JR Richards of DishwallaJR Richards, musician and lead singer of Dishwalla, a band infamously known for their song ‘Counting Blue Cars’ – one of the biggest alternative rock songs of the 90′s, and a song that has been both a blessing and a curse for the band. While it put the band on the map and made them a lot of money – it’s had them labeled by many as ‘one hit wonders’ and truthfully, it’s not really what Dishwalla is about.

Five albums down, Dishwalla is one of the most underrated bands of the past couple decades. JR is an extremely talented songwriter with an outstanding range of vocal talent, and the band, as a whole, has taken bold strides toward taking on some pretty weighty topics, constantly questioning ‘What Life’s About’.

It was an unexpected pleasure for me to sit down and chat with JR recently about the band’s history and transformation, life, music, and his upcoming solo project. Please do yourself a favor and check out their music, they have a ton of great tunes to offer. And connect with JR himself on Myspace and Twitter.

One-On-One With JR Richards

LWP – First of all, thanks a ton for taking the time to reach out and answer some questions. It’s amazing how these social networking sites (in our case Twitter) can bring together artists and their fans. Talk a little bit about who you are. Most people know the band Dishwalla, but tell us about yourself, the band, and how you guys came together.

JR - I’ve been the lead singer / songwriter for Dishwalla since 94 and after that much time together I guess you could say I needed a break. So the last few years I’ve spent writing and recording a solo record. Its called ” A Beautiful End” and will be released May 12th.

LWP – Has music always been a part of your life? Was becoming a rock star your childhood dream?

JR - Music has always been a part of my life. I grew up in a family where everyone sang and/or played an instrument. So I did the same. The rockstar thing just kind of happened on its own.

LWP – I guess you can’t try to be a rock star, it just happens, eh? The first thing people think about when they hear your band’s name (and don’t shoot me on this one) is ‘Counting Blue Cars’. Talk a little bit about that song – how has it propelled your career? Does it get annoying to have some people only know you by that song?

JR – Yes Yes its true. Counting Blue Cars was both a blessing and a curse. Its great to have had such a huge song in the world but it became so big that I think many people found it hard to hear beyond it. Its a great song but I’ve written better ones since then.

Dishwalla Discography

LWP – Do you see a lot of folks considering Dishwalla as a one-hit-wonder (there were so many of those in the 90’s)? Counting Blue Cars is still a hit and get’s a ton of radio play, even today. Have you gotten to the point where you’re tired of playing it?

JR - I’m sure that many people see it that way…I can’t change that. That first (Dishwalla) record will be considered a classic.  -LAUGHS- Crazy…and pretty cool but I’m also enjoying doing something new.

LWP – It will always be a classic in my mind JR! Now, you have an extensive library of albums you’ve released (all of which are awesome by the way). Talk a little bit about the evolution of the band and where you are today.

JR – When we started we were pretty young but that changes quick when you have a hit record. We tried hard to keep our heads together and evolve though that can sometimes disappoint fans, and sometimes the label as well – LAUGHS- But that’s art for you. Mainly, as you grow older a bands priorities change,  as well as its members. That means the music is going to change too – and without even trying. This solo record is just part of that.

LWP – Three of my favorite Dishwalla tunes are Opaline, Give, & Truth Serum – What is your all-time favorite that you’ve written?

JR – Those are good ones…in fact all those songs were ones where I was trying to do something different. I think my favorite so far though is “Until I Wake Up”. I do have a new favorite from the new record. A song called ‘The Far End of the Black”‘. It has that same kind of magic for me and reminds me of an older Fleetwood Mac tune.

LWP – One question I always like to ask – where do you draw your inspiration from? Talk about the songwriting process you typically go through.

JR – Easy – Life. Its so beautifully complicated and there is always something to write about. The hard thing is not being distracted by the crap that’s NOT important.

LWP – I’ve been following your updates on Twitter and I know that you are in the process of working on (and releasing) a solo record. What can we expect from the new album?

JR – I really tried to do some new things with this record. Go some different directions…something different than a Dishwalla record. But because I wrote most of the songs (for Dishwalla) and its my voice singing, I’m sure there will be similarities.

LWP – Is this your first solo album? How was the process of putting this together different from working with Dishwalla?

JR – Yes, This is my first solo record. Hmmm lets see…many things were different. Mainly, I had different people play with me on the record. All great players. Kenny Aronoff – Drums (John Couger, Avril Lavine, Puddle of Mudd), Chris Chaney – Bass ( Janes Addiction, Alanis Morrisette), Rusty Anderson – Guitar (Paul McCartney, Edna Swap), Phil X – Guitar ( Methods of Mayhem, Daughtry) – and where I didn’t I played everything myself. Also making the record was very spread out time wise when my only experience up to this point was to go into the studio and not leave until finished. For many reasons I took quite a few breaks this time around. Life has been insane the past few years. Oh and one other thing that was different was that I produced it myself.

LWP – What can we expect in the future from JR Richards? Are you planning a tour with the release of your new record?

JR – I am putting together a band right now and am in the process of putting together a tour of the Western US. Beyond that hard to say. I find it hard to plan to far ahead.

LWP – Awesome man, a couple questions to finish us out: What’s something that nobody knows about you? Give us an exclusive gem of information.

JR – Hmmmm…how bout this: My idea of Nirvana includes a Chicken Taco and a Negra Modelo.

LWP – Taco’s and beer, sounds like a pretty blissful life to me man. One last thing thatI like to ask everyone who interviews with me: My website is called Life Without Pants, so I ask you – what do YOU think life would be like if no one wore any pants.

JR – One word: Chilly…

I want to again thank JR for taking the time to do this. I reached out to him after we bumped into one anther on the Twitter-verse and, as they say, it’s amazing how the web can bring people together. Go check out their music, I guarntee you’ll like what you hear. And be sure to check out JR’s solo debut ‘A Beatufil End’ slated for release on May 12th.

(Photo of JR courtesy John Mattera)

Join the conversation! 36 Comments

  1. Thanks for a great interview LWP. JR Richards is a fantastic musician, and Dishwalla is one of my all time faves. One thing I still want to know is the inspiration behind “Nashville Skyline” being a Nashville guy….
    Opaline and And you think you know what Life’s about, are two amazing and incredibly underrated albums in my book. Adult alternative greats….

    Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Anthony, thanks for coming by man! And I should thank you for turning me on to Dishwalla’s library. I agree that they are greatly underrated and I hope this interview will inspire some folks to check out the rest of their discography. Their live album is one of THE best live albums I’ve heard (of any band) – amazing record.

      And I can’t believe I forgot to ask about ‘Nashville Skyline’ – hopefully he’ll swing by here and shed some light on his inspiration for us Nashville folks.

      Reply
  2. Thanks for a great interview LWP. JR Richards is a fantastic musician, and Dishwalla is one of my all time faves. One thing I still want to know is the inspiration behind “Nashville Skyline” being a Nashville guy….
    Opaline and And you think you know what Life’s about, are two amazing and incredibly underrated albums in my book. Adult alternative greats….

    Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Anthony, thanks for coming by man! And I should thank you for turning me on to Dishwalla’s library. I agree that they are greatly underrated and I hope this interview will inspire some folks to check out the rest of their discography. Their live album is one of THE best live albums I’ve heard (of any band) – amazing record.

      And I can’t believe I forgot to ask about ‘Nashville Skyline’ – hopefully he’ll swing by here and shed some light on his inspiration for us Nashville folks.

      Reply
  3. Thanks for the interview! I have been trying for a while to find out when JR’s solo album comes out. I know that Pet Your Friends is a classic, but to me it is my least favorite Dishwalla cd. This was a great interview.

    Reply
    • Brent – thanks for coming by man. I’m looking forward to his solo album (not too much longer now). I am a fan of all of their CD’s but will admit that I didn’t even know they existed until somewhat-recently. A friend recommended Opaline to me and I went from there – they have some great tunes and they are one of the rare bands that you can listen to an album from beginning to end without skipping through tracks.

      Once you check out the new solo record – you’ll have to come back and share some of your thoughts on it. Should be a good one!

      Reply
  4. Thanks for the interview! I have been trying for a while to find out when JR’s solo album comes out. I know that Pet Your Friends is a classic, but to me it is my least favorite Dishwalla cd. This was a great interview.

    Reply
    • Brent – thanks for coming by man. I’m looking forward to his solo album (not too much longer now). I am a fan of all of their CD’s but will admit that I didn’t even know they existed until somewhat-recently. A friend recommended Opaline to me and I went from there – they have some great tunes and they are one of the rare bands that you can listen to an album from beginning to end without skipping through tracks.

      Once you check out the new solo record – you’ll have to come back and share some of your thoughts on it. Should be a good one!

      Reply
  5. I was in my teens when Dishwalla released “Counting Blue Cars” – I was hooked then. These days, I came back to the album and, while listening to the same songs I had listened to a million times before, I got a fresh perspective. My life experiences really allowed me to tap into what JR was trying to say in a lot of these songs. Truly inspirational, subliminal and wise. Nice to know there are at least a couple of people left out there that strive for the art of music, consciousness and knowledge, and not just money.

    Reply
    • Jordan – I’m guilty of thinking of Dishwalla as one-hit wonders back in the day. I was a teen during the ‘Counting Blue Cars’ era and until about a year ago, I didn’t take the time to experience the rest of their tunes. Little did I know that they have one of the most complete discography’s of any band in recent memory. As you said, very inspirational and something I’ve really been able to connect with over the last half-year or so.

      I encourage you to check out his solo debut if you haven’t already. Great stuff. I’m going to do my best to make it to a show (possibly in Chicago later this month). Thanks much for stopping by Jordan. I hope you’ll come back from time to time!

      Reply
  6. I was in my teens when Dishwalla released “Counting Blue Cars” – I was hooked then. These days, I came back to the album and, while listening to the same songs I had listened to a million times before, I got a fresh perspective. My life experiences really allowed me to tap into what JR was trying to say in a lot of these songs. Truly inspirational, subliminal and wise. Nice to know there are at least a couple of people left out there that strive for the art of music, consciousness and knowledge, and not just money.

    Reply
    • Jordan – I’m guilty of thinking of Dishwalla as one-hit wonders back in the day. I was a teen during the ‘Counting Blue Cars’ era and until about a year ago, I didn’t take the time to experience the rest of their tunes. Little did I know that they have one of the most complete discography’s of any band in recent memory. As you said, very inspirational and something I’ve really been able to connect with over the last half-year or so.

      I encourage you to check out his solo debut if you haven’t already. Great stuff. I’m going to do my best to make it to a show (possibly in Chicago later this month). Thanks much for stopping by Jordan. I hope you’ll come back from time to time!

      Reply
  7. Hey Matt,

    Great interview. I had been waiting for J.R.’s solo CD since I heard he was doing it.. I listened to the songs as he streamed them up until the CD release and bought it as soon as it became available back in May. J.R. is an incredible songwriter and vocalist and the emotion that pours out of his songs is so pure . His solo CD is incredible and I just watched his new video for the song “A Beautiful End” which is awesome. I have been a fan since way back when Dishwalla hit it big with Counting Blue Cars. I agree with JR that “Until I Wake Up” is a favorite. Like you, I also like “Give” a lot and there are just too many great songs Jr was written. Seeing JR live is an experience. He is one of the few artists that sound just as good if not better than how they sound in the studio (check out “Dishwalla Live… Greetings From The Flow State” There are so many good songs on every Dishwalla record and “A Beautiful End” is no different. Although JR has always been a great writer, I think his solo CD is in a class of its own. It is obvious he has really high standards for the music he puts out there. I live on the east coast so I hope JR makes it out here in the future so I can catch him live again!

    Chris

    Reply
    • Thanks for coming by Chris. What amazes me is how few have really been able to look past Counting Blue Cars. It’s a shame Dishwalla fell victim to the dreaded one-hit-wonder craze of the 90′s because they are clearly much more than that. And by the way, their live album is one of my favorite all-time CD’s, so good.

      Reply
  8. Hey Matt,

    Great interview. I had been waiting for J.R.’s solo CD since I heard he was doing it.. I listened to the songs as he streamed them up until the CD release and bought it as soon as it became available back in May. J.R. is an incredible songwriter and vocalist and the emotion that pours out of his songs is so pure . His solo CD is incredible and I just watched his new video for the song “A Beautiful End” which is awesome. I have been a fan since way back when Dishwalla hit it big with Counting Blue Cars. I agree with JR that “Until I Wake Up” is a favorite. Like you, I also like “Give” a lot and there are just too many great songs Jr was written. Seeing JR live is an experience. He is one of the few artists that sound just as good if not better than how they sound in the studio (check out “Dishwalla Live… Greetings From The Flow State” There are so many good songs on every Dishwalla record and “A Beautiful End” is no different. Although JR has always been a great writer, I think his solo CD is in a class of its own. It is obvious he has really high standards for the music he puts out there. I live on the east coast so I hope JR makes it out here in the future so I can catch him live again!

    Chris

    Reply
    • Thanks for coming by Chris. What amazes me is how few have really been able to look past Counting Blue Cars. It’s a shame Dishwalla fell victim to the dreaded one-hit-wonder craze of the 90′s because they are clearly much more than that. And by the way, their live album is one of my favorite all-time CD’s, so good.

      Reply
  9. Hey Matt,

    I agree that many have never heard all the great material Dishwalla put out over the years. That’s just the way the music business works sometimes. The incredible exposure “Counting Blue Cars” received when it was played over and over probably gave the guys their careers even though they had many other great songs. When someone said (or still says) Dishwalla, many people identify them with “Counting Blue Cars” or they don’t know who Dishwalla is at all. Like JR said it was a blessing and a curse. The blessing in this is very obvious, the hit song allowed them to continue putting out music. As a musician I have many friends that never received such a blessing. Some friends were signed by major labels and then dropped after the label did not support them like they said they would. I am talking about really good, talented bands with great songs that easily have potential hits! In the music business luck is many times the factor that leads to a career in music. Luck not only for the musicians being at the right place, right time, in front of the right people. But luck of where, when and how your material is marketed. Just think of bands or musicians who put out music you don’t like. Maybe you can’t even understand who would like the music they put out! Well, sometimes if you expose enough people to something, there will be a few people that like it. It is sometimes the luck of the numbers game no matter how talented or how the exposure took place. If 100,000 people hear a song on the radio or on TV. There will probably be 150 of those people that search for that artist and become loyal fans. Many times it does not matter how talented the band or musician is. In JR’s case there are many people that think there is is lots of talent along with liking what they hear. I am glad that “Counting Blue Cars” received the exposure it did because it very well may be why we know of JR and Dishwalla!

    Chris

    Reply
    • Confession: As one-hit-wonderish as ‘Counting Blue Cars’ may be, I’m still a fan. Every time it comes on the radio, I find myself listening and singing along. It never achieved ‘annoying’ status to me. Yes, they have many songs I consider to be ‘better’ but Counting Blue Cars will always be a classic that reminds me of my childhood days.

      Reply
  10. Hey Matt,

    I agree that many have never heard all the great material Dishwalla put out over the years. That’s just the way the music business works sometimes. The incredible exposure “Counting Blue Cars” received when it was played over and over probably gave the guys their careers even though they had many other great songs. When someone said (or still says) Dishwalla, many people identify them with “Counting Blue Cars” or they don’t know who Dishwalla is at all. Like JR said it was a blessing and a curse. The blessing in this is very obvious, the hit song allowed them to continue putting out music. As a musician I have many friends that never received such a blessing. Some friends were signed by major labels and then dropped after the label did not support them like they said they would. I am talking about really good, talented bands with great songs that easily have potential hits! In the music business luck is many times the factor that leads to a career in music. Luck not only for the musicians being at the right place, right time, in front of the right people. But luck of where, when and how your material is marketed. Just think of bands or musicians who put out music you don’t like. Maybe you can’t even understand who would like the music they put out! Well, sometimes if you expose enough people to something, there will be a few people that like it. It is sometimes the luck of the numbers game no matter how talented or how the exposure took place. If 100,000 people hear a song on the radio or on TV. There will probably be 150 of those people that search for that artist and become loyal fans. Many times it does not matter how talented the band or musician is. In JR’s case there are many people that think there is is lots of talent along with liking what they hear. I am glad that “Counting Blue Cars” received the exposure it did because it very well may be why we know of JR and Dishwalla!

    Chris

    Reply
    • Confession: As one-hit-wonderish as ‘Counting Blue Cars’ may be, I’m still a fan. Every time it comes on the radio, I find myself listening and singing along. It never achieved ‘annoying’ status to me. Yes, they have many songs I consider to be ‘better’ but Counting Blue Cars will always be a classic that reminds me of my childhood days.

      Reply
  11. Thanks for the interview Matt. I just ran upon it now. Great job.
    JR is so underrated. He is a phenomenal singer-song writer around and
    has one if the best voices in rock.

    BTW – that photo of JR looks very very familiar. Where did you “find” it? lol!
    That photo is from a photo shoot I did from his performance at the Warner Grand in San Pedro in late December of 2006. I have done other photo shoots since then and he is really great to work with.
    Don’t forget the photo credit. ;) lol!

    Thanks!
    All the best,
    John Mattera

    Reply
    • Credit added John – I don’t remember where I pulled it from, but I appreciate the heads up – you deserve all the credit. I 100% agree that Dishwalla (and JR) is vastly underrated – hoping to catch him live myself one of the days. Thanks for coming by!

      Reply
  12. Thanks for the interview Matt. I just ran upon it now. Great job.
    JR is so underrated. He is a phenomenal singer-song writer around and
    has one if the best voices in rock.

    BTW – that photo of JR looks very very familiar. Where did you “find” it? lol!
    That photo is from a photo shoot I did from his performance at the Warner Grand in San Pedro in late December of 2006. I have done other photo shoots since then and he is really great to work with.
    Don’t forget the photo credit. ;) lol!

    Thanks!
    All the best,
    John Mattera

    Reply
    • Credit added John – I don’t remember where I pulled it from, but I appreciate the heads up – you deserve all the credit. I 100% agree that Dishwalla (and JR) is vastly underrated – hoping to catch him live myself one of the days. Thanks for coming by!

      Reply
  13. Hey Matt,

    Greetings from Toronto, Canada! Great interview with JR. I have been hooked on Dishwalla since their first album and periodically check their website to see what they are up to…..and if they/JR are ever coming to Toronto. While I was disappointed to see that JR had left the band I just bought his new album off iTunes and it is fantastic……..so all is good in the universe. The man has an amazing voice!! Did JR indicate whether he had left permanently or if he just needed a break? Hope he/they cross the border sometime!

    Chris.

    Chris.

    Reply
  14. Hey Matt,

    Greetings from Toronto, Canada! Great interview with JR. I have been hooked on Dishwalla since their first album and periodically check their website to see what they are up to…..and if they/JR are ever coming to Toronto. While I was disappointed to see that JR had left the band I just bought his new album off iTunes and it is fantastic……..so all is good in the universe. The man has an amazing voice!! Did JR indicate whether he had left permanently or if he just needed a break? Hope he/they cross the border sometime!

    Chris.

    Chris.

    Reply
  15. Hey Chris,

    I will call myself “Chris 1″ here so we don’t appear as the same person. I wrote 2 comments prior to yours above. I will attempt to answer your question. I am not aware of any announcement to the media of whether the Dishwalla break is for good or not. Dishwalla did a few shows without JR a few months ago. JR was going to do it but because he was too involved with recording/mixing his solo album.

    JR has said he has plans to tour western U.S. a bit and he said after that he said he will see how things go.

    Chris 1

    Reply
    • Chris and Chris – He hadn’t mentioned anything about Dishwalla ‘breaking up’ – but rather that he (JR) personally wanted to pursue a solo career. His solo debut is an outstanding album – and every Dishwalla album is honestly very good from start to finish. Give – Truth Serum – Charlie Brown’s Parents – to name a few – some awesome songs! Thanks to both for sharing the JR/Dishwalla love!

      Reply
  16. Hey Chris,

    I will call myself “Chris 1″ here so we don’t appear as the same person. I wrote 2 comments prior to yours above. I will attempt to answer your question. I am not aware of any announcement to the media of whether the Dishwalla break is for good or not. Dishwalla did a few shows without JR a few months ago. JR was going to do it but because he was too involved with recording/mixing his solo album.

    JR has said he has plans to tour western U.S. a bit and he said after that he said he will see how things go.

    Chris 1

    Reply
    • Chris and Chris – He hadn’t mentioned anything about Dishwalla ‘breaking up’ – but rather that he (JR) personally wanted to pursue a solo career. His solo debut is an outstanding album – and every Dishwalla album is honestly very good from start to finish. Give – Truth Serum – Charlie Brown’s Parents – to name a few – some awesome songs! Thanks to both for sharing the JR/Dishwalla love!

      Reply
  17. Matt,

    I hope that JR gets more exposure with his solo songs being played on popular TV shows and more movie soundtracks or scores like is the case with “I will Give You Life”. It’s not like JR needs this exposure to make it as a musician, he is already successful and will continue to have a great career. The only reason I say this is because I can say without a doubt that if more people heard JR’s material, the more popular his songs would be, they are simply that good. This type of exposure would obviously increase sales, fan base and then JR could lengthen his time touring and play larger venues if he wanted to.

    The media exposure already happened many times before with Dishwalla songs. Their songs were played on TV shows The OC, Charmed, Smallville, NCIS and soundtracks for movies: American Pie, The Banger Sisters, Stir of Echoes and The Avengers. There are also many others. Exposure by playing on talk shows would be great for JR as well. Exposure is even more important since JR does not have the backing of a big record company to help with distribution or marketing.

    Chris 1

    Reply
  18. Matt,

    I hope that JR gets more exposure with his solo songs being played on popular TV shows and more movie soundtracks or scores like is the case with “I will Give You Life”. It’s not like JR needs this exposure to make it as a musician, he is already successful and will continue to have a great career. The only reason I say this is because I can say without a doubt that if more people heard JR’s material, the more popular his songs would be, they are simply that good. This type of exposure would obviously increase sales, fan base and then JR could lengthen his time touring and play larger venues if he wanted to.

    The media exposure already happened many times before with Dishwalla songs. Their songs were played on TV shows The OC, Charmed, Smallville, NCIS and soundtracks for movies: American Pie, The Banger Sisters, Stir of Echoes and The Avengers. There are also many others. Exposure by playing on talk shows would be great for JR as well. Exposure is even more important since JR does not have the backing of a big record company to help with distribution or marketing.

    Chris 1

    Reply
  19. Met JR at a Hilfiger party in LA I grew up with Tommy and Andy Hilfiger in a small town in upstate NY and JR reminds me of the solid small town cats that rock the World!!! love his tunes I live in SB for now and a shot of tequilia and a beer and Dishwalia and a party is had Rock on me friend.

    Remember at the Hilfiger party JR saw Elvis’s daughter and said hey man ya can see Elvis’s face all over her I looked over and Elvis was in the building !!!! party on me buds Killer waves today at HAMMONDS BEACH!! LATE

    Reply
  20. Met JR at a Hilfiger party in LA I grew up with Tommy and Andy Hilfiger in a small town in upstate NY and JR reminds me of the solid small town cats that rock the World!!! love his tunes I live in SB for now and a shot of tequilia and a beer and Dishwalia and a party is had Rock on me friend.

    Remember at the Hilfiger party JR saw Elvis’s daughter and said hey man ya can see Elvis’s face all over her I looked over and Elvis was in the building !!!! party on me buds Killer waves today at HAMMONDS BEACH!! LATE

    Reply
  21. Thanks JR Richards. I like your musics. One of my hobby is to collect your album.

    Reply
  22. I have been lucky enough to see Dishawalla twice in small intimate venues. Once in Nebraska and another time at the now gone Tower Records on Ventura Blvd. at the Galleria. I was blown away each time at how flawless you were. I stood right by JR and wanted to tell him how much of an impact his music has had on me (and my wife). I chickened out. I didn’t want to be that guy. A big reason I left LA and decided to pack up my dreams of making music was because of Dishwalla. If these guys couldn’t be the biggest band in the world and get little to no recognition for what masterful music JR and the incredible band behind him produce………What the hell is the use. It doesn’t make sense. Anyway I hope you continue to make music that touches everyone’s soul. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

About Matt Cheuvront

I empower folks to do the work they want to do and live the life they want to live. Connect on Twitter or check out the work I'm doing at Proof.

Category

Interviews, Music

Tags

, , , , , , ,