From the very first syllables sung by Jonneine Zapata on her debut album Cast the Demons Out [Webcuts review] on the intro which segues into the simmering let’s-get-it-on pop of “Good Looking”, the LA siren had us hooked. Before the record made its way into the world Zapata was best known as a concert draw, gaining rave reviews in the US and catching the attention of Mark Lanegan and Jack White who had Zapata and band support Soulsavers and The Raconteurs respectively. The release of Cast the Demons Out proved unequivocally that Zapata was more than just a hotly tipped live act.

The Bible on the cover embossed with her name and album title suggested it was never going to be a light listen, which proved correct as inside the record showcased Zapata’s remarkable vocal and songwriting range from bluesy roars (“Worry”, “Burn”), aggressive antiwar punk (“Cowboy”), and atmospheric rock (“2,3,4”), with a chilling falsetto interspersed throughout. It’s an album whose simplicity lends itself to repeated listens, deifies easy categorisation and makes you pine for more. With scant biographical details we attempted to get some background ahead of her first Australian tour and while that was accomplished we also learnt that apart from an amazing voice and song writing chops Zapata has a wicked sense of humour.

Live review – Brisbane – October 7, 2010

01. Who is Jonneine Zapata?

I’m from Los Angeles and the line-up is from all over the globe, UK, Europe, Canada and USA. I’ve been singing as long as these guys have been playing, which has been life long.

02. What do you sound like?

Like honesty with a dash of hope.

03. What do friends say you sound like?

Morrison, McJagger, Siouxie, Kate Bush, PJ Harvey, Iggy Pop, Margot Timmins, Patti Smith, Beth Gibbons, Chrissie Hynde, Linda Ronstadt, Hope Sandoval, Johnette Napolitano, Niagara, Tori Amos, Nico… you name it, I’ve heard it.

04. Full-time musicians or wage slaves?

Full time musicians for the most part, though some of us are also pursuing other creative endeavors (film, writing, etc.) One of us writes jokes, even.

05. Current band highlight?

Keith Morris telling me my band is awesome. This was about 20 minutes into a casual conversation on the street, after he “recognized” me.

06. Favorite decade for music?

’50s-’70s. I’d rather die than choose.

07. Should music be free?

I’m pretty sure music has always been free (if you ever received a mix tape/CD or made one for a friend, or listened to the radio). I don’t really have a fully formed opinion on this topic, nor do I have a solution, but I did notice that illegal downloading suddenly became a hot issue once people who were already incredibly wealthy realized they’re “losing” money. If you don’t know, half of the homeless (in America) are women and children. I do not have the authority to say that there are bigger issues than “should music be free”, it is only that I feel similarly.

08. Which 3 musicians would you invite round for dinner?

Anyone who knows me is expecting me to say Springsteen, but I don’t want to meet him. I’m having my own private thing with his records and if given the choice, I choose mystery. Same goes for everyone else I admire artistically. Almost all of my friends are musicians, so (in no offense to them), if this is equivalent to the last supper – I’d rather have an architect round..

09. Preferred tour reading?

I prefer staring out the window during tour or listening to music and writing over reading. I like to do my reading in absolute privacy whenever possible. I do admire how all the guys read avidly throughout tour though. Bunch of smarties!

10. Best mood for songwriting?

After a broken heart and Friday and Saturday nights.

11. Last record you bought?

I pre-ordered the new Black Mountain.

12. Five favorite albums?

Bee Gees – Odessa
Lou Reed – Transformer
Neil Young – Harvest
Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
Free – Fire & Water
(Disclaimer – this list is only valid today).

13. Your biggest rock and roll fantasy?

Dick Cheney singing “Imagine” on his death bed. Making a Christmas album with Iggy Pop. I’m not trying to be cute…

14. Goals for the next 12 months?

In relation to music – I’d like to become a better writer, performer and singer.

15. First time listeners, where should they start?