John McNicholas
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John McNicholas

Atlanta, Georgia, United States | SELF

Atlanta, Georgia, United States | SELF
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"Meet... John McNicholas"

04/01/2006 - Tampa Bay Times - Original Article - Meet... John McNicholas - by Julie Garisto jgaristo@tampabay.com

Local vet: The 39-year-old singer-songwriter and guitarist played in numerous local bands over the past few decades, including Parade in Paris, Lie, Spiller, Misfortune 500, Barely Pink and Sparky's Nightmare.

His sound: Melodic pop with poignant and simple lyrics.

Current residence: Atlanta, but travels to Indianapolis and other cities for work every week and often spends weekends in hometown St. Pete.

Jet-settin' day job: Consultant in the utilities industry.

What to expect: "A few newer tunes, like On the Line and All Hail this Town," McNicholas says. "I like to pull out the random cover to keep things interesting as well. I've got a new CD titled Silver coming out sometime soon. I'm also rehearsing with a new band up in Atlanta and we'll begin recording a new CD on the weekends that I'm home. Hopefully I'll get that out in the fall sometime."

On playing South by Southwest: "SXSW was a fantastic time this year. I played a fun set at the BAMMO showcase and I made numerous contacts. I hope to be working in Dublin in a few weeks, so I traded some information with the people from the Music from Ireland organization."

Sonic boon: "I got to talk to Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth out in Austin. That was a great surprise; I saw him on the street out in front of Emo's and yelled 'Thurston!' "

Natural with the crowd: "Bantering with the audience between songs is the best part of the show for me sometimes. I enjoy the interaction with everyone, especially if I'm getting heckled. I love a good heckle. I don't get nervous; if anything, right before I play, I get even more excited and anxious to get started. These bands that wait 30 minutes to play after their stuff is all set up drive me crazy. I'd be out there as soon as the last amp was plugged in."

Favorite bands of youth: "Early in high school I loved Rush and Led Zeppelin, typical classic rock stuff. Then I got into bands like U2, the Fixx, Bauhaus and the Jesus and Mary Chain."

Dream tour: "To open for Ben Folds, Aimee Mann and Bright Eyes. I could tune their guitars and pianos, too, if they needed. They wouldn't have to pay me."

His guitars: "For solo shows I use a Gibson Hummingbird, Larrivee D19 or a Gretsch thinline acoustic. For full-band gigs I typically bring out a pair of the following guitars: a 1964 Fender Jazzmaster, a 1966 Gibson Trini Lopez Standard, a newer sea foam green Fender Tele Custom and my 1959 historic Les Paul Standard."

Has he serenaded a girl outside her window?: "I definitely have."

Check him out: At Globe Coffee Lounge on Sunday (4/2) at 3 p.m., and on the Web at www.jmcnicholas.com and www.myspace.com/johnmchnicholas.

- Tampa Bay Times


"Weekly Planet"

Weekly Planet: John McNicholas CD Release Party - One of the Bay area's truly venerable singer/songwriter/guitarists, John McNicholas has put out a formidable solo effort titled How to Be Alone. We'll call it ultra-tuneful indie-rock with a nice power-pop element. Very professional, and thoroughly on par with far more successful acts. McNick debuts the new disc, and we're guessing he'll throw in some past material as well. The disc features Chris Skogen on guitar and keyboards, Marty Rice on bass and John Freiberger handling drums. We presume these aces will be on the gig as well. - Eric Snider


"Weekly Planet"

Weekly Planet: John McNicholas CD Release Party - One of the Bay area's truly venerable singer/songwriter/guitarists, John McNicholas has put out a formidable solo effort titled How to Be Alone. We'll call it ultra-tuneful indie-rock with a nice power-pop element. Very professional, and thoroughly on par with far more successful acts. McNick debuts the new disc, and we're guessing he'll throw in some past material as well. The disc features Chris Skogen on guitar and keyboards, Marty Rice on bass and John Freiberger handling drums. We presume these aces will be on the gig as well. - Eric Snider


"Taxi"

Taxi: Review of Stay: "The song has an easy flowing melody that seems instantly recognizable. The verses are strong but the choruses really soar." "I swear John, it's the kind of melody that'll stay stuck in your head for days." "What hits me instantly about this track is the melody, but there are many things that are appealing. For instance, the arrangement and structure are both very solidly constructed." "The production definately sounds very professional." "If all your stuff is of similar consistency I'd say you're really on to something." Average rating 8/10. - Taxi


"The Tampa Tribune"

JOHN McNICHOLAS: HOW TO BE ALONE (SUPER 6) B+
John McNicholas' credits are a mini-history of the Bay area's indie-rock scene, from Parade in Paris and Spiller through Lie, Misfortune 500 and Sparky's Nightmare. Now he's finally gotten around to recording under his own name. If McNicholas had nothing else to his credit other than "Stay,'' the second song here, he'd still earn a spot in the Happy-Sad Pop Hall of Fame. McNicholas' voice has a warm yearning similar to Freedy Johnston's, a perfect match for the song's heart-tugging melody. Chiming guitars and ghostly string samples add to the poignant mood. And then he turns around and does it again on "Friday Morning, Half Awake.'' McNicholas is equally handy on the other more upbeat numbers. "How To Be Alone'' is available at www.jmcnicholas.com - Curtis Ross - Curtis Ross


"Taxi"

Taxi: Review of Stay: "The song has an easy flowing melody that seems instantly recognizable. The verses are strong but the choruses really soar." "I swear John, it's the kind of melody that'll stay stuck in your head for days." "What hits me instantly about this track is the melody, but there are many things that are appealing. For instance, the arrangement and structure are both very solidly constructed." "The production definately sounds very professional." "If all your stuff is of similar consistency I'd say you're really on to something." Average rating 8/10. - Taxi


"Focus Magazine"

Focus Magazine: John McNicholas: He of shy demeanor and the subtly observatory songwriting skills, John McNicholas is front man for the self-titled band made up of former, current or future members of Misfortune 500, Spiller, Sparky's Nightmare and a host of other bands that you're sorry you missed and will lie about seeing five years from now. JMcN follow the wry, introspective route of Pete Yorn, Ryan Adams, and the cooler, less folksy (Rufus) Wainwright guy. Listen closely to any one of the band's tunes and you're sure to hear a line skewering either your best or worst quality. - Focus Magazine


"Focus Magazine"

Focus Magazine: True story: Mr. McNicholas sold me my first CD ever while he was working the old Gateway Spec's (Music & Movies). Possibly where the garden department at Target is now. Sorry, this story doesn't really have an ending. Just to say that John has been in and around, over under sideways down in the Bay music scene seems like forever - or since there ever was mention of a scene. Tenure with Honeyrider, Spiller, Misfortune 500, Lie and tag-along to Dank and Sparky's Nightmare - we'd even mention Parade in Paris if it weren't for a last-minute, late-night call from the legal staff to keep such things hushed-up. Legacy noted this is McNick's first solo release - about as tuneful, smart and earnest as the guy is tall, and that can't even be measured in miles. Hey, not that there was anything missing from any of his older works, but Alone faces up to all the expectations of a seasoned writer - well-shaped melodies, confidant wordplay and that sort of grain-of-salt, been-here-before vibe that comes from someone that's sacrificed more than his share of a real life to share some good music. Currently McNick is packing up the sentimentality for a set of resolved, go-your-own-way tunes ("Friday Morning, Half Awake", "Fallout (Orange Co. Blues)") as well as slice-of-life reactions ("Stay", and the engaged couple of "Alright") that will have you nod in affirmation while tapping feet to the beat. Which is all easy on the ears, considering Chris, Martin and John lend their usual Madden All-Pro playing for this EP - and we needn't bring up all the bands they've been in... Release includes a solo live at the State (Theater) reading of "X-Girl Friend, " where I finally could hear the "com-plains" joke, duh. Essential listening, but you knew that. (website: jmcnicholas.com) - Focus Magazine


"Focus Magazine"

Focus Magazine: John McNicholas: He of shy demeanor and the subtly observatory songwriting skills, John McNicholas is front man for the self-titled band made up of former, current or future members of Misfortune 500, Spiller, Sparky's Nightmare and a host of other bands that you're sorry you missed and will lie about seeing five years from now. JMcN follow the wry, introspective route of Pete Yorn, Ryan Adams, and the cooler, less folksy (Rufus) Wainwright guy. Listen closely to any one of the band's tunes and you're sure to hear a line skewering either your best or worst quality. - Focus Magazine


"The St. Petersburg Times"

The St. Petersburg Times: JOHN MCNICHOLAS, HOW TO BE ALONE, (WWW.JMCNICHOLAS.COM): Longtime Tampa Bay area music scenester John McNicholas recently released How to Be Alone, a five-song disc of tunes so catchy it's hard to believe the guy can't find folks to hang out with him. From opener Fallout (Orange County Blues), it's clear singer-guitarist McNicholas, based in St. Petersburg, writes great tunes. His is the same ol' love ennui, but McNicholas tells it craftily:

Sick of waiting and over estimating
the black dress and undue sympathy
I'm rooftop calling and falling and stalling,
These games are wearing thin on me
But love and kisses and she says she misses me

Sharp guitar lines pierce the tune's rootsy backdrop, with vocal harmonies and Chris Skogen's swirly keyboards adding nice touches. Stay comes next and proves the opener was no fluke. McNicholas' theme, like that of Old 97's frontman Rhett Miller, is that purty girls and love done him wrong. Like Miller, McNicholas can see humor in the mess, and can also convey sentiments with simple lyrics - hear the "you don't love me anymore" of Friday Morning, Half Awake, and try not to wince in empathy.
- GINA VIVINETTO, Times Pop Music Critic


"Connect Savannah"

Connect Recommends - John McNicholas: This singer and songwriter from St. Petersburg, Fla., has done time in a great many alternative rock bands from the Tampa Bay area, and has opened for such artists as X, Marilyn Manson, Fastball, Cyndi Lauper, Superchunk, Patti Smith and The Mooney Suzuki to name a few. As a recording artist, he’s appeared on a number of band projects, put out several of his own solo releases and taken part in a plenty multi-artist samplers (like the 2-disc Tribute to The Smiths). As a solo act, his style currently sits somewhere between the sly power-pop of Fountains of Wayne, the observational humor of Dean Wareham and the jangly feelgood AOR rock of someone like Tal Bachman. His subject matter seems to revolve mostly around matters of the heart, but the tunes are delivered with a sort of world-weary ennui that helps them along, and they come off as more mature and centered than most such material.Georgia songwriter James Salter is on this bill as well, and fans of well-arranged guitar pop should dig them both. Sat., 8 pm, The Sentient Bean Coffeeshop. - Jim Reed/Music Editor


"The St. Petersburg Times"

The St. Petersburg Times: JOHN MCNICHOLAS, HOW TO BE ALONE, (WWW.JMCNICHOLAS.COM): Longtime Tampa Bay area music scenester John McNicholas recently released How to Be Alone, a five-song disc of tunes so catchy it's hard to believe the guy can't find folks to hang out with him. From opener Fallout (Orange County Blues), it's clear singer-guitarist McNicholas, based in St. Petersburg, writes great tunes. His is the same ol' love ennui, but McNicholas tells it craftily:

Sick of waiting and over estimating
the black dress and undue sympathy
I'm rooftop calling and falling and stalling,
These games are wearing thin on me
But love and kisses and she says she misses me

Sharp guitar lines pierce the tune's rootsy backdrop, with vocal harmonies and Chris Skogen's swirly keyboards adding nice touches. Stay comes next and proves the opener was no fluke. McNicholas' theme, like that of Old 97's frontman Rhett Miller, is that purty girls and love done him wrong. Like Miller, McNicholas can see humor in the mess, and can also convey sentiments with simple lyrics - hear the "you don't love me anymore" of Friday Morning, Half Awake, and try not to wince in empathy.
- GINA VIVINETTO, Times Pop Music Critic


"The St. Petersburg Times"

Tampa Bay Unplugged - Enjoy a solo set by John McNicholas, guitarist for his own John McNicholas Band and Sparky's Nightmare. McNicholas writes ennui-filled love tunes about the dames that toy with his vulnerable heart. How anyone could hurt this wordsmith, whose new CD, How To Be Alone, is filled with rootsy alt-pop gems, is a mystery. McNicholas' tunes, and his clever stage patter, are not for the irony-deficient. - GINA VIVINETTO, Times Pop Music Critic


"The St. Petersburg Times"

Tampa Bay Unplugged - Enjoy a solo set by John McNicholas, guitarist for his own John McNicholas Band and Sparky's Nightmare. McNicholas writes ennui-filled love tunes about the dames that toy with his vulnerable heart. How anyone could hurt this wordsmith, whose new CD, How To Be Alone, is filled with rootsy alt-pop gems, is a mystery. McNicholas' tunes, and his clever stage patter, are not for the irony-deficient. - GINA VIVINETTO, Times Pop Music Critic


Discography

Solo Records:
Resist (2008)
Silver (2006)
How to Be Alone (2003)
Various Artists - Open Mic Volume 1 Thoroughbred Music - CD

With the Yum Yum Tree (2007)
Paint by Numbers

With Honeyrider:
All Systems Go! (Reissue) (2003)

With Misfortune 500:
Misfortune 500 - CD

With Spiller:
Various Artists - New Year's Eve - MP3 Enhanced CD
Spiller - the Great Mistake - CD
Various Artists - www.ClubWebRadio.com & Focus Magazine present: Interstate 4 Grid Rock - CD
Various Artists - Seminole Music & Sound - Tampa Bay Unsigned II - CD
Various Artists - The Circus Under the Bay - CD
Various Artists - Got Ink? - Ink19 Music Sampler - CD
Spiller - Gold Leader - CD

With Lie:
Various Artists - Godfathers of Change Vol 1 - A Tribute to the Smiths - 2CD
Various Artists - Kustomized Volume 1 - CD
Lie -So Happy For You, So Miserable For Me - CD
Various Artists - Fat Frog's Favorite Florida Bands Vol. 1 - CD
Lie - Molly Mark + Madison - CD

Photos

Bio

John McNicholas is a singer/songwriter from Atlanta, Georgia. John has honed his writing talents by writing, performing and releasing albums with Honeyrider (Damaged Goods), Sparky’s Nightmare Spiller, Lie, Misfortune 500 and most recently performing with Two Sheds recording artists The Yum Yum Tree. He considers himself and unlikely songwriter in that his songs are character sketches of his life and the lives of people and friends around him. His songs can be as awkwardly personal as those by Juliana Hatfield, as tongue-in-cheek as those by Fountains of Wayne and Ben Folds and as vivid and descriptive as those by Pete Yorn and Dean Wareham.

John has released a couple of solo records, including Silver with producer Russ Fowler (John Mayer, Shawn Mullins, Pete Droge).

John has performed at unofficial SXSW showcases (2003-2007), WMNF’s Tropical Heatwave, IPO New York, SMA's In the Raw concert series and has opened shows for Marilyn Manson, Fastball, Cyndi Lauper, Superchunk, Patti Smith, the Mooney Suzuki and has toured the United States and in Ireland over the last several years.