The Arizona folk-punk weirdos break down the meaning behind lyrics like: "I’m a blank page in a notebook waiting to be filled with countless drawings of cocks."
Photo by Lisa Johnson
Andrew Jackson Jihad’s new album, Christmas Island, feels like an old, raggedy quilt. There doesn’t seem to be one unifying pattern, color, or fabric to it. It’s more of a patchwork of random thoughts, half-baked ideas, and head-scratching turns of phrase. The band’s lyrics have historically been esoteric and weird, covering topics from scenesters to a giant red bird that lives under the city. But on Christmas Island, they seem intent on stretching the definition of what “lyrics” are. Some songs are brief, imagined vignettes, while others read more like collage poems, comprised of words that have been forcibly mashed together until they fit just right. All of them show off guitarist/vocalist Sean Bonnette’s one-of-a-kind blend of clever wordplay and good-natured humor.
One great example of Sean flexing his lyrical muscle is in the album's opener, "Temple Grandin" which references "Stevie Wonder to the bullshit" and then later "Helen Keller to the bullshit" and then in the last verse "Temple Grandin to the bullshit." Put them all together—blind, deaf, and dumb to the bullshit. That's some Nicolas-Cage-in-National-Treasure level wit right there.
After listening to this album several hundred times and still not fully understanding what the hell they’re talking about, we asked Sean to go through it song by song in the hopes that he would shed some light on a few of the album’s more bizarre lines...
“Open up your murder eyes and see the ugly world that spat you out.”
Hm, I’m not sure if there’s a band called Murder Eyes or where I first heard the term “murder eyes.” It might’ve been from Saturday Night Live in the Tracy Morgan bit where he talks about the goat saying he has devil eyes—the Brian Fellows bit. So that might’ve come from that or just hearing about a band called Murder Eyes in passing. But I really liked it. That line came out in one bit.
"Children of God"
"And out the corner of my eye, coming out from the teeth filled sky with eyes as red as a dog’s asshole when you see it shitting, I saw the Children of God as they walked on slovenly by."
That is the one line that my girlfriend looked at me when she heard it and rolled her eyes and was like, “Yeah, I like the song, I don’t really like that part though.” I think she probably called that it would be the line people ask about. But yeah, when you have a fever and watch vampire movies, you start looking at the world a little differently. In Pineapple Express, the security guard lady was talking about how they had eyes as red as the devil’s dick. I really like the idea of doing a simile about disgusting redness.
"Do, Re, and Me"
"I gave into the needs of all my masters. Man is the Bastard is a brutal fucking band, and they hate Thomas Lens."
Yeah, that’s really well-documented. They have a song called “Semen in the Eye Socket of Thomas Lens,” “A Screwdriver in the Urethra of Thomas Lens,” if I’m not mistaken. And most of their releases usually say something bad about Thomas Lens.
"The coffin dancer dances like he wants to make a friend, but he does not."
I wrote that one when I was in a suite in Illinois for a work orientation and I was watching TV and that show Tosh.0 was on. And I don’t like that show but it did inspire that line. I think there was a video of a guy dancing around a coffin.
"Getting Naked, Playing with Guns"
"Getting naked and playing with guns. There’s a gerbil in the microwave, a baseball bat in everyone. Sharing kisses and building a bomb, we’ll set it off like Microsoft in ’94."
When I was a kid, I lived for a while in Rochester, MN. The year that Microsoft really broke was ‘95. But they were doing all their work to drop Windows 95 in ‘94.
"I Wanna Rock Out in My Dreams"
"Sweet-dick denim jacket, shredding a Flying V, I wanna rock out in my dreams."
Yeah, man, that’s just tight!
"Kokopelli Face Tattoo"
"They’re gonna beat me ‘til I’m black and blue, give me a kokopelli face tattoo and I’ll tell you a secret: Kreuz is German for Williams."
That’s a little Berlin humor. Kreuzberg is a really hip area in Berlin. It’s where the young people move. So you know, Kreuzberg/Williamsburg.
"Best Friend (For Robin)"
"The sparkle won’t shine if you don’t feed it light, balls deep in reality, I spend all my time getting strung out on life."
My friend Robin said something regarding the sparkle. That’s a line about supporting friends that are doing stuff you appreciate. It’s a line about mutual appreciation. Balls deep in reality. That line is cool because in the song, it sounds like, “...if you don’t feed it lightballs.” "Balls deep" is just a funny way to describe how deep in something you are.
"I almost made it through a year of choking down my fears but they’re gone for now all thanks to Linda Ronstadt."
Yeah, she set me free.
"There was a chainsaw fight, I saw it at the waterpark, and though the sun is up, it’s still getting dark. How can I live never knowing the beauty of forgiveness?"
The chainsaw fight thing came from a previous song that me and Ben were messing with. It was the beginning of that song and then it turned into the bridge of “Deathlessness.” But the forgiveness line was the last part of that song that I wrote after I think I realized the beauty of forgiveness.
"Temple Grandin Too"
"Understanding life is meaningfully worthless, the world was born to kill all the Jesuses."
It was. That was one of the quickest songs I’ve ever written. I think it shows too. That was freestyle, almost.
"Angel of Death"
"I’m a blank page in a notebook waiting to be filled with countless drawings of cocks. I’m a bathroom wall freshly painted over to cover up swastikas and the names of girls that we called sluts. I am the Total Gym™, I am the Salad Glove™, I’m the Slap-Chop™, I’m the Forever Lazy™. I am a boring and worthless thing, and nobody should save me."
That line in general is about the joy of realizing that you can change, that we can grow as people as we develop and evolve. We can reconcile how crappy we used to be and forgive ourselves and become better.