John E Vistic is a singer multi-instrumentalist and internationally award winning songwriter. As well as his guitar and vocal duties with The John E Vistic Rock N Roll Soundsystem, Vistic is known for his work as Creative Director of The Russian Winter show (Old Vic) and his collaborations with other artists including Crippled Black Phoenix, Emily Breeze, Way Out West and General Midi.
In this interview, we speak with John about influences, the new project, and more.
Full Q&A, links, and streams below.
Let’s dive a little deeper into You, the artist and your music. What attracted you to this genre(s) or style(s)?
I’m a songwriter so I write songs inspired by my mood and of course other songwriters I admire. On this album the producer and I decided to pick only those songs which fitted together well and had an overall ‘feel’ together on a record (we’re old school like that). The songs are different perspectives on the same landscape – that lyrical pastoral dream of love, death and longing. I guess you’d say the songs on this record are inspired by an atavistic perspective, a looking back, a taking stock. Also an embracing of all that is to come. Welcome Down the Night. Bukowski, Hunter S Thompson, Henry Miller, Yeats – they’re all there.
What led you into this journey with music? And further, what drives you to push it out to the public?
I’ve been playing music and writing songs since I was a teenager. I’ve always been in bands, i’ve always written songs, i’ve always wanted to play music and do records and get out in the world amongst it. I guess you’d say I’m a ‘lifer’.
Who or what influences your creativity? Have your tastes in music changed over time?
I’m always inspired by the things and people around me but i’d be a liar if I said i wasn’t influenced by all the great artists before me – the big guys – Dylan, Waits, Cohen, Springsteen, Young, Orbison etc. But also of course whole ways of writing – Hank Williams, Chuck Berry, Lightnin Hopkins, Booker T and the MGs. The Stones. Roland S Howard. or Moderners like Jack White, Sharon Von Etten. Gillian Welsh. All brilliant. My music is always changing. I’ve done country, rock n roll, sludge, grunge, garage, soul, dance, you name it. But there has to be a song. there has to be an IDEA.
Were you trying to accomplish anything specific on this new project? Creatively or otherwise?
This album is the best produced, best sounding record i’ve done. It’s got an all star cast of amazing musicians. from my own bass player and drummer (Guy Fowler and Dan Clibery) to an assortment of guest stars from bands as wide ranging as Marc Ford, Morcheeba, Primal Scream and Rachel Stamp. We were trying to make a great record and I really hope folks will like it.
What was the last song you listened to?
Lee Hazelwood – My Autumn’s Done Come. I want to cover it. gravitas.
Which do you prefer? Vinyl? CDs? MP3s?
vinyl at home. whatever i can listen to elsewhere. I like radio when it’s good.
How about this one…. Do you prefer Spotify? Apple Music? Bandcamp? Or something else? Why?
Don’t know. Itunes? Bandcamp? maybe cos we got some music on those.
Other than the digital era overwhelming us with access to an abundance of music, what is the biggest challenge you face when trying to connect with or find new fans?
Finding the right venues, promoters and other bands to play with. It’s all about community. when you find the right people to work with the gigs are always better and more magical. Rock n Roll is a Communion of Friends.
Where is the best place to connect with you online? Discover more music?
Gigs. always. other than that – Our website – www.vistic.co.uk – lots of stuff on utube I guess too. also we got a bandcamp (but it’s kind of hidden so you have to google it. We’re updating it soon).
Anything else you’d like to add before signing off?
The greatest thing humans have ever done, was put Chuck Berry on a gold disk and send it out in a satellite into the furthest reaches of the universe. One day, when all is dust, Chuck will still be out there rockin it. I think we can all sleep better for that.