You may not know the name Joseph Arthur just yet… but the odds are pretty high that most of the musicians you listen to love Joseph Arthur. He is what I like to call a musician’s musician. He’s made amazing records with the likes of Peter Gabriel, Peter Buck & Mike Mills of REM, Pat Sansone of Wilco, Ben Harper, Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam and UK favourite Gomez to name a few. His music has been featured on big movie soundtracks like Shrek and American Pie and he has been handpicked to open up on tours for Tracy Chapman, Gomez, Jesse Malin and most recently Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs.
Joseph Arthur quietly goes about his business of being one of the most under the radar artists on the planet. With a discography of 16 full-length records which includes 2019’s beautiful Come Back World and a litany of EPs, it seems like Joseph Arthur is just getting warmed up.
Before he takes stage at The Dakota Tavern on Feb 20th for a headlining gig, we had the chance to ask him a few questions about music, art, and his new podcast.
From The Strait: You’re about to head out on tour with Greg Dulli after just finishing up one with Jesse Malin – You’ve played on several tours with many different artists… which one stands out to you as most memorable? And why?
Joseph Arthur: Fistful Of Mercy comes to mind because singing harmonies with Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison was always a joy. The sound of our voices together lifted me up. Also the tour I did with recently with Arthur was great! Writing songs with Peter is a blast. Looking forward to our second record coming out soon
FTS: Let’s say we’re curating aJoseph Arthur festival… RNDM, Arthur Buck, Fistful of Mercy, Holding The Void, and Lonely Astronauts are there – who headlines?
JA: Holding The Void.
Only cause almost no one has heard that. And I’m a contrarian.
FTS: Your artwork is always exceptional; a lot of it seems very personal. Is it ever hard letting go of a painting?
JA: It used to be but now I embrace the flow of it all. I know more will get made and it’s depressing when they hang around too long. They get sick of me.
FTS: Your latest album Come Back World is a really strong record and sees you pretty optimistic about life. How are you feeling now that it’s out there? Like the artwork question – is it ever hard to let go of a record/song?
JA: Thank you! I feel good about it because it felt like a new beginning and now I’m writing more songs that feel even better to me. It’s hard to let go yeah. Mainly cause all the insecurities and perfectionist tendencies come with knives out but I’ve become better at letting go. You become familiar with the tricks your mind tries to pull.
FTS: You’ve been steadily putting up great podcasts with some pretty interesting guests (shout-out Blind Melon episode!) Any guests on your wish list for 2020?
JA: Thanks! Yeah I loved the Blind Melon episodes. Bob Dylan would be rad. Also Liam Gallagher is a great interview. Would love to talk about family dynamics with him and rock n roll. Andre 3000 pod Rick Rubin did was super inspiring. He’d be interesting as well. So many actually. Billie Eilish? Thom Yorke? Too many to list.
FTS: With a vast discography, a lengthy art portfolio, a great podcast (Come To Where I’m From) and even a few written pieces – we’re wondering what’s next? When can we expect the Joseph Arthur Interpretive Dance project to begin?
JA: Funny you should say that. The Fotografiska museum in NYC is letting me take over a floor first week of February to paint, play, film, and part of the plan involves interpretive dance to some new music I’m working on. The plan is to do an event Feb 6th. So we’ll see how that goes.