Johnson gets busy on fifth studio album


DETROIT -- Jack Johnson has started recording his fifth full-length album, which he plans to release in early 2008. The surf filmmaker-turned-troubadour is hunkered down in the still-being-completed studios at his label, Brushfire Records', new, eco-friendly headquarters in Los Angeles.

"They're still laying the bamboo floor in the control room," Johnson tells, "but we're loading the equipment into the studio and ready to get started."

Johnson is working with his usual rhythm section -- bassist Merlo Podlewski and drummer Adam Topol -- plus recent addition Zach Gill on piano and accordion. He's also returned to producer JP Plunier, who helmed Johnson's 2001 debut "Brushfire Fairytales."

"We've been good friends ever since," says Johnson, who recorded his last two studio sets with Mario Caldato, Jr. "JP and I have just been hanging out a lot this year, and I've been talking to JP a lot about these songs in particular.

"I'm excited because the first record we did, we basically got the band together for that record," he continues. "JP introduced me to Adam, and Adam knew Merlo. We went in and did the record in six days, and we hadn't played live as a band. So it's kind of exciting to get together with JP now that we've been playing for so many years."

Johnson promises the album "won't be some sort of crazy departure" from the laid-back grooves that have populated his previous releases. He has about 75% of the material written for the album but, as usual, wants "to leave some of it for when we're in there. I think if it's all finished at this point, it's a little stale in the studio. It's kind of fun to leave space to go in a certain direction with the lyrics, I think."

The new songs, he says, deal with "a little bit of peace, a little bit of that feeling of the whole climate change and being overwhelmed by that [and] little sappy love songs, like usual. A little bit of everything."

Johnson, who recently hosted his fourth annual Kokua Festival in Hawaii, will break from recording to play at the Australian Live Earth concert on July 7 in Sydney.
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