Long Gone John Sits Down and Speaks Up
Long Gone John has been steadily on radar since the end of last year, and thankfully there is no sign of slowing down. Described as a “hard travelin’, folk singin’, blue feelin’, fingerpickin’ tall tale teller, the artist is currently based out of Portland, Oregon. Creating absolute beauty in each piece of music that he touches, 2019 is already gearing up to be a great year for the impressive artist. We had the honor of sitting down with Long Gone John for a heartfelt and exclusive interview which you will find below.
– You have a new record, congrats!…what was the driving inspiration behind the
Thanks! To be honest, this record has been a long time coming, longer than I’d like to admit really. The real inspiration came from the need to put some of these songs to bed for myself. I’ve been sitting on a few of them for over five years. They’ve been played with and for people all over the country, but never made it onto an album. Others were written weeks before going into the studio. After leaving Vermont and my band, Tallgrass Getdown, about 4 years ago, I spent a lot of time living out of my van and travelling. There were so many albums that just took me out of my head on a long drive. It’s like driving into a wormhole and coming out the other side 30 or 45 minutes later. That’s what I wanted to create with “Miles Away”; an album made for travelling, by travelling.
-When forming a song, what steps do you take to create your vision? Typically how long does it take you to build a song from start to finish?
My process is very inconsistent. It all depends on the type of song for me. Every song has a story, and any story can be a song under the right lens. “Complaints 24, 57, & 88” I wrote all the words during a time when my voice was shot for almost 4 months straight. The melody came months later. “3000 Miles” was almost a metaphor song about always being half a mile away from everything you want until I lost the writing notebook the lyrics were in. I took the one line that I could remember and it turned into a 7-minute travel piece. Then there’s a song like “Easier to Quit” where the whole thing hit me while doing dishes at home between two legs of a tour. I wrote it out and played it the next night and every night after. I’d like to pretend there’s a real system to it, but it’s more of a pleasant surprise every time. Like a fresh pair of socks you forgot in the back of the drawer.
– When first creating your music, how did you decide on and form your sound?
It’s never really been a decision. When I first started writing songs, I was writing ska, punk and hardcore songs because that’s what I was into. In college I went down a long Grateful Dead tunnel and started going to festivals, so I was writing jam blues and psychedelic ballads. Probably digging deep into the greats like Dylan, Prine, and Townes opened a lot of doors to tact in lyricism. I’m not trying to reinvent anything really. I just love to sing and sometimes there’s a song I want to sing that no one else has written yet.
– When did music profoundly start to have an influence on your life?
Pretty early on I guess. I can remember the feeling of hearing a new song I loved and waiting for it to come on again so I could try to tape it off the radio, or years later sneaking onto the computer in the middle of night to download songs from Napster on dial up internet. My first musical obsession was a 45 my parents had of Bobby Darin. One side was “Beyond the Sea” and the other was “Mack the Knife” I loved them. I still love them. My first experience with performing was in school choirs, but by the time I was 14 some friends and I had formed a band for the school talent show. We were terrible, but the feeling of walking out to the microphone and singing for an auditorium full of people gave me the bug. It’s never really gone away.
– What sparks your songwriting creativity? Is it more of a storytelling aspect or a personal aspect?
Well, I consider it all storytelling, but I would say it sparks from a personal place generally. It’s usually a feeling or an experience that I want to get off my back and I make a story around the idea. Most of the time the stories are grounded in experience, but there’s some times where I can’t get my point across without getting out of my own head. I’d just always rather a song be more conversational as if there’s another silent voice moving the narrative along. Then you put the audience in that role, and they’re part of it; if they want to be.
– With a new release in tow, what other surprises do we have before the end of the year?
It’s been a long year. Coming off a long hiatus and diving right into a few tours and the recording and release of my debut album feels sufficient to sit down and work on new material. I’ve got nothing left up my sleeve for 2018, but as the winter wears off I do have plans of getting back into the studio to record an EP of some songs that didn’t quite fit into my vision on “Miles Away”. So, you can keep and eye out for that.
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