The Record : Issue 3 - John Gallagher Jr.
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by Monica Simoes
The Record: Issue 3
The Record is a brand new column that gives Broadway performers an outlet to discuss their solo music. We love and support our favorite stage performers but this will be your first chance to really find out what their music is all about. You can learn about their CD's, concerts, influences, upcoming projects and much more.
We are excited to present our third issue with the wonderful John Gallagher Jr.. We sat down with him to discuss his original music and plans for a album.
Gallagher is perhaps best known for originating the role of Moritz Stiefel in Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater's rock musical Spring Awakening, for which he won the Tony Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical. He recently played Johnny aka "Jesus of Suburbia" in Green Day's musical, American Idiot. He recently starred in the 2011 Broadway production of Jerusalem as Lee. In November John begins filming a series coming to HBO created by Aaron Sorkin.
When did you begin picking up your guitar and creating your music?
When I was about 15. As soon as I could play more than three chords I was off to the races.
How do you define your music?
I have a hard time doing that so I try to let whoever is listening decide. I know I come back very often to the tradition of folk and roots singer/songwriter because I grew up around a lot of music in that vein so it comes natural. I rarely know what a song is going to turn into when I sit down to write it so I try to get out of it's way and let it be what it wants to be without worrying if it's going to sound like other songs I've written.
What are some of the musicians and bands that you listen to that inspires your sound?
John Prine will always be one of my biggest influences. I've been listening to my parents sing his songs since I was a baby. Elvis Costello is another of my singer/songwriter heroes. I try to let everything in though no matter how different it sounds from me and filter it into my music if I can.
You also write your own music. What is the songwriting process like for you and where do you pull from?
It varies quite often. Sometimes songs come out of nowhere and write themselves. Other times it's a labor-intensive process. I've started songs that I didn't finish until years later. Sometimes I'll write a piece of music and it will sit around for ages until I find the lyric that's meant to go with it. As far as the subject matter goes I try to keep my eyes and ears attuned to any form of inspiration. I've pulled songs from newspaper articles, things that have happened to friends, fictional stories I've created but they more often tend to be about my own personal life and events I've experienced that left a mark on me.
What are some of your favorite songs you've written and why?
All of my songs are always jockeying for a position at the top of my own personal list but I can't pick favorites. They all have special meanings and special places in my heart.
Would you like to do a collaboration? If so who?
Absolutely. Creating music with other individuals is a thrilling and totally unique experience. I don't have any major contenders but I'm always open to ideas.
You often put on concerts on the side while you are a part of a Broadway show. What does this allow you to do and say as a musician oppose to your stage career?
It keeps me balanced. If I go too long without playing my own music I start to feel a bit clouded. The pace and the experience is totally unlike being on stage as an actor for me. I get to tell all of my own stories using my own words and my own experiences and my own instrumental execution. There's nothing between me and the audience so it's a very personal enterprise and therefore extremely cathartic.
You've been a part of a few bands now. What was that experience like for you and do you see you’re self-wanting to do this again?
Playing in a band is amazing. The camaraderie that grows between bandmates is something I've never quite felt anywhere else. It becomes a second family. I'd love to play in a band again someday. The difficult task is balancing the unpredictable nature of an acting career, which becomes very much about one person, with that of a band, which becomes very much about a partnership with several people. If there's a way for them to coexist, be it just a side project band with a few friends, I hope to find it.
Working on projects by musicians I admire so much is a dream. I'd been inspired by Duncan Sheik and Green Day long before I even imagined I would be working with them. I just observe and soak as much in as I can. I don't think I was ever given any direct advice about music but I certainly learned a lot without even really trying just by getting to know these brilliant artists.
What’s next possible record or tour in the future?
I hope for both. It's hard to find the time lately but once I do I would love to put out my first record and head out on the road with it.