…WITH NO AMBITIONS OF LIVE SHOWS, TOURS; MAKES MUSIC FOR THE SAKE OF MAKING MUSIC
Some artists make records for profit, blurring the line between art and commerce. Others continue to make records with label backing and money supporting their vision; until the money runs out, than the band ends and they move on to desk jobs. Still, some do it because it’s in their blood, on their own dime, own time, in between their day and night jobs, working to support a musical habit that keeps them up at night.
The latter best describes Portland, Oregon-based multi-instrumentalist John Amadon, a pop songsmith who creates haunting melodies that make good bedfellows with easy-laid beats. He’s a well-traveled journeyman who crafts tight hooks with a from-the-heart lyrical sense that will make you feel as if you personally know him.
He rarely plays live, doesn’t tour, yet he keeps writing, recording, working on his songwriting, and getting stronger with each new song. The result is a soothing blend of the upbeat and the relaxing, a well-grooved record that is as much a headphones listen as it is something to play in the car, crusing down the highway, with the windows down and sun giving you a driver’s tan.
He does this all without any financial support or promotional backing from a label. Knowingly off the beaten path of the music industry, he is driven not by the pursuit of fame or money, but by a passion for songwriting. He holes himself up in friends’ basement studios, his only ambition to challenge himself songwriting – wise, and to create the best art he can. All for art’s sake; not to please A&R guys, not to create something he thinks will turn elitist writers into his fans, and certainly not to “sell out.” He does it to make himself happy, to make records he can play for friends with a smile and pride. But, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want people to take notice and find enjoyment in his music either.
The result of his efforts is his third full-length, the self-released Seven Stars.
“I spent one out of every eight dollars I earned working as a bartender and bookstore employee on the making of Seven Stars,” says Amadon.
Known around Portland for his seven-year stint as bassist for roots-rock/pop artist Fernando, Amadon is equally known for his locally self-released solo records. Upon leaving Fernando’s band after the release of 2006’s Enter to Exit, Amadon took a break from music only to be re-inspired to make a record, the record that would become Seven Stars.
“I took a nearly five year hiatus from music and songwriting from which I didn’t actually expect to return,” recalls Amadon. “At a certain point I started working on a few songs and began to consider recording again. At about the same point I began spiraling into a strange madness focused around a girl I had become pointlessly and desperately obsessed with. The writing began in earnest for this record when I started using songwriting as a tool to help myself sort through this obsession that was making me feel as though I was coming apart at the seams.”
From the madness, songs began to take shape, with Amadon finding himself writing more than he ever had in the past; he was very prolific instead of, in the past, struggling – and sometimes forcing himself – to finish songs.
“Once I directed my songwriting focus to this issue,” he says of his obsession with this girl, “I found myself writing with an urgency and an ease that I had rarely felt before as a songwriter. In addition to the raw catharsis the writing provided me, I realized that songwriting had become a much easier exercise for me, and that now, instead of struggling to express, I was able to express quite freely. I had found my voice as a writer.”
With a record’s worth of material, Amadon called in several friends, including Scott McPherson (live and session drummer for acts including Beck, Elliott Smith, Neil Finn, M.Ward, She & Him, Bright Eyes, et.al), Mike Coykendall (M.Ward, She & Him), and William Slater (The Grails) to help him flesh out the record.
The result is Seven Stars, Amadon’s favorite record to date, and the only one he is unequivocally proud of.
“The first two [records], I look at now as learning experiences,” Amadon admits. ” I was learning how to both write and record. But, with Seven Stars I felt like I had arrived in these respects, and was flexing my muscles. Stylistically the new record works the same ground as the previous ones, with heavy emphasis on lyric, melody, and harmony.”
Discussing the lyrical content of the record, Amadon doesn’t hesitate to discuss how much the record helped him as he worked through his obsessions with a female.
“At least half of the songs on the record deal with a deluded obsession I had with a girl. It was an experience that became so convoluted in my mind that it is hard to describe or explain. The record was not only an attempt to work through that weirdness, but was conceived of as a gift to this person.
This whole drama bleeds into even those songs that aren’t directly addressing it. The songs that don’t deal with that specific situation tend to deal more in themes than in the telling of stories. It’s safe to say that every song on the record is dealing with themes either of love, death, or change. There’s often a meta-element to the songs as well, in that they may in part be songs about writing songs, or creativity.”
Looking back on the record, now that it is completed and ready for release to the world at large, Amadon seems anxious, almost restless for others to hear it, losing any doubt or self-consciousness he may have had in the past, overcome like a proud papa ready to show off pictures of his new child.
“I really didn’t know what to expect when I started making this record, but I can certainly say I never expected to make anything that I would like this much. In just about every respect – sonically, songwriting, musically, vocally, production, and art – this record represents a major step forward for me. I feel like I have never communicated more clearly, that someone could know me in a significant way just by listening to the record.”
Now, his only goal is to get it out to as many people as he can, sharing it with those that enjoy it, and hoping it is as cathartic and inspiring for the listener as it is for him.
“At the very least,” he adds, “I hope to create some consciousness of my work in the community of music fans so that I will not be a complete unknown by the time my next record is out, this time next year.”
Though some may write John Amadon off as a hobbyist making records only for himself, Seven Stars is nonetheless an ambitious offering, grand enough to stand up to any competition. That’s a lofty statement. And although he isn’t out toiling in sweaty rock clubs every night of the week, chasing something that for many is unobtainable, he is holed up in his living room, bedroom, or a friend’s studio writing and recording, always pushing himself to make a better song, a better record, and something that will withstand the test of time. Welcome Seven Stars.
Source- In Music We Trust PR