself, but then once you make them happy, it makes you happier.

MP: Wow. We need to clone Jack Johnson. We’re all thinking it, but I’m just gonna say it! If you could say something to everybody on the planet and know that it would be heard, what would that look like?

JJ: We’re all related. We’re all a family.

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