Over the course of nearly four decades, Joan Jett has made a lasting impact on rock & roll, first with her band the Runaways and then as a solo artist, recording timeless anthems such as “Bad Reputation” and “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” with her band the Blackhearts. This week Jett released Unvarnished, the Blackhearts’ 10th studio album, which finds the band attacking phony people, defending outcasts and, as always, pounding out a riff-heavy classic rock sound.
On Unvarnished, you have the song “T.M.I.,” which seems to comment on modern musicians who post about their private life all over social media.
Well, I’m trying to not judge it. I’m just trying to comment on it, really. I’ve always been someone that has had boundaries. I realized very early in the Runaways – the writers would always ask us questions that didn’t pertain to music. They would always ask us all kind of questions about sexuality, just stupid things that didn’t pertain to music. I realized that if I started talking about that stuff instead of the music, that’s all they would ask us. I’m not judging people per se, but I’m just saying, “You better watch it.” It’s great to talk about things when you’re happy and you want to share good fortune with the masses, but once you open that door, that door is open. So, if something bad happens to you, they’re gonna know about that, too, and you can’t close that door.
Do you think that a part of social media addiction is that people are learning more about the artist so they can better understand the art?
No, not necessarily. I just think that there is so much info out there, that people are now used to grabbing as much info as they can on the person that they are looking up to. Whoever is their person, they want to know everything. There used to be something called mystique that was a big part of show business. You always wanted to keep something from people that they wanted to know. When they find everything out about you they go, “OK. I’m moving on to this next person.” People devour information.
Along those lines, do you think young women in rock and pop are in a better position then they were when the Runaways debuted?
Oh, I don’t think it has changed much at all.
I can’t speak to the pop thing. It seems to me, it’s pretty focused on the sexuality and making sure that’s a big part of the presentation.