Newport Rhode Island’s We Own Land maybe the best Rock N Roll Band that you’ve never heard of. They came together in January of 2010, consisting of Vocalist Craig Ferris, Dual Lead Guitarists Jonny Jones and Travis Ward, Dan Kinsella on Bass Guitar and Jim Stearns on the drums. Five friends from the same area, with overlapping yet distinctly different musical influences. They’ve all shared the same stage as band mates and openers/headliners with one another at different times in a multitude of different bands like Positive Outlook, Nerve, Dead Beat, Instinct, Backwash, Bone, Mother Jefferson, Order 66 and Kingpin to name a few from the list. Nowadays, We Own Land are all about five friends creating and playing music that they love, playing the music that they themselves love to listen to. This love of their music is most evident in their high energy live shows. They’ve collectively been through everything local bands can go through in a scene that is ever changing and evolving. They have a plan and they’re sticking to it.
Jim Stearns- DrumsBooking Information
Mercury Interview with Jonny Jones
The abdominal pain had Jonny Jones seeing double in the middle of the night in late November 2008. The guitarist who once played in the power punk bands The Motormags, Mother Jefferson and Backwash ended up on life support in intensive care at Newport Hospital with acute pancreatitis. Toxins had spilled into his bloodstream, damaging his kidneys and other organs and leaving him absolutely no hope, doctors said, of recovery. But sometimes, the doctors are wrong. Sometimes, for unexplained reasons, a final chapter turns into a pro logue for a new story. Jones doesn’t remember much about the night of his attack and the weeks that followed but he does remember vividly the way he used to live when he was drinking. Today he’s sober, living with girlfriend Chrissie Cherms in Wakefield and guest gigging with Two Guys and Another Guy. And he’s working with bandmates Craig Ferris, Jason Monroe, Dan Kinsella and Jim Stearns on a new venture, We Own Land. BY JANINE WEISMAN
What do you remember about your ordeal?
I don’t remember any of it. Basi cally I remember waiting for my par ents to grab me and them picking me up and that’s it. I woke up a month later at the hospital. I was out of it in a coma, hooked up and everything.
Chrissie’s got a really good picture of me in the coma with all the machines around and everything and she’s just like sitting on the bed hanging out. I remember kind of waking up and the doctor was there.
He flat out was just like, “I don’t know what to tell you.” He told me my pancreas had burst and all the debris attacked all my organs, and he was like, “You are not supposed to be here. I don’t really ever say mira cle but it’s a miracle that you pulled through. We don’t know why you did. It’s lucky that you’re young.” Like if this had happened to a much older person, their body would not be able to take it, I guess.
Did you see a white light or have some other out-of-body experience?
Nothing. I never died. They were keeping me alive. I guess after a while they decided to stop some of the machines and see how I reacted.
That was kind of the yes-or-no point.
Some of my organs started working.
If they had shut off the machines sooner or didn’t hook me up, I just would’ve died. From there every thing was just really weird. They brought me to Rhode Island Hospital where I had surgery so I was out of it again. I woke up out of the surgery with this huge, massive incision.
What did this experience do to your perspective on life?
I’m definitely more focused. I don’t drink anymore, which is huge. I was trying to quit drinking at the time but I was going to need a lot more help. I put myself through detox. I was there for five days. I was at Phoenix House.
What made you seek help?
I just couldn’t stop drinking. I would wake up and drink. I’d get the shakes. Me and Chrissie had gotten back together and it was serious.
The girls, (Helena, 6, and Nia, 4) I looked ahead, if I’m gonna help raise two girls, I can’t do it drunk. But then I relapsed a month after I got out of rehab and I think the shock to my system plus hereditary factors caused the pancreas attack.
When was the last time you had a drink?
It was that day, the 29th of Novem ber of ’08.
How much did you drink that day?
About a half a gallon of vodka. I always had booze with me. Like it got to the point where I had to drink. I enjoyed it still but like in the morn ing if I didn’t have any booze in the morning I’d have to wait ’ til the liquor store opened. There was one that opened up at 7:30. I would be there every morning. It was just sad.
Chrissie would cry all the time. I’d be shaking and stuff. Like one time we were stuck in Connecticut and there weren’t any liquor stores open and we had to stop at a bar just so we could get home.
Was vodka your drink of choice?
Whiskey and vodka. Mainly vodka because it was cheap. I liked Wild Turkey and Jim Beam. I used to have this Jim Beam train in one of my apartments, which was all these empty little Jim Beam bottles that wound all the way around my kitchen. I thought it would help me not drink to see how much I was drinking. I just kept adding to it.
Being a musician you play in bars. It seems like not a good place for you to be.
Really, it’s not a problem. I’d always had a shot and a beer in my hands and now it’s water and soda. I know I can’t drink now. That part isn’t a problem, you know? It’s a lit tle different being around drunk peo ple at the end of the night when I’m not drunk. We’re seeing things from two different perspectives.
How has all this changed your approach to making music?
I think I’m a little more picky now. Some things that I used to like I don’t like as much. When you’re drunk, you like things better — instead of beer goggles, beer headphones or something. When I’m writing a song I tend to work on it a little longer before I bring it to the band, depend ing on what it is.
So where does the name We Own Land come from?
We were trying to think of a name and I just had a list of stuff. One of the names I had was The Dukes. No one really liked it. I was like, “You know, like we’re dukes. You know, we own land.” And Craig goes, “Oh, I like that name.” I go, “Oh, you like The Dukes?” “No, that one, We Own Land.” And then we all thought about it and we all liked it. It doesn’t sound like anybody else. We call each other landowners. I have to give Craig credit if someone had to be the guy. But if I hadn’t come up with a shittier name, he never would have heard that.
How much have you written so far?
We bang out about a song a prac tice. We all collaborate. Me and Jay bring the initial skeleton of the song, like I’ll go to Jay’s house before prac tice. Me and him will just play guitar together and work out some stuff and then we bring that to the band and everybody gets their input. Craig does all the lyrics. We practice in Portsmouth. Dan owns his own con struction company and it’s like a big huge garage and there’s a space he just converted into a practice room.
You were always the only lead gui tarist in the bands you played with in the past. What’s it like now play ing with Jay?
I get to do a lot more. It’s fun. I’m trying to style my writing for two lead guitars, not just write like a rhythm part, show it to the other guy and then I play a lead later on. Like I wrote a whole ending to this one song that I wrote about Chrissie.
When you play it with one guitar, it sounds stupid. But when you add in a second guitar, it sounds great. That harmony part, waaah- nananana, without the two guitars doing the harmony, it sounds totally empty.
When was your birthday?
When anybody turns 40, it’s like oh my God, I’m 40. Was it a big deal for you?
For me, I wasn’t supposed to be here so it was like an extra birthday.
It wasn’t a really big deal. We went out to dinner with my folks. My fam ily and Chrissie’s family have been wonderful to me since I got out of the hospital. It’s got to be something more to everything than just medical science.
Why do you think you survived?
I just don’t think it was my time. A lot of luck. A lot of positive energy.
Chrissie, she was there every day.
Powered by TECNAVIA
Copyright © 2010 Newport Mercury 04/28/2010