Local Current Blog

Gary Louris of the Jayhawks on revisiting the “Smile” era

Jayhawks publicity photo
  1. Listen David Campbell interviews Gary Louris and PD Larson

On July 1, the Jayhawks albums Sound of Lies (1999), Smile (2000), and Rainy Day Music (2003) will be reissued in deluxe editions with new liner notes and bonus tracks. The Jayhawks’ Gary Louris as well as PD Larson—archivist and one of the producers of the reissue project—stopped by the Current’s studios this week to talk with David Campbell about the band’s history, the newly reissued music, and the upcoming tour of the Jayhawks lineup from that era. A condensed version of their conversation will appear on the Local Show this Sunday, June 29 (6:00-8:00 p.m.); click above to hear the entire interview.

The three records being reissued are the three albums released after Mark Olson left the Jayhawks in 1995. That personnel change, explains Louris, became a catalyst for the entire band to reexamine their sonic direction. Though they were known as a roots band, they realized, they didn’t have to remain a roots band. Louris was an Anglophile, raised on rock and roll.

Though they’re now beloved by many, the three albums weren’t warmly received by all of the Jayhawks’ fans at the time. Many blamed producer Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, KISS, Alice Cooper) for the new turn the band took with Smile in particular, but Louris tells Campbell that the band was completely on board with the new sound—drum machines and all. Knowing Smile would be a departure, they winkingly named it after a legendary never-issued Beach Boys album (later released as a solo project by Brian Wilson). Then, they went back to create a more straightforward album—Rainy Day Music—recorded mostly live in the studio.

Does Louris have any regrets about these three albums? What does the future hold for the Jayhawks? Listen to the complete interview above, and tune in to the Local Show to hear excerpts along with selections from the albums—including unreleased rarities.