Sold Out

I didn’t sleep much last night. When I get home from a gig I am wide awake and restless. It usually takes me a couple of hours to come down. It all depends on how the show went. Last night I had a buzz running in my veins that I’ve never felt before. I was pacing the floors and reliving my night in my head for hours. God knows how many cups of tea I drank. I thought about the album. The songs. The show. The people I spoke with. The people I knew, the strangers I didn’t. The reception. The cheers. The hugs. The complete joy.

I had a good feeling about this show. Rehearsals went great, but I was still a little nervous. The room was new for a start. I had never even been to Stage 3 for a show before. I took the train alone to the gig (I’m a terrible conversationalist right before I play). I closed my eyes the whole way there and smiled at the thought of our last rehearsal a few hours earlier. My band are amazing. Often when we jam I close my eyes and I imagine where I was when I wrote the songs. Some times its Castledawson. Some times its Brooklyn. I always get lost in a daydream. But I always come back, and I look around the room, and I feel blessed to be surrounded by such talent. Great people with great talent are so hard to find.

I wasn’t ready to make an album until the start of this year. The writing process that began was intense. Melodies would come to me on the street. Or In a coffee shop. Or In the subway. Some songs took half an hour to write, others took weeks. But when the time came to go into the studio with my best ten songs I was so hungry to record. To stand in a sold out venue and perform West Orchard from start to finish was something that I will never forget. I am well aware that a lot of people got turned away last night, and I want to thank every single person that made the effort to come out. I wish we could have got everyone squeezed in. These are the nights that every musician dreams of. We all want our songs to be heard. We all want people to enjoy listening. Last night was like a dream, and I am going to relish it for a long time.

New York is a crazy place. When I moved here I quickly realized how intense the highs and lows can be in this place. One day you’re up, the next you’re down. But for me the highs always crush the lows. I instantly forget them, and I feel inspired.

John xo

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Good times.

I’ve often heard that making an album is hard work. Most of my first releases were either started or completely recorded in my bedroom back in Derry. With my latest EP (Training Up My Soul), I had my first taste of tracking live with a band. I could hear the difference. I could feel the energy in the songs.

Making a more official move to New York at the start of 2011, I was very lucky to get together with the same group of musicians that helped me find my feet when I first made a short trip to NY. After two years of playing with the same three men, I was dying to record with them.

Just last week I joked with my producer and good friend Michael Keeney about the recording process of my second EP. I will never forget recording my friend Zarah playing cello in my student accommodation in Stranmillis, Belfast, and then having Michael help me mix the track. It learned me a lot. Thinking back to those recording times, I could never have imagined that my debut album would be made in New York in a world-class studio.

I recently realized just how much travelling around with my guitar is reflected in my music. There are songs that were written in Derry. Some were started in Los Angeles. The majority of the songs were penned in Brooklyn. This album will always make me think of NYC.

My hard-drive is full of live recordings from various shows we have played in the past two years. It’s really amazing to listen back to songs and see their transformation from one show to the next. It takes time for musicians to gel. But it didn’t take too much time for Jacob, Kenny and Rob to understand Irish sarcasm!

Four days in a studio is not a long time, but we moved fast and kept the energy and enthusiasm up. On the final day all of our live tracking was done, and then we put down some backing vocals. The final few hours I spent with Michael on electric guitars. There is still some work to do but I feel that the hardest part is over.

My first time recording in Brooklyn has passed, but the memories will live on for a long time. Huge thanks to Michael, Jacob, Kenny, Rob, Rebecca, and everyone at Seaside Lounge Studios for making the experience so much fun. As for a release date… check back for updates.

Next Show – May 28th @ 8pm – Rockwood Music Hall (room 1)

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John xo

Inspired.

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I don’t have a CD player in my apartment, and I have never owned an mp3 player. Sometimes a full week will go past and I wont have listened to music at home. I’ve always been the type of person that finds a band or artist and then obsesses with them for a while. This happened to me with Radiohead, Queens of the Stone Age, The Frames, Sigur Rós, The Strokes and Damien Rice just to name a few.

Since relocating to the U.S I seemed to have moved away from that pattern. Every now and then I will hear a single from a new band that draws me in, but I never really take the time to sit down and listen to their music. Like most people I will never have as much free time as I did when I was at University in Belfast.

Then something changed. I was gifted a record player for Christmas… and I couldn’t have been inspired more by a single act of kindness. Like a student again I have been taking the time to sit down and listen to albums, from start to finish. Classic albums like ‘Into the Music’ from Van Morrison and ‘Everybody Knows this is Nowhere’ by Neil Young. I have borrowed a few records from friends, and picked up a few myself in a little store in Park Slope called ‘5th Avenue Records & Tapes.’ Just last week I picked up my first James Taylor record. It was 50 cents and it was little dusty, but when I cleaned it up it plays like a dream.

I am not afraid to admit that I have never taken the time to get into The Beatles. Like most people I know all the singles, but not all the album tracks. My good friend Alan just gifted me ‘Let it Be’, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ and ‘The Beatles.’ Can’t really go wrong with those three to be fair. The best thing about owning a record player for me is that I am going to open my ears to a lot of music, particularly older recordings, that would have passed me by otherwise.

With plans set in stone to record my debut album a few months from now I have been writing a lot. I know that music consumption has changed so much in recent years, but I still believe in the power of a good album. I want the songs to sit well together so that people like me can enjoy listening from start to finish, and who knows maybe i’ll get a few printed on vinyl…

John xo

p.s for more up to date news follow me on twitter or facebook.

Hello 2013

2012 was my first full year away from home. I phone my Mum and Dad most days so I am fairly up to date on everything that is going on with my family and friends, but nothing compares to sitting around the open fire with your folks at Christmas time. So I couldn’t have been happier to be home for two weeks.

Unlike New York, Ireland pretty much comes to a stand still for the holiday season. When Americans tell me that they only get one or two days off work I am always shocked. They definitely work too hard, and I don’t care what anyone says, we eat just as much as Americans… and we make it last for two weeks.

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Port 1

On December 28th I was back in the Cellar Bar, Draperstown for a show. I was joined on stage by dear friends Zarah (cello) and Matt (electric guitar), and with support from the very talented Junior Johnson. At first it felt weird to play without my US band mates, but after a few songs I really started to relax and enjoy myself. I can’t thank everyone enough for coming out and making it such a great night. There is a buzz in Draperstown that will always draw me back.

I didn’t really expect to do an encore, and it was only as we sat backstage after our set was over that I released that we had to do one! Luckily I have the worst memory in the world, and Zarah reminded me that we hadn’t played ‘It Slows Down’, and so we did just that. In a way it made perfect sense. Of all the songs I’ve written this is the one that I would say was most influenced by time spent in Draperstown, particularly with the Rural Key Project, a Glasgowbury initiative for young people.

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As I returned to New York a couple of days ago I could not have felt more energized. Despite the fact that I had to relive 5 hours of my day due to the jetlag, I couldn’t wait to get to my apartment, unpack, and take out my guitar and work on some ideas. My friend Michael made a very valid point recently. He said that the good thing about visiting the USA for an Irish person is that they are able to get out of bed in time… I hope this keeps up. I even went for a run this morning at 7am… if my Mum could see me now.

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To everyone in the United States I want to wish you all a Happy New Year, and thank you for making 2012 so amazing. By coming out to a show, picking up an EP, downloading a song or two, or even just shaking my hand and asking me where I am from, all of you make it that little bit easier to be away from home.

Early 2013 will see me record my debut album. I have a million ideas that I am sifting through right now; some old and some new, but it is all coming together nicely. I want to make an album in the same way in which the Training Up My Soul EP was made. I will stand in a live room with great musicians around me, and jam. With four EP’s under my belt already I know exactly what type of record I want to make, and I cant wait to share it with you all when its done.

I’ll be posting some more show dates very soon, and for more updates you can Like my bandpage on Facebook, or follow my twitterings on Twitter. (@buildingpics)

Rock on
John xo

Los Angeles

Last week I took my first trip to Los Angeles. I’ve made a lot of friends all over the world since I started making music, and quite a few of them reside in LA. When the Hollywood Hills called, I jumped.

I think you all know this sign.

LA from the Griffith Observatory

I wish they made em like they used to…

I was gifted a signed guitar of Ben Harpers to write with for a few days.

Venice Beach.

In-N-Out Burger… quite possibly the best fast food burger I’ve ever had.

The Paramount Ranch, nestled in the Malibu Canyon. Felt like Clint Eastwood for an hour.

Malibu Canyon

Next Show is December 5th in Brooklyn. Details coming soon. xo

Living Room show this Friday

I’m playing my first Friday night show in New York this Friday, June 1st… click HERE for all the important details

I’ve been locked in my home studio a lot recently. There is two reasons for this, One – I now (kinda) know my way around a Keyboard. And two – I have a new room mate…

Im really an acoustic player at heart, always will be. If i was ever going to own an electric it was going to be a fender telecaster. I’ve been looking for this exact model for a while now and when I saw it a couple of days ago in Queens I knew I was taking it home. I’m looking forward to writing with this baby and making a damn good racket.

Hopefully see some familiar faces on Friday!

rock on

John.