I've been telling you about Johnny Rayge, one of my favourite singer-songwriters of all time, before in this blog. As for today's post, Johnny himself gave me an awesome, quite emotional interview with so many details and cool stories in it, I decided to make two parts out of it.
Thanks a million for this, Johnny! And for my dear readers: enjoy!
Johnny, you released your debut album a just a few months back - What is your album inspired by? What can fans expect from it?
The album is called 'Vigil' which is derived from the latin 'Vigilia' meaning wakefulness; which is a period of purposeful sleeplessness, an occasion for devotional watching, or an observance.....
Life is the inspiration, both unseen and seen. It represents a journey, an emotional, spiritual transient journey. I tried to encapsulate the years from 2000 to 2014 when the album was released. In between I have played so much music, in many band, from The Marionettes to ITO, folk to funk, and it all meant something.... this is the essence of the album, that movement, that nostalgic melancholy, and these are the private songs I sang to myself alone until I was brave enough to leave self criticism behind and share them, play them, give them breath and let them live, beyond me.
Similarly the album mirrors relationships, and crucially was finished after my longest and deepest relationship ended: 7 years of love. That died, and I say died as the mourning was palpable and agony, in the year 2011, many many disturbed nights followed. Although as these things go maybe it was before, the seeds of end were sown when I left Ireland for my second Californian tour in 2010, where I wrote 'Uncharted Sea' overlooking Corona Del Mar while playing a baby grand; the album is a beginning and an end of things.
All these metaphoric interpretations are not exclusive but on the contrary wholly simultaneous. Light to light, the period of darkness between, call it 'life' to observe and recount, objectively, from a distance, yet deeply in tune, aware and connected to it.
Expect honesty, love, experience, melody and simple acoustic tunes side by side with mega epic alernative full band choruses.
Back in 2008 / 2009 I met you as singer (and songwriter) in Dublin’s five-piece band ITO. Why did the band break up and how come you did not start a new band afterwards but decided to “travel solo”?
Well not quite ;-) that's one of the reasons a band breaks up, ITO started as a three piece project for my songs in an attic in North Dublin on a rainy December night. Initially it was just myself and Jebediah Funkfield, a good friend from University, where we'd studied Philosophy and an amazing drummer called Steve Case from San Diego.
I have been writing songs and poetry all my life, and can still play my first song I wrote in Gaelic class (of course in English as any rebel child) from when I was thirteen. I have started several bands around my songs over the years: The Marionettes, The Fauves, The Wild Beasts and ITO, as well as newer ones like Red Velvit; ironically other bands since have had those names and become household famous names, but I was there first :-)
ITO was a name that sprang up from a special place which I'd rather keep to myself, the band ended in 2010 on our Californian tour, how and why I'm not really sure, I guess it was providence, but someone in the band was too high to work with, that's the simple truth, others wanted to follow love; one for music, one for a woman and one for a place..... In the end of course ITO was a four piece anyway and had changed significantly, Steve Case still on drums but Conrado Pesinato,
from Brazil, on lead and Tak attack, from japan, on bass.... it was incredibly international and an incredible band. All are still creating waves in L.A.
About new bands, I actually have a few, but Johnny Rayge has always been there, that was always the one consistent thing with all, my projects. As an artist it has been tough to write thousands of songs and then each time a new project starts they are scraped and you move on. That killed me, because if you look at artists like Neil Young etc. they can play with all the musicians in the world but you still know their work. It had become really important for me to put all my music under one name, and now I will go back through my catalogue and begin to re-release all of my songs under the one name....
The confusion and dichotomy still continues though as my name Jonathan Armas Maximilian Mc Glinn is the name that has been consumed by J Rayge.... though I will always release my poetry and prose under Jonathan Armas Mc Glinn.
Where did the name Johnny Rayge come from then?
Well as a young boy playing rock and roll and loving poetry I was naturally enamoured with all my inspirations from Lennon to Young and Baudelaire through Yeats to Dylan..... Dylan Thomas that is..... and it is from Mr. Thomas that I derived my pen name, though as with all great tales it is not myself who may take credit..... a young pal of mine, B.K., when I was drinking and ranting and hopping on car bonnets, would always roar " Johnny bleeding rage!!!" so it kinda stuck, I added a 'y'..... why? you may ask..... and that is exactly why :-) I find it fun that the question and answer reflect one another. Rage is not an anger it is an expression of being, a passion, a desire to be, to play, to sing, to live: Do not go gently into that good night, old age should burn and rave at close of day.... Rage rage against the dying of the light......
Thanks again and stay tuned everyone for PART 2 of my interview with Johnny Rayge! In the meantime check out his music on www.facebook.com/jrayge and his video for the single "Not Without You" :-)