The name of the band Pepperdome, is interesting to say the least and sounds as if there is a story behind it. Where did the name come from and what is the story?
I wish I had a fantastic story about how I sat for hours discussing ideas and life with friends and then the symbolic metaphor that is the pepper and the dome appeared and changed how we see the world, but I don’t. I had a dream one night and woke up with the phrase “That little man from the pepper dome”
Your lyrics are infused with heavy detail and raw emotion. What is it that normally gives you inspiration when writing lyrics and is there a concept behind the writing of LET’S TRY THE OTHERSIDE?
Yes, there is a concept common theme that is used throughout the album. Many people only look at one side of life. They walk around in their daily routine and absorb information, from all 5 senses, presented to them without question or concern. We as people also tend to look at the negative side of life more than the positive side. The lyrics for LET’S TRY THE OTHERSIDE are written to challenge everyone to look beyond what is handed to them, go beyond face value, and start to question everything with a positive outlook on life.
As far as inspiration for lyrics, there is no one thing that inspires me. Some songs are created from my own life experiences and observations with friends and family. Others come from current events from across the world. Yet others are a statement to provoke thought and empower the listener. The lyrics are composed to let the listener know that they are in control of their life and they should follow their passions and dreams no matter what anyone says.
You just released LET’S TRY THE OTHERSIDE, how has the reactions been thus far? What can fans expect when they pick up a copy?
The reaction has been fantastic!!!! So many fans have come to me and have had very positive comments. The great thing is the diversity of the comments. Some have said, “This is great driving music” others say, “It is great to listen to while studying”. But the best thing about this music is people will say “This is really cool stuff it reminds me of…” and mention a band I have never listened to (and sometimes I don’t even like). I love that because it verifies the music is very dynamic and not a fill in band name here rip-off. So when fans get the album they can expect a dynamic group of songs that are full of intensity and passion. They will hopefully feel the ups and downs, slow and fast, extreme and meditative parts spread throughout the album that will not only entertain but provoke thought and change.
When it came to releasing LET’S TRY THE OTHERSIDE how did that whole package come together?
At a slow steady pace. I basically took everything one step at a time and made sure I was happy with everything before moving to the next step. I did my research to find the right people to help fill the unknowns and basically hoped for the best.
What was the recording process like, how long did you have, was their any pressure on you?
The recording process was loads of fun. For me the recording and writing process all happen at the same time. Luckily I had no time restraints or pressure from anyone (one of the benefits of being an independent artist) while recording and writing which in my opinion is best for any artist. The songs were about 85% done and then I went to final tracking/recording. At that point most songs have their mood and voice. Even at that point, each song does go through a final polishing to finish them off. I find a lot of the times during that phase is where some of the most unexpected things happen to really give each song character. That is when you have to question “Was that take a mistake or is that how it is supposed to be?”
Who did the artwork and title for the album, when you look on the final project, is there anything you wish you could have done differently?
I (John) did both the album artwork and came up with the title. As of right now I would not have done anything differently. Ask me again in 2 years and maybe I will change my mind!!!!
Many of your songs are so hard and intense that I am sure they translate well into a live setting taking on a whole new life in front of a live audience. How does it make you feel when the emotion and power that you envisioned in the recording studio, come to life while playing in front of a crowd?
It is a great feeling!! There is always a little bit of nervousness because you never know how the crowd will react. But it is actually very empowering and always a joy to play. The best part is seeing people actually “get it” and smile back at you while you perform. It is actually very similar to sex. You get up there and strut your stuff and totally expose yourself. You put all your energy into it, it feels fantastic, and you want to do it as much as possible!!! And once your bang out that final song you are exhausted, tired, and want to roll over and fall asleep!!
Different groups have unique ways of writing their songs. How do you guys go about writing your music?
It all start with the bass line and drums 98% of the time. This music is actually written behind closed doors with the conscious effort to not listen to what is going on out there today. Usually the bass line parts are loosely put together and drums are added. During this process the moods begin to appear and basic lyric themes are documented. When writing the lyrics I will look at what is happening around the world and in my own life for inspiration. At that point, I actually let the music pick the words. Then the guitar and vocal delivery is roughly hashed out and recorded. After several refining passes and a lot of listening throughout the day, I usually get to that 85% done point. Usually at that point the lyrics have been rewritten but still keep the original theme. The guitar layers also really start to speak at that point. Then it is simply final tracking. The key is to listen to everything and never play something just because you can, play it because the song asks for it.
What are the upcoming plans for Pepperdome?
Exposure, promotion, and touring. This music has been created to be heard and enjoyed by everyone. The push is to get it out there and hopefully have people not only enjoy it but also get them thinking.
How has MYSPACE and the internet impacted your band and do you think downloading helps or hinders the artists?
MySpace has helped to spread the music to fans across the world. But I do have to say that it has also been very helpful in finding people and companies that can help independent musicians by playing their music on the radio, finding people to help promote and getting an overall awareness of the music out to the world.
Downloads are to today like tape swapping was 15 years ago. It is a great way to get your music out to the fans. I just hope that fans do understand that a lot of hard work, time, and passion goes into writing, creating product, and performing music. So it is never a bad thing to get something back so you are not in the red all the time.
What is the toughest lesson you ever learned in the studio and on the stage?
Studio: Be very patient and never be afraid to try all thoughts. You never know what great music will come out of you if you are afraid to take a chance.
Stage: Don’t worry about messing up. I think every performer does at least once a show!
What bands would you like to tour with and who has been your favorite to tour with this far? Any particular reason?
Would love to tour with Tool or Rush. Touring with Bobaflex would be loads of fun too!!
Describe Pepperdome in three words.
If you had a chance to go back in time, where, what, and why?
I would not. I enjoy the present and look forward to the future.
How do you think the recession is affecting musicians like yourself? Is it at all?
Yes, it has affected everyone. When money gets tight people tend to trim off the extras in life and worry about the basics first. So no matter how much musicians want to get their music out there, our natural survival instincts kick in and we worry about food and shelter first. Everything else at that point is an extra.
Every band has its musical influences. What are some of the other bands and artists that have greatly influenced you guys and your music?
Influences are from around the world. From rock (soft to hard), metal, and progressive, to jazz, classical, hip hop, world, and even new age (yes I said new age). It is all listened to and somehow works it way into the music.
Specific bands: Tool, Rush, Metallica, Motley Crue, Dave Matthews Band, Barenaked Ladies, Pink Floyd, Van Halen, Anthrax, Bobaflex, Clutch, Dream Theater, Meldrum, Godsmack, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Queensryche, Rage Against the Machine, Primus, Pantera, Led Zeppelin, Laundry, Five Bolts Main, Rob Zombie, Soil, Nonpoint, Nine Inch Nails, Dope, Life of Agony, Crash Test Dummies, Fishbone, Ozzy Osbourne, Sevendust, Guano Apes, Machine Head, Sting, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Offspring, Aerosmith, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, K’naan, POS, Aceyalone, Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, Gnarls Barkley, Wagner, Beethoven
All of that passion that you play with must be tough on you physically. How do you prepare for the physical demands of a tour?
Rest and rehearsals to stay on your A game! The rest is most important. Also self balance through meditation helps to center the body and mind which then allows you to take the demand in stride.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Keep an open mind to new and exciting things. Live life to the fullest. And I hope you check out PepperDome very soon!!