There really is no introduction that could possibly justify just how amazing this artist is. I swear, there’s nothing he cannot do! He makes amazing music, crafty as all heck, he’s an awesome dad….. He really is the whole kit and kaboodle! Hailing from New York, he brings his steady mix of rock and punk to the scene and trust me, you can’t get enough of either of those musical genres. I was lucky enough and completely honored to be able to sit down and talk to him again about his music, his life and everything in between. I swear you are in the presence of greatness when he enters the room! As a musician, he’s phenomenal, but I am privileged to call him my good friend.
Without further ado, here’s my conversation with Jon Soda James.
First off, give a short introduction of yourself to the readers
“Short”! Ooookay! Well, I make music, in fact, I have made a bunch. I was lucky to start at a young age and have a place to experiment at home. I always tried to and wanted to push the envelope with my creative outlets. I write too. I love it. I’ve had a couple of books published, written a few columns. I also write about music on my MUSIC-SURVIVAL-GUIDE site. I make art in a bunch of mediums. I mean, I try to create as much as I can. Life is a complicated thing, these creative outlets sure have given me much solace and helped keep me together. I imagine we will talk more about this stuff as the interview progresses. 😉 BUT, let’s not beat around the bush of course. I would love the readers to check out my main site at: WWW.OFFICIALSODA.COM
Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first, the Pandemic. it’s affected us all greatly, on all ends of the spectrum. With me having heart failure, I had to be careful as all heck!! The mask and sanitizer became all our best friends! Although we pray others had been using it to begin with!!! How has the past year and a half been for you? Did it churn the creative waters?
2020, as we know, of course was a challenge for the whole world. It was interesting learning to adapt, but that is how we survive in life anyway. For me personally…I was very sick. Not Covid related. I made public my struggles so I can certainly reiterate here. In March I suffered a T.I.A. and was hospitalized. The T.I.A. was scary enough, but being dragged away in an ambulance when lockdown had started only added to my concerns. In June I was hospitalized again due to galbladder complications which started to shut down my vital organs. I was trapped in the hospital yet again and underwent two surgeries. Within all that time from March 2020 to May 2021 I was seeing Doctors every month either on video, phone or when I was able, in person. It was…a struggle. Aside from that, I did begin to write new music and have begun a new record. I also squeezed a live EP out at the beginning of 2020. Recently got a story published in an Anthology called, “Post Apocalipstick”, introduced a Free Blockbuster to Long Island. I am also forever working on a poetry book. There is much more, but…let’s not bore the readers. Point is, I may get knocked down, but I WILL always rise. I never stop.
You were recently featured in a publication called Post Apocalipstick, which I cannot wait to get my hands on! Can you tell us what that’s all about?
Haha, I sure can! (Some foreshadowing above, huh?) Well, that was really a great experience. One of my best friends had arranged and curated this anthology with Noctural Sirens Publishing. I was one of about 13 authors that got a spot in the book. It came out in June for Pride Month as it is a book that highlights alternative lifestyles and people. It IS however for everyone, but it is indeed a celebration for freaks and geeks. A bit of a bible for those times when you may be feeling alone or misunderstood. My story is called, “MY Apocalypse” and I am very proud of my contribution. My piece is a bit of a coming out story for a young boy, and…there is also snotty valley girls and Aliens involved. Trust me, it makes sense! And quick side note, with this anthology it is the first time I have used a combination of both my names publicly for an artistic endeavor. -Jon Soda James- The evolution of a name I guess!
Do you feel like the music world can recover from the past handful of months? With artists not being able to tour or really get out there for a while to promote their work, do you think it’s affected artists to the point that they cannot return to pre-pandemic levels?
I think, again, it has all been about adapting. I’m sure some artists didn’t make it, but I know too some flourished. I think many bands, artists, etc have done that, adapted. I know it has not been easy. You’ve seen all the live streams and online events and experiences that have been offered via the internet. 2020 was a test, a learning curve. I mean, it’s certainly not the same as it was but something is better than nothing and I think people have gotten into it but we are all ready for the up close and personal stuff that we love and enjoy to return. It keeps us human. The internet has kinda broken our connection to each other, which sounds weird cause a push of a button gets us connected. But look, if I come over for a cup of tea, a talk, a hug…you can’t beat that no matter how sophisticated the internet is.
2020 was also a sad year because we not only lost Monkey, who was a member of Nox Cult, a band which I will NEVER STOP LOVING… but also lost Alex (Fox’s) father. My heart really does go out to you guys over such rough losses. But Nox Cult will always be something that makes me smile. Any chance of working together again?
We lost our drummer, Monkey in October of 2019. We were fortunate to do one last show together at a benefit for Gio (Fox’s Dad) who lost his battle to Pancreatic Cancer in 2020. As far as working with Fox again? I did try very briefly after NOX CULT, it just did not work. I’m very focused and I’m not someone who likes to waste time. You’re either with me or you’re not. So, as of now, or honestly ever…I have no interest in working with Fox creatively ever again. NOX CULT was a struggle. People will never know, as good as the band was, what we stood for and what we put forth, there was also a horrible backside to that band…a dark one, a haunted one. I realized after the first year of our two and a half tenure (minus the quick reunions) that not much more was going to come from that band. There were too many problems internally and the demons that plagued the members of that band were just too powerful. Babysitting grown men is not fun. And, there was no happy ending. I wish I could say there was… I was lucky enough to get us to put out our “Fucking Live” EP. We started a studio record but it just went nowhere, there was too much crap going on. Members either couldn’t perform to task or they were just too out of their minds to make a worthwhile contribution. I don’t look back on that with total fondness. In fact, it makes me a bit angry because the potential was absolutely gigantic. I don’t think I’ve witnessed such self sabotage ever in my life as I did with NOX CULT.
Just like with Nox Cult, music is always something that makes people feel good, it’s like a soundtrack to our lives at times. What are some things that bring a smile to Soda’s face? Any favorite moments you want to share as a musician or maybe some favorite Dad moments?
Well, adopting our Daughter was certainly one of my biggest accomplishments. But life and art and everything is about not giving up. Nothing worth fighting for winds up ever really being easy. Making music and art has always made me happy. Having the rare time to sit and watch movies at home makes me very happy. Thrifting and toy hunting. Good food. Family, friends…naps! Sometimes the little things are the absolute best.
I want to say you are one of the people who have really inspired me to get back at blogging and doing interviews again. It’s really a driving force. I really love your blog Music Survival Guide. What are some of your favorite people you have been able to feature on your blog? If you can even narrow it down, there are some really amazing artists on there. Anything really exciting you are going to feature soon?
Well, as far as M-S-G goes, I honestly haven’t been so laser focused on it like I was. I’ve been doing a lot of indie artist features which has been rewarding because I’m meeting and connecting with a lot of people I wouldn’t normally reach if I didn’t have the blog. What blows my mind is the amount of emails I get from artists to be involved. I don’t have the time to service everyone unfortunately. And, thank you for saying you have been inspired by anything I have done. THAT is what it’s all about, that has always been my main goal. I know what it’s like to be inspired, to be saved by music and art. All I ever wanted to do was be able to pay back those favors. And I have. If my success and achievements could ever be quantified in those terms then I feel like I would have passed that test. As far as some of my favorite M-S-G moments, geez…I’ve been so lucky to have many. I’ve interviewed some of my heroes like Roger Joseph Manning Jr., Vin Dombrowski, Dave Alvin, Spookey Ruben…these guys have allowed me to be on their level and prove myself and be treated as a peer. That is priceless.
Speaking of earlier when I mentioned Dad moments… Your little one, Piper is really growing up! Does she understand yet just how awesome you really are?? Does she like to be creative as well?
She is very sharp and we are certainly very lucky. I think she is fortunate enough to have two Parents with really different dynamics. We just want her to be a good person and choose her own path. Maybe it will be creative and maybe it will be something totally different. There is no pressure being put on her for anything like that.
Now, you have an extensive collection of figures and other pop culture items, some that could bring back major nostalgia to us all. What are some of your favorite pieces?
That is hard to answer, our toy room is literally exploding. I’m a total freak for 80’s and 90’s stuff. I also like things that are kinda offbeat. I’ve actually been a bit of a kook for old stationary lately. Haha, geez, don’t even get me started on this madness!
You also recently made a “BLOCKBUSTER BOX” filled with movies and other media for those to take or share. What inspired you do to that? Which I think is pretty damn cool!!!
Haha, you really do pay attention! I did briefly mentioned that above. Well, first, again…it was a creative outlet. I wanted to do something cool for the community. It’s something that brings people together. It’s also totally geeky and nerdy so you can’t beat that. The idea of Free Blockbuster started with one cool cat in California and then individuals all over the US now have been taking on the task to spread this wonderful concept and introduce it into their communities. Kinda organic, which is the best. I’m also a physical media fanatic so for me, this whole thing was a no brainer. I rescued an old newspaper dispenser from the side of the road in the dead of Winter and basically transformed a piece or junk into something positive. Upcycle!
Besides working and making music, what are some things in your off time that you like to do? Besides making your friend Stackie very proud!
There really is no “off time” and that’s totally fine. I do try to take it easy a day or two during the week but it often doesn’t work out. Between being a Parent and staying creative with music, art and writing AND the other many responsibilities that come with being an adult (a Toys R Us kid at heart forever) It’s a juggling act really. I want to do the right thing and keep my life on track. Sometimes things go of the rails a bit but it’s all about just giving a shit and striving to be a decent person. And I make a conscious effort to do that.
I know with some of the interviews I have done in the past, there were questions I thought of AFTER the fact when I posted them and wish I could go back and ask again. If you could pick 3 pieces of music that you have already made and go back and tweak them, change them up? What would they be? If any.
That is an interesting question! First, I would redo my entire A Boy Called Soda EP. As there are many great ideas there I was just so very young and inexperienced with production and fine tuning and taking the proper time to do something. I was really learning how to be a better singer there and it shows, which is fine because it’s all a part of my big picture.
Second…I would have had a different drummer for the His Mighty Robot record we did called, “THE CONFLICT”. I love love love that record and it has had some high praise and I think it absolutely deserves it but at the same time I feel like we let some things slide and allowed a person into the project that was just not on the level that we had wanted or was passionate enough about the project like myself and H-Rocker were. I feel like we sold ourselves short a bit and I can kick myself for the rest of my life or just move on, no regrets. I enjoyed making that record. Onward and upward.
Third, and in short…as an “artist” you fight with everything you do until the bitter end. Nothing is ever really totally finished. So, there might be a little something in everything. Maybe this is a bit of a cop out answer to your question but I really do feel that way.
I really do want to say how proud I am of you and how much I cherish your friendship. I am honored to be able to include you in my comeback to Stack Attacks Music.
I AM THE ONE WHO IS HONORED.
Here’s to the future!! Anything you can share with us about what’s to come?
Yes…and no. I AM working VERY hard on a new record. It has been decided that it will remain a bit of a secret until the right time comes. I’m always writing. I mentioned a poetry book too. Art, life, etc etc. It never stops.
OPEN MIC…. this is where you can speak your mind, about ANYTHING!!!!! Don’t feel the need to censor yourself either, the floor is yours!
We covered a lot. No need to rant and rave. Thank YOU. Thank those who may read this. I’m grateful to anyone who takes an interest in anything I do artistically. It means everything to me.
Thank you Soda again, for being part of my comeback to Stack Attacks Music!!!
And if you want to check out Soda’s social sites for what’s to come and just all around awesomeness, you can find him at the links above or you can also find him on Instagram @Sodasurvive as well as Twitter.
And trust me, this will not be the last you hear from this amazing man!
thank you for reading and as always, share with your friends!
*****ALL PICTURES, SOUND BITES AND OTHER MEDIA WERE GIVEN PERMISSION BY SODA FOR USE ON THIS PUBLICATION*****