AJJ has been making punk-folk music out of Phoenix, Arizona since 2007. Their latest album, The Bible 2, came out earlier this year and now they’re gearing up to come to Champaign for Pygmalion Festival on September 23. The Black Sheep got to chat with Sean Bonnette, otherwise known as the band’s lead vocalist, and learned that he’s pretty into dogs and mastering the kazoo.
The Black Sheep: What are you most excited about for Pygmalion Festival, have you guys been there before?
Sean Bonnette: This is gonna be our first time. I hope I get to see Future Islands. I like that band a lot, and I think the front man is super, super inspiring. And I like the idea of Pygmalion Festival. It showcases so many different kinds of media and creativity.
TBS: If you were to describe your music in the least musical terms possible, how would you describe it?
SB: Probably like a very dynamic mix between whimpering and screaming, with a slightly-out-of-tune oldies station playing in the background.
TBS: Does your band have any weird traditions you do before you go on stage?
SB: I really wish we did. Me personally, I do vocal warm-ups, and while I’m doing those I’m either reading, looking at my phone, or drawing a picture. Some bands have a group hug they’ll do, or like a Mighty Ducks-style “everybody puts their arms in,” but we’re pretty bland.
TBS: What is your favorite song to play on the kazoo?
SB: Oooh. I really like to play “When the Saints Come Marching In,” that’s a fun one. Even more than that, I just kinda like freestyling. I’ve got a number of [kazoos]. My friend actually just gave me an electric kazoo, you can hook it up to an amp and it has a little pick up on it that makes it sound like hell.
TBS: You guys play a song called “Dipping Things in Stuff,” what is your favorite thing to dip things into?
SB: Tortilla chips in salsa is a pretty good one. When we’re on tour, I like to dip chicken breast into hummus, cause it’s a lot of protein. Sometimes I’ll dip my feet into a pool, but usually I don’t like dipping anything else, I’m not much of a water guy. My friend says I’m like a cat in that way, which is ironic because I’m allergic to cats.
TBS: If you could have one animal perform on stage with you, what kind of animal would you bring?
SB: Aw man, a yappy little dog. My favorite dog ever was a rat terrier chihuahua, so maybe a female rat terrier chihuahua, but I’m also into puggles.
TBS: If you were going to be any musician for Halloween, who do you think you’d be?
SB: Hmm singer song-writer Sean Bonnette, uh nah I’m kidding. I’ve thought about being Buddy Holly ‘cause that’s kind of an easy one, all I’d have to do is shave and put on a nice cream-colored blazer.
TBS: If any dead musician were going to haunt you, who would you want it to be?
SB: Oh man, David Bowie. None of the other musicians in my top three have died yet, so I feel like he’d be the best one to give me some pointers.
TBS: What’s your favorite song to karaoke when you’re drunk?
SB: Oooh, I’ll give you a couple cause I really like to karaoke. Number one is “You May Be Right” by Billy Joel. That song fucking rules. And then there’s “Moonage Daydream” by the aforementioned, David Bowie. And then I really like “Nights in White Satin” by the Moody Blues. That’s an epic one. That’s only when I’m like drunk though, cause I feel like a long song at karaoke is kind of obnoxious.
TBS: Burritos: Chipotle or Qdoba?
TBS: If you could tell anything to the readers of The Black Sheep, what would you tell them?
SB: If you wanna play music, play music and don’t worry about how other people are going to react to it. Do it for you. And don’t do drugs.
For those about to bid, we salute you: