Singer-songwriter Lonnie Jordan, the only founding member of the group War who is still performing under the band’s name, said that he owes the band’s longevity to what he calls the “Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fans.”
“The fans put me here and they can take me out,” he said. “I want to keep the people happy – the old generation, so they can have their flashbacks, and I want to hold on to the new generation, which is what I really call ‘The Googlers.’” Jordan said that, because of the internet, younger people have discovered War’s music, usually stemming from one of their massive hits like “Why Can’t We Be Friends?,” “The Cisco Kid” or “Low Rider.” He said that he’s honored that younger music fans are still discovering War’s music, whichever way they find it.
“It’s been great. Thank god for new technology. That’s why I call the younger generation ‘The Googlers.’ They come to hear us play because maybe they remember one song their uncle or their father or their grandfather used to play every day in the house and they would hear it until it made them turn purple in the face,” Jordan said.
“Finally, they [came] to hear [us] with their father or mother or grandmother or just with their friends…and all of the sudden they hear a song and say ‘Wait a minute. That song is on [The George Lopez Show].’ or ‘That song is in a movie I like.’ or ‘Wait a minute that’s Flo Rida’s song’ and all of the sudden.’ and they look down and I know they are staring at their phones and they are Googling something and there it is. They see our webpage and see our list of songs and decide to go home and listen to us and find out who we are.”
Although they have been known for generations for their aforementioned hits (among other songs), War put out a double disc album called Evolutionary in 2014. It was the group’s first album since around the time when the rest of the original members of the group left in the mid-90s. Jordan said that the group decided to record and release a new record after over 20 years based on instinct.
“We just thought it was good timing because we were on the road a lot and every time we play our old songs something comes out of those old songs on a creative note,” Jordan said. “We never fail to be creative or improvise. We’re a jam band. We’re a movement type of band and so everything we do is based off the fact that I labeled us the ‘Universal Street Band.’ We just jam, man…and we take those experiences and take them into the studio.”
Jordan said that War will be playing songs from their new album, their old hits and jamming at their show at The Birchmere on Thursday, Aug. 4. The band also played at the famed musical venue on Wednesday, Aug. 3. War has played The Birchmere, known for hosting a wide range of musical acts, several times.
It’s a fitting stage for War, a band that has always been hard to put into just one musical category because of their eclectic sound. Jordan said that aesthetic came from the diverse musical influences of the founding members. “We were inspired by, of course, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Patsy Cline, The Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley, Earl Grant, Mahalia Jackson, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz and the list goes on. It was a variety of everything. And that’s basically why looking at our future back then I didn’t know where we were going to go because we played all types of music and there was no file or catalog that you could place us in back then,” Jordan said.
“We were even playing Calypso music back then….We didn’t care. We just played what we felt. The negative side of that was we were never able to win any awards because people didn’t know how to categorize us. But in the long run, the positive side is that we’re still working…we’re able to do all genres of music and that’s a blessing.”
• For more information about War, visit war.com.