Life on Mars

Jerry Joseph has been called the Anthony Bourdain of music

“I finally realized I was never going to be a big fucking rock star,” Jerry Joseph says. “Nobody’s ever going to invite me to Saigon to come play a concert.”

So the veteran Portland songwriter and longtime fixture on Eugene stages decided to take matters into his own hands and travel the world with his music.

“I called people I knew, people that lived in Cambodia and Thailand,” Joseph explains. “And I brought a camera guy with me.”

One thing led to another and Joseph found himself in places like Lebanon and Israel. Finally his travels led him to Kabul, Afghanistan, where Joseph played music and taught guitar to children and young adults.

Joseph comes to Eugene in support of his latest release, By The Time Your Rocket Gets to Mars. “I tend to be known as a dark songwriter,” Joseph says, and while he wrote many Rocket songs on the road, Joseph says he had home and his children in mind.

“I kept trying to write about magic,” Joseph explains, “and stuff my kids could relate to.”

“You’re never going to be 22 again,” he adds, “as far as crafting something, I always hope it gets better.”

Nevertheless, longtime fans will recognize Joseph’s nuts ‘n’ bolts songwriting style, with an emphasis on storytelling and an unceremonious blend of rock, folk and R ‘n’ B.

And like his bitter, world weary, two-packs-a-day sound, Joseph is generally unsentimental about his time traveling the globe.

“I’ve never been anywhere in the world,” Joseph says, “where people don’t wake up early in the morning and pray, put on some tea or coffee, take a shit, wash their face and brush their teeth, kiss their spouse and walk out the door to do the best they can. I’ve never been anywhere where people don’t do that.”

Jerry Joseph plays 9:30 pm Thursday, Sept. 15, at Sam Bond’s Garage; $10, 21-plus.