John Bobek
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John Bobek

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF
Band Folk Acoustic


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"Double-Dare, An Interview With John Bobek"

By Jacob Singer Posted APR 2, 2011

John Bobek started writing songs as a kid, but when he graduated college and moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting, music was put on the back burner, well at least recording. But song writing never left his blood. I Will Be Yours is a modest four song EP, but it is anything but unassuming. His voice shines through like an R&B troubadour with a twelve string guitar. In the song “No More” a choir joins John as the song picks up more and more momentum towards the end. “Stay” is driven by brushes on a snare, sounding of Americana; while the stand-up bass in “Eyes Cry Red” gives the track a melancholic feel before it erupts at the half-way point in the song, when John’s voice grows raw and emotes as drums crash down all around, before returning to calm cello, bass, and acoustic guitar—a musical denouement. There is architecture at work here. This album is in the spirit of the pre-psychedelic sixties—influences by R&B and English ballads.

Jacob Singer: Tell me about when you first started playing music and writing songs?

John Bobek: Well, my father plays guitar and writes songs, and has since he was young. I was brought up on all kinds of different music, and at some point, I guess I just felt the need to start creating my own. When I was twelve or so my dad let me pick up his guitar and he taught me the basic chord structures and sent me on my way to go start writing. The first ones I wrote, admittedly, weren’t very good. But, like anything else, practice makes perfect, and I was able to finally write a couple that I actually wanted to show to people. And the songwriting bug hasn’t left since.
JS: When did you start playing concerts? When did you have that epiphany moment when you realized that you could actually get up in front of an audience and perform?

JB: Ha! That’s kind of a funny story, actually. In middle school a friend of mine and I were trying to start this band, since both of us had picked up the guitar, and clearly that was the best way to meet girls. Being musically inclined, both of us were in the same choir class as well, and the auditions for the school musical were coming up. Basically, on a double-dare, we auditioned for the musical, got into it, and from that point on, I sort of had the stage addiction. So, that’s how it all started. A double-dare. I didn’t actually perform any of my music live until high school, with the same group of guys, and better songs. That was scary though, because I didn’t have a character to hide behind like when I was performing onstage in plays or musicals. I’ve stuck with doing both music and acting. If I’m not doing something creative at any given moment, I can feel slight madness start creeping in, so, yeah, I’m always writing or singing, anything I can. I’m getting back on stage in LA in a month or so doing a Sam Shepard play called “The Curse of the Starving Class.” It’s pretty amazing as it is, but the director found out I was a musician and asked if I’d like to do some little musical bits for the show, which quickly spun into scoring a bunch of the important monologues in the show, something I’ve never done before. But I picked up a resonator guitar to get that real delta-bluesy style sound, and it’s awesome. It’ll be cool to be able to be a small part in the show acting, and get to play guitar during it as well. Best of both worlds! Being in the studio is great and all, or shooting film and TV, but there’s something about being there in the room with an audience that is soul-feeding. Feeling that reaction, good or bad, in that moment, is really something amazing, and whenever I get the chance to get up in front of a crowd, I’ll do it.

JS: Tell me about I Will Be Yours. What I love about it and find so interesting is the sound, which is part rhythm and blues and part acoustic singer-songwriter. Both seem so far removed from what most people are doing. Everything is so clean and composed, in contrast to most wild and eclectic rock ‘n’ roll. Tell me about the inspiration behind the songs and a bit about your writing process.

JB: I let Jake Schaefer, the producer, know just how much I really wanted professional quality tracks, and he convinced me that I should. But that we were going to go all the way with it. We were going to find the best of the best and find a way to make it work. I walked into Studio 3 at EastWest studios in Hollywood (California Dreamin’ by the Mamas and the Papas and the Beach Boys “Pet Sounds” album was recorded there), and I absolutely fell in love with the room. Jake knew great musicians that he’d worked with before, and pulled them in on it, and through a bunch of people helping us out, we were able to make it happen. It was amazing. Jeff Ellis was the engineer and sat with us mixing for a long time, too, and then Tom Coyne over at Sterling Sound did the final mastering for us, which really does give it an amazing sound at the end of the day. But it was the collaboration of everyone together that made the EP what it is. I’m very lucky to have worked with such pros and artists.

It’s tough to put my sound in a box, I know. I’ve been trying to figure out a succinct way of putting it to people, but it’s hard. It’s acoustic, it’s got some blue-eyed soul in it, some rock elements, some folk stuff…but, then again a lot of singer/songwriters tend to have that situation, having a unique sound that’s hard to describe. I’d rather be tough to describe than too easy to put into a box, you know?

I listen to a lot of music, I try to get my hands on whatever I can, and all of that feeds into the songwriting process. Every once in a while, the muse will just hit me, and I’ll have to write something. But most of the time, it just comes from plugging along every day. I try to set 1-2 hours aside every day if I can (usually at night) to just play. I try to write some songs, most of them don’t come to any kind of fruition, but some of them do. As long as I keep setting aside the time to do it, they come eventually. I usually overwrite songs and cut verses out, maybe to use them in a different song, but I like to have a song have six or seven verses so I can cull the best stuff out of it. As far as the inspiration… we’ve all been through heartbreak. Heartbreak’s easier to write about, but none of the songs on the EP have specific “inspiration.” And even if they do, I’m not tellin’.

Pick up John’s EP, I Will Be Yours on iTunes, Amazon, and other online retailers. - The Heard Project


I Will Be Yours - The EP, 2011



John Bobek's debut release I WILL BE YOURS - THE EP is now available on iTunes, Amazon and other online retailers.

John Bobek does not want you to define him.

"I've been in the entertainment industry for a little while." Bobek says. "For the longest time, people tried to give me the whole, oh, you're 'this' meets 'this' thing, and I always thought, 'oh, okay, but I think I've got a little of THIS too', and eventually people got sick of me adding aspects of myself to the list they'd already created. So I just got into the habit of saying 'I'm mostly like John Bobek.' " He laughs at this, but it's obvious that he doesn't much like talking about himself. "I'd rather just play you a song."

John grew up outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, brought up on everything from the Rolling Stones to Dmitri Shostakovich. "My Mom and Dad brought me up on everything they could shove into my ears. A lot of it I wasn't really ready for until I hit college, but it was cool to have parents who introduce YOU to Radiohead, Tom Waits, and Nine Inch know?" He played in different bands in Wisconsin, but while attending Marquette University, a different "bug" hit.

"I made the choice to move to Los Angeles to become an actor, and I actually got lucky enough to make money doing it. So music hit the backburner for a little bit, since if I'm doing something like creating music or acting, I throw myself into it as hard as I can. So sometimes, it's hard to fit everything in when you're doing that. But it doesn't ever hit the backburner completely, of course. I can't live without music in my life. Even if I'm crazy busy, I'm always playing guitar, singing, writing little melodies and words for myself or for my friends, but I haven't been really concentrating on moving forward with any of it professionally until lately." His eye catches something in the distance, and he's silent for a moment. "I'm glad to be concentrating so hard on music again, though. It's like coming back home."

At the end of 2010, John looked over the songs he had written over the years and chose the four he thought would do best with a professional recording. He hooked up with Jake Schaefer, an artist and producer who had been recording since he was 18, and was hungry to try his hand at fully producing an album on his own after co-producing a wide range of projects. The two of them stepped into Studio 3 at EastWest Studios in Hollywood, famous for being the room where the Beach Boys recorded "Pet Sounds" and the Mamas And The Papas cut the classic "California Dreamin' ", and "I just started buzzing. I knew I had to record there." Everything was set up, ready to go, and Jake and John created the EP "I Will Be Yours" including the songs No More, Stay, Eyes Cry Red, and the title track, I Will Be Yours. "It turned out better than I could have hoped. It's crazy! The bridge in 'Eyes Cry Red' has close to 50 different things going on, musically. But it doesn't sound muddled or overproduced. Jake and Jeff [Ellis, the EP's Engineer] were incredible. I'm very lucky. These songs are really special to me, and to hear them like this makes me know just how lucky I am to be doing what I'm doing."

After listening to the EP, I wonder about the reasons why some of his love songs take a darker twist. He laughs a little at this. "I know! I don't look like a dark guy. In fact, I'm pretty pale. But, you know, I listen to my songs, too, and I know that someone could get the impression that I'm some dark, brooding musician, sitting in a corner, sipping rye whiskey and hating life. I'm not. But I don't want to shy away from putting some dark feelings into music. Love has it's dark days as much as the light ones, and I want to explore every aspect of what it is to be someone in or out of love."

So does he only want to write sad songs? "Oh, no. No, no no. Love is awesome. And even my 'darker' songs have light edges. I mean, in 'No More' he's remembering all the great things about this girl while trying to convince himself that he doesn't need those things anymore, so there's a conflict there, but it's certainly not all dark. That's the hard part about Love. Or anything, really. Things are rarely ever black or white like that."

I ask him what the future holds. He smiles. "An album. Or five. I just need to get it out there. I have a lot of stuff I want people to hear. And some stuff that I'm totally freaked out for people to hear, but I know have to get it out. There's a little of both on the EP."