Interview - John DePatie

John DePatie is a musician from Los Angeles who has just released new music, let's have a chat with him.

Welcome to this interview. Tell us about your latest release The Viking Princess And The Troll King.
Thank you for having me. The Viking Princess And The Troll King is a song that I recorded for YouTube and posted around this time three years ago. I got a really great response to it and I wished that I'd actually released it for purchase and for streaming and reviews etc. This release is the full proper release that I wished I'd done originally.

The song itself was written with the intention of creating something that would be a good vehicle for my guitar playing. I guess I drew on the sounds of older styles for inspiration, although I don't know how much I was thinking about that at the time.

It's just two guitar tracks, bass, and drums. I used my '76 Gibson ES-335 for the clean guitar and the Black Gibson Blueshawk that you can see in the video for the melody and solo.

How would you describe your sound?
I do instrumental guitar music for the most part (although I did put out a few vocal tracks last year). I was inspired to pick up the guitar by music from the classic rock era, but the first music that I heard as a kid that really excited me was jazz. I think I often have elements of both of those styles coming out in varying degrees.

What do you write about?

It's very unusual for me to have a title before I start writing a song. Sometimes I sit down to write because I feel like a certain style would be fun to play and I want to have a song in that style. Other times I just pick up a guitar and while I'm tuning up or spacing out an idea will come to me. I'll make a quick demo of it so I don't forget it and then come back to it later.

Sometimes I just want to experiment with a concept. Maybe it's a certain type of harmony or a rhythmic feel that's less familiar and I'll use that as a starting point. In the end it will get filtered by what I think sounds good, but if I'm curious about what something
will sound like then why not write something to explore it?

What do you listen to when you are home?

I usually listen to the music I'm learning or working on while I'm at home. I get more of a chance to listen for enjoyment while I'm in the car. I seriously can't drive without having music on. It's like the car won't even go into gear. I like to make playlists and just let them run on shuffle. I might put all the new guitar releases in a playlist and then listen to that for a while. Every few years I'll go back to my favorites and give them a spin. It could be a month or a week of Bob Marley, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix. I will also download a whole album or playlist if I discover a song that I like and I want to check out the artist some more.

Your favourite live performance so far?
One very special performance was the last show of my Gigs For The Vikings tour in 2017. I had not done many shows of my own material in recent memory before that tour and I had told myself that I had to talk a bit and introduce the songs and the band members etc. I'm very comfortable on stage playing guitar but I'm not much of a talker and it was holding me back. By the final show I realized that I didn't really need to talk so much and I decided to just play. I had so much fun playing that night and the audience seemed to pick up on it.

Tell us a funny story that happened in studio or on stage.

Actually at the show that I just mentioned something really funny happened. I had just done Smells Like Teen Spirit as an instrumental. The audience was feeling festive and people were singing along. It was so fun and special to me that they were getting into it. And I can't understand even half the lyrics too much of that song. So I started wondering if they knew the words or if they were just singing the melody. So I said “you people that were singing along, do actually know the words? And one of them screamed back at me, Hey we're doing a better job than you!” I was just joking with them and they joked back with me and we all were cracking up. It set a great mood for the rest of the show.

Your favourite albums?
So by Peter Gabriel, Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis, Something Else by Cannoball Adderly. Several by Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, Dire Straits. This list could get too long really fast if I don't stop.

A musician you would like to meet for a beer?
As a non beer drinker I guess no one lol. But in the spirit of the question Jeff Beck, Joe Satriani, Mark Knopfler all come to mind pretty fast.

What would you ask for backstage, if you were the most important band on earth?
I have been schlepping and setting up my own equipment for a long time, and I honestly don't mind it a bit. I carry backups of everything in case something goes wrong, and often enough it does. It can be stressful sorting out the tech issues before the show. The thing that I would really love to have is a helper who could troubleshoot those problems for me. I don't like having to fix stuff before a show when I should be relaxing or warming up.

What are your plans for the near future?
I've got another single coming out on May 6th called Paladins' Song. I've got several more that I'm working on but they aren't quite ready to release yet.
And I'll be setting up some shows soon. I haven't done a show of my material since before the pandemic. I was to have played in Oslo, Norway literally the night that everything was shut down. I'm looking to reschedule that sometime this year. It's time to do something at home in California too.

Giovanni Gagliano

Passionate about music I wrote my first article for "Given To Rock" in 2012, reaching now 30K global followers. I am also a musician, gigging around London.

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