Shop our Big Takeover store for back issues, t-shirts & CDs
Follow The Big Takeover
Jonny Polonsky – Photo Credit: Jason Robinette
It’s been a few years since we last heard new material from Jonny Polonsky, a Chicago-born, NYC-based alternative-indie music stalwart. His Fresh Flesh album (his fifth to date) came out in January 2018. Recorded at Rick Rubin’s studio, it boasts performances by Kevin Haskins of Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, and Tones on Tail, as well as vocalist Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age).
Because Polonsky can’t leave our palettes unsatisfied before is new album Kingdom of Sleep drops in early March 6, he has decided to whet our appetite with ‘The Weeping Souls’, a catchy and resounding mid-tempo track with impeccable delivery and production. Why are we not surprised? Self-produced by Polonsky, the album was mixed and mastered by Mike Tholen (Chris Connelly, Revolting Cocks).
“The Weeping Souls” shines brightly with the sparkling interplay of various mellifluous guitars, Polonsky’s wistfully twisting vocals, perceptive lyrics, gently reflective piano notes, and mellow drum shuffle.
“This song is basically about when you’ve cut someone out of your life, and you’re still trying to process all the conflicting, paradoxical feelings you have for them. It’s also kind of a love letter that was intentionally never sent to its recipient. Sorta like how Abraham Lincoln would write letters venting his feelings, and stick them in his desk drawer. I don’t have a desk drawer so I’m using the Internet,” says Polonsky.
Over his storied and dynamic career as a solo artist, Jonny Polonsky has released six full-length records over 23 years. From early on, he has impressed upon many music luminaries. His DIY demos led to support from Reeves Gabrels (David Bowie, Tin Machine), Marc Ribot (Tom Waits, Elvis Costello), Zander Schloss (Joe Strummer, Circle Jerks), and John Zorn.
Reeves Gabrels’ introduction led to Frank Black support, representation by Pixies manager Ken Goes, and Frank Black producing a demo recording, which led iconic record producer Rick Rubin to sign Polonsky to American Recordings.
Polonsky has performed on albums by Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine), Pete Yorn, Dixie Chicks, Minnie Driver, and Donovan. The legendary Neil Diamond numbers among his fans, as does Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, QOTSA) and Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle, Puscifer).
The instrumentation on this record ranges beyond the standard guitar, bass, and drums: 1980s Blade Runner-like synthesizer soundscapes, Middle Eastern finger cymbals, gongs, bass clarinets, piccolos, harmonica, bass fiddles, and a children’s choir all feature on the LP.
“This album came together as most of my records – gradually. I’m always writing and recording, and after awhile, I notice a unifying theme or atmosphere kind of pokes it head up. The songs that want to be grouped together raise their hands and volunteer for service, nothing is very consciously calculated on my end. I was listening to a lot of Cocteau Twins, I got heavily into them while writing and recording these songs,” says Jonny Polonsky.
Mixed by producer Brendan O’Brien (Neil Young, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, Rage Against the Machine), his 1996 debut album Hi My Name is Jonny was met with great critical reception from The New York Times, MTV, and international news outlets. After touring with Frank Black for several months and the 1996 Lollapalooza summer tour, Polonsky went on hiatus.
Resurfacing in 2004 with The Power of Sound LP, he supported Audioslave on their 2005 North American tour. In 2006, Polonsky formed the short-lived band Big Nose with Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave), and collaborated on several songs with Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle) for his project Puscifer, with whom Polonsky also wrote, recorded, and toured from 2007 to 2010.
Polonsky’s 2012 album Intergalactic Messenger of Divine Light and Love was recorded at Rick Rubin’s recording studio in Malibu and Akademie Mathematique of Philosophical Sound Research, and mixed by Jim Scott (Tom Petty, Slayer). The 2015 album The Other Side of Midnight followed, mixed by Dean Hurley at David Lynch’s Asymmetrical Studios.
As of January 17, ‘The Weeping Souls’ will be available as a digital single. The full Kingdom of Sleep album will be released on March 6 on CD and clear vinyl with gatefold sleeve, as well as digitally. It can be pre-ordered HERE
Produced, engineered, arranged and composed by Jonny Polonsky
Recorded by Jonny Polonsky at Ground Round Sound, Brooklyn
Mixed and mastered by Mike Tholen
Performed by Jonny Polonsky
Cover artwork by Jorge Castillo
Photos by Jason Robinette
Also check out his video for the title track off the ‘Fresh Flesh’ album: