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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Can AJJ singer-songwriter see the future? Look for the answer at the Lucky You

After AJJ’s Sean Bonnette performs Saturday at the Lucky You Lounge, ask the chatty singer-songwriter what the Washington State lottery numbers will be next week.

Bonnette’s lyrics suggest that the veteran punk-folkie could be prescient.

“It is interesting when you look at some of the words I’ve written,” Bonnette said by phone from his Phoenix home. “Do I know something?”

Well, check out what the vocalist-guitarist penned in 2008 while writing the bridge for “Hate Song for Brains.” “And there’s a guy in a SARS mask/Walking down the street screaming/The fourth time I’ve seen something like that this week/I cannot shake that feeling/That one day that man in the mask will be me.”

“It’s weird that I came up with that more than a decade before the pandemic started,” Bonnette said. “Who could have ever imagined that we would live the way we did with the pandemic?”

Well, it could be argued that Bonnette proved to be a seer once again with “Normalization Blues,” which was crafted in 2017. “Connection’s more important now than it ever was/But you’d rather be alone.”

“I guess I was ahead of the curve,” Bonnette said, chuckling. “It’s strange but I’m glad things are changing. With our last album (2021’s “Only God Can Judge Me”) I was getting ready for the birth of my first kid and due to circumstances I was working a lot in isolation.”

AJJ, which also includes bassist Ben Gallaty, is just finishing its to-be-named forthcoming album. “We had some fun recording since this one wasn’t done in isolation,” Bonnette said. “It was good to be in the same room and make decisions as a group again.”

Expect AJJ, which was formerly known as Andrew Jackson Jihad, to preview a pair of songs when the act performs at Lucky You Lounge. “We like playing the songs before we release them,” Bonnette said. “There’s a lot of energy in the new songs.”

Expect a typical blast of AJJ’s amalgam of punk-folk. Bonnette tips his cap to his mother for his sonic direction since she laid the groundwork for him as a teen.

“My mom is a Gen-Xer who played a lot of Pixies, Beastie Boys, They Might Be Giants, as well as Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan,” Bonnette said. “I got a taste of everything and some things really stuck with me. I love punk rock but I also love Bob Dylan, who I admire for never placating anybody. He always just did his own thing and so do we.”

Bonnette, 36, has noticed that the new songs have changed a bit since he recently become a parent for the second time. “My world view has been altered since I became a father,” Bonnette said. “I’m less nihilistic as a person and as a songwriter. I’m hopeful for my kids but also terrified to the bone for future generations considering the mess we’re handing them.”

Bonnette is looking forward to shopping when he returns to Spokane. “The last time I was in town I bought some socks and I’m ready to purchase more stuff when I get back to Spokane since I like the stores there and I like walking around the town. We had a great time last time playing the place the guitarist from Sunny Day Real Estate owns,” Bonnette said, referring to Dan Hoerner’s Big Dipper. “I don’t know what the place we’ll be playing is like but we’ll be ready to let it rip when we get back to Spokane.”