When Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett isn’t palm-muting his way past the verse of another hit single, he’s touring and recording with his band Jackson.
While Shiflett has spent the past few years rounding out the line-ups of bands from the Foo Fighters to No Use For A Name and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, he now fronts his own power-pop outfit. Jackson is playing the Black Cat on Thursday, Nov. 13, opening for pop-punk band Sugarcult along with rockers Story of the Year. The Eagle got a chance to talk to Shiflett about managing his time among his several bands, as well as his influences.
EAGLE: You’re involved in several projects - Jackson, Foo Fighters, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes - is it ever difficult for you to manage your time between your different projects?
SHIFLETT: It’s becoming more and more difficult, that’s for sure. With the Gimme Gimmes it’s usually not a problem because we don’t really do much that often. Although we did just play a Bar mitzvah on Saturday I want to point out. It’s been hectic lately because I’ve been trying to get this Jackson thing off the ground and it’s been a lot of work. But if you added up all the hours it’s not as much of the day that it would take to work a day job, so it’s not that bad. It’s a good problem to have.
EAGLE: How does touring and playing with Jackson differ from touring with the Foos and Gimme Gimmes?
SHIFLETT: Well, we tour very thrifty. This tour that we’re going on, that we’re leaving for next week, is like the first tour we’ve ever actually done. We’ve done like a few shows here and there, so this is the first time we’ve ever actually gotten into a van as a band and hit the road. I can tell you this much, it’s going to be four band members and one roadie in a van driving across America with me behind the wheel. I think you can do the math there and consider how considerably different that is to the way we tour in the Foo Fighters.
EAGLE: Now I understand that you are a boxer. How often do you get a chance to box and do you have any signature moves or trick punches or anything like that?
SHIFLETT: My signature move is letting my opponent punch me in the face repeatedly and get tired, then take them out (laughs). No, it’s funny I’ve been so busy lately I haven’t had time to come to the gym and my trainer calls me and harasses me all the time but I’ve just been too busy to do it. But when we do have time off I like to get into the gym just about every day and go do some amateur fights and some white collar fights.
EAGLE: What are your biggest influences in terms of songwriting?
SHIFLETT: Well, I think my biggest influence is the people I’ve played with over the years, whether it’s, like, No Use For A Name or Foo Fighters. I listen to all kinds of music.
I don’t really have a specific thing. I listen to everything from, like, the Doves to Jawbreaker to Wilco and I think it all influences you equally.
EAGLE: What is it like being in Jackson with your brother and how is it a different relationship from the other bands you’ve been with in the past?
SHIFLETT: It’s great because he’s my brother and we know each other better than anybody else. That has its ups and downs. One of the ups is that we feel totally comfortable with each other and playing together. And then the downside is that we both know how to make each other mad instantly.
But that hasn’t really been a problem, that’s true of any family. I love playing with my brother; he’s like the best bass player in the world. It’s really fun.
EAGLE: How was the experience of recording an album like “One by One?”
SHIFLETT: It was great. It was the first time I had ever recorded with the Foo Fighters. I hadn’t recorded an album with them, so I didn’t really know what to expect going in and the final version of “One by One” that we put out, we recorded it really quickly and it seemed to flow really quickly.
EAGLE: What are your favorite types of shows to play? Do you prefer the bigger shows with Foo Fighters, or the intimate club shows, or is it like a mix of both?
SHIFLETT: The thing is they’re all fun. It’s a totally different experience when you’re playing in a club; people are right there. It seems more immediate. When you’re playing in front of some huge festival like the Reading festival or stuff like that, it’s just so intense it rips your face off. I love them both and they’re both so different that I couldn’t really say which is better.
EAGLE: Well that has to be good, being in a position where you get to do both.
SHIFLETT: I think playing Foo Fighters shows is like the rock ‘n’ roll fantasy and playing Jackson shows is the rock ‘n’ roll reality (laughs).
EAGLE: Are there any bands that you’ve been listening to recently that you think are going to hit it big or break soon?
SHIFLETT: What have I bought lately that I like? I just bought the new Strokes record yesterday and my gut instinct tells me that that band is going to be a very successful band (laughs). There’s a band called Communiqu? that have a record out on Lookout! That’s really, really good.
EAGLE: What can we expect in the future from Jackson? Is there a full-length album coming out any time soon?
SHIFLETT: We’ve been working on planning a bunch of tours. We’re going to go over to the U.K. in January and then do some West Coast U.S. stuff in February and try to get down to Australia in March and then maybe do another U.S. run in April, so we’ve been working on that and actually right now I’m at the studio where we are mastering the full-length. We’ve got it finished, it’s ready to go and then we’re going to start looking for a record deal. I mean, we don’t have a record deal right now so we have no home, we’re homeless. So as soon as we find a home, we’re going to put it out.
EAGLE: I’ve always thought that a good name for a band would be Homeless, that way every night when you would play you would say, “Hello, we’re Homeless.”
SHIFLETT: Well, dude, you’ve got a few weeks here to get it together and open the gig for us.
EAGLE: Yeah, I’ll have to get on my axe and get crackin’.
SHIFLETT: Yeah, get to work there.