Unlike the number 22, these are a few things that Justin Vernon doesn’t like: Beyoncé’s Pepsi Money, Live Nation, and having his picture taken.
The notoriously publicity-averse Bon Iver frontman hasn’t been doing many interviews this album cycle, but in a new interview with The Guardian to promote the upcoming 22, A Million, he doesn’t hesitate to speak his mind. “You can never be self-righteous, but it’s okay to be a little righteous,” he says. “You have to believe in something. Like, I’d prefer Beyoncé didn’t do a Pepsi tour. Do not take two million dollars from Pepsi and be a role model for young girls. Do not do that. That stuff does anger me. And I feel like I am not afraid to talk about that stuff.”
“To be clear: They gave us a bunch of money and we were able to finish [my recording studio] without borrowing. It was great for us, and everybody that worked at the company was great, and I love Bushmills and wanted to do the deal because my dad loved Bushmills — we bond over Irish whiskey. But the problem is that it isn’t just Bushmills. It’s run by a corporation, and you kind of forget that they’re not interested in you or really what you’re doing. They’re interested in your popularity and your reach, and it felt really sickening after a while. Not badmouthing Bushmills the company, but I regret it. I regret it because it wasn’t us and they put my face on a fucking billboard, even though it was a cool billboard and I was with my brother and my sound engineer and we’re buds and we got drunk while we had the photo shoot. I just missed it. I missed the mark on that one and I let it all kind of get to me. It just doesn’t feel right after the fact, you know?”
Vernon also explains to the Guardian that he doesn’t intend to play too many live shows after realizing during the last Bon Iver tour that “playing shows for Live Nation is just bullshit and fuck that. I grew up loving bands like the Indigo Girls, and they stood for something, doing benefit shows and talking about shit and changing culture or changing people’s mindsets and raising awareness. What’s music for? It’s not about having a bunch of CDs.”
Success comes with unwanted attention like “having people asking to get their picture taken when you’re just trying to get eggs and not having a good day,” he says. “There are times when it’s just a nuisance, and there are times when it makes me panic. There are people who are straight-up into being famous. And I don’t like that. I think that’s why I had to take a long break.” If you’ve noticed that none of Vernon’s recent publicity photos show his face in full, well, that’s intentional. “I’ve played the game enough, and next time I probably won’t do photos at all,” he says. “The more years that go by where there’s no pictures of me, the more that will happen.”