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Jack Johnson talks new album, new tour, new (lack of) haircut

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Jack-Johnson

Image Credit: Ben Hider/Getty ImagesThe last time I met Jack Johnson, just before the release his platinum-selling 2008 CD Sleep Through the Static, the singer-songwriter’s hair was just a whisker’s width away from being an all out skinhead. But when EW caught up with him yesterday at SIRIUS XM’s New York HQ—where he was recording one of the radio network’s Artist Confidential performance shows— Johnson was sporting a noticeably shaggier ‘do. “Do you want to give me a trim?” he asked, when the subject was raised. “We’ve gotten some scissors around somewhere.  My wife usually tells me when to get my hair cut. She seems to have forgotten recently. I know I’m old enough to remember these things myself, but I’ve gotten out of the habit.”

Johnson’s wife Kim is also one of the main reasons he is currently out and about doing promotion for a new CD, To the Sea, and not actually in the sea surfing, as is the Hawaii-dwelling superstar’s habit. “I wasn’t going to do an album this year,” he explains. “My wife said it might be nice to take the kids on the road.” Nevertheless, the singer could hardly be more enthusiastic about the result, which he recorded at his home studio just this January and is out June 1: “By the time I start talking about my songs I’ve usually had enough time to hear all the mistakes. But this time I’m still excited about them.”

Johnson made his fifth studio CD with his usual musical compadres—drummer Adam Topol, bassist Merlo Podlewski and Animal Liberation Orchestra keyboardist Zach Gill. The latter was also in town yesterday to accompany Johnson on Artist Confidential, which will be broadcast in the spring. In addition to playing older cuts such as “Banana Pancakes” and the ALO tune “Girl I Wanna Lay You Down,” the pair also debuted the new tracks “My Little Girl” and likely single “You And Your Heart.” The latter is an almost Pavement-ish rocker and the first real recorded evidence to back up Johnson’s repeated assertion that, before he became the king of low-key but upbeat acoustic choogling, the singer was a teenage fan of such punk acts as Fugazi and Minor Threat. “Sometimes people say all my stuff sounds the same, and usually that makes me want to make my music even more the same,” he chuckles. “But I got fed up saying that I just liked those bands. I thought it was time to show it in my music a little bit.”

In truth, “You and Your Heart” is only a teensie-weensie bit punk-rock and seems unlikely to scare off Johnson’s army of fans. Those supporters will also be delighted to know that the singer will tour the CD this summer, with profits going to support an array of environmental, art, and music organizations. Wait—isn’t playing shows the only way musicians make money these days? If Johnson gives all his touring profits away, how will he able to afford shoes (not, of course, that Johnson is exactly known for his love of shoes)? “We’re lucky, because we still make money from CDs,” he says. “But I promise that if I ever can’t afford to buy any shoes at all, then I’ll start keeping some of the profits.”

More from EW.com’s Music Mix:

Gorillaz battle Bruce Willis in ‘Stylo’ video

Chilly B of Newcleus dies at age 47

‘Glee’ cast hits the road this spring: Live tour dates announced