Jack Johnson has a busy summer and fall ahead of him with a touring schedule that numbers nearly 40 shows in the United States and Europe.
This follows a theater tour last fall during which Johnson introduced songs from his latest album, “From Here To Now To You.”
The workload would suggest someone who is excited about touring and performing and maintaining his place as one of music’s most reliably popular artists.
But Johnson, in a recent phone interview, said there are times he thinks about jumping off of the music business merry-go-round altogether — at least for an extended period.
“Look, I love it and it’s so much fun,” he said of his musical life.
“It brings us a lot of opportunities. My family comes everywhere with me, so we get to see a lot of great parts of the world and everything.
But other times, I guess as a father you start thinking about what’s best for your kids. There are a lot of pros to getting to travel the world and see stuff. And then sometimes, I’m sure I’m getting about to that point with the age my kids (he and wife Kim have two sons and a daughter) are getting that they’re going to start boycotting and wanting to be around their friends more often. That might dictate things more than anything. So yeah, I keep my mind open. I don’t feel like this is the path I need to keep doing forever.”
Johnson, 39, is also open to the idea of no longer making albums, even though he admits that such thoughts usually change once he’s been away from the studio for awhile.
“I’ve actually, after the last couple, I’ve had the thought of OK, could this be a last record, just because every time I’m done with the whole process, I don’t feel like starting it over,” he said. “And then give me a year or two off, and I usually, it’s just the way I think. I think of songs. I just can’t help it. I write a bunch of songs and then it kind of feels like it would be fun (to record them). I forget about the madness of doing all of it, the touring, and the whole process.”
If Johnson were to pull the plug on his music career, it would be a blow fans of Johnson, who has released six albums — with the four most recent ones each debuting at number one on “Billboard” magazine’s album chart.
With “From Here To Now To You,” Johnson made an album that will feel comfortable to his fans. Especially on his previous CD, 2010’s “To The Sea,” Johnson had beefed up his sound, frequently using electric guitar and writing several songs (“You And Your Heart,” “From The Clouds” and especially “At Our With Me”) where he kicked up the tempos and rocked a bit.
The latest CD, though, returns Johnson to his acoustic roots. A few songs get a bit frisky (“Washing Dishes,” “Shot Reverse Shot” and “Tape Deck”), but most of the 12 songs are relaxed and spare, allowing Johnson’s agreeable vocal melodies to carry the day.
“It was a happy accident that there was (almost) no electric on this one,” Johnson said. “I like playing all kinds of guitars and just recording. I guess working with (producer) Mario (Cadalto Jr.) again was definitely a big part of it. He tends to like that acoustic side of what I do and he probably pushed me back in that direction a little bit without me realizing it.”
Several of the songs from “From Here To Now To You” have made a second appearance on a new concert EP Johnson released for Earth Day (April 22). Called “From Here To Now To You Live,” the proceeds from the EP are going to the Kokua Hawaii Foundation to support environmental education in Hawaii.
“It’s always fun to have more versions out there of songs that people can get,” Johnson said. “It came together pretty quickly when we realized that on Earth Day iTunes was willing to give up their share of the profits, too, and help us put this thing out.”
Such charitable endeavors are nothing new for Johnson.
Since 2008, Johnson has directed all of his touring proceeds to organizations involved in environmental causes, education and music programs. At last report, Johnson had donated $25 million to these groups over that span.
“We’ll see how much longer we can do it,” Johnson said of his ability to donate his touring proceeds, “Charity is almost the wrong word for it. It’s more working with these groups that we’ve found that are doing such great work in their communities, whether it’s protecting watersheds or getting instruments for schools so kids have instruments to jam on, things like that. And it feels good for us to do. We feel like we’re leaving a town in better shape than when we got there. That’s a good way to come through town, I think.”