Indie Mixtape 20: Young Jesus Explores Flawed Humanity On ‘The Fool’

Young Jesus’ latest album, The Fool, is something of a character study. For each song, frontman John Rossiter focuses on a different character he has created. He scrutinizes their flawed humanity with a brutally honest clarity. Whether it’s David, a doctor who creepily trawls through his patient’s Instagram on “Moonlight,” or the rotating cast of self-loathing hypocrites on “MOTY,” Rossiter’s memoirist approach to fiction allows these 11 songs to surge with life.

After all, that is the animus behind heartland rock, even if the man making it lives in Los Angeles. The Fool is a shrewd, candid exploration of the emotional baggage we collectively carry. For an album of fictitious character studies, everything feels tangibly real.

Following the record’s release in late May, Rossiter sat down with Uproxx to talk about Beyond Meat, Hole, and basketball in our latest Q&A.

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

Light, dark, loud, quiet.

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?

As curious, open, inventive.

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

I watched the documentary jeen-yuhs while I was really sick with COVID two years ago. Right in the middle of major transitions in my life. Trying to escape from music. Deep self-doubt. He said something to these kids at a benefit along the lines of, “When I say ‘I’m the best rapper alive,’ I mean I believe I am the best rapper alive. And that you should believe the same thing about yourself.” So once I got better I started writing from that place, not from a place of “aw shucks” embarrassment. Why spend my whole life afraid and ashamed?

Anyway if I hear more than 30 seconds of a Kanye West song these days I find it super disturbing.

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

I was in a large yet discreet hole in Beverly Hills chowing down on a heaping spoonful of Beyond Meat.

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


What song never fails to make you emotional?

“The Weight of the Straw” and “Surely Gone” by Ida are really hitting me right now. I have a two month old daughter and when I stand there holding her and watch my parents walk down the steps away from our house, limping a little from just getting older, this music gets it. It’s been a great gift finding this music through my friend Shahzad. And to play with them at Pete Min’s studio a year or so ago through pure serendipity. Also I watched my dad sing my daughter ‘What Child Is This?” and damn. I’ll cherish that for my whole life. He heard that tune at church after my sister was born and I think it was a kind of vision of god for him.

What’s the last thing you Googled?

Altamirano Records.

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

This man in the Midwest thought we were the next Nirvana and put us up in his house where he woke us up each day for music lessons at 6 a.m. He said we were rock stars and we were gonna die at 35. And his daughters were going to be neuroscientists, so we should marry them because they would freeze and preserve our brains and bring us back to life.

He had three huge dogs. They could not see each other or else they’d kill each other, so they stayed in different rooms in the house throughout the day, rotating being let outside.

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

Right now it’s Esmont, Virginia, where we recorded that tune “Bully.” They had set up this amazing potluck outside, fires blazing, freezing cold night. They were making stew from roadkill they had harvested and veggies they had grown. It was aligned with what I believe in, and it’s special because so many things in music are so far from that resourcefulness, thoughtfulness, and community these days.

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

“How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.”

What’s one of your hidden talents?

Basketball, gardening, running uphill.

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

To me the best causes operate outside the system – Food Not Bombs, my buds in the LA Permaculture zone in Altadena – things operating in plain sight that don’t need or want attention to survive. But my friend works at Homeboy Industries in LA, and I love what Black and Pink does.

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

I don’t know.

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

The Blue Nile, Thelonious Monk, Derek Bailey, Can, Ida.

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

I don’t know.

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

I have one and only one tattoo: it is of the Route 66 road sign. What can I say, I love roads.

What is your pre-show ritual?

Stretch, meditate, drink water a couple hours before, go for a walk.

Who was your first celebrity crush?

Madonna. I remember looking her up on the Encyclopedia Britannica floppy disk program when I was really young. It was hot!

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

I’d like to go to Australia because I went as a kid and it’s always been a place I visit in my dreams. I’d go with my wife and my daughter. But in like 10 years.

What is your biggest fear?


The Fool is out now via Saddle Creek. Find more information here.