Jesse McCartney on In Technicolor: "There's a Lot to Bite Into"
When we spoke with Jesse McCartney, the babiest face in R&B, he was in New Orleans about to do a soundcheck. The night before, he'd hung around town getting drinks, eating gumbo. Doing things people do when in the Big Easy.
Whether or not you like the McCartney of old, of Dream Street, of Summerland, or even his last album Departure in 2008, we'd like to recommend you listen to his newest release, In Technicolor. McCartney was involved in the songwriting of every tune on this album, and though it's obvious to make a Justin Timberlake reference, the singer definitely took his cues from older icons. In "Superbad," homeboy sounds like the spawn of Michael Jackson (And yeah, he could be Paris' sib. Who knows where those kids come from?).
Besides digging the album, McCartney is laid back and easy to talk to about anything. He even admitting to being a chocoholic and watching the Kardashians. Check him out here before his show tonight at Revolution Live.
New Times: I was listening to your new album and I enjoyed it. You cowrote the songs on it?
Yes, I mean every song on the record I either wrote or wrote it with a couple of other writers. The majority of the album was produced by The Elev3n. They're a group of guys based in New York, with them and a couple of writers I worked with in L.A. and New York, we wrote the album sort of collectively.
Are the lyrics mostly you or...? Cause you have that song about marriage on there. Is it personal?
Yeah, I mean of course. I feel like every songwriter at some point or another is gonna write you know a song that is close to home. I think it makes for some of the most honest songwriting, and when it's something that you've actually been through, it's real, it's something people can connect to.
I did go through a period where the idea of marriage struck me as something that's happening to a lot of my friends lives at this point, I'm 27 years-old so a lot of my friends are... I'm getting more and more wedding invitations over the last couple of years, and I think that sort of prompted that song.
But are you looking to get married right now?
No, not right now. But I mean you know any guys who tells you that they don't think about it in their late twenties is lying to you.
That the "Superbad" song definitely sounded like '70s Michael Jackson. I imagine he's one of your influences but how did you decide how to compose each song?
I think "Superbad" is definitely a tip of the hat to some of the songs that he's done over the last couple decades, and I think you probably hear a lot of influence from both Michael, Prince, Earth, Wind and Fire, Kool and the Gang. Specifically Michael, vocally you know you can hear it. He's a guy I grew up emulating as a kid and you know I took sort of the knowledge that I have with vocals and kind of put my own spin on it.
You know, for me this album, the whole idea was to make something that was a reflection of what I grew up listening to as a kid which was retro '60s, '70s, and '80s music. That was all my parents would play for me. That was kind of what I grew up listening to and so this album is sort of my spin on music of that background.
Yeah, well I think it represented it well. Would you ever make music that's not R&B sort of based?
I probably wouldn't enjoy it as much. You know, I have a lot of respect for all genres of music because I'm a singer and a songwriter and especially most recently, country music. (Laughs) Which I didn't really get into until as of late but I think for me R&B and soul music is sort of where I'm most comfortable musically and vocally and where I feel most at home. So those are the kind of records I like to make. That's not to say as a writer that I wouldn't write a rock thing or a country thing I can work with a lot of people outside of my genre but it's just preference.
What are your hopes for this album and for yourself generally in your career?
Well my hopes are that people respond to the record positively and so far they have. It's been an overwhelmingly popular reaction to the album and so far the bands have been so supportive. You know this record is... There's a lot to bite into and we'll see how people react to it. I can only hope that you hear the sort of musical history and appreciate it as much as I do because this record was a hell of a lot of fun to make, and I can't imagine a more exciting time in the studio, putting together an album.
What do you imagine someone doing while listening to your album? Is there any particular song that, I don't know, you think someone might want to drink a glass of wine to? Do you have anything like that, that you feel like people might be inspired to do?
I mean yeah each song you know evokes a different emotion and a different feeling and there are some upbeat songs, actually this is probably the most upbeat tempo album that I've ever had. There's one piano ballad in particular that I think is one of the, pull-at-your-heart-strings kind of songs. It's called "The Other Guy" I play it on the piano live during the tour and I just think it's definitely one of my proudest pieces of work in terms of lyrics and writing. I think it's one of my best songs, and I really love it. And I think you know you could probably drink wine to most of this album or straight liquor.
Do you have any moments on stage, on this tour that you especially enjoy performing that the audience most respond to or that people should be watching out for when you come to Revolution in Fort Lauderdale?
Yeah, I mean not to sound redundant but actually think that the one of the moments that is really special is when I come out on the piano and I do this big piano ballad for the crowd which seems to be going over really well.
Aside from that you know they can just expect a very high energy show. I would say 80 to 85% of, you know we're doing over 20 songs in a set depending on the night. Maybe three or four songs aren't choreographed. Everything is choreographed and it's very, very high energy. I'm working, I'm working up there on the stage.
Good, that sounds like a good show. Do you have any I don't know guilty pleasures that you can share with some of your fans?
Oh yeah. When I'm on the bus and nobody's watching I like to just sit in my bunk and eat chocolate and sometimes watch the Kardashians.
There's no wine involved and candles?
(Laughs) You know, I like wine but I'm definitely a sweets guy. I have a big sweet tooth. I like candies from all different parts of the country, and it's a bad habit.
What's one you've picked up in the past few years that you've now gotten attached to?
I just started getting into these things called Trolli, which is the name of the company I guess. And my background singer actually got me involved with it and got me into it. I sound like a drug dealer. It has the consistency on the outside of a jellybean but when you bite into it it becomes a gummybear. It's delicious and on top of it it's got like a sour punch to it. They are so good and I gotta cut back on them.
What about the philanthropy you do? Do you want to give a plug to some of the organizations you work with?
Yeah I mean I love to work with kids obviously. A lot of my fans and my followers have been strongly in the younger demographic, and I've worked with a lot of amazing groups but I think specifically one of my favorites is the City of Hope. I was introduced to it about seven or eight years ago. At first I just started visiting the hospital and I'd see kids and now over the years I've been raising a lot of money and I did a show with Miley Cyrus a couple of years back and we raised like over a million dollars or something for the hospital.
It's just so nice to do stuff like that, and it really makes you feel like you've put your foot on the planet you do other things besides music, and that's sort of special, so City of Hope is amazing and St. Jude's Children's Hospital also. I'm a big supporter of them as well. I think anything that has to do with kids really, it hits me pretty hard.
Jesse McCartney with Guinevere, 7 p.m., tonight, August 4, at Revolution Live, 100 SW 3rd Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $25. Visit livenation.com.
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