Whether he's covering Wilco's "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" or moving a packed house of indie rockers to dance, JC Brooks brings soul and swagger to everything he touches.
No matter how pure the intentions, the soul revivalist movement, like any hip musical trend, falls prey to dilution, pale imitators and overplay. For every Sharon Jones and Black Joe Lewis, there is a pop construct ready to be molded into a “soul singer” to capitalize on the movement. The tricky thing about soul is that, for better or worse, you either feel it or you don’t. A performer could be onstage sweating, writhing, and dancing their ass off, but if the heart isn’t there, it’s merely a gimmick. Enter J.C. Brooks. Mr. Brooks and his merry band of noisemakers the Uptown Sound are the real deal, ladies and gentlemen. Hailing from Chicago, Brooks and the Uptown Sound have slowly been winning over fans through word of mouth and the undeniable electricity of their live performances. With his swagger, velvet croon, and sex-on-a-platter dance moves, Brooks is a tad Otis Redding, a dash of Clarence Carter, and the epitome of true American soul.
1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
What makes you think that I'm the type that cries when he goes to the movies? And, for your information, the season premiere of Dexter made me cry like a fucking baby. I didn’t think these questions were gonna be hard. We’re starting with crying! This is already the most in-depth interview of my career. What makes you cry dude?! Jesus, who are you, Lester Bangs?
2. The fictional character most like you?
If Ignatius Jacques Reilly stepped off the pages of A Confederacy of Dunces and created an alter ego for himself named Ziggy Stardust, and that alter ego, while not performing with his Martian Spider Ensemble, became obsessed with getting high, listening to Steely Dan horn arrangements and wearing really nicely tailored suits, he would be just like me in the Autumn of 2010.
3. The greatest album, ever?
Our next record.
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Both are good. If I was pressed though I’d say I liked the one where the zombies won the best.
5. Your ideal brain food?
Brains. Brains! BRAINS!
Just kidding. Whipped cream, red peppers. Peyote, salvia, and PCP. Never at the same time though . . . as the brains I mean.
6. You're proud of this accomplishment, but why?
Because I have to be proud of something or else I’d be ashamed of everything.
7. You want to be remembered for?
Inciting the revolution.
8. Of those who've come before, the most inspirational are?
Howard Zinn, Curtis Mayfield, Joan of fucking Arc. But mostly the folks we don’t even know about. Are you trying to get me to talk about crying again?
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
The political defeat of New York Governor candidate Carl Pallandino. What an ass.
10. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
Tough to say. Being on the non-dispensary side of advice has always kept me edgy. Maybe . . . don’t ever date anyone seriously . . . always keep a copy of Muddy Waters' Folk Singer and a loaded gun in your bedroom. If you’re ever on the run from the law try Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada.
11. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
My education is as hot as a car radio in a pawnshop.
12. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . . ?
If Z. Avarices and Tubas aren’t an option, your question is irrelevant to me.
13. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
The kitchen staff. And then I’d make all the guests serve us as we talked about them loudly. Before I was a soul star I waited on a lot of people, man.
14. Time travel: where, when and why?
Tough question. First of all, and I don’t want to tip my hand here, but I may be a time traveler already but I really shouldn’t say.
15. Any hidden talents . . . ?
Okay, you got me. I can travel through time.
16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?
Do you mean hit man as in “hit a man” or hire a hit man? Either way it’s tough one. Wait, can you smoke Prozac?
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . . ?
Prozac-laced joints? There’s still no verdict as to whether or not you can smoke it or not.
18. Environ of choice: where do see yourself eventually on the map?
Well, I just got back from a European Tour--Spain’s nice. But I’d have to say I'll probably wind up in Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada--if I start to follow advice.
19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
I wish you could actually make a difference without endangering yourself or your family. Although, service to one’s country sometimes requires the greatest sacrifice one can make…So basically I’ll get your back if you get mine.
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?
Glad you asked, Lester. Well, I’m in the middle of recording the new record--which will be out in stores by the late spring. I’ve got a new single coming out on Addenda Records in November called "To Love Someone (That Don’t Love You)". That’s pretty dope. We’re playing the Hideout in Chicago for a special Halloween show with some surprises I got cooked up. All in all, it’s a good time to be JC Brooks, man. I got nothing to cry about.