Park the car at the side of the road, you should know.....
Who are the Joneses? This page provides you with insights to the band, their individual motivations and passions.
Inside the Joneses
Interview with Joe Linkens - 'Johnny Marr' - Lead Guitarist
So Joe, you're The Joneses 'Johnny Marr' - no pressure there, then! Was it a daunting challenge?
Of course! He has such a distinct and unique sound and style of playing; simply recreating his tone is almost as challenging as playing the riffs themselves. A great deal of time and research was put into finding the right amount of chorus, compression, reverb and various other effects that he uses to provide people with that sound they’re so familiar with, in addition to simply tackling the songs themselves.
Can you remember the first time you heard The Smiths - how did you get into them?
Friends at school would talk endlessly about them and how much they loved them, so I remember typing them into youtube to see what the fuss was all about and clicking the first option, which was ‘How Soon Is Now?’. I remember that intro leaving me absolutely speechless! I loved Morissey’s poetic and emotional lyrics, and could find myself relating to many topics he sings about, and enraptured by Marr’s fun and inventive guitar lines. The one which sealed the deal for me was ‘William, It Was Really Nothing’.
A lot of young people come to The Joneses shows, as a 21-year-old, can you explain why your generation still love The Smiths?
I think this is mostly thanks to Morissey’s words and the way he performs and delivers his lyrics. Young people find his gloomy outlook on the world and society appealing because it’s so relatable and relevant, especially with this current political climate. But politics aside, the strong feelings of rejection, sexual confusion and being unloved are communicated so well in the music and lyrics young people can easily latch onto these.
How did you come to audition for The Joneses? What songs did you need to learn?
I was desperate to get gigging again and saw Aidan’s advert online. I thought ‘that sounds perfect’ so got in touch. I learnt ‘This Charming Man’, ‘What Difference Does It Make?’ and ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ for it.
Tell us about the audition itself? Were you nervous? Did you see the other guitarists hoping to get into the band? Did you feel it went well for you?
I was initially a little nervous but I was confident that I would be able to play the songs well. Seeing Aidan coming to greet me relaxed me, as we’d met before at one of The Joneses’ gigs. I remember seeing one other guitarist leaving just as I was entering, but there was no tension or anything like that. The whole thing felt very chilled and the band were super encouraging and supportive throughout both playing the songs and the interview afterwards. I left feeling like I couldn’t have done any better to be honest (apart from accidently kicking my guitar lead out the pedal board)!
Can you remember where you were when you got the call to say we wanted you in The Joneses? What was your reaction?
I was excited and nervous at the same time! I was so overjoyed that all the work I had put into learning the songs had paid off and I didn’t want to disappoint.
The Joneses have a repertoire of around 50 songs from The Smiths and Morrissey. That's a lot of material to learn - how did you set about it?
I wrote down all the songs in order of priority and just went through them one by one. My plan was to learn two or three a day, which overall was a success but it was a lot of hard work. I would constantly be going back to songs I’d learnt in the previous days to ensure I was super familiar with the material.
Do you learn the songs from YouTube, sheet music, tabs, or by ear?
Youtube and by ear mostly. I think I used one or two tabs and one time I did use sheet music, when I tried to learn ‘Back To the Old House’ just for fun a while ago.
Which songs have been the most complex or tricky to get under your fingers?
The Headmaster Ritual was definitely the most challenging, especially with the open-E tuning. William, It Was Really Nothing was pretty hard to master as well - both tunes switch erratically between strumming and picking.
Your favourite tune to play with The Joneses?
Barbarism Begins At Home! I love the funky Nile Rogers-style guitar parts. It’s repetitive but allows for lots of rhythmic creativity, and it’s so much fun when the crowd dances along!
You're sharing guitar duties with original member Matthieu. In what ways did he help you with guitar parts or technical advice on gear etc etc?
Matthieu would send me links to video tutorials and performances which was very helpful with learning the songs. He also showed me his set up which acted as a foundation for me to put together my own Joneses gigging rig. He even gave me a couple of pedals, which was super generous, one of which I am currently using for gigs right now!
Tell us about your first gig with The Joneses - where was it and how did it go?
It was at The Pelton Arms in Greenwich. It was Aidan’s leaving-do for his work and about 250-300 people showed up, so the place was packed and felt like a sauna, but it was so much fun! The gig went really well and I had an amazing time. With the whole audience singing along to ‘The Charming Man’ or ‘There Is A Light’ I was just awe-struck by the whole experience.
We understand you got a family member up on stage to play tambourine?
Yes, my older sister came up and danced along to ‘Cemetery Gates’, her favourite! She needed absolutely no convincing and loved every minute of it.
What do you think sets The Joneses apart from other The Smiths tribute bands?
Aidan’s performance style is the key feature which makes The Joneses so unique - his passionately aggressive approach to recreating Morrissey visually and audibly is unlike anything I’ve ever seen from another Smiths tribute, as well as any other audience member I’ve asked. Also things like the props and the involvement and energy of the rest of the band with the performance (such as me or Neil going to the front of the stage, or dancing with Aidan) as opposed to simply standing at the back.
The fans are a huge part of The Joneses gigs, generating a fantastic vibe and joining us on stage to dance and play tambourine. What do you think of this?
Do you make any attempt to look or dress like Johnny Marr? We understand you've bought a new guitar that is similar to one played by Johnny back in the day?
I sold one of my older guitars to buy an Epiphone ES-335 Pro, which visually looks a lot like Johnny Marr’s Gibson ES-339 (my favourite of all his guitars), except with silver hardware instead of gold, and of course the Epiphone brand rather than Gibson. I also wore some eyeliner at the last gig, something Johnny Marr would’ve done back in the 80s and still does to this day!
Tell us a bit about what age you were when you first picked up the guitar - what styles of music did you play growing up?
I started playing classical guitar when I was 7 and then I picked up electric when I was 12. I was mostly playing the blues around then - B.B. King and Eric Clapton type stuff as well as the music of Dire Straits and Pink Floyd, as I was a big fan of these bands growing up. The first few bands I played in would do mostly indie and pop covers. I also started playing a bit of jazz and fusion at around 15 or 16.
In your opinion what makes Johnny Marr such a unique and special player?
His approach to the function of the guitar in a rock band is one element which makes him stand out. Rather than simply strumming the chord progression or belting out flashy guitar solos, he creates these riffs which serve as rhythmic backing and are additionally highly melodic and interesting. His shrill and jangly tone is a result of the guitars he would use (telecasters, rickenbackers, 335s) as well as certain effects like chorus, compression and reverb - it’s an instantly recognisable sound and is a key characteristic of The Smiths music.
The relationship between Marr and Morrissey was very special. Tell us about your acoustic duo shows with The Joneses' very own Morrissey, Aidan…
It’s a very different kind of experience compared to playing with the full band. The sound is a lot more sparse making it more daunting for the both of us. A lot of thought was put into the way we approach certain songs, adapting them and making them suitable for the acoustic set up. The venues are smaller making the atmosphere more intimate, which is great as it allows for an even better interaction between Aidan and the crowd. They’re a lot of fun and we’ve had lots of good things said about them!
Johnny is known for using many different effects pedals to get his guitar sounds and tones. Has getting together the gear and pedal board been fun (and expensive)?
It’s been really enjoyable! It’s allowed me to test out and experiment with lots of different pedals to find the ones which work best for me. It has been pretty pricey (I had to do extra hours at work to make all ends meet) but definitely worth it.
Any funny stories or anecdotes from your time in the band so far?
I kicked my pedalboard out during the audition, which made me think I was totally screwed! I also broke a string directly before playing a set, literally after having a conversation about how annoying it would be if I broke a string before we started playing! Thankfully my sister had brought me backup strings, as I had forgotten to take some with me.
Did you see the Joneses before there was a call for a guitarist advertised, and if so, what did you think of the band as a member of the audience?
Yes, I saw the band at The Amersham Arms in New Cross. I thought the band was fun, energetic and very engaging! The crowd around me were having a blast, everyone was dancing, singing along, and immersing themselves in The Smiths experience. I could tell the band was well rehearsed as (despite a few hiccups here and there) the music was super tight and Aidan’s performance as Morrissey was extremely convincing.
Have you gigged with other bands before The Joneses? Is there any difference in the two experiences?
Yes, I played in many bands growing up in school. My biggest group back then was a jazz funk ensemble I was in when I was 16, which got to play on Radio 3. I then played in a few more bands and ensembles throughout uni, and I even formed my own band with a couple of friends which is still going today. The main differences between these bands and The Joneses is most notably the size crowds which get drawn in as well as the presence of a fanbase. The Joneses also have a strong sense of ambition, a very professional attitude and a commitment to the music which I’ve never really experienced from fellow musicians in any bands prior.
You have now played three gigs with The Joneses, do you have any observations about the audiences that attend the gigs?
The fans are great, everyone is super nice and supportive. They respond really well to Aidan’s performance and everyone wants a chance to get up on stage to play the tambourine. It’s great to see them singing their hearts out and enjoying the props, especially the water gun!
Finally, what would be your dream gig with The Joneses? Any venues or types of show you'd particularly like to play?
No venues in particular, but to play in the music hotspots in London would be great, places like Camden, Shoreditch or Soho. I’d also love to play in cities other than London, specifically Manchester, for obvious reasons!