RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW BIRMINGHAM ARTIST JOHN TIBBITS
Hiya John, thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
Thanks guys, happy to be here!
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
Music has always been part of my life. Luckily, both my parents are super musical (Dad is a fantastic songwriter and Mum is a brilliant singer) so I was surrounded by influences since I was very young. I picked up a guitar aged about 12 and fell in love with it! Since then I’ve been on a journey with peaks and troughs where life got in the way of making music, but I’ve recently fallen back in love with it.
What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?
I’m sure there are others in my subconscious but the one I vividly remember playing on repeat is Time Machine by Declan O’Rourke. It’s pretty niche but I’d encourage everyone to go and listen to it. I first heard it on a BBC4 music show called Transatlantic Sessions and fell in love with it.
Name me your 3 favorite Albums.
Blimey, what a question! More for their influence on me than anything I’d have to say: Love Ire & Song by Frank Turner, OK Computer by Radiohead and Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan. I definitely don’t listen to them on a daily basis but everytime I hear them I’m transported back to when I first started writing and am reminded why I do what I do!
The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, How do you feel you are doing?
It’s so tough! I sort of knew it when I got into it but now realise what a mountain there is to climb. Considering I hadn’t even recorded a tune six months ago and some of my mates are still only realising I do music, I’d say I’m happy with where I am at the moment. Anyone who knows me knows how ambitious I am though and how much work I’ll put in to enable real success, but I clearly need people around me to help so please get in touch if you think you can do so!
What was the worst experience on stage?
It’s more one that I look back on and cringe! I was in a band when I was in sixth form and I’d clearly been watching too many Oasis videos because I tried to mimic Liam Gallagher by wearing a full length coat and tilting my neck up towards the mic in the iconic way he does. Glad to have moved past that now!
What makes you stand out as an artist?
The quality of my lyrics is consistently high and I write about the everyday experiences of working people, beyond breakups and relationships which the majority of tunes dwell on. Also, my music crosses across a whole range of genres from folk, indie, alternative, blues, rock etc., and will be taken in different directions with every project I work on.
Talk me through the thought process of the new tune/s.
I don’t have a ‘one size fits all’ approach, however, typically I’ll have a theme I want to write about – e.g., the drabness of white-collar life, political cynicism, even music itself – and will come up with a chorus based on that, with verses and the bridge following that. All of the tunes on my EP ‘Light of the Flame’ are written in open guitar tunings and I’ll typically jam until I find patterns that make sense to me. I’ll then use lyrics I’ve written previously to find those that fit best together. I’ve recently written my first song on the keyboard which was an exciting experience for me – caveat being I’m useless at keys!
What was the recording process like?
Clearly, it was a new experience for me and, on the whole, I loved it. Jak (my producer) and I recorded demos in his bedroom in Peckham before moving into a studio out East. Most of the process went smoothly, apart from recording the EP’s most vocally challenging track ‘Our Moment’ whilst having the flu which required an embarrassing amount of takes… I’ll be jumping back in the studio with Andy Ross from Astar Studios in August to work on two follow up singles which I can’t wait for!
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
Realising that my tunes have an audience beyond me and my neighbours (sorry guys). It’s a balancing act between remaining authentic to the sound I want to achieve and ensuring the tunes are commercially viable too.
Would you change anything now that it’s finished?
Any artist who says no is lying! There’s a load of vocal lines I wish I’d retaken and likewise with the guitars. However, I could have been in the studio forever and am still really proud of the end product!
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
I’m a big Aston Villa fan and am buzzing for us to be back in Europe where we belong. Up the Villa!