Indie Mixtape 20: Caleb Landry Jones Leans Into Off-Kilter Playfulness On ‘Hey Gary, Hey Dawn’

The actor-to-psych-rock pipeline is weirdly niche yet more common than you might think. There was Joe Keery, the Stranger Things actor who played in Post Animal until 2019. Now, we have Caleb Landry Jones, who has been in films like Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Get Out, and The Florida Project, heading down that pipeline. Jones’ fourth album, Hey Gary, Hey Dawn, opens with the one-two punch of “Hey Dawn” and “Too Sharp To Be My Carrot,” which respectively echoes In Utero-era Nirvana and Congratulations-era MGMT.

But what would a psych-rock album truly be without a late-career-Beatles-meets-Elephant 6 homage? Songs like “Corn Mine” and “Spot A Fly” accomplish exactly that. Jones doesn’t shy away from his influences, leaning into the playful, off-kilter reference points he faithfully conjures. And judging from what he lists as his hidden talents, he transfers that irreverent whimsy into his persona, too.

Following the album’s release earlier this month, Jones sits down with Uproxx to discuss how his mother inspired his music, levitating on water, and why Switchfoot was the best concert he has ever seen in our latest Q&A.

What are four words you would use to describe your music?

Inane, predictable, and colorfully coherent.

It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?

Doesn’t matter.

Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?

My mother. She’s the first person I saw music transform.

Where did you eat the best meal of your life and what was it?

Hard to say, I have had so many.

Tell us about the best concert you’ve ever attended.

I saw Switchfoot in Dallas when I was a teenager. I liked his hair.

What song never fails to make you emotional?

The theme that plays during the opening credits for the film Catch Me If You Can.

What’s the last thing you Googled?

Hey Gary, Hey Dawn album reviews.

Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?

Never been on tour. Working on it though.

What’s your favorite city in the world to perform and what’s the city you hope to perform in for the first time?

Our show in Brooklyn felt good. We’re excited to make it over to France, Germany, Australia, Japan, and Italy someday.

What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?

Nothing, he’s doing what he’s supposed to. It’s all a part of it. Wouldn’t change a damn thing.

What’s one of your hidden talents?

I can levitate in water. I can see the moon from the ground when she shows herself. I can hear the worms wiggle and find beauty in a little lost bee.

If you had a million dollars to donate to charity, what cause would you support and why?

There’s so many, I’d probably start one myself. Education is the key.

What are your thoughts about AI and the future of music?

HAHAHA. Radiohead comes to mind.

You are throwing a music festival. Give us the dream lineup of 5 artists that will perform with you and the location it would be held.

Mmmmmm. Since this is a dream, they’re all a bit boney but wow, how marvelous it would be. Honestly though, I have no idea. The band I have now is the shit.

Who’s your favorite person to follow on social media?

Not sure if i use it in that way. It’s nice seeing what your friends are up to randomly. Otherwise it’s promotion, promotion, promotion. “Everyone’s a star, a star!”

What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?

I’ve got so many freckles, the best I could do would be to connect em.

What is your pre-show ritual?

Make a setlist.

Who was your first celebrity crush?

Ingrid Bergman, Jessica Rabbit, Cat Woman and Harley Quinn.

You have a month off and the resources to take a dream vacation. Where are you going and who is coming with you?

Hopefully I’m doing something. Looking to make a record in France. I hope to do one in Australia. I hope to do one in Vienna. Mexico would be a dream. Japan and China would be sawtooth wild. Nashville would be fun to try and hold down. I’m hoping to not be alone for any of it. Here’s hoping one of these things happen.

What is your biggest fear?

You don’t know till it’s on top of you. There’s always a bigger one out there.