SEATTLE – From time to time there’s sufficient pause in my schedule recording and touring to contemplate some related fields and how they might put food on the table. And then there’s a bit of good old-fashioned moonlighting.
Let's start with related fields, shall we? Adapt or die they say. Well, any artist worth their salt has done their time in the jail of someone’s bar or restaurant – just ask Woody Harrelson. In fact, I was slingin' drinks with Ellen Pompeo from "Grey’s Anatomy" in Soho when Spacehog was playing to three winos and a dog at Nightingales on the Lower East Side in the mid ‘90s.
Once Spacehog was up and running I scaled the ladder of public service to DJing. On the corporate scene, I couldn't believe how much people were prepared to pay to have you play other people’s music, pull the occasional crucifixion pose and check your email. It made a mockery of the struggle many of the bands went through to get those records out in the first place.
Having said that, and money aside, I think I preferred bartending. In a lot of people’s minds, it’s perfectly OK to abuse a DJ in the booth if his idea of what you should be playing doesn't coincide exactly with yours. I've had some laughable situations, playing a medley of Michael Jackson, Prince and Madonna only to be asked to play something that the "expert" in the polo shirt knows. Or if I can play someone's demo at midnight on Saturday night in a packed club full of revelers.
Another one that springs to mind is the party I spun in Harlem with a "no hip-hop" policy: I don't think Dave Chapelle could have scripted it any better.
As for moonlighting, it takes many forms and the rules are that there are no rules. In fact, no one is really telling you when your main gig starts, pauses, resumes or finishes. So you have to take a series of calculated risks.
In what I anticipated to be a break in our schedule after "As It Is On Earth" was recorded, I agreed to be the touring drummer with The Pierces. Four British hit singles and a world tour with Coldplay later, I was finally ready to come back to my brothers in Spacehog. But I'd be lying if i told you they were 100 percent cool with it.
Other bits of moonlighting are less intrusive. I was back in England when Supergrass came a knockin.' Danny (Goffey), their drummer, had gone AWOL and I was asked to fly to Sweden that day to film a TV show. One minute I was in my kitchen feeding the baby, the next I was out there in Stockholm getting ready to rock with my heroes!
If you remember the boy band O-Town, I was the drummer on the set of their smash hit video "All Or Nothing." I don't think I've ever met a group of young men so hopelessly addicted to the attentions of prepubescent girls; it was all a bit pathetic, really. I often wonder what they are all doing now and how that experience shaped their adult lives.
But if you need a party DJed, a garden fete opened or just wanna get loaded and hear some quality rock 'n' roll stories, you know where to find me.
Jonny Cragg was born in Hythe England on July 18th 1966. Raised and educated in Yorkshire he chose Leeds as his spiritual home. Whilst at school he learned to play the drums, playing in local bands until opting to study Psychology at the University of East London in 1985.
Almost by accident his first job after graduation was back behind the drums for Leeds band The Hollowmen. They recorded four studio albums, signed to Arista Records, and toured extensively throughout Europe. A press trip to New York served to strengthen his resolve to move to the States, and that finally happened in the Spring of 1993. By the following year, Cragg had formed Spacehog with a group of Leeds expatriates in The Lower East Side: The group went onto sell millions of records, and tour the world to great success. He remains active in the group having made four studio albums to date.
Jonny is also a session musician, producer, writer, DJ and educator. His credits include: The Pierces, Supergrass, Edie Brickell, The Utah Saints, David Johansen and Richard Butler and Marty Wilson Piper, HBO, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.
He has two daughters, Laila and Domino, and lives with his partner in Seattle.