Jonny Kaplan and the Lazy Stars: Giving Us Their Sparkle and Shine

photograph by Piper Ferguson
photograph by Piper Ferguson

For fans of true Americana, look no further than the new album, Sparkle and Shine, from Jonny Kaplan and the Lazy Stars, due out September 26  on Reckless Grace Music.  From the first beat of the album, it is obvious that this is no electronically jazzed up, auto tuned, dolled up and twerked out album.  This is pure American rock, baby!  Fans of bands like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers or The Wallflowers, take note as you will want this album for your collection!

Their fourth album to date, Sparkle and Shine is the first to be released properly in the United States.  After gaining much attention throughout Europe, the time is right and Jonny Kaplan and the Lazy Stars are set to tackle their home stomping grounds.  The southern California band (made up of Jonny Kaplan, Rami Jaffee on keyboards, Jokin Salaverria on bass, Dan Wistrom on guitar, and Joey Galvan on drums) have hit the mark with this album creating a mix of rock, country, blues and folk the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time.  As well, they’ve included some extra special guests who lent their own talents to the album including Adam MacDougal (the Black Crowes), Jessy Greene (on violin), Brad Smith (Blind Melon), as well as actress Daryl Hannah who lends her voice to two of the tracks.  We spoke to Jonny who told us all about it.

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Sparkle and Shine is your fourth album, but the first to be properly released here in the US.  What made Europe such a fertile ground for you and why did you wait until this album to strike in the homeland?

Well, it’s not like I waited for anything.  After I made my first record, California Heart, I came very close to getting a very large American record deal.  When it disappeared, I got the opportunity to release it on a cool indie label in Europe myself.  Europe just opened it’s doors to me and I’ve been going there to play for incredible audiences ever since.  It’s has been much easier to focus on Europe because each separate country is small unlike the US which is HUGE.  After touring Europe for years, I decided that the main goal of my new record is to get me on the map more here at home in the United States.  It looks like people are reacting well!  I’ve always played at home in the US as well, but it is just more difficult to saturate the entire country.  That is, until NOW!!!  With a good record company behind us that believes in the record, it’s much easier.  We have a lot more support.

Plus, it seems like there are a lot of new fans here that have been waiting.  It’s a great feeling.


Is there a song on Sparkle and Shine that you feel defines the album or Jonny Kaplan and the Lazy Stars as a whole?  Why?

I don’t think so because there’s so much diversity on the record.  I love to rock with my band, but I also love to play mellower, folksy stuff.  So, it would be hard to pick just one song.


Jonny, you were in a pretty bad motorcycle wreck and unsure for a while if this album would even be made.  How great does it feel to now have completed the album and be carrying on your musical path?

It feels fantastic.  There was a bit of a dark, unsure period where I didn’t know if I’d be able to stand and play guitar anymore.  Aside from riding motorcycles, I also live on a sailboat.  So I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do ANYTHING I loved anymore.  It was quite scary.  I have always done everything 100%.  After the wreck, things are more like 200%.  There is no time for fucking around.  I have a mission to accomplish.


What did you pull from that experience to inspire you and the album?

Ahh…I may have answered that in the last one.  I was going through a breakup at the time as well and all of these experiences left me torn wide open.  I didn’t have to write the songs, they spilled out.  It’s the bane of a songwriter’s existence, but bad things make great songs.  That’s just how it goes.


This album and you as a band are showing the world how great real music can be.  What would you say to all the artists out there thinking they need to rely on autotune and electronic dubstep to make it in the current music industry?

Haha!!  Well, I think that ALL music can be great.  Every genre has something amazing to offer, but there is definitely a certain magic to holding an instrument in your hands and coaxing something beautiful out of it and actually taking years to learn how to play one.  So much so that it becomes a part of your being.  There’s a lot of great new music out there that’s not really my thing, but there are also some incredible kids out there definitely making some badass rock and roll.


Will we get to see you out touring with the album?  What’s coming up for Jonny Kaplan and the Lazy Stars?

Are you kidding?  We are chomping at the bit to get in the van and play anywhere and everywhere!!  Sparkle and Shine gives us music that is real; emotions and situations we can all relate to presented in true Americana fashion.  Don’t miss out on this amazing fourth offering from Jonny Kaplan and the Lazy Stars!

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Jonny Kaplan and the Lazy Stars on the web:

— Paula Frank | @jelenfan

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