INTERVIEW: Singer-songwriter John Witherspoon

Hi John, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hi Vents, I’ve been great thanks. In a good and healthy place with music and life.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “My Dad”?

I’m delighted with the song, and I think we nailed it in the studio. I’m proud of the structure and craft of the thing as much as I am the lyrics. I was bashing at the piano one day when I hit on the chorus vocal melody. At first I was singing “Til I get back” over and over. Then I had to decide what to write about. A song for my Dad had been on my to-do pile forever, so I guess I already had plenty of lyrical ideas for that kicking around. The minute I turned that melody into “just like my Dad” I was very excited to develop it from there. As always with that kind of excitement, the rest happened quite quickly.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I feel immense love and gratitude towards both of my parents, so like I said writing songs for them was always the plan. However, the answer is probably yes. My parents split up last year. To elaborate further on that isn’t my business, and the song doesn’t try to. But the beauty of art is you can use it to respond fearlessly to things that are difficult to talk about.

What made you want to pay tribute to your father this time around?

It’s a combination of the previous two answers. Yes, sad things were going on, but to spoil that emotional narrative for a second, if the words “just like my Dad” hadn’t sounded so perfect to me when I was bashing away at the piano that day, well I may have written a different song altogether.
If you’re asking why the guy deserves my tribute, I have a lifetime of reasons. I hope that comes through in the lyrics.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Most definitely. My super-talented girlfriend and I are putting this together very soon. It will be my first music video that I’ve appeared in. I’m so excited.

How was the recording and writing process?

I loved both. Most of my songs tend to be about one person at a time, and I was applying the same lyrical approach here as I always have: Be truthful and be specific. Every single line is a reference to real happenings and memories. If you want to be authentic and relatable, it’s the truth and the specifics that will get you there. Then it’s just about chopping syllables out to make sure it all rolls off the tongue.
Working with Alec Brits at ‘The Cabin’ was amazing. The best part for me was watching the incredible session guys he brought in. Henry Burnett’s keyboard playing on this track was a big highlight of the session for me.

What role does Liverpool play in your music?

Lyrically I think Liverpool is very important to me, because I try to write like I talk. Like most scousers I am very proud of our city, its humour and welcoming nature. I also adore The Beatles, and there’s no escaping them here. Maybe that comes through in the tunes, I don’t know!

How has Bob Dylan and Paul Simon influenced your writing?

Dylan, Paul Simon and The Beatles are head and shoulders above everything else I’ve ever got into. Paul Simon’s Graceland is my favourite album, but I’ve never had a musical obsession like I have with Dylan. He does that to people. Like The Beatles there is just so many kinds of Dylan to get into. He’s insanely prolific and ever-changing, and I love it all.
Dylan and Simon are heroes that I will never emulate, but it’s okay to try.
I don’t know if you can hear these guys in my songs. I don’t consciously go after that. But if you can, then I’m very much where I want to be.

Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?

I’ve recently finished a ten-track album. There will be a few more singles first.

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

Probably November for the next single. Early next year for the album, which is called “Showin’ up, Startin’ again.”

Any plans to hit the road?

I certainly hope to. It’s always been pretty much play play play for me here in Liverpool, but it’s as good a time as any to take my music and travel a bit.

What else is happening next in John Witherspoon’s world?

With every single release I hope I’m building my audience. By the time I do an album launch I’d love to draw a great crowd in a great venue. But ambitions aside I try to remember the essence of the thing and keep it close by. Mostly that means, what would Dylan do? Write more songs. Go out and sing them.

Support John Witherspoon on Social Media:

Facebook | Instagram

Listen to more of John Witherspoon:

Soundcloud | Spotify

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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