When singer/songwriter Jack Johnson and his manager bumped into Chris Rock backstage at "Late Show With David Letterman" a few years ago, the comedian shared some profound entertainment-industry wisdom.
"I introduced Emmett [Malloy] as my best friend and manager and Chris said, 'Oh, good luck, you guys are going to hate each other in three years,' " Johnson recalled. "And about four or five years have gone by since and we're still cool."
So cool, in fact, that Malloy — half of the directing team the Malloys — not only still manages Johnson, but got the laidback musician and avid surfer to oversee the soundtrack to the directors' 2004 surf documentary "A Broke Down Melody." Johnson appears in the doc, as does surfing great Kelly Slater.
The soundtrack features two new Johnson tracks inspired by the movie, "Let It Be Sung" and "Home." "A lot of surfers become family with each other and just travel nonstop," Johnson said of the latter. "Let It Be Sung," the soundtrack's first single, features You Hear It First artist Matt Costa (see "Matt Costa Credits Career To No Doubt's Tom Dumont And A Broken Leg") — who is signed to Brushfire Records, a label co-created by Johnson — and Animal Liberation Orchestra singer Zach Gill, who is also the pianist in Johnson's band.
Per the Malloys' request, Johnson also contributed an acoustic version of his own "Breakdown." "It's stripped-down and a little more raw," Johnson explained. The soundtrack also includes a new track by surfing fan Eddie Vedder called "Goodbye" and songs from Kings of Convenience, the Beta Band and Built to Spill's Doug Martsch.
"We don't take any of it too serious," Johnson said of his work with the Malloys. "It has never really been about making a profit or anything, it's just a movie. For a long time we weren't making a profit and we were just making them anyways. They're just a lot of fun, really just an excuse to travel around the world and do what we want to do."
Outside of A Broke Down Melody, Johnson is starting work on his next solo album and has also contributed to the Buena Vista Social Club's new compilation Rhythms del Mundo: Cuba a benefit for Artists' Project Earth, a charity that aims to raise awareness about global warming and provide disaster relief. The record includes tracks by Coldplay, U2, the Arctic Monkeys and Dido that get reworked by the Cuban musicians.
Collaborations with the Animal Liberation Orchestra and Beastie Boys keyboard player Money Mark are also in Johnson's pipeline. Mark, Johnson said, has "done a lot of really amazing solo records that are people's favorites, but have been somewhat under the radar of pop culture and mainstream." That release should be out in 2007.