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Progressive Rock Interviews

John McCormack

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with John McCormack from 2006

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 3 at

Can you catch the readers up on your musical history?
People always told me my songs should be in a movie or the next car ad driving through the Alps. I guess that's a good thing - depends on the movie, right?
But as a performer, I've been told my horn style is Charlie Parker meets Jimi Hendrix. I logged quite a few miles with my late 80's bands I Don't Know, Green Eggs and Spam and Just Add Water, based in St. Louis, and the short-lived but successful Lost Idaho found me on a several-city tour in 1987 as a drummer, sharing driving the bus throughout the Midwest. I co-founded Souled Out, one of New York City's top old school rock and soul bands since 1991.

My first album, Peace Of Mind, has splashes of my progressive rock roots in Rush and The Police and my jazz roots in Parker, and today's technology allowed me to combine a lot of life experience - and instrumentation - into this thing. My wife was a tremendous inspiration for several of the songs and for providing me with the support to actually make the album.

MSJ: I know people don't like to describe their music or see it pigeonholed, but care to give it a try?
I tend to write dark and moody rock, but always hopeful. This album, Peace Of Mind, has been described by my closest friends as a mix of Rush, Kamelot, Nightwish, The Doors and Yes.
MSJ: Who do you see as your musical influences?
The Police, Charlie Parker, Rush, U2 and Jimi Hendrix.
MSJ: Are there musicians out there with whom you'd like to work?
When Rush calls for their sax-based tour, I'm there. Until that happens, there are two amazing composers/guitarists - Paul Blomstrom out of New York City, who I've known forever, and David Chilson from Lewisburg, Tennessee, who I met this year. Both manage to push me to a higher level with their talent, but more importantly, with their spirit for life.
MSJ: Do you think that downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians? It's been said by the major labels that it's essentially the heart of all the problems they are having in terms of lower sales - would you agree?
Without this technology, a one-man band like me would never get the worldwide circulation of the album that I have received. People are too busy getting hammered by the mainstream labels bolstered by mainstream radio, so downloads opens up a window to let something actually creative to be heard. Personally, if I like the artist, I will buy their CD and pay for the concert tickets regardless of downloads. Hopefully, there's enough people who feel the same way.
MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans taping and trading live shows?
If you liked the band enough to pay for the ticket, you'll probably end up buying the concert DVD (and the t-shirt and the $9.00 soda souvenir cup), because of band loyalty, or, because your bootleg probably sucks. I see no problem with a share of bootlegs; the band is not losing a sale, they're gaining a fan for the next show or album.
MSJ: What's on the road map for the future for you?
I am near completion of my second album - this one is a new age, neoclassical and ambient collection to be heard while getting an hour-long massage or at least wishing you were. Think birds chirpin'. It will be out there in the Summer of 2006. After that, I'm going very heavy with the horn and will be attempting to capture my live crash-and-burn style in the studio.
MSJ: What have you been listening to lately?
Lately, I've really been into the Bend It Like Beckham soundtrack - you've got the extendo version of "Move On Up" from Curtis Mayfield side by side with Indian pop music and a touch of Blondie; somehow this all works for me.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
I last saw U2 at The Garden in November 2005. It was a great night.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
I once bonked my head on a 50-foot wooden menorah at an outdoor benefit for a Jewish Community Center after trying to adjust my mic cable. Teeth in tongue, saw the stars, decided to go wireless after that.
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