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Articles Home » 2000 Articles » Taglieri, John - 2000 The Leap Of Faith Interview
 
Taglieri, John - 2000 The Leap Of Faith Interview
INTERVIEW: Taglieri John (Aug 2000)

With a little bit of faith...

This is the 'In The Spotlight' page. The spotlight this time falls on one of AOR's rising stars of the independent scene John Taglieri. From East Rutherford New Jersey, John has had an active year, performing on, producing, and distributing his own album 'Leap Of Faith'. Through sheer hard work and determination, John has clearly demonstrated what it takes for indie artists to get out there and make a go of it. After a recent appearance at the star studded Ultra Sound 2000 gig in Las Vegas, John was signed to A2 Records, a major label albeit a budding one. Editor Gdazegod gets the latest from A2 Records new signing John Taglieri.

G-DAZE: Congratulations on your recent A2 deal John. So, I guess all the hard work is starting to pay off?
John: Hey George! Thanks!!! Yes, it certainly looks as though busting my butt for the last year was worth it! I'm proud to be signed to A2 and they've been great. They've been promoting the hell out of the album, and with all the promotion that I had done, it looks like the name is out there and recognizable. How that will translate into sales remains to be seen, but I'm truly hoping that we'll see decent sales now that the CD will be available in stores and to the general public a lot easier.

Up until now, I was doing my own distribution and that can only get you so far. Although, there are a few online ordering sites, such as AOR Heaven, Wishing Well, & NEH Records that took the chance on me and started carrying the album. That made a difference in my presence being on such notable mail order sites, and I want to thank those guys a lot for taking the chance on me!. Also, all of the AOR websites have been great to me. They all did reviews and really made me feel welcome in the community, and as a newcomer to the scene, it made me feel great!

I spent the better part of one and a half years on the net, 8-10 hours per day contacting everyone and anyone who would be courteous enough to listen. So, right now, seeing where I am today, it was all worth it and I thank everyone who helped me so far. I'm not one who takes things for granted. I keep I touch with just about everyone who has ever done a review for me, and I at least say hello every so often, just to keep in touch. All the webmasters, like yourself, are a big part of why I am where I am today. Not only did I sign with A2 Records, but I'm also now sponsored by Ovation Guitars. So, it's been a good ride so far.

G-DAZE: It appears that you have taken all aspects of the music industry together under one umbrella. I mean, the playing, the mixing, the marketing, promotion and distribution. A literal one man band. For the budding solo musician, is it as hard as all that?
John: Yeah, actually it is. Let's face it, getting looked at by a major label is next to impossible today. But there are so many other options out there now for an independent musician. The Internet has created a whole new world with endless possibilities for indie musicians. There are small indie labels, publishing houses, tons of different ways to promote and create an environment suitable for making a decent living in.

But you can't just be a musician anymore. You have to be a businessman as well. You have to know how to market, so you need to be a Sales Person. You need to know how to promote, so you need to be a publicist and PR person. You have to distribute your own product, so you have to learn how to be a distributor. You need to tour and get in front of the people, so you have to learn how to be your own booking agent. You really have to step out of the 'I'm a musician' role and become someone who can interface with all aspects of the industry.

I guess it really depends on the musician and how far they want to take their career, and how serious they are about it. A lot of bands I know are not into the promotion thing. They are musicians and they leave the promotion up to other people. 'Leap Of Faith' is a very personal project for me. It represents everything I've ever dreamed of and wanted for myself and my career. I wanted to know that it was being handled the way I wanted it to be. I'm a bit of the 'if you want it done right, do it yourself' kind of person. So I had no problem learning how to do all the things I needed to do to market and promote the CD.

I also have to make music that people would want to listen to, so the studio end of it was just as important. But I've recorded and produced before, so that was not new to me. Although this was the first time I was a master producer on a project, so that was cool.

G-DAZE: What sort of issues has being in charge of your own musical destiny created for you along the way?
John: Well, I've learned so many things that I never would have tried to learn before. Like I said, I had to learn to be a booking agent, promoter, PR Firm, Publicist, manager, distributor, accountant, book keeper.. you get the drift. So it is very difficult sometimes to manage all the time constraints that having to do all of these things puts on you.

I have spreadsheets for everything and would never be able to survive without them. There are so many names and contacts and events to keep up with, press kits to get out, etc, that there are times when you literally forget what has to be done next. There were days when I would be on the internet for 14-15 hours marketing and making contacts, while at the same time typing cover letters, putting press kits together, trying to book shows and looking for new opportunities. And at the time, I also had a full time day job, so I wasn't getting much sleep.

But you look at what you really want and ask 'how bad do I want it'. You make a decision as to if you are willing to sacrifice to get it and then you go from there. I made the decision from the start that it would be whatever it took to get it done. The good part of it now though is I can look back and know that it all went down the way I intended it to go. I made a plan and stuck to it and, knock on wood, so far it's working!! I've recently left my day job and am now going at music full time. I guess time will tell how well the plan works!!

G-DAZE: Wow, there's a plan for any indie artist to follow. Most independents will look at a resource like MP3.COM to leverage their material to the listening public, and in your case, you got on the MP3.COM bandwagon early on in the piece, but did it really give you the sort of profile you wanted at the time?
John: MP3.com helped me to an extent. Did it do wonders for me? Absolutely not. But it did help me to get some recognition. I don't get many contacts from the site, but I did get the right ones. People who found me there were AOR & Melodic rock fans, who now are into my music and have bought CD's and signed up on my mailing list. So in that aspect, it's worked out fine. I've never charted on MP3.com, although I have on other MP3 sites like Soundclick.com, but I did manage to make a few of the MP3.com newsletters and that got me a fair amount of attention.

G-DAZE: Your debut album 'Leap Of Faith' was released last year on your Leap Dog label. Seems most of the media and press have been very supportive of the album. You've been encouraged by this obviously?
John: Yes totally. There are a few of the AOR sites that went out of their way to help me and gave me great reviews and those all led to more and more reviews. Gabor Kleinblossem at Strutter Magazine was the first to take the chance and review my CD. He gave it one of his best reviews ever and then interviewed me right after the review.

Those together opened doors for me. People who were not interested in my CD before that, were now contacting me to get a copy for review. As a new guy on the scene, having people who hear all the new music say nice things about your CD makes it a lot easier to keep going and maintain a level of confidence that you need to stay focused. Once they all started, it seemed to snowball and keep going. It actually took on a life of it's own, and instead of asking for reviews, I was being contacted and had requests for them.

G-DAZE: Does it make you want to strive for bigger and better things?
John: Yes. It helps you to believe in who you are and what your doing and makes you keep going on those 15 hour days. When you start to get a bit lazy or feel like it's going nowhere, a request for a review comes in or a review comes out and it gives you the little push you needed to keep going. And you think, 'well if I got this far, let's see if I can go one more step upwards.' And you keep going.

G-DAZE: For your part, what do you think that will take?
John: I'm a very driven person. I am very competitive, always have been. And a lot of it was always with myself. If I did some thing good once, then I wanted to do it better the next time. So when things started doing well for my CD, everything new I tried, I wanted to be a little step better then the last.

I put a lot of pressure on myself to make things happen. I'm reasonably patient, but not always! I get anxious and always feel like I can be doing more. So I tend to really push myself to make things better than they are even if they are good. So to answer the question, it'll take everything I have!

G-DAZE: Lets take a step back. For a man playing a style that's steeped in the 80's, where did it all start for you?
John: Well, I was a teenager all through the 80's, so all of the bands that became big during that time were definite influences for me. I was into Triumph, Rush, Journey, Bon Jovi, Yes, Def Leppard, Judas Priest, Warrant, Winger, Henry Lee Summer, too many to list. I listen to every type of music, from Prince and lots of other R&B/Funk, to Latin Rhythm stuff like Strunz & Farah, to Classical music, to Metallica & Maiden. I have a pretty eclectic taste in music. If it's good I like it.

But my roots will always be the 80's sound. I was a huge Triumph & Rik Emmett fan and still follow Rik's career today. The music was fun, and made you smile and feel good about things. Grunge came along and killed it and all it really did was talk about the bad things in life. I'm a very positive, happy person, so the whole grunge thing, while I liked some of the music and a few of the bands, never really did it for me. Too much negativity in the music.

I'm so glad that I found that there are still bands out there playing 80's style rock. I listen to a lot of the net radio stations and just love what I get to hear, because in the USA, you don't ever get to hear this stuff on the radio anymore!

G-DAZE: I mentioned in my review of 'Leap Of Faith' about musical comparisons to Michael Morales, Rick Springfield etc. Where do you personally think your music is pitched at?
John: I think you were pretty close to the mark. I listened to Morales and Springfield growing up, though not as much as I did Triumph and Journey. I would have to say that those are closer to where my music is coming from than anything else. I think anything 80's is going to be a good comparison for my music.

G-DAZE: Your bio mentions a strong track record in music production and engineering. What attributes do you think contribute to getting that 'right sound'?
John: Well, I went to school and have a degree in Audio Engineering, plus I've been a live soundman for a long time. In most of my bands, I always had a lot of say as to the creation of the P.A. systems that were used, usually working along with the soundman to make sure the systems were solid. I've done some producing in the past, but mostly for bands I was in. It was a bit different with 'Leap Of Faith' because now, for the first time, I was not only the only musician, but the master producer as well.

I put a lot of pressure on myself to do this album as good as possible. I learned a lot making this album about the production end of making an album and what it takes to get what's in your head to make it to the tape. I'm very proud of the quality of the recordings that I got on 'Leap'. I've had many compliments on the production value of the CD, considering it's an independent release and with the budget I had, with a few people saying it sounds as good as what's coming out of some of the major European houses. I don't know how true that is, but, it definitely is a solid sounding CD.

I'm very lucky in the fact that I have a good ear for mixing and getting to tape with good sounds. I went to tape with very hot signals and the sounds I wanted, so that things didn't have to be 'fixed' in the mix later on. I wanted the album to be as real as possible with very little 'studio magic', so I worked very hard to make the initial engineering end of it as good as I could.

G-DAZE: What's a good example in your opinion?
John: On the album, I think one of the strongest songs, production wise, is 'Here Without You'. It was a real challenge getting what I had in my head for that song to make it to tape. I had no idea how to go about getting the drum parts to flow correctly and the nylon string parts that were dubbed in to fit just the way I wanted. It took a few experiments to make the parts sound right for what I wanted, but in the end, it came out better than I had heard it in my head.


G-DAZE: Do you think you'll move to a full time producing career one day?
John: I'd love to. If there ever comes a day that I don't want to record or perform anymore, which I don't ever see happening, or if I just have the time to be able to, I'd love to produce other bands and projects. I definitely think I have the ear for it and the mindset to do it also. I would love to produce a few of the bands in the rock genre right now, and think I could make some very good albums. Being an engineer makes me comfortable in the studio, and being a musician makes me understand what to look for when going to tape. Hey, if anyone out there reading this is interested, let me know!!!!

G-DAZE: I think I recall asking you previously about using Roland V Drums on the 'Leap Of Faith' album which you raved about at the time. You can play a majority of instruments but personally what do you prefer the most?
John: I loved the Roland V-Drums! The studio where I recorded 'Leap' is at a friend's house. He has a 24 track digital studio in one of his bedrooms. Don't let that fool you though, it's a top notch studio. But because he has an attached townhouse, he can't really crank things up like you would in a regular studio. So instead of acoustic drums, he has a Roland V-Drum set. He's got the full kit. It's great because you get to play all the parts as if it were an acoustic set, but then later, you can tailor the sounds to match the song once the music is recorded. Don't like the snare sound after all the music is layered in, no problem, change the patch and a little tweaking and you have a new snare that's just what you're looking for! Plus it gives you options for everything from drum head and drum size to microphone type to microphone placement. Also, for guitar, we couldn't crank up an amp, so I used a Sans Amp Rack mount unit. It's fully tweak-able and I was able to get some really good guitar sounds out of it.

As far as what is my favourite instrument, I have to say that out of all the instruments I play, I do prefer playing guitar the most, with drums a close second! I've been playing guitar since I was 5 years old, and I still love to play. I can be so expressive on a guitar and as a singer, I can take it anywhere and do a show. I've been trying to expand my abilities as a guitar player, and I'm always trying to grow as a musician and a performer. But guitar is still my favourite.

G-DAZE: You were one of the lucky ones playing UltraSound 2000 in Las Vegas a few months back. That must have been a blast. Firstly, tell us how you got on the roster, and secondly the actual experience of playing there?
John: Man, let me tell you, Ultrasound was awesome! I got into the event when I saw an ad for it on a newsletter somewhere. I actually don't remember where. I contacted Dave Tedder and we chatted about the event. He invited me to send a press kit in and I waited to hear. Well, the deadline was quickly approaching and I hadn't heard anything, so I called Dave to make sure my press kit got there and good thing I did. He told me he never received the kit and thought I wasn't interested! I quickly over-nighted another kit to him and a few days later he contacted me to let me know I was chosen. I was so excited!

As far as the experience of playing there, it was incredible. Everyone was totally friendly and available, and it was a really cool thing to be able to just hang out with all the bands and performers. Everyone pretty much checked all their ego's at the door and were there to have a good time. I go to see a lot of bands I otherwise may never have been able to and made some very good friends in the process. I was really excited and pleased at the turnout for my set, considering it was at 10:30 in the morning after we'd all been up late the night before. I'll definitely be back next year, whether I'm performing or just hanging out.

G-DAZE: You got to do your gig by the Pool. I understand the weather was a bit warm that day..
John: Warm??? That's a huge understatement!! It was about 106 degrees when I went on at 10:30 am! I had put my guitars out there at about 10:00 to let them warm up. They'd been in my room in the air conditioning, so I wanted the strings to get warm so I could tune them. What a mistake that was!! By the time I was set to go on, my guitars were so hot I could barely touch them!! The strings were burning my fingers and the face of the guitars were burning my arm where I had to rest it on them!! Plus the microphone, which had been out there even longer, was burning my lips!!

It was hilarious! But, I've been though worse, so I just played and had a good time! I can laugh about it now, but as it was happening, I kept thinking, Ouch, Ouch, Ouch!!! And wouldn't you know it, right after my set, as Robin Brock was going on, the area where the show was finally got some shade!!!

G-DAZE: Do I take it that some of the A2 Records staff were there too, hence the deal?
John: Yes, Rupert and Richard from A2 were at the event and actually A2 was one of the co-sponsors of the whole thing. We had spoken and emailed many times before the event, and agreed to wait until they had the chance to see me perform before they were to make any decisions. Plus I wanted to meet them before deciding if I wanted to sign with them.

We hung out all weekend and went to dinner, which is where they made me the offer. They are great guys to hang out with. Genuinely nice people! I'm glad to be working with them. I honestly think that they have a good game plan as to how to run their label and I think that they will grow to be a player in the AOR market in Europe very soon.

G-DAZE: What can you tell us about your deal with them? Anyone else on their roster?
John: Well, I get $50 for every CD sold, plus a new car if I sell at least 500 CD's, so it's not a bad deal! LOL!! Seriously, they made me a very fair offer for 'Leap'. We have a one-album deal right now, but we've already started talking about the next album. I know that we'll be in this together for the long haul, so I'm not worried.

They also have Robin Brock on their roster and I believe she was their first signing. Her album, 'Blame It On Rock & Roll' is a great album. Robin and I performed together at Ultrasound and let me tell you, the girl can sing her ass off. They also just signed the Animals to the label, so that's is really a big thing for them. To get such an established act is only going to make the label grow in a very positive direction.

G-DAZE: With 'Leap Of Faith' now available to a wider audience, what will that mean for distribution deals and release dates outside of the States?
John: Well, A2 is releasing the CD in Europe and the US, so it makes it much easier for me to try to expand my fan base. I was doing all of my own promotion and distribution prior to this, so now that A2 is promoting me and distributing me, it will be easier to get the CD as it will be in retail shops instead of just on the net. I'm getting some radio airplay in Europe on a few stations, so I'm hoping that that helps create a buzz to get people into the stores to buy the CD. Prior to this, it was exclusively available through the web from my site and sites like AOR Heaven, NEH Records, Wishing Well, and Amazon.com.

G-DAZE: On another note I've gotta say your site seems very well put together. Brian DeSantis has done a good job for you here?
John: Brian is great. He and I have been friends for a very long time, probably about 10 years or so and he does an incredible job at making my site a cool place to visit. He's very good at what he does and, well, with almost 10,000 hits this year, that says something about the quality of the website.

He's also a fantastic sound man and has been my soundman in the last 3-4 bands I've been in. No matter what band I'm in, I make sure he's the one doing sound for it. He's got great ear for live sound and a knack for making the mix thick and chunky, but still crystal clear. He's also a great bass guitar player and will be playing on my next album! We've already talked about him playing a few tracks. Anyone who likes the website should email Brian at Brian@bccls.org and tell him! He loves to get emails like that!!

G-DAZE: Tell us about the Global Muse Elite Artist Award you won just recently. That's a bit of a coup?
John: This was a surprise to me when I got notified. The Global Muse is a great website for indie musicians and they have a lot of musicians on the site. But to be picked from all those musicians as one of their Elite Artists was quite and honor. I was very thrilled. They also gave my CD one of the best reviews it's ever gotten. I get a lot of hits on my website from their site and I keep in touch with them on a regular basis on different things to keep my profile high on their site.

They are a great bunch of people. Michael Allison, who is the head of the site, is a truly nice guy and goes out of his way to take care of the artists who he feels deserve it. I highly recommend any indie artist send their press kit to the Global Muse. Just being on the site is great exposure.

G-DAZE: Well John, congratulations again, and thanks for taking time out to answer some very important and pressing questions. Do you have any comments you'd like to share with the readers before we wrap?
John: Well, first off, I want to thank you, George, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview with me. I really appreciate it. Thanks again for the congratulations and for the great review you did of my CD. I'd like to ask all of your readers to stop by my website at www.LeapDogMusic.com to give it a look and if you like what you see to please buy a CD. Also, feel free to email me! I love getting email from people and fans and always personally answer every email I get. It's one of the few true pleasures I have.

This has been a great year for me, and all the websites and press people have made it that way, as well as all the fans who keep me going! I can't wait to get out and tour again to see everyone! Talk to you all soon!

Keep The Faith!
John

For information about John, his website is: www.LeapDogMusic.com


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