Interview - John Vento

In the Pittsburgh music scene, John Vento is frequently referred to as a chameleon; however, while his detractors may perceive the term negatively, Vento sees it as a praise. He is aware of their anger at not being able to force him into a particular musical genre. After all, the Nied's Hotel Band's energetic, hard-rocking frontman is equally well-known for his reflective, melancholy solo albums.

- Welcome to this interview. Tell us about your latest release We're Just Fine.
It’s a fun R&B track with a cool groove, a song of encouragement inspired by a friend of mine that was going through some serious problems.

- How would you describe your sound?
For this song, it’s the old school approach, a touch of Motown and a touch of Rock n Roll. Typically, the band’s sound is pretty thick, with a lot of instrumentation. We create some hooks with interesting lyrics, and bring a level of musicality to our recordings and live performance.

- What do you write about?

We write about all kinds of subjects. As you mature as a writer, you learn not to write about yourself so much. Many of the NHB songs were inspired by personal experiences, but lots of different kinds of stories or events can trigger creativity and inspire new works.

- What do you listen to when you are home?

Well, because I’m working on a lot of recordings currently, I listen to demos of my own stuff, however, some of my favorite contemporary artists are Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran. I also dip back into the classics like Bob Dylan and Harry Chapin on my playlists.

- Your favourite live performance so far?

Wow! That’s a tough one, because every one of them are so important and meaningful, even if there’s just a few people, or a smaller audience. It’s important to stay connected and pour your heart out into every performance. I really don’t have one favorite live performance. That’s like being asked, “Who’s your favorite child?” when you love them all so equally.

- Tell us a funny story that happened in studio or on stage.
So, I have a ton of stories that are really cool and interesting, but, as far as being funny, there really aren’t that many because, we’re so serious about our music, and trying to connect, whether we’re in the studio or performing live. But the funniest thing that ever happened was... we had a live show, and someone had suggested we bring this woman up to sing with us, saying that she was a professional singer and so on and so forth. But, we were being Punked! This woman was the farthest thing in the world from being a singer… actually, she was a comedian! At first, it was quite embarrassing, but the audience caught on, and everyone had a good laugh. It was a very memorable moment.

- Your favourite albums?
Everything that The Beatles produced is a favorite album. I also loved Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, and everything that Led Zeppelin created. That was the Golden Age of albums. Nowadays, although there’s a lot of great music, there doesn’t seem to be such commitment to making great albums like they did during the late 60s and 70s when Hotel California and other great classics were created.

- A musician you would like to meet for a beer?
Harry Chapin… I actually DID have a chance to meet him in 1981 right before his death, but I would love to be able to meet with him again because I’ve learned so much more about his life and his music, and he’s inspired so much of what I do with my music. That would be an incredible opportunity.

- What would you ask for backstage, if you were the most important band on earth?

If I was in the most important band on earth, I would ask for an opportunity to meet special people backstage, like kids with disabilities, people who just want to feel like a million bucks for a day. It would be great to be able to give them the VIP treatment, to give them a sense of a lot of love and support, elevate their spirits, and have an opportunity to touch their lives.

- What are your plans for the near future?
My plans for the near future are the same as they are for the distant future… I plan to continue to create good music, to collaborate with my friends and fellow musicians that I respect and love so much, to share the joy of what we do, and bring good music to the world.
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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