XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?
John: There’s a lot of activity and energy going on with our band that’s really exciting. We played some great shows in the Midwest this summer and were invited to play fests with Stone Temple Pilots and Blue Oyster Cult. We have a fantastic gig coming up at the iconic Cutting Room music club in New York City on December 14th. We’re totally stoked to end the year with that gig.
As a follow up to our first track “Medicate” which features Vernon Reid of Living Colour shredding it on lead guitar, we just released the title track to the album, “New Revolution” and video which hit almost 15,000 views on YouTube in just a couple weeks. It was produced by Factory Underground Studios in Norwalk, CT and they did an unbelievable job in pairing our socially conscious lyrics to the song with hard-hitting images of social protest and unrest.
And we just launched our podcast called “Bands We Wanna Open For” which is out on several sites and launching nationally shortly on Rock Rage Radio. We’re having so much fun talking about bands that have influenced us. And we have special guests such as Daxx Nielsen of Cheap Trick, Eric Sherman who managed Steven Tyler, and soon we’ll have Vernon Reid and even Jackie “the Jokeman” Martling who was Howard Sterns’ sidekick for many years. That’s going to be a trip!
XS ROCK: How long has the band been together?
John: The Simple Radicals officially formed about a year ago when I reconnected with my lead guitarist John Griffin. John and I are the nucleus of the band and control the direction and overall vibe of the band. At this point, we’ve been working with different drummers and bass players which has been great since as we’re bringing in different ideas to the band and the songs.
XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?
John: There are so many levels to this answer. But playing music in a band is such an amazing and stimulating experience that provides so much satisfaction both internally and externally to those who want to engage with you. And there is nothing more exciting than playing live in front of a crowd. It’s intoxicating.
XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
John: Is it legal to say both? We love performing live and our fans know that. We feed off their energy and passion and interact with our fans since our songs are so personal to many. And there’s nothing like writing your own music and playing it live for people. You get an immediate reaction one way or another. If it’s good they will let you know. And if it sucks, they will definitely let you know. But if you can deliver some really powerful music live and it works, there is nothing more gratifying than that.
XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road? If so, please fill us in.
John: On the advice of counsel Senator, I plead the fifth.
XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?
John: No David Lee Roth type stories to share yet. We just played a show and we were surrounded by a group of fans who wanted us to sign our guitar picks that we threw out to the crowd. John and I spent 30 minutes trying to sign our names on the picks. They wouldn’t leave until we got it done. But we’ll do that all day long if we need to.
XS ROCK: Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?
John: Most definitely. I grew up in a house where music was a huge part of our lives. They were always encouraging me and my brothers to play musical instruments and I think my mom was pretty shocked when I came home and said I wanted to be a drummer. I don’t think that’s what she had in mind but they let me pound on my Slingerland 5-piece black chrome kit for years before I took up guitar. Of course, they didn’t know what a Marshall amp was either
XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?
John: We’re having such a great time playing all the tracks off our album “New Revolution” since it is a mix of rockers and ballads. Our fans come up to us after the show and are really appreciative that we provide an array of sounds and energy throughout the show. The song “Learn” is really fun to play that John just hammers home an incredible David Gilmour type building lead. And we also love playing “New Revolution” since that track has so many dynamics.
XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
John: I grew up as an avid classic rock fan so my influences come from bands like Zeppelin, Boston, AC/DC, Foo Fighters, Cheap Trick, Pink Floyd and Pearl Jam. I literally studied their albums and songs like a textbook and dissected how they constructed their songs, sang their harmonies, built their bridges, etc. But Dave Grohl and Eddie Vedder are such inspirations to me from a songwriting and performance basis. I only hope one that I can capture a fraction of the energy that they put out through their music and performing.
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
John: It’s so funny because our podcast is called “Bands We Wanna Open For” where we talk about bands we would love to be on their bill. Since Zeppelin is out of the question, we’d be honored and thrilled to play with Pearl Jam or the Foo Fighters…or both if that’s even possible!
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
John: It’s really been a great year for us personally and professionally. It’s hard to really identify just one. Having the ability to collaborate on “Medicate” with Vernon Reid from Living Colour on lead guitar was incredible and we’re thrilled that the track got picked up stations across the country and overseas. Our videos to “Medicate” and “New Revolution” hit thousands of views on YouTube right off the bat. And our “Bands We Wanna Open For” podcast is starting to take off. For a band that’s been around for just over a year, we’re really excited that we’re continuing to move forward and try to breakthrough.
XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
John: I keep thinking of that great scene in Spinal Tap when Nigel Tufnel said he would work in a haberdashery. For me though, it would have to be around music. I love talking about it so if I can land a DJ or talk gig at XM I’m all in. Maybe they’ll like our podcast.
XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
John: Our Radical guitar shredder John Griffin uses numerous guitars from Fender, Reverend, Gretsch and Parker and uses Orange and Fender amps. I tend to stick with my Fender Strat and Fender Deluxe tube amp.
XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?
John: The music scene certainly has opportunities but also really big challenges and obstacles. You can create music in your bedroom and even collaborate with people without being in the same room. But the biz is so hard to break into and breakthrough. The industry really doesn’t develop or invest resources in bands anymore. They want to know how big your social media following is before they even look at you. You just have to remain diligent and resilient and constantly think and rethink how break out and get noticed.
XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?
John: I come across as pretty calm and collected but I was such a juvenile delinquent as a kid. Just ask my mom. Oh, and I once worked at MTV and at the NFL in sales.
XS ROCK: If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
John: From a musical and stylistic standpoint, we describe our music as “retro-rock and roll” that combines sounds and styles from some of our favorite classic rock bands like Pink Floyd, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters and Cheap Trick. On a lyrical basis, I’m absolutely infatuated with the writing of Eddie Vedder, Dave Grohl and Zach de la Rocha from Rage Against the Machine and try to capture the messaging, passion and energy that he does in his songs. If I can even come within a million miles of what they do I’d consider it a success.
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
John: We’re so appreciative of all the support we’re received so far. Thank you! Please continue to share our music with your friends (https://www.thesimpleradicals.com/music). We’d love to have our fans join us at The Cutting Room in NYC on December 14th (https://tickets.thecuttingroomnyc.com/e/the-simple-radicals-70536140495/). And check out our podcast “Bands We Wanna Open For” (https://open.spotify.com/episode/0khBuKtrcm19N0vJfftWg1…) Hope to see you on the road sooner than later!