McLaughlin Dabbles in Crossover Sounds On Island Album
by Mikael Wood
September 6, 2008
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By Amy Sandova
October 9, 2008
“Beating My Heart” the first single from Jon McLaughlin’s sophomore album OK Now (Island/Def Jam) has been making waves on the radio (both figuratively and literally) for weeks. Produced by Jon Fields (Switchfoot, Jonas Brothers), the album has a soulful, bluesy pop-rock inspired by the likes of Billy Joel, Elton John, and perhaps even John Mayer (though Jon is resistant to compare himself to his peers). Jon was kind enough to “Take 5 + 2” with Backseat Writer on the precipice of his album release, which was this Tuesday, Oct. 7.
You’re a Christian who’s also a musician, but you find the whole division between secular and Christian music a bit nonsensical. Why do you think it’s not always beneficial to listeners to throw music into these categories?I think the categories prevent people from listening to good music. There’s a lot of good music out there and there’s some bad music, too (I have written my share) - the problem is that when I get put into a category of “Christian” music or “secular” music, or whatever, my music takes on all the stereotypes that that genre brings with it. So whatever a particular person feels about “Christian” music, good or bad, they’re going to put some of that on my music before even hearing it. And there are people out there who won’t listen to “Christian” music simply because it’s in that genre, and there are those who won’t listen to “secular” music for the same reason.
I can’t even tell you what an honor it is to be associated with names like Disney, Alan Menken, Steven Schwartz… it’s ridiculous! Being on the set of the movie was really fun - I felt a bit out of my league working with Patrick Dempsey, Amy Adams, James Marsden, and Idina Menzel. They were all the nicest people and it was cool to get a glimpse of what their lives are like working late nights on the set and putting in such long hours.
After your appearance in Enchanted, sales of your first album on Island/Def Jam soared, causing many people to cling to your heart-wrenching song, “Beautiful Disaster.” What inspired the writing of this song?
The great thing about “Beautiful Disaster” is that it’s relatable. That’s also the unfortunate thing about the song. Everyone has a weird, warped image of themselves on some level and this song doesn’t really offer a solution to the problem (although I wish it did) but it at least lets people know that everyone’s in the same boat.
Similarly, on your new album (which is amazing) you composed the lyrically-driven song “4 Years” which encourages kids to just be themselves. Why did you write this song?
“4 Years” is a song I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. Ever since I graduated from high school. I just wanted to write a song that would remind high school kids that high school is not the rest of your life…and that every decision in high school is NOT life or death. When you’re 15 it’s hard to see past graduation day and part of you feels like the world you’re in while you’re in high school will be for the rest of your life - but it’s not true….it’s just 4 years.
OK Now’s first song “Beating My Heart” was actually written “on the spot.” Can you regale me with the story?
Well, it had been over a year since I finished Indiana and I was experiencing a little writer’s block but it was beyond time for me to start writing songs for the new record. So I was wracking my brain but nothing was coming. So one day, the band and I were at a sound check and Chad, my drummer, asked me to play some of the new material I had been working on. I didn’t have anything written but I didn’t want to admit to the band that I was having writer’s block so I said I had this new song, it’s not quite finished, but here it is…and that’s what came out.
I’m gonna make this a “Take 5″ +2 because I have to ask a Billy Joel question because you’re such a big admirer of his work. If you were asked to perform a song on a Billy Joel tribute album, what song would you pick and why?
I would do ANY Billy Joel song because they’re all awesome…but if I had to pick one I would probably pick “New York State of Mind” - I just love that song. Everything about it.
Since you’re “the movie song guy,” which song from OK Now is predicted to be the next “movie song”? I’m thinking “We All Need Saving,” but what’s your take?
I think you’re right. There’s just something about “We All Need Saving” that feels like film. It just feels like it should be synced up to that one scene in that one movie.Source: http://backseatwriter.wordpress.com/2008/10/09/take-5-2-with-jon-mclaughlin/
Jon McLaughlin Ready to Release Sophomore Effort, Ok Now
Words By Joe Koch
Not too long ago Jon McLaughlin was roaming the halls of Anderson University as a music student when he began to make waves with his American heartland brand of pop, sharing his stellar singer/songwriter set in clubs, colleges and churches throughout the Midwest.
Fast forward to 2008, and the classically trained piano-popster is busy readying the release of OK Now (Island/Def Jam), his energetic, ’80s-influened follow-up to Indiana, last year’s breakout debut and ode to his Hoosier heritage.
Now with a little experience under his belt and credit to his name, Jon discusses his new record, faith in the spotlight and gigging at the Oscars.
CCM: Your bio describes you as an American heartland singer/songwriter. But OK Now makes a bolder, more progressive musical statement than Indiana. What inspired the creative difference?
Jon McLaughlin: OK Now is definitely different. I’m a huge ’80s fan, and I totally went back to my ’80s pop roots. There’s a lot of Billy Joel and Huey Lewis & the News kind of influence on this record. I loved it.
CCM: What is the story behind the first single, “Beating My Heart”?
Jon: This whole record is about me enjoying my life as it happens. I have a hard time just relaxing. I tend to get really stressed out. I always look back in time and wonder why I was so stressed out. “Beating My Heart” is a song about breaking it down to what really matters, not getting so stressed out about the little things in life.
Not to be cliché, but it gets down to this: God put me on earth for whatever reason, and I don’t really have to know that [reason] right now, right here.
CCM: Do you feel the call to relax has been a necessary move with the pickup of your career in the past couple of years?
Jon: It is definitely necessary. I just had a birthday. I’m gone all the time. My brother just had a little baby. I think I’m dealing with time moving by way too fast. Right now there’s not a whole lot I can do about that other than I might as well not stress my life away.
CCM: Being a recording artist in the mainstream music world, what do you feel your role is as a Christian when it comes to performing and making records?
Jon: Once I started writing songs in college, I would go play at a state school, and people would say, “You go to Anderson University. Are you a Christian artist?” I’d go play at a chapel and sing a song that didn’t have the name Jesus in it, and they would say, “I thought you were a Christian artist?”
So for a long time, I was annoyed and frustrated with having to choose a side. On paper, now that I’m signed to a mainstream label (Island Records), I’m a mainstream artist. But I’ve always felt the desire and responsibility to play in a church or play in a club or college.Source: CCM Magazine