Taking Back Sunday’s John Nolan Chats About His Forthcoming Solo Album, Being Apart of PledgeMusic and Some Of His Favorite Band Memories
If the name John Nolan sounds familiar to you, here’s why: He is the current guitarist and backing vocalist of the rock-alt band, Taking Back Sunday and the former lead singer and guitarist for Straylight Run. He is also a solo artist and has released a few collections. In fact, he is currently working on his second full length album in New York with producer, Mike Sapone (Brand New, Taking Back Sunday, Mansions, Crime In Stereo).
Nolan is now apart of the PledgeMusic campaign, in which fans can purchase exclusive items and experiences such as posters, t-shirts, membership to the John Nolan Mixtape club and more. Pledge support at http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/johnnolan. 10% of any money raised after that will go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“Making an album this way has been a unique experience for me. It’s been refreshing to get outside of the label system and connect more directly with fans during the making of an album. It’s also been great to have the support system that PledgeMusic offers throughout the whole process.”
PledgeMusic is the world’s leading online, direct-to-fan music community, offering artists a unique way to engage their fans in the music making experience while interacting with PledgeMusic’s global community of music fans.
Learn more about John and Taking Back Sunday’s future in the following interview:
Can you remember the moment you decided to be a musician? Growing up, was your family always supportive of this path?
I decided I wanted to be a musician a little while after I graduated high school. I had decided not to go to college and I had half-heartedly pursued a career in commercial art and given up. My band from high school was still together at the time and it was all I really cared about. Even though the band wasn’t successful, I enjoyed everything we did so much. I remember feeling like even if my chances of success weren’t high I should go for it because it was the only thing I really wanted to do.
My parents were supportive. My dad would drive me to band practice all through high school and my mom was always encouraging. I don’t think they ever imagined I’d actually make a career out of it though. I think they looked at it as something I’d do for awhile and then move on and get a real job.
You’ve had plenty of experience as a solo artist and a member of a band. Which do you prefer? What are the pros and cons of both?
I really like both. There’s something great about collaborating with a band and producing something none of you could’ve produced individually. There’s also something great about being able to make every creative decision on your own. Both can also be really frustrating at times. I wouldn’t want to do either 100% of the time so I feel pretty lucky that I can go back and forth between the two.
Why did you decide to leave Taking Back Sunday after the debut album and start a band with your sister, Michelle? Why was Straylight Run formed at that time?
It was just the way things worked out. There wasn’t any planning involved. Straylight Run was actually started with Taking Back Sunday’s bass player Shaun. We had similar frustrations with our experience in the band and left together. It seemed natural to start making music together. Michelle had been writing songs and playing them for me for a while at that point and I liked what she was doing. Shaun and I were looking to add people to our new project so we asked her to join.
How do you think you have grown as a musician since you started playing?
I guess I’ve learned to be more detail oriented in my playing. When I was younger I was just concerned with not screwing up really bad but now I can focus more on getting the details right.
Your song “Here Comes the Wolf” was on the soundtrack for the Jason Michael Brescia film, Bridge and Tunnel. The song was nominated for several awards in the film festival circuit, and was the recipient of “Best Original Song” at the 2014 Long Island International Film Expo. That’s awesome! How did you get to be involved with this project?
My friend Anthony was working on putting together the soundtrack for the movie and he called to see if I wanted to be involved. At that point I didn’t know much about the movie but it sounded interesting so I said yes.
I know that you are currently in the studio in New York working on your upcoming album, with producer, Mike Sapone (Brand New, Taking Back Sunday, Mansions, Crime In Stereo). How’s that going so far? When do you hope to be done with it?
It’s been good so far. Before the campaign started I had recorded a few songs here and that was the start of the album. I was really happy with how that came out and knew we had to come back and do the rest of the album here. After the campaign I set up two weeks to record. We’ve finished tracking drums and are currently working on guitars. We got snowed in last night and today but it was actually good for getting things done. No one has had anything else to do or anywhere to go.
Tell me about your PledgeMusic Campaign. I have read that 10% of any money raised after that will go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Why are you connected to that charity in particular?
I wanted to choose a charity that was well known and everyone could get behind. I wanted to stay away from something less well known and possibly less reputable. St. Jude’s is just such a good cause and they have a great reputation.
Yeah, of course. Everything I’m doing on my own is working around Taking Back Sunday’s schedule. After I leave the studio we’ll be doing a full U.S. tour and during that tour a deluxe edition of our album Happiness Is will be released. After that I think we’ll start focusing more on writing and eventually recording another album.
More times than not, influences tend to bleed through. What bands are currently inspiring the music that you’re making?
Over the last five years I’ve gotten pretty lost in the extensive catalogues of guys like Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Harry Nilsson and Randy Newman. They all released so much music over the years and went through so many different phases. It’s been really interesting for me to follow where these guys went as they made music for decades. I think that experience is influencing a lot of what I’m doing on my solo album.
When it comes to your time with Taking Back Sunday, Straylight Run and your solo work, what are some of your favorite songs? Which ones do you really enjoying performing the most?
It’s hard to pick favorites. I’ll try not to over think it and just say some songs off the top of my head. With Taking Back Sunday I really enjoy playing a newer song called “Flicker Fade”. Straylight Run had a song called “It’s For The Best”. I still play that one live when I perform solo and it’s held up well for me over the years. “Till It’s Done To Death” has been one of my favorite solo songs since I wrote it and I still love playing it.
I think it’s the fact that after all this time and all these ups and downs I’m still doing this.
Thus far, what’s a favorite memory or something quirky that’s taken place (in-studio, onstage, or elsewhere)?
Eddie, the guitar player for Taking Back Sunday celebrated his fortieth birthday on tour a few years back. I helped arrange for a male stripper to come onstage and do a dance for him. It was pretty great.
Is there anything in particular that you’d like people to take away from listening to your music?
I just want people to be able to connect with it. I used to get hung up on how or why they connected to it but now I feel that any connection anyone has to my music is an amazing thing.