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Jack Grisham of T.S.O.L.: Creating Keeps me Sane!


Erin: Mr. Grisham!  How the hell are you?!?

Jack: Hi!  I’m in my closet. Here I am, in my closet.

Erin:  (Laughing) Well, if that’s the safest place you can be, who cares?

Jack: This is where I work!  This place is small, but the closet is large so my closet is almost like a bedroom size.

Erin: In Huntington (Beach, California,) still right?

Jack: Yeah.  So I’m in like a studio apartment, but it’s a big studio and this closet, see my arms aren’t even touching the walls (of the inside of this massive closet,) it’s like a 6 feet by 6 feet closet.  So I have my desk and everything on this side.

Erin: And a dresser?!? (Jack pans camera over this massive wardrobe I am quite jealous of at this point.)

Jack: Yeah and my dresser. So here I am!

Erin: Ok, so here’s the multi-talented Mr. Grisham-master of all artistic trades; music, acting, writing, photography.  You still doing hypnotherapy?   Because I know you’re a certified hypnotherapist!

Jack: Yes, but I don’t practice because when people look me up online, do you really want me to put you under? (Laughs)

Erin: Why not? (Laughs back.)

Jack: Because a lot of them didn’t.  It’s like, do I really want THIS GUY fucking around inside my head?

Erin: REALLY?!?!

Jack: YEAH.  Or then I’d get weird ones.  I got people that like, well to be quite honest with you, I know everyone is so anti-white-straight-male, so lemme tell you something-white straight females, black straight females, any kind of straight females are just as creepy as the men.  So let’s just say that some of my clients came over maybe not so much to be hypnotised, or at least what they thought, they were going to be hypnotised to have intercourse with me.

Erin: (Completely lose my shit in laughter.) REALLY?!?!

Jack: “Uhhhh I’m going out…”(Loses his shit laughing.)

Erin: Well it must’ve been an ego booster but at the same time deeply conflicting, like wait a minute, what the fuck?  What did you THINK was going to happen?

Jack: It was pretty trippy. It was their fantasy I think.

Erin: What fantasy?

Jack: The fantasy of me putting them under.

Erin: And then what, you doing filthy, dirty things to them while they were under?

Jack: Yeah!

Erin: But, did they think they’d remember it?

Jack: I don’t know WHAT they thought.  I just knew it was a little sketchy.

Erin: Just like, fuck that, never mind, it’s fine.

Jack: I don’t really need that.

Erin: So what is the latest project or projects you’re working on?  Music, film, photography?

Jack: Ok, with music, T.S.O.L. is in the middle of doing a single right now.  So we already recorded the first song and now we are heading in to go do the second song. (Plays some of it for me.) Do you hear it?

Erin: Yeah!  So this is the second one then?

Jack: But the chorus is really fun!

Erin: I can only hear bits of the lyrics (we are speaking 6000 miles apart,) but I can hear the music and it sounds fantastic!

Jack: Well whatever,I’m just giving you a little taste of it.

Erin: “The Trigger Complex” came out last year and I really fucking love that album!!!  I was really, super impressed with it.  I love to run to that album because it’s got a good rhythm for my running pace.  I really, REALLY love “Sometimes”.

Jack: Oh I do too.  That’s one of my favourites.  It’s funny-we struggle with it live (the song “Sometimes”,) for some reason.

Erin: Why?

Jack: I don’t know.  I think it’s people, you wanna talk hypnosis, we can bring that in there, people have blocks.  Why they think they can’t do something.  It’s really strange.  So, they then just have a block and they struggle with it and we end up not playing it.

Erin: UGH!  That would be so GOOD to hear live!!!!

Jack: Well, we will play it for Rebellion, we will play it for sure.

Erin: Oh my god that will be awesome!!  I’ll be on the side of the stage screaming along.

Jack: It’s fun and we’re gonna play the new ones (A and B side of single they are recording now,) too.

Erin: The second song is due to come out when?

Jack: So it’s a 2 song single.  We’ve already recorded the first song, we are actually writing tomorrow and we’ll write the second song, record it and either release it like a 7” single or like a 12” single with big artwork.   We might do that also.  Which that is something I REALLY think we might do.

Erin: The 12” would be really cool because people are doing so much more of the 7”’s and you can do so much more with a 12” regarding artwork.

Jack: Right.  They used to do 12” 45’s.  With a 12” 45 you can cut the grooves really deep and it sounds better, whatever.  So, I think we’re gonna do a 12” 45 and then get a great artist to do the cover, like we had Shepard Fairey (American street artist, graphic designer, illustrator,) do the artwork for “The Trigger Complex”, so I think Ron English (American artist who explores brand imagery and started as a street artist,) might do the album art for the new one.  Maybe.  MAYBE.

Erin: That would be a really good choice.

Jack: They’ve been talking to him and I just started doing some work with Germ-do you know Javier Germ?  His art has the Latin flavour to it?  It’s like a lot of that low brow art but it’s really got a cool Latin American flavour to it.  It’s cool.

Erin: That would go along perfectly because of T.S.O.L. and the whole So Cal scene and Long Beach and Huntington Beach connections.

Jack: You know what would be really cool would be to do a picture disc based on that art.

Erin: Oh that would be really awesome.  Instead of doing the traditional band image or splatter art but to do a really good picture disc with actual artwork would be super cool.  I think you’d definitely sell more of those or maybe do it as a limited edition.   It’s February, so would it be ready for Record Store Day?

Jack: Record Store Day is when, April?  Yeah if we get the next song done!

Erin: There you go!  There’s something to motivate you guys to finish!

Jack: Getting the next song done is the key!  So, that’s T.S.O.L., so photography wise, I’m getting ready to release a book, my first photo book, it’s called “#1 Dream” and it’s kind of a take on John Lennon’s “#9 Dream”.  So it’s called “#1 Dream” and I hired an actress and actors and basically plotted it like a movie with different scenes but I just shot it with my still camera, but shot the different scenes almost like a movie and then I wrote a story that goes with it.

Erin: Holy shit, really?  Wowzers.

Jack: So it’s gonna be like an art collectable photo book that should be out pretty soon.  I know there’s gonna be a Kickstarter fund for it.  Everyone thinks I have money. (Laughs)  For some reason, you Google me and Google says I’m worth $65 million!  So T.S.O.L. is gonna do the single, we got that going and then a lot of touring coming up, so then I’m doing this photo book, this #1 Dream, then I’m also writing a collection of four stories, not short stories but more like novellas.  Like, 50,000 words each, four of those in a book. And (laughs,) I’m doing a book of meditations kind of thing and then getting ready to direct a short film.

Erin: I know that you did “Code Blue” with our mutual friend Susan Dynner last year.

Jack: I used that to learn.  So now I am going to direct a short.

Erin: So you are doing it on your own this time?

Jack: Right.

Erin: What is the film short going to be about?

Jack: I can’t say.

Erin: OK, so top secret info.  Well, I can’t wait to see it and hear all about it.  So, out of ALL THAT,

Jack: When do I have time to do anything else?

Erin: No, that question comes later!

Jack: Oh no, WAIT WAIT!  I do have something else too!

Erin: You’ve got to be shitting me…

Jack: I just started actually working on a track with Myron McKinley, who is the musical director for Earth, Wind and Fire.

Erin: On your own?

Jack: Yeah.  It’s for a solo thing I’m doing.  Because when I grew up, before punk rock, well even all through punk rock, I listened to like, LTD and the Stylistics, the Delphonics, Aretha Franklin, I was a big Burt Bacharach guy, like loved all that.  So, now I’ve got the chance to actually work with Myron, who is a jazz guy.  It’s like fuck it!  Let’s just make a track!

Erin: And see what happens!  Go for it!

Jack: It’s gonna happen.  So, it’s actually kind of cool, it’s like, I don’t wanna say 70’s, but kind of a Burt Bacharach, LTD, not really soul but more of an R&B thing.  So I’m doing that now which is also kind of fun.

Erin: OK, are you SURE that is ALL you have going in the works?

Jack: As far as I know.

Erin: As of the month of February, this is all you have managed to book so far! (Jack then proceeds to put on some weird fetish mask.) Do you feel more comfortable now?

Jack: (Muffled,) that’s better.

Erin: Too bad I don’t record video interviews.  I really need to start.

Jack: I took out the mouth plug so you could hear me better.

Erin: (Laughs manically, because this image of Jack, sitting at his desk in his closet, surrounded by clothes behind him, wearing a leather fetish mask with no mouth plug, is fucking priceless!!!) Out of all the creative mediums you work in, which one do you feel most comfortable?

Jack:  Hahaha…

Erin: You can’t even take yourself seriously looking in the camera with that thing on! (Referring to his mask.)

Jack: I think the funnest, if we’re REALLY talking about what medium do I have the most fun in, the medium of human is what I really enjoy.  The constant experimentation and fucking with people and just being a human is the one that I have the most fun with.

Erin: Brilliant fucking answer.  I think that’s the best, most honest answer I’ve heard to date.

Jack: This is the best.  This is what I like.  Just THIS.

Erin: Just living and experiencing and experimenting and seeing what happens!

Jack: Right. Just being me.  Which is a LOT.  I get into it with these guys, not to get into this existential conversation here but, I’ll say, “hey, just be yourself!”  They go, “no problem,” and I’m like, bitch-that is the HARDEST thing in this world!

Erin: YES!  Because everyone in the world has preconceived notions of who they’re supposed to be or people tell them they should me more like this or that.  When I up and left the U.S. and my job to come to France, I heard FROM EVERYONE what I should do or how I should act or maybe I should be more like this and I was like, FUCK IT.  What’s the worst that can happen?  I don’t like it?  It’s really hard?  Life is just a series of learning adventures to me.

Jack: And that’s not even the worst that can happen.  There IS no worst that can happen.  There is no worst thing.

Erin: Well, I think actually, the worst thing is not taking a chance on something you may never have the chance to do again.

Jack: Yes, that’s just lack of experience.

Erin: You’ve become quite the established and well received author having written, one of my personal favourites, “An American Demon,” “Code Blue: A Love Story,” “I Wish There Were Monsters,” and “Your Principle of Recovery: An Unconventional Journey,” we already know we can expect something forthcoming, what out of everything you have written and published so far, which was the most challenging but rewarding for you?

Jack: Well, if you’re looking at it like that, “An American Demon” which is the first book I ever wrote because I never write anything longer than lyrics to a song, you know, 50 words.  If you break a song down and actually count the words in a song, you’re looking at 50 maybe 100 words, they’re repeating the chorus over and over again.  So then when you step up and need to write 120,000 words and then keep with continuity and keep it memorable and bring the emotion in and all that bullshit.  So I say “An American Demon” for that where I felt oh my god I actually DID this, this is badass!  The one that’s given me most pleasure would be the one about recovery (“Your Principal of Recovery: An Unconventional Journey”) because it’s helped more people.  I get letters and emails from people all the time saying thank you, that really helped me, thank you this cleared something up for me, so that one is the one I get the most satisfaction from.  Really that’s why you’re doing this shit.  I had a talk with a guy today about money.  You know, money is nothing!  The only reason we want the money is because we want the freedom the money is FOR.  That’s the only reason for money.


Erin: I just spoke with a friend yesterday and was explaining to her my interpretation of money-it comes, it goes, we get some, we lose some, we always find a way to get more, it waxes and wanes.

Jack: You want the freedom-not the cash.  The cash is not the end.  Freedom is the end.

Erin: You already know I’m a huge fan of your photography-I follow all of it.  And you’re incredibly fucking gifted at it, because you convey such a true inner sense of the subject visually that THEY aren’t able to see.  But you present and project it so effortlessly to people viewing your subjects.  How can you explain that without giving away any of your technical secrets?

Jack: The trouble is there is no technique!  That’s the problem!  OK, so I shot a girl yesterday, if you’ve been on Instagram you’ll see the latest.  So, I’m shooting this girl yesterday and I’m trying to tell her because she brought all this stuff and she’s a real like, this sexy, kind of model-y chick  I said look-I don’t want all THAT.  I want YOU. I want the picture of YOU.  Not THIS.  I don’t care about this.  I wanna see what you are.  It’s really about catching these people as they are.  A lot of guys aren’t fans of eye contact and I’m a fan of eye contact.  Sometimes I’ll have them look above me depending on what kind of deal I’m trying to get, but a lot of the time I want them to look me in the eyes as if I walked in and caught them in the middle of life.

Erin: That they had no idea that anyone was coming in.

Jack: The door opened and I just walked in.  Like here I am. You just caught me in the midst of changing; you caught me in this moment of being totally unreserved.  They’re not putting up any front.

Erin: And kind of vulnerable because they’re not being anyone else but who they truly are.

Jack: Exactly.  That’s the point of that.  You’re trying to catch them just being them.

Erin: So it’s not a technique, it’s just something you’re able to do.  You tell them hey, this is how it is.

Jack: Cause technique wise, I blow.  I don’t really know a lot.

Erin: I know you’ve said that before, but it’s just a natural gift for you I think, because you’re able to catch that.  Out of every single photo I’ve seen you do, just looking at the people-at the faces and at their bodies.   I don’t want to say “vulnerable” because for some people it looks like your photographs empower them to discover who they truly are, you know what I mean?

Jack: Right.  A lot if it is just trying to catch them.  For me it’s completely selfish.  I want the connection with this person.  I’m not good at connecting with people, but when I’m looking through the lens and they’re looking back, I find that with the lens in between I can actually connect with the person.

Erin: And it shows because like I said, you’re able to convey that and they’re able for the most part to convey it back to you.

Jack: They’re very comfortable.  The biggest compliment is when someone says, “Hey it was really comfortable shooting with you.”  I went through a stretch where I was shooting a lot of people that had recently been injured or out of surgery or maybe like breast cancer, so I’ve shot a lot of them.  I get contacted by people and they say “I wanna see me like you see me.”  They want another look at themselves.  I don’t post all of these because a lot of them are really personal and they say, “I didn’t know I was that strong.  I didn’t know I had that strength.”  So sometimes the camera brings something out that they’re not used to.  Or I get these women where every shot of them, someone wants some cheesecake ass and tits shot.

Erin: You’re very gifted at it.  If you don’t know it already, I’m telling you, you better be aware of it because you are.

Jack: I’ll tell you something funny-the guys that like me in music wished that I focused more on music and then I got photo guys that say “I’m so glad you’re doing all this photography.  Keep it up and keep shooting,” and then I have literary guys that say “You really need to write more!”

Erin: And then you’re going AHHHHH can’t I just do all of it at my own speed?

Jack: Yes, but it’s nice people say that.  That’s a lot better than people saying to stick with the music, or you’ve written enough STOP.

Erin: We’ve spoken a bit about the hypnotherapy.  I wanted to ask you when you first started doing hypnotherapy, does it actually work and can it succeed with some people and not with others?

Jack: It always succeeds.  People say they can’t be hypnotised, but it’s not true.  You’re hypnotised all the time.  Have you ever read a book you enjoy?

Erin: Yes, I read all the time.

Jack: OK, so when you read a book you enjoy and you get lost in the story, that’s hypnosis.  You’re in the story, you can see the characters, you’re following it, you’re relaxed.  Have you ever picked up a book that you just couldn’t get into?

Erin: Of course.

Jack: It’s the same thing when people say they can’t be hypnotised.  It’s like when they read a book and they can’t get into it.  Have you ever sat down to watch a movie and there may be a famous actor in it, but when you watch the movie they’re in character.  This isn’t Ed Norton, this is this dude or this guy, but have you seen a movie where Brad Pitt just never stops being Brad Pitt?  It’s like ugh, that’s so Brad Pitt.  He never becomes that character.  Hypnosis works the same way.  All you’re doing in hypnosis is you tell someone stories to get them relaxed, to calm down and then when they’re calmed down and you’re telling them these stories, you implant suggestion that is acceptable.  Like, who doesn’t want to feel beautiful or healthy or vibrant?  So you implant these suggestions inside them.  It’s not like these people are out and they don’t remember what happened to them, they’re totally awake.  They’re just very relaxed.  That’s all it is.  Hypnosis is just a deep state of relaxation.

Erin: And by planting and being open to the suggestions of something positive or eliminating something negative it works?

Jack: The thing is, you have to know enough about the person and talk to them.  I couldn’t make you rob a bank.  Now, if you wanted to rob a bank, I could encourage you to do so.  So you can’t do anything that you’re morally against.  You can’t make somebody do something they don’t want to do.

Erin: Have you used hypnosis yourself for anything?

Jack: I use it in talks, I use it in all sorts of stuff. Like, when I’m giving talks on recovery I use it then.  I tell funny stories and people are laughing and they’re relaxed and they’re with me and they’re going along and then I can say something such as, “you know what you’re doing is fatal and is going to kill you.”  Then it really hits them strong because they’ve been lulled and now BANG!  I’m going to die.  I use it in writing, I use it on stage, I use it all the time.

Erin: That’s awesome.  I didn’t know it was that much of an influence for you personally.

Jack: A lot of people don’t know that they’re doing it.  A lot of it we do naturally.  I’m sure your husband’s done it when they’re putting together a set list, it’s like we’re gonna hit it and BAM BAM BAM and now we’re gonna bring it down a little bit and go into this groove and then when we have everyone laid back and mellow then we’ll come back with something to make the whole place go crazy.  You use it all over the place.

Erin: It’s more prevalent than the average person thinks it is.

Jack: Reading a book, you’re hypnotised.  Watching a movie you like, hypnotised.  Ever lost track of time?  Any of that stuff.  It’s all various stages of hypnosis.  We’re constantly being in a state of trance.  It’s very natural for humans.

Erin:  Well, I’ve learned something new today!

Jack: Good!

Erin: I know T.S.O.L. released “The Trigger Complex” last year.  Are you looking forward to touring the album this year?  I know you’ll be touring Europe.  You guys are playing Rebellion in August, what other big places are you playing in Europe and the U.K.?

Jack: All over the place.  In the U.K. alone I think we’re just doing London and Rebellion.  I like it because I like seeing people.  I’m a fan.  Like your husband’s band-I’m a fan of English punk rock.  That’s what I grew up with, you know what I mean?  When they say “my peers,” if you think about it, hanging out with the Germs and X, but these were just neighbourhood bands.  Bands we were playing parties with and shit!  For me, Sham 69 and the Damned and the whole English scene really stoked me!  So when I go over there, I’m like going over there as a fan.  I’m not going over there like, “check me out,” I’m going, “Oh shit! Check HIM out!”  Looking for an in!  I’m stoked to visit with people and learn from people, go to their countries and soak it all in.  Teach me!  Show me!

Erin: Do you have the tour dates up on your website?

Jack: I’m not sure.  I don’t think they’re up yet. But I know we’ll be in Europe for around 3 weeks.

Erin: I read that you’re constantly creating because you’d go insane otherwise.  Is there anything you do to compress or shut down all the chatter in your head, since I have so much, I assume creative people have even more, or to centralise you?

Jack: Which one of us are you talking to? (Meaning the many different sides of Mr. Grisham,) I gotta keep working.  When you look at those old insane farms or whatever, the crazy farms, they had the patients making baskets or quilting or some shit.  I think it was Chaucer that said “idle hands are the devil’s playthings.”  I HAVE to keep working.  First of all, it gives me a sense of meaning, as long as I feel I have meaning to exist, the minute I stop working I feel as though there is no reason to exist anymore and I like to distract myself basically by working.  I like to work.  I like to create stuff.  It’s like a boil, a boil that constantly needs to be lanced.  So that’s what it is.

Erin: Awesome.

Jack: Awesome.  Ok you and I will go for a run when I’m over there.

Erin: On Blackpool beach!

Jack: That beach is the SHIT!  I’m trying to get my kid to come out for the weekend, I’m like take the train from Cambridge (one of Jack’s daughters will be in Cambridge attending a filmmaking class the same time as Rebellion,) and come out!

Erin: She should!  She’d have a blast!  Thank you so much for doing this.  I had a lot of fun.

Jack: OK, we’ll see you soon!


If you are interested in learning more about Jack and T.S.O.L try the links below:

Jack’s books available on Amazon

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