Unsigned Artist Spotlight:
by Mark E. Waterbury
John Gregory of Mostly John
YEARS IN MUSIC BIZ:
NUMBER OF CDs SOLD:
SIZE OF FAN BASE:
400 on e-mailing list
MM: What had you done musically before you joined John Griffin?
JG: I had been working on my songwriting and trying to pin that down. I wrote
with some different people here in (Nashville) and tried to learn the craft
of it. And I found that I loved doing it. I love sitting down and coming up
with something and trying to create the whole idea, and then painting the
picture, so to speak.
MM: When you met John Griffin, did you decide right away that you wanted to
do a collaborative effort?
JG: Not right away. We were friends. We had met several years ago at church
and we just hung out together and did a little writing together. We both had
our own projects going at that time and we both write different styles. Then
after a time, with my band it became hard to travel with five or six people,
coordinating each others schedules with their full time jobs and all. And
once I started to make a little name for myself here, it just seemed natural
to get together with John and try the acoustic route. We started a couple of
years ago and got more serious about it, focusing in on traveling together.
We also came from two different songwriting approaches, but in that aspect we
helped balance each other out.
MM: When you started seriously writing together did everything click right
JG: We fit together pretty well. I grew up in south Texas so I had a lot of
influences in folk rock and acoustic music as well as the Spanish heritage.
John’s a songwriter more in the ballad sense. I tend to put in a little more
blues and drive, and he tends to add more subtlety. Our friendship helps us
really cook together.
MM: Are you both lyricists as well?
MM: Are a lot of the lyrics on your CD from life experiences or subjects that
are dear to you?
JG: There is definitely some of that substance to the lyrics. A lot of the
lyrics that I write come from my experiences of traveling and studying other
MM: Is there any one song that stands out as a favorite of yours?
JG: Probably “The Highway”. It’s about a kid who is frustrated and decides
he wants to just pack up and take off. And he runs into someone who has done
that for years who basically tells him that it’s not all that it’s cracked
up to be
MM: When you sat down and listened to the CD after it was completely
finished, what were your thoughts on it?
JG: Very excited. When I first came to town both of us had actually ventured
into the publishing realm because in Nashville you feel like you have to
follow a certain criteria and have to do things in a certain order, and that
starts with publishing. And the first time I went into a studio with
Nashville session musicians, I was totally amazed. So when John and I went
into the studio to do our project we had our own band, it wasn’t studio
musicians. They were mostly friends of ours so we had a lot more input on the
production side of it and the musical directions we wanted to take. So we
were very excited about how it came out. I couldn’t stop playing it.
MM: Have you been trying to build your fan base mainly through CD sales or
through playing out live or both?
JG: It’s a combination. We do a lot of word of mouth work. The Atlanta market
has actually been very good for us. We were playing the Borders’ stores in
Atlanta and that kind of set us up to do the whole acoustic tour; playing
cafes and coffee shops and the like mostly in the Southeast. When you’re
playing at a Borders and you get into about your third or fourth song, you
notice people in the store stopping and listening, and then they start
filtering over to the cafe area. You can read a lot into what is going on
just by watching their reactions to the music. And after the show we get out
and talk to as many people as we can to try to push the CD sales.
MM: Obviously Nashville is a tough music market to break into. What are some
of the things you had to do to get out and get noticed in that type of market?
JG: Nashville is such a funny place. Sometimes you get the feeling that
people are standing in the back watching you play with that “Impress me”
look on their faces. There’s such an incredible talent pool here. We talk to
a lot of people and stay in contact with people that we know and work on as
many projects as we can with other musicians as well as going out and
supporting our friends who are doing the same thing. We have also noticed in
the past couple of years here that the acoustic music thing has really taken
a jump. It was around back in the 70’s and then went away due to
overproduction, but it is leaning back that way and people are more in tune
to the bare-bones approach to acoustic music.
MM: What level of success would you be happy with for Mostly John and what do
you feel it will take to get to that point?
JG: I’m happy that I have been able to do what I do without being broke.
(Laughs) I would certainly like to have a name in the Southeast that would
push us more in Nashville. At first, everyone wants that national success,
but then your logic takes over and you realize that music is about so many
other things. There are so many people we get to meet and so many great
musicians we get to hang out with. As far as continuing to push it is
concerned, we always do posters, we maintain a web-site and have someone
working on a higher quality graphic web-site. And we’re now back in the
studio and looking to get another CD out this summer. John and I interact
real well both on the CDs and on stage, and people really like our music and
get into it in different ways - whether they are dancing to it or sitting and
thinking about a song. :->