Talk Nerdy With Us had the opportunity to chat with singer-songwriter, Jon McLaughlin. Jon’s new upcoming album, Like Us, will be released on October 9th. Here is what Jon had to say when I chatted with him:
Can you tell us a little bit about your new upcoming album, Like Us that’ll be out in October?
“This will be my 6th album. I did this album with producer John Fields who’s like a musical genius. I’ve worked with him before. This was probably the best studio experience I’ve ever had. It was so much fun. I spent the last two and a half years writing for this record. There were actually a couple of songs that I started writing right after I put out my last record, which is kind of unusual for me. Normally, I take a long break after I put a record out. I usually take a break from writing.
But for this record the writing came pretty easily, you know. It’s a lot of songs about relationships. I tried to look at relationships for this record from as many angles as I could. There are, of course straight up, love songs. There is a song called ‘Before You’ and there is a song called ‘I’m always Going to Love You’. Those are just good old fashion love songs.
I’ve been married for almost 10 years now. I’ve been able to experience a long-term relationship, and see the different sides of it. Love in general has a lot of different faces. There’s a song on this record called ‘Down on History’ which is the third track on the record. It’s about when one of you is a little more into the relationship than the other one. I think any long-term relationship has those times when you try to meet 50/50 in the middle, but sometimes one of you has to give 75%. ‘Down on History’ is a song about that. It’s about fighting for your relationship.”
Would you say that ‘Down on History’ would be your favorite track you’ve written on the new album?
“I don’t know. I always have a hard time picking a favorite. It really is like picking from your kids, you know? Especially right. When the record is about to come out, all the songs are fresh! I love each song for a different reason. The song ‘Down on History’ is one of my most eclectic songs. Stylistically it’s pretty different, the chorus is way different from the verse. I also love the lyrics.
The last song on the record is a really depressing, sad song, but I’m really happy with those lyrics too. I think that’s about as good as I can do lyrically. I love that song for the lyrics! Others I love because of the style or because of my piano performances. It’s hard to tell.
I think at this point, if I had to play just one song for people from Like Us, I would probably play ‘I Want You Anyway’. It is the 5th or 6th track on the record.”
How many tracks are there on the new album?
“There are 10 songs, but there are 11 tracks. The first track on the record is instrumental. It sets up the vibe for the whole record.”
Would you say this new album is a departure from your older ones?
“No. No one’s going to listen to this record and think “Wait, who is this?”, you know? But I do think that Like Us is my best work. My first record that I put out was called “Indiana”. It’s very piano based and leaned on the singer-songwriter side of things. My second record, “Okay, Now” leaned on the pop side of things and wasn’t as piano heavy. I think Like Us is the best of both worlds. It has a lot of pop sensibility in it, but it’s very, very piano based.”
If you could collaborate or perform with an artist you admire, who would it be?
“At this point I’d probably say Ben Folds. He’s one of my heroes. I also grew up listening to Billy Joel and Elton John.”
You actually got to open up for Billy Joel! How was that?
“Yeah I did! I got to play a couple of shows with him last year. It was amazing! It was one of those times where you stay in your mind. You’re reeling because you’re trying to take in every moment. Yet, at the same time, you’re trying to make sure it’s real. You’re like “I can’t believe this is actually happening.”
Last year, I was able to go and meet Elton at one of his shows too! He dedicated one of his songs to me when he was on stage. I was fortunate enough to meet and have these moments with these guys who completely shaped my musical foundation. I’ve met Ben Folds before, but I haven’t collaborated with him. That would be the next thing I would love to add to my list.”
When you’re not making music, what are some of your favorite things to do?
“Well, I’m a dad now. (laughs). I’ve got a two-year old daughter and a one-month old daughter. I spend a lot of time when I’m at home still writing and creating music. But when I’m not doing that I find myself pushing a stroller across the street or getting a coffee and hanging at the park. I’m a big runner, so I run. I’ve enjoyed running my whole life so now I’m running with a stroller in front of me. (laughs).”
Quite the multitasker.
Do you have a favorite TV show you’re currently watching?
“My wife and I, we’re kind of late to the party on this, but we just got into New Girl. I really love that show. We’re still on the first season. Everybody told us what a good show it was for a long time. So we are finally starting to catch up. It is hilarious!”
What advice would you give people who want to become musicians?
“I think there are two things you can do. One, you gotta really work at it. It’s one of those things, one of those occupations that’s all-consuming, you know. You see people up on stage, and musicians get glorified as rock stars, because it seems like such a glamorous life. It definitely is when you’re up on stage, but, the other 22 hours of that day consists of getting up early, going to radio interviews, practicing, writing, etc. It’s a lot of work. It’s constant work. You gotta really love it, and you gotta really give it your all.
You need to work on your craft as much as you can. Whether it is song writing or whether you want to be the best drummer in the world, whatever it is, you need to really work at it.
You also just have to stay true to who you are as an artist. I don’t think that anybody “makes it” in the music business if they’re not doing what they truly want to do as an artist. I think there are too many talented musicians out there working with people to change their image or their artistry for the sake of what’s trending or what’s cool. It just never works. They don’t succeed.”
If you had the chance to learn a new musical instrument, what would it be?
“I’ve been playing the piano all my life. I dabbled with the guitar a bit. I’m a decent guitar player, I wouldn’t say I’m a good guitar player by any means though. (laughs). I would love to play the drums. My brother plays the drums. He’s a killer drummer. Anytime I go to a show, I end up watching the drummer. It’s just something about drummers that I think is so cool. I don’t think I have any skill at all, but I would love to play!”
What would you be doing if you weren’t a musician?
“I have no idea! I think about that sometimes, though. I really don’t know. It kind of goes back to that all-consuming occupation, you know. I’ve been doing this in some form since I was five years old. I’ve just been doing music. I don’t think I have a lot of value in the market place (laughs) other than music.
I’m really into coffee, so I could see myself opening a little coffee shop. (laughs). A coffee shop where all the locals would come in and I’d know all there names. That kind of thing. I don’t know if I could do that for longer than a week, but it seems like something I could try!”
Follow Jon on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JonMcLaughlin
Like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jonmclaughlin
Stay tuned for Jon McLaughlin’s new album, Like Us set to be released October 9th!