Jesse McCartney reads an excerpt from “The Very Busy Spider” by Eric Carle at The Wonder Of Reading’s Explore-A-Story: A Celebration Of Books held at the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood on Sunday afternoon (April 19).
JJJ recently caught up with the 22-year-old musician and chatted about music, funny YouTube clips and what he does to stay healthy. Check it:
JJJ: When you start on a new song, what do you start with â€“ lyrics, instrumentation, both?
JM: Depends. I usually like a chord progression or something to go off of so I can put a melody in there. But a lot of times youâ€™ll start with a concept â€“ saying something that everyone knows but just differently and then you sort of go from there.
JJJ: How did you get into show business?
JM: I was born here in Manhattan and was living in Chelsea with my parents in an apartment til I was like 3. Then my parents moved out to the suburbs to raise a family.
(Click inside for more of JJJ‘s interview with Jesse McCartney…)
JJJ: Do you have any siblings?
JM: Eventually my mom popped two more out. I have a sister whoâ€™s now 17 and a brother whoâ€™s 12 named Tim. My mom essentially quit her job to take me down to the city everyday after school to push this career of mine.
JJJ: What made you want to pursue a music career?
JM: Well, my parents were both musically inclined. They both played piano and both were singer/songwriters and both were kind of theater addicts. They met in the theatre. My mom went to every school you can imagine â€“ she went to Julliard, she went to UCLA Berkley. Some families were into sports, mine was into music. I started in theater, on Broadway and off-Broadway doing a bunch of shows, musicals mainly. Thatâ€™s where it all sort of began.
JJJ: Which instruments do you play?
JM: I played piano for like three or four years when I was younger and then I quit, which was a big mistake. But it was enough that I could read and write music. My chops arenâ€™t there but I can read the charts and I can write a song. I mess around with the alto-saxophone. When I was younger, I wouldnâ€™t have bragged about that but now I think it is a really cool instrument. I think there was a year in there where I played violin because my mom made me. It allowed me to sit down and write a song. I can fiddle around on the guitar a little bit if I practice. I have a good memory and good hand-eye coordination so I can play by ear. So I can sit down and fiddle around and get it. Plus Iâ€™m playing with some of the best musicians. My band is just likeâ€¦itâ€™s so great to have a band like them. You dream of playing with people like this as a little kid. Weâ€™re about to go on tour in December which weâ€™re really excited about. A bunch of R&B cats.
JJJ: Do you have any rituals that you hvae before you go out to perform?
JM: We do a little huddle, we do a little prayer. We do a word of the day type thing where whatever idiotic thing was said earlier in the day or whatever comment that was really funny, weâ€™ll make it the word of the day. I donâ€™t know, itâ€™s just a thing we have. Iâ€™m not a very superstitious guy, I donâ€™t have any mantra or anything before I go out there. I just get out there and let the adrenaline takeover.
JJJ: What was the word of the day for your NFL Thanksgiving performance?
JM: It was actually lions. But it didnâ€™t really help. They got their [butts] handed to them by the Titans but it was a fun game. I had never performed at a NFL game before. It was pretty overwhelming. I was a little nervous to tell you the truth.
JJJ: How was that experience?
JM: It was crazy. I think the realization that 40 million people were watching on television â€“ next to the Super Bowl â€“ the biggest football game on TV, itâ€™s a little unnerving and can definitely throw you a little bit. I didnâ€™t realize either that when we got there, we had like a four hour rehearsal the day before. I didnâ€™t realize that it was going to be 300 dancers on the field, dancing to the songs. I had no idea that was happening, but it was pretty cool. It was quite the production.
JJJ: What was it like touring with Jordin Sparks
JM: Oh, we became great friends. Jordin â€“ thatâ€™s my girl. Sheâ€™s awesome. It was a great tour, we had just the best time. She is so unaffected and just amazingly talented and the sweetest girl. Her whole band and crew â€“ her whole team is just real fun to work with. Iâ€™d love to do it again, it was great.
JJJ: Would you ever work on a song with her?
JM: Definitely. I talked to a couple weeks ago actually at an after-party and asked her about her new album. She says, â€˜I donâ€™t know. You wanna be a part of it?â€™ I said, â€˜Yea.â€™ She said, â€˜Alright. Iâ€™ll let you know.â€™ So weâ€™ll see.
JJJ: Are you writing songs for a new album?
JM: Yeah, Iâ€™ve had the last month off to sort of sit in the studio and mess around. Iâ€™m working right now on Toni Braxtonâ€™s new album which is coming out the beginning of next year. Yet, another big pop diva. It should be fun. She hasnâ€™t put anything out in about five to six years so weâ€™re trying to write some stuff that is relevant.
JJJ: What’s the sound like for your new album?
JM: Itâ€™s so hard to think about now. Iâ€™m still knee-deep in Departure right now. I donâ€™t know, itâ€™s hard to say. Maybe itâ€™s more rhythmic, maybe more R&B, itâ€™s hard for me to say right now. I donâ€™t know what mindset or head space Iâ€™ll be in a year from now. So far, itâ€™s been two years in between each record and a lot has gone on in those two years, each time. Itâ€™s hard for me to be decisive right now.
JJJ: How did you celebrate your 21st birthday?
JM: Vegas. Itâ€™s kind of clichÃ© but thereâ€™s a reason we all go to Vegas at 21. It was fun. We partied like rock stars and did a little bit of gambling which was a mistake because Iâ€™m terrible at it.
JJJ: Were you up or down?
JM: I was down. It was worth the entertainment I guess. But myself and a bunch of my friends flew down and we were there for a weekend, which is plenty of time and then we flew back to L.A. It was a good time, it was a great way to celebrate your 21st birthday.
JJJ: Do you watch what you eat to keep healthy?
JM: Iâ€™m sort of an extremist. Itâ€™s either all or nothing. A whole pizza or no pizza. Iâ€™ll go a couple months where I wonâ€™t even eat any carbs like Iâ€™ll stay on a healthy diet and go to the gym and Iâ€™ll be focused on staying in shape. And then thereâ€™s just, when youâ€™re on tour, itâ€™s just impossible. Youâ€™re eating habits just go array and it sort of becomes a rhythm. Youâ€™re on the tour bus, youâ€™re eating junk food. You get off, you go to the airport and itâ€™s either Burger Kind or McDonaldâ€™s. Itâ€™s sort of tough.
JJJ: Do you skiing or snowboarding or both?
JM: Iâ€™m a skier, I used to compete when I was younger. I never switched over to the board. I only had so much time on the mountain and I was pretty good on the skis. I never wanted to fall on my face in the three days I had on the lifts. I never gave it up. Iâ€™ve always been a skier. I do extreme sports. I love water sports. I water ski too in a major way. Every summer, my grandmother on my dadâ€™s side lives in Connecticut on a lake and every summer weâ€™d go water skiing and wake-boarding and all those crazy, extreme water sports.
JJJ: Did you ever injure yourself or wind up in the hospital with stitches?
JM: Never injured myself. Knock on wood. Never broken a bone or anything. Lake water is never fun, going up your nose. Thereâ€™s meningitis and all that stuff. But so far no broken bones.
JJJ: Do you keep up with blogs? What are the top three sites you visit?
JM: Top three sites I visit â€“ I go onto my MySpace page just to see what my fans are doing pretty frequently. At least a couple times a week just to see whatâ€™s going on. I have help running it because thereâ€™s a lot of upkeep when it comes to a site like that. Iâ€™d be lying if I said that I donâ€™t go onto your site every once in a while but youâ€™ve been blogging about me which you said some nice things and everyoneâ€™s like â€“ â€˜You gotta go on and check it out.â€™ Iâ€™ve been on there. Iâ€™m a YouTuber, like non-stop. I like all the comedic YouTube videos. Iâ€™m constantly searching [for them].
JJJ: Whatâ€™s one YouTube clip that you enjoy?
JM: Seven Year Old Steals Car. Have you seen that one? Look it up. Iâ€™m serious, you got to see this. Itâ€™s hysterical. You should put it on your site. Everyone should see it. Itâ€™s sort of sad butâ€¦itâ€™s old, but itâ€™s just too funny. This seven-year-old kid steals his grandmaâ€™s car and crashes it. Itâ€™s hilarious. They donâ€™t even know what to do, the cops. Theyâ€™re just dumbfounded. Those are pretty much [the three sites I go on]. Itâ€™s hard for me to stay tapped into whatâ€™s going on with constantly traveling.
JJJ: How do you keep in touch with your friends? Facebook, MySpace, Blackberry, iPhone?
JM: Iâ€™m a Blackberry guy. I never switched over to the iPhone. Iâ€™m about to get the new one [Blackberry]. The Bold I guess. I really like the new one. Iâ€™m pretty much on the phone a lot, more so than I am on e-mail or on the internet.
JJJ: Do you have any favorite childhood memories?
JM: Yeah, growing up in a small town â€“ Ardsley, New York â€“ is one square mile. It was a pretty laid back town. I graduated from a public high school in a class of 150 students. I think just the smell of the fresh, New York air like in the suburbs and playing baseball every fall. I eventually played for my high school team. I miss all those memories, I miss that as a kid. Every time I come home, I try to shoot up to back where I grew up to get a dose. Brings me back to the good olâ€™ days. Now I live in smog-infested Los Angeles.
JJJ: What do you do when relax at home in L.A.?
JM: I have a lot of friends. A lot of musician friends, a lot of writer friends. If weâ€™re not in the studio, weâ€™re doing something. I love being by the beach. During this time of year, thereâ€™s not much to do at the beach. I love to entertain, I love to cook. Iâ€™m a big foodie, so anytime anyone comes over, Iâ€™m trying to get them to eat.
JJJ: Whatâ€™s your favorite cuisine?
JM: French cuisine. With the French cuisine, you have to be politically correct. I love duck. I love cocovan. I just like the fact that they [the French] eat everything. Itâ€™s one of the oldest cuisines, itâ€™s really refined. They use everything. If theyâ€™re going to cook an animal, theyâ€™re going to use every part of it which I really think is cool. Itâ€™s definitely one of the most fattening meals too.
JJJ: Is there any truth to the rumors about you and Danielle Panabaker?
JM: Yeah. She and I are really good friends and family friends too. Iâ€™ve known Kay, her younger sister, forever â€“ from Summerland. We were just out one night; she had went to some party or something â€“ the GQ Party and I literally wasnâ€™t even planning on going out that night. I just got out of the studio and drove over there to meet her for a drink. Sheâ€™s a good friend of mine.
JJJ: All of the girls you hang out with are just friends. When you going to get yourself a girlfriend?
JM: Exactly. Nothingâ€™s ever materialized. Iâ€™ve always been traveling; working so much that itâ€™s hard to be in a stable relationship right now. I just try to have as many friends as I can.
Posted to: Jesse McCartney