Mr. Jackson Greer (…wait, am I allowed to say Mr. and Mrs. in this day and age? I didn’t ask which pronoun or honorific they prefer… shit. I’ve screwed this up yet again…) talks to us about his first release under the slightly creepy, yet cool moniker The Walking Dolls. The self-titled EP, being released this month of September 2021, coincides with the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Coincidence? I’ll leave that up to you, dear readers. And thus begins the interview with the coolest Greer I know:
San Pedro, what good can ever come from San Pedro?! Besides the gorgeous beaches, quick access to LAX and… ok it seems like a pretty cool place.
I moved down here a few years ago and I kinda fell in love. It’s technically part of LA but it’s super isolated and has a truly unique character, which is important to me. There’s something very special about a historically diverse working-class beach town like Pedro. Not to mention it has a musical history that’s pretty amazing—I’m a big fan of the Minutemen and Saccharine Trust and so much of the incredibly inventive punk music that came out of here in the 80s. Some of those influences definitely found their way onto the EP.
In your EP, it seems you’ve pulled inspiration from multiple decades of music. Where do you feel your songwriting inspiration comes from?
I’ve never understood why someone would limit themselves to one particular period of music or aesthetic. I mean, it’s even more than decades. Centuries of great music. I’m just about as interested in the music of Haydn and Mozart as I am in Billie Eilish and Kanye West. It all comes from the same place. I do seem to draw most of my influence from the alternative music of the 90s and 2000s but every era has great music and if you listen to it and love it, it will inevitably seep into your work.
My biggest musical inspirations are probably Neil Finn of Crowded House and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. The 60s are a close second to the 90s in terms of their influence on me. Whenever it’s from, I just love catchy, interesting, exciting pop music undergirded by real musical integrity and great songwriting.
Many newer artists have been classified as quarantine artists making quarantine albums. You can’t keep an artist down, amirite?! How did the concept of your first EP come about?
Well this wasn’t exactly a quarantine album per se—I only really dug into the process around the time the mask mandate was lifted for the first time in April or so, but I did spend the entire period of quarantine recording demos and learning how to mix. I kind of had to actively quarantine myself a bit to make the EP. It’s funny, most people were starting to leave their houses for the first time in over a year and I was locking myself down even more!
Pre-pandemic I was getting the ball rolling starting Walking Dolls as a band. In fact I had been planning to meet with some potential members literally days after the lockdown started. So after languishing a bit and working on a bunch of demos and covers, I just felt I had to get something
out there and I had developed the skills to do most of the process myself. The songs had been ready to go for quite a while so it was really just a matter of getting them recorded and released.
You’ve mentioned on your IG that the ballad “Monument” is very close to your heart. How did this masterpiece get conjured up?
“Monument” was the first or second song I wrote for this EP over 4 years ago. I remember when I was writing it it really felt like the first time my influences had coalesced into something unique that was more than the sum of its parts. Lyrically it’s a real stream-of-consciousness, impressionistic song and I think it paints a really vivid picture, at least in my mind. For some reason I always had the feeling that people didn’t fully give it the appreciation I thought it deserved when I played it acoustically at open mic nights, so I was particularly driven to include it on this EP and present it like I had it in my head. It was also my first full string arrangement, the bulk of which I wrote sitting at a coffee shop a few years ago.
What plans do you have to perform in the near future when the Greek alphabet letters for variants have all been used up and Covid can finally go away? Will you be a one-individual- band or will you recruit help?
All of these songs were written with a band in mind. In fact, “Without a Trace” and “I’ll Still Be Gone” were co-written and developed with a friend of mine who was in the original prospective lineup. So yeah, I definitely intend to get all these out on stage in front of people. Once I’ve cooled down from this process a bit, the next big step will be putting an actual group together and getting back to where I was a year and a half ago!