Big Johnson

The much-maligned multiplatinum surfer dude on carbon, water bottles, and DMB's fans.

From his classic debut, 2001's Brushfire Fairytales, through this summer's To the Sea, Jack Johnsonhas packed in enough resilient campfire pop ("Do You Remember?", "Bubble Toes," etc.) to rival any of his contemporaries with more street cred than cash in the bank and fans in the stands.

Here the surfer-turned-songwriter talks about sustainable touring, his fan base, and why he's funneling all tour profits to his nonprofit that funds green initiatives.

SW: Your PR folks tell us you're donating all your tour profits to your nonprofit, All at Once. What gives?

Johnson: I started asking myself whether I wanted to go back out on the road, and one of the things that really made it feel worth doing was to make it a fund-raising tool.

It burns a lot of carbon to be on tour. Will there come a time when you stop touring?

We decided to not just lessen the negative impact by having refillable water-bottle stations and recycling and all these things that I feel help to kind of better the industry that we're a part of, but then also to actually expand on the negative impact of a show by raising funds for groups that are doing good things. That was kind of the question in my head, and I feel like it far outweighs [the negatives].

Are you going to be able to offset your way to a greener industry, or will there be a time when you'll have to make some serious changes, whether permanent changes of locations—like playing shows in urban centers, not in the middle of the desert—or the way tours are conducted?

It'd be hard for me to answer that question. I'm one act that gets to tour around. I feel at this point the best thing to do is change those ones that are having concerts every weekend and during the week.

In the last decade, your audience and that of the Dave Matthews Band have become one and the same. Has your perspective on your audience and what kind of audience you're trying to cultivate changed over the last decade?

We had to learn to adapt to playing to different styles of crowds along the way. Dave's definitely a good friend now. I appreciate anybody who comes to listen to our shows.

ckornelis@seattleweekly.com

 
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