Well, it’s Labor Day…It is a bit strange featuring one of the hardest working musicians out there on a day when people are encouraged to not work. On second thought, Labor Day is a celebration of workers who aren’t celebrated nearly enough so I guess it makes sense to feature Midwestern singer-songwriter and OMB Jonny Carroll. He’s traveled the world over with his music, and we’re pleased to have him here today.
I’ve never seen you advertise yourself as a One Man Band. But the first time I saw you play live you definitely had a one man band setup. Is there something you like specifically about playing your own percussion or is it more pragmatic at this point? Also, what other setups/players do you work with?
It definitely started out as a practical thing, back when I was busking for a full time living. I needed something that brought the dynamic to the next level so I bought a cheap 16″ bass drum from an old club kit. It was lackluster in tone, but provided the right amount of punch I was looking for. I really enjoy having that kind of percussion control in a solo performance. I don’t gig with that drum much anymore, however I am currently working on a pedal board that utilizes a repurposed hockey puck as a bass drum via transducer pickups, and a tiny looper pedal. Between those tools I hope to integrate some means of foot percussion back into my live shows. Recently I’ve been either gigging just with an acoustic, with my keys/organ player Ricky, or (even more recently) my full band, featuring drums, keys, bass, acoustic, strings, and even flute. But as a singer-songwriter, solo performances will remain pretty central to what I do, and I will continue to try and push the envelope on getting a full sound out of it.
How long have you been performing? Tell a little bit about your foray into the world of performance?
I started playing guitar when I was 10, and whether I was ready or not (I wasn’t) I started ‘performing’ and writing songs at that point. Mostly they were about Pokemon and Harry Potter, but the process started early enough for me that I don’t really remember a time when it wasn’t an integral part of my life.
If you were in an elevator with a person who was capable of becoming a lifelong, dedicated fan who would NEVER in a million years request “Freebird,” what would you say to both give them an idea of your music and pique their interest?
Haha. Free bird. I have spent many hours struggling to define my sound with an acute precision. Most recently I have felt it is appropriate to tell people: it’s music with a pop hook and a folk heart. I try to ride the fence enough that the songs are catchy enough to stick to your ears, and the content is meaningful enough to get down to your heart. Accessibility paired with vulnerability. It’s a dangerously powerful combination that I’m proud to represent.
What are the benefits of often playing everything yourself? Limitations? best?
Learning to work a crowd with only 4 appendages is not for the faint of heart. The most difficult thing is how stage presence is 100% on you, not your band, when you’re gigging alone. So you have to put energy and effort into everything. The best thing? How much control you have over everything that happens musically. You don’t have to rely on anyone else.
List three to five of your favorite albums?
Oh wow, this is tricky. Currently….
in no particular order:
All The Little Lights – Passenger
X – Ed Sheeran
Family – Noah Gundersen
Every Kingdom – Ben Howard
Islands – Bear’s Den
How can we find out more about you?
The best thing to do is follow me on Facebook @ fb/jonnycarrollmusic, and IG and Twitter @thejonnycarroll.