Interview with John Preston
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I was born into music. My father encouraged me to play for most of his life and I figured out very young I was a writer. Tapping that creative side of my soul has always been my way of expressing or healing. It wasn’t until I found purpose with my music that I began to take it serious as a career option. My first goal is always to help those in need and my music is a reflection of that philanthropical ambition. To the second half of this question it is not what would I be doing but rather what have I done? For the last 11 years I have been a full time firefighter for the City of Palo Alto and have always given my life to service. As a Marine Combat Veteran and a firefighter much of my work with and away from music has been in Veteran and First Responder mental health.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
When I committed to the re- pursuit of a music career I left all of the traditional hobbies in the past. In 2016 I lost my older brother to suicide and became obsessed with how I was going to stop this from happening to others. I put together a hike (22 and You) and began producing a film (Carry the Weight) of my 630 mile 28 day journey down the California coast to encourage others to ask for help and join my fight against suicide. These type of life altering journeys in my life always play into the creative side of things. I have told all of these stories through music and you’ll get a chance to hear all of that when we release our film/ series to the world.
How long have you been making music?
Since I was old enough to know I could. My first professional recording was in 2001 and my first signing with a label was in 2004. I’ve been in and out of this industry longer than most modern pop stars have been alive. I’m honestly blessed to still make myself relevant and so proud to use my work for a better good.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I live in the Bay Area so the San Francisco music scene of the 60’s and 70’s has always been something I’m obsessed with. A collective of stars all lived together and worked together and created one of the greatest eras of Rock n Roll. I am currently the vice president of the United Artist of Power (UNAP) I am attempting to create a similar connection of artist in a modern digital society. I believe the more artist we bring together the more powerful our message and talent will shine.
Tell me about your most memorable shows, if you haven’t played live what is your vision for a live show?
I’ve played all over the country from large stages to empty bars but nothing has been more moving to me then the hike I did down the coast. It was no longer a stage and I no longer had control of the set I played. I now had to open my heart to every individual that came to be a part of the magic we created and it was the most special and purposeful thing I’ve ever been a part of. One day I will be looking at thousand staring back in a stadium as we rock the world but my heart will always be on the pavement giving back to those in need.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Stadiums or Nothing. That’s what my future holds. The next place I see myself is giving a speech accepting my Grammy or an Emmy for my show. I’m in no rush to get there knowing it is all divine timing.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Garth Brooks, Matchbox 20, and My Chemical Romance would be the ultimate show for me. The energy that each of their fan bases bring is electric!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into making music and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Just keep going and believe in you above all and god will do the rest.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
If I’m being straight with you, once they are recorded and released I have given them to you to make your own meanings with. I hope the stories I’ve told can change your life as they have mine on my journey.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Honestly I love to play old Beatles songs and that is mostly when I’m on my own or with my family. I play my sets the way they are built and typically in Pearl Jam fashion never play the same set.
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
I pick up a guitar or sit at a piano and a melody comes out… I sing to that melody and record it… the first verse and chorus typically come out the first time I do that.. then I go back and fill in the gaps. The creative process is not mine alone. It is given to the divine to decide. Once it is written I pass it on to the world. I’m grateful to be able to do that. I do my best to allow those in need or those doing amazing things to inspire my process.