John Popper and Blues Traveler are performing on Wednesday at Irving Plaza. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Rick Diamond
John Popper is never short on collaborators. The enthusiastic Blues Traveler front man helped celebrate the band’s 20th anniversary of their breakthrough album “Four” by producing a new record with some of rock’s most prolific songwriters and performers in the biz today.
Popper was eager to break down “Blow Up The Moon” with amNewYork in advance of their upcoming gig at Irving Plaza.
If I haven’t picked up a Blues Traveler record in a while, what should I expect on “Blow Up The Moon?”
One thing you can expect is that it’s going to sound very unlike any of the other albums we’ve ever done. That’s because we collaborated with very different artists than ourselves. We have 3OH!3 in an electronic combination with us, a ska/hip-hop thing with Rome from Sublime, we’ve got a country thing with Thompson Square and we’ve got Hanson which is kind of their own category. There are songs with Jewel, Bowling for Soup — and that was really fun. When you put yourself against somebody so different from you, you really get to see the contrast.
You mentioned all the bands had great contrast to Blues Traveler. Was there any collaboration that felt similar to you in style?
Plain White T’s. We wrote this really great song called “Nikkia’s Prom” and I always wanted to work with them. I think they were the most like us, but also so different.
Whose idea was this to bring in all these different artists to collaborate with?
I’ve got to give credit to our manager. It was around the 20th anniversary of our “Four” record and she had the sense for which bands would contrast us best. We were working with new songwriters at the time and she took it to that step above to, “Why don’t you collaborate with performers as well?”
Was there a learning curve to working with these artists?
There absolutely is a learning curve, and that’s part of the process to writing. It usually starts out with, “How do we do this?” But the thing is, is that most people we worked with were great songwriters themselves so they didn’t really need my prodding. I got really used to listening after a while because everyone had their own ideas and they were just flying through the air.