Interview with John Parkinson (Singer/Guitarist) with Oceaneers and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: What type of artist are you?
JP: We’re a 4-piece band with guitar-based foundations but the album is heavily decorated with keyboards, percussion and harmonies.
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
JP: Myself (John), Russ (bass) and Sim (guitar) were all in a band together previously. After a hiatus which saw us each go down different paths, we found ourselves back together in Sim’s basement a couple years ago and realised we had an album or two of new material between us. We needed a drummer and knew Dave Stead from The Beautiful South. It pretty much fell into place seamlessly and we spent 6 weeks in the studio with Dave Formula of Magazine/Visage putting down tracks for Light of the Whalebone.
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
JP: Me personally, I’m a big fan of the American indie-folk thing…Justin Vernon and Iron & Wine. I’ve been listening to a lot of Gregory Alan Isakov this past year. Brilliant songwriter!
Non-musically, nobody influences me more than my little girl, Isla Rain. She’s what shapes me more than anything.
A playlist of influences can be found here:
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
JP: It’d be cool to get the album out on some stages soon and equally to get the new album into the studio. Other than that, Doing some laundry soon would be a treat. I just ripped the kitchen out 3 weeks ago…Not going terribly well!
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
JP: The tracks on the album were written mostly by either me or me & Russ but there’s a track that was from our first band too. Some of them I’d written in a campfire format when I lived in America and some when I came back. I like to write from first-person perspective whereas, when Russ writes lyrics, he tends to write from a third-person, observational viewpoint which works for me as a singer as it somehow feels ‘imposterish’ to sing about “me” if it ain’t me that lived the moment that spawned the song. It’s easier as a singer to imagine myself as an observer than it is to pretend I am the protagonist.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
JP: Lockdown put paid to gigging when the album was finished so that didn’t happen…It’s getting airplay though so that’s good. No one really knows what’s gonna happen next. I think most people are winging it and just playing it all by ear…We’ll see what happens.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
JP: We started in music when bands did demos and hawked them round everywhere to anyone who’d listen. I’m into the accessibility of music online now where, literally anyone who’s got access to the internet can bring out a recording…There’s massive talent out there which would’ve never been heard back in the day…That said, artists & composers should be paid and that doesn’t happen anymore. Someone’s getting paid but it ain’t the people writing and performing the music getting streamed.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
JP: If you put a gun to my head and I had to pick one, you’d probably pull the trigger. It changes like the weather…God…Ok, today it’s “New York City Serenade” (Bruce Springsteen) for the imagery, the narrative, the journey…Tomorrow???
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
JP: Hmmm…Somewhat topically – barrel-bellied, bare-chested Neanderthals who impersonate football fans…we’ve all seen it…you know! Oh – and litterers…they do my head some serious damage…And people who pick up after their dogs and hang the little black bags on a tree branch…What’s that about??!
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
JP: I used to play a place in the US called Raoul’s…It was a cool little roadside dive-bar…One night Jonathan Richman played and there was only me there. He did his entire set standing on top of my table. That was pretty cool. Lou Reed tossed me his guitar pick one night, too…But I’ve got to say – when the late Denise (Johnson, Primal Scream) came to sing on the two tracks on Light of the Whalebone…She was simply amazing…Jaw-dropping…She was a beautiful soul and that takes top-spot for me.
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
JP: We’re back rehearsing for live shows and writing for the next album which will probably be ready early next year.
PD: What music have you available online and where can we buy it from?
JP: Light of the Whalebone is available on all the usual streaming sites through our website https://oceaneers.co.uk
and on Bandcamp https://oceaneers1.bandcamp.com/releases