MuzicNotez: First off, it’s an honor to be doing this interview with you, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us.
What motivated you to start creating music? What age did you begin?
- John McDonough: Thank you for having me! It’s a pleasure to be here. I always loved to sing. As a kid I would crank my stereo and sing along at the top of my lungs. I started taking guitar lessons around 12 so I could sing and play my favorite songs on my own. I was also a big tennis player in those years, so music always took a back seat to tennis, and I really didn’t have much time for the guitar. I played tennis in college for two years, and then decided to stop. A large part of my decision in stopping was that I wanted to really focus on music, and I started taking guitar, piano, and voice lessons. I have also always loved creative writing. Writing my own songs that I could sing was the perfect fit for me, and I still love the challenge and satisfaction of it today.
MuzicNotez: Who were your musical influences, idols, or bands growing up that have helped mold you into the musician you are today? Or helped mold the music that you create?
- John McDonough: I have always gravitated to the classic singer/songwriters like James Taylor, Harry Chapin, and Jim Croce. The first album I bought at ten years of age was Harry Chapin’s Taxi! Even has a little kid, their stories combined with their voices and music always really moved me. Between the ages of 6 to 10 I lived in Colorado when John Denver was at his peak, and we would listen to him in the car every weekend when we would drive to the mountains to go skiing. I would always feel so bad for the guy who “lost a friend, but kept his memory” in “Rocky Mountain High.” As a teenager, I was quite into soft rock to hard rock. While I still loved my James Taylor albums, I was also listening to the likes Journey, Billy Squire, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, and The Rolling Stones. I think all this has resulted in my sound being singer/songwriter at heart, but with a little edge. I am not quite as mellow as the term singer/songwriter implies.
MuzicNotez: What’s the ultimate goal you want your music to achieve, or for you to achieve in your career as a musician? Any particular message you wish to send?
- John McDonough: I always joke that my life is really boring! I tend to write a lot about other people who have had much more interesting lives than me, and have had experiences I would never have. For example, I have written songs about a women holocaust survivor, the astronaut James Lovell, a southern plantation owner who took care of injured and dying civil war soldiers, and many more like this. All of these are true stories about incredible people who did incredible things. I love to tell the audience about these people and their historical circumstances before I play the song I wrote about them. It makes me feel good to tell the stories of people who deserve to be known, and I would love to be able to do that on a bigger scale. Personally I would like to be at a place in my career where I am consistently playing real listening rooms and small theaters. I want to have the environment that allows me to really connect with the audience, talk with them about my songs, and have them really hear my words.
MuzicNotez: What’s the latest release of yours? Tell us about it.
- John McDonough: My new release is a concept EP called ‘We’ll Answer The call,’ and it comes out June 17th. It tells the true story of Joe Rantz, the Washington Husky Rowing program, and their epic bid to win gold in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. It’s an amazing story of grit and determination starting with the unbelievably difficult childhood of Joe Rantz, and finishing with winning gold in Berlin and coming back to America. I am so obsessed with this story I flew to Seattle to see the Husky Clipper. The Husky Clipper is the original and restored eight man boat that was used to win gold in Berlin, and is now hanging in the University of Washington boathouse. It’s a beautiful boat and a true piece of art. It was a very moving experience for me to see it, and the last song on the EP is sung from the point of view of this boat. I am so happy with how the recordings came out, I feel it is some of my best work, and I am very excited to share this EP with everyone. It will be on all streaming platforms, and I would really, really appreciate everyone going to pre-save it now. Thanks!!