I've been off the road with Spacehog now for about a month.
I'm staring at a jobs list at the new cooperative preschool where I enrolled my 2-year-old here in Seattle. The American education system is a maze-like structure, one that I've tried to avoid dealing with for the 21 years that I've lived here. But now I'm having to learn fast!
My 16-year-old, Laila, was educated in England where it's a whole different ball game of streaming, examinations, assessment and terminology.
We just moved here from Brooklyn. While there I would work at the Park Slope Food Coop in daycare; rubbing shoulders with Adrian Grenier in food processing and Maggie Gyllenhaal at the checkout: Funny little microcosm of New York City diversity it was. But a good symbol for the extremes that an artist in the public eye must take on, in the eye of the metropolis.
Personally, I'm not so enamored with all this celebrity BS. I've never understood why one would be so willing to put people in the public eye on a pedestal, just because they play a guitar or act in a movie.
There are notable exceptions, of course: I think I was more than a little timid when Stephen Dorf introduced me to Madonna. And it was a trip telling Bono about a church we were recording in, only for him to respond dryly: "Take the pews out, Jonny, but leave God in."
David Bowie was another legend that proved to be a bit too much to handle. He was at a show I played in New York on the roof of the Hugo Boss HQ in Chelsea, and he proved to be more talkative than I anticipated. Unfortunately my "moment" with Ziggy was ruined by the fact that both my ears were full of water from an afternoon swimming. I seem to remember sauntering off muttering something along the lines of; "Sorry Dave, mate, but I can't hear a thing you're sayin' and I've got to get up and play now." What a prat! And he was super nice to my daughter, too!
I think playing the drums was a conscious decision for me to avoid a lot of the trappings of fame, which for me is frankly a bit of a turnoff. Where a drum kit is usually positioned on a stage serves as a great metaphor for what drummers actually do apart from hit things: They oversee, they observe and they listen.
In any case there's nothing like a trip back to Yorkshire if there was ever a danger of getting too big for your boots.
I was back there to attend my little brother Tim’s wedding this summer, and it served as the perfect reset. To my family, I'm the same person that shat in his sleeping bag on vacation in France at age 9. (Anxious to remove the evidence, I shook the contents out, and they rolled down a bank and onto the awning of the Germans’ camp below).
And to any farmer I might meet in the Yorkshire Dales, I'm "some wanker’"with a mid-Atlantic accent.
Still, I’m happy to be brought down a peg or two if it means I can go out there and "hit things" for a living. And, hey, if I'm really honest, who doesn't like meeting a celebrity?
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.