Over the last two decades, Joshua James Hunt‘s music has evolved from psychedelic stoner jams to a hard-hitting brand of alternative rock with a distinctive punk flavor, never lacking in philosophical lyrics and heavy guitar riffs. His latest album Open The Door is now available.
In this interview spotlight, we chat with Joshua about his influences, the new album, navigating the digital music world and more.
Full Q&A along with links and streams below.
Let’s dive a little deeper into you, the artist, and your music. What attracted you to this genre(s) or style(s)?
I have very specific taste in music, and nobody makes music exactly the way I want it, although a lot of people come close. I think I’m always trying to make it myself, and that tends to mean strong beats, driving guitar riffs, prominent bass lines, and intelligent lyrics. I like music that pumps you up in a positive way. When a person leaves my show I want them to feel like they can take on the world. Because they can.
What led you into this journey with music? And further, what drives you to push it out to the public?
My grandfather died when I was 11 and I inherited his acoustic guitar. I think that was a really defining event in my life because it’s what got me started with music. Once I started writing songs in high school, music became more of a medium to share ideas rather than an end in itself. My first album was really philosophical for a sixteen year old, which was especially funny because I did’t really know how to sing and my voice hadn’t changed yet. This latest project, Open The Door, was motivated by my growing frustration with political slavery and desire for freedom.
Who or what influences your creativity? Have your tastes in music changed over time?
Music is emotion, so the seed of every song is something in life that impacted me on that level. In the past that has been a lot about girls, but also the exhilaration of being alive, homesickness, adventures, dreams, and for better or worse, psychedelics. For Open The Door I was motivated primarily by the feelings of hope and defiance that come from the oppression of political slavery and the inevitability of a free world.
Musically I draw inspiration, consciously and subconsciously, mostly from mainstream rock artists when I was a teenager. In recent years I have delved a lot deeper into other genres and time periods like old hip hop and new pop.
You’ve mentioned “political slavery” a couple times. What do you mean by that?
Good question. When most people think of slavery they think of plantation slavery, where your master owns you, gives you crude lodging, food, clothing, and medicine, and forces you to work long hours for little or no pay. But slavery can take other forms and is really just a term to describe human ownership and exploitation. Most governments act as if they own the people within their borders, exploiting them to varying degrees. We know that it is wrong to do something to somebody without their consent, but most people have a double standard for governments. They only need to get a vote, pass a law, or issue a decree and consent becomes irrelevant. That’s a tragedy, and I think its time is coming to an end.
Were you trying to accomplish anything specific on this new project? Creatively or otherwise?
Yes. I wanted to keep exploring and perfecting some of my sounds and styles from Just Let Go, I wanted to test myself to see whether I could write, record, and release an album in a few months, I wanted to perform every instrument myself, and most of all I wanted to express these emotions and ideas in creative and compelling ways.
What was the last song you listened to?
I’ve been listening to Open The Door nonstop for several months while working on it, but Sheeran’s Shape Of You has crossed my ears a lot lately thanks to my girlfriend.
Which do you prefer? Vinyl? CDs? MP3s?
Lossless digital with a great sound system in a treated room, but I can count on one hand the times I’ve experienced that. Low key I’m really happy vinyl is coming back. There’s something comforting about listening to a record.
Other than the digital era overwhelming us with access to an abundance of music, what is the biggest challenge you face when trying to bring your music to new audiences?
In a word, live. I don’t think anything is or ever will be more powerful musically than a live performance, and up until this point I haven’t had that. The closest anyone has come to experiencing my work live is the handful of times I’ve interrupted an open mic with my electric guitar and amp to remind them what punk rock is. That’s a lot of fun, and people love it, but without bass and drums you really have to use your imagination. So the prospect of putting a band together and touring this album is really exciting to me.
Where is the best place to connect with you online? Discover more music?
My website is the best, and you should definitely join my mailing list. I have a lot of my music – including a couple songs you can’t find elsewhere – on YouTube, and I could really use some subscriber love over there.
Anything else you’d like to add before signing off?
Thank you for supporting my music. Open The Door is available now and I’m looking for a bassist and drummer to perform with this summer. Oh, and taxation without consent is theft.