Visual Tales: Tell us how your adventures in music began? Was creating music always been your goal in life?
John Eatherly: Music for me really started when I was a kid. My dad was a nurse who worked on the weekends and all through the week, he would be demoing songs in our basement on an old Fostex 8-track tape machine. That’s the machine I learned how to multi-track on. I remember guitars laying around and trying to give them a strum before I could even talk, but it was a drum set that came later that really did it for me. I was probably about 12 years old. It was a huge deal for me getting a drum kit. It wasn’t really my goal in life to become a full time musician. It just sort of happened. My mom was very much supportive of me dropping out of high-school to join the band Be Your Own Pet with my friends from high school. My dad on the other hand was not so supportive because he has struggled so much in his life as a musician. Regardless, that was the beginning of it all for me, dropping out and touring when I was 16. That sort of led to the point of no return. I wish that I knew what happened to that old Fostex 8-track tape machine though.
VT: What was the first song you ever wrote and share with us the first time you ever performed in front of a live audience, when, where and song selection?
JE: The songs that I first performed live as a frontman luckily were not the first I’d ever written. There were some pretty early ones performed with Public Access TV though. “In love and Alone” I wrote when I was 17 or 18 and I had totally forgotten about it until re-recording it with PATV in 2014 or 2015. That one was super fun to play live. When I first started that band, we played a handful of shows in England under a fake band name “The Ill Herbs” to get some practice before the real thing under our own name. We were playing a small handful of songs that I wrote in 2010 while living in The Virgins’ apt in NYC. I don’t really have one direct first time memory because everything I’ve ever done has felt like a continuation with a twist.
VT: Who were your musical influences?
JE:I love so many types of music. My influences really change from project to project. PATV was influenced by bands like The Clash, Television, The Quick, Tom Petty, The Cars, Brian Eno with the Winkies, Shoes, Lou Reed, The Virgins for sure. Solo stuff was more electronic and a bit R&B with touches of 2000’s french electronic pop. Air was a big influence. Michael Rother of the band Neu! His solo records were a big influence. Prince. Club Intl. is more aggressive and tragic. Tragic metal Club pop with a soft side as well. More cinematic and visual. Club Intl. is my creative nest with no walls or barriers.
VT: Thanks for doing this VT exclusive photo shoot for us and we are thrilled that CELINE by HEDI SLIMANE have provided the wardrobe for this shoot. You have collaborated with HEDI SLIMANE before with HEDI’s portraits series, what was your memories of working with HEDI like? Obviously, like music, fashion/image have always plays an integral part of an artist, what are your thoughts on fashion and music, together?
JE: I think it’s super cool that Hedi is so supportive of the arts and music. Always giving a spotlight to new talent with cool taste. My memories of being photographed by him were mostly conversations about french new wave bands or the Beach Boys. Music and Fashion has always gone hand in hand. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never judged a book/band by the cover/the way they look also. Especially when I was super young like 13, I would be so curious and also have an idea of what a band sounds like based only on how they look. I’ve always been obsessed with clothing as it directly ties into reference and taste. Everything is Taste.
VT: Back in 2006, you joined your first band, The Virgins (with notable members, Donald Cumming, Max Kamins, Xan Aird, Wade Oates, Nick Zarin-Ackerman) playing drums for the group. The band achieved some early successes by signing with a major label (Atlantic Records) and released a self titled lp. They say the first successes are always the most memorable. Do you still keep in touch with the former members?
JE: I actually joined the Virgins officially in 2010. I had played some one off shows before that but that was when I really joined. The Virgins and Be Your Own Pet toured together for 2 months in America in 2007 and that’s how I met all those guys. Donald is one of the truly great songwriters and definitely the most talented songwriter I know. We are super tight and will always be brothers. I see Wade around the city all the time still. He’s the most unusual and creative guitar player. He released some super awesome Beach Boys on Fuzz pedals music this last year called Fuzzy/Wade Oates that’s super sick.
VT: With songwriting, what inspires you and what’s the process (usually or unusually) like?
JE: My process is mostly just walking around the city vibing by myself and singing into my voice memo on my phone. It has to come naturally. I’m influenced by everything around me. I don’t have a method of like picking what I want a song to be about and sitting down and working on it. I really just focus on trying to harness natural energy and being in a good space to be and feel creative. Creativity is a reflection of the soul and can be a tricky, sensitive thing. I’m at my most creative when I’m either super happy or terribly sad.
VT: In 2014, you achieved more successes with a band you formed, Public Access T.V. (members: Xan Arid, Max Peebles, Peter Sustarsic) and released two major releases under the Polydor and Cinematic imprint (Never Enough and Street Safari). Instead of going solo after being with a group, you jumped right into forming this group. Having had two bands both signed to major labels, looking back, truth be told, what is it like being sign with the majors vs independent, what are the plus and minuses of each?
JE: Labels are labels. It’s all the same business. Until working with Italians do it Better, thats how I felt. They take so much care in the creative process. That’s something I’ve never really experienced with a label before. From giving you space to write, record, to mixing and mastering, they placed so much care into the visuals. It’s a completely different experience for me. Maybe because we are more on the same page and I already like their taste. It’s easy, exciting and fun for me. I’m essentially just getting to work with people I’m already fans of. Major labels like Polydor screwed me over and spewed nothing but lies and Cinematic was awesome to work with but on two different pages taste wise. Everything has led me to where I am now and I can’t complain though. I can talk shit all day, but I’m 30 and should probably chill on that. I’m happy and lucky to be where I am now.
VT: Public Access T.V. toured with some major artists, from The Killers, Weezer, Kings of Leon to The Pixies. What’s life on the road like for those who have never experience it? What did you learn from performing with those best selling artists?
JE: When you open for some bigger acts like that, you kinda get under their spell of just wanting to step your game up. You see the scale of it all and how many people are working on the shows and just get so inspired to work harder than ever. Touring has never been any more glamorous than a van and cheapest hotels for me. I love traveling and long drives. It feels like ages that I haven’t been on tour now. I hope I can travel and play shows again in 2021!
VT: With the current pandemic times we are currently living in, the music industry (established or indie) as a whole have to re-evaluate how to promote, perform or even earn a living as recording artists. From your perspective, how are you planning to readjust to the new normal?
JE: My plan is to focus on output. Just keep recording, writing and making music videos. We will see…maybe some sort of an online show even though I’m not crazy about that idea. Club Intl. has a debut album “In The Attic” coming out in 2021. I would like to make a music video/visual album for every song and then go from there. I just wanna stay busy one way or another. Keep working.
VT: For those young boys or girls who dream of starting their own band, having the experience of being in two bands yourself at a young age, what advice would you give them?
JE: Just play and have fun with the people you wanna spend the most time with. I had so many bands as a teenager purely based on how well we got along and not at all based on how well you played or anything like that. If you are serious about it, focus on the people around you that also seem the most hungry to play, practice and book shows. Just book a show as a deadline and you have to get a set together. My first shows were covering Butthole Surfers and Flaming Lips songs with my friends in the bottom of a pizza shop in Tennessee. I’m pretty sure it sounded awful but it was a hell of a lot of fun!
VT: Touring has always been about amplifying to the masses in a live situation. We have been seeing a lot of artists creating music videos in a empty hall/arenas, which we find quite odd. Is live performing crucial to you?
JE: How do we go forward performing live in the future? I’m personally not crazy about these online shows. Maybe I will change my mind, but right now that’s the last of my worries. That’s just me.
VT: In 2019, as a solo artist, you released two vibrant tracks: “Burnout” and “All My Love”. We loved the accompanied videos for these two tracks (“Burnout” stars model Kaia Gerber and Oli Green, directed by Jonah Freud and Johann Rashid) & (“All My Love” stars Wigz Woorld, directed by Boy Wonder) We loved how you present your visions to your music. What’s your thought process behind music videos?
JE: I really enjoy collaborating with close friends and coming up with visuals that compliment a song well. I’ve never had a big budget to make a music video and I like it that way. It’s like having less tracks to record on, sometimes fewer colors to work with makes for a more interesting piece. A music video is a whole new way to interpret and deliver a song. I love it when somebody says “This made me hear this song in a whole new way”. That’s most rewarding for me.
VT: Which lead us to your latest project, the group, Club Intl. (with former The Virgins alumni, Max Kamins) released on Italians Do It Better label (Based in Portland and LA). How did the formation of this group came about? What is it like, second time around, rejoining with your old pal, Max Kamins?
JE: Me and Max were already working together on my solo releases. He’s somebody that I feel very comfortable around trying all sorts of ideas. His interests lay more in production but he also has great taste when it comes to music. Club Intl. is really an open project that people can come and go. I felt like I couldn’t do that just under my name or that the music didn’t quite sound like my name, if that makes sense. Max is part of the foundation. It’s the most exciting project I’ve ever done and a pleasure to work with Johnny Jewel on the creative side. He truly goes the extra mile sonically and brings our creations to the finish line.
VT: We loved the two singles and video Club Intl. have released so far, “Crush” and “Ash Is Gone”. In particular, “Ash Is Gon” is so lullaby like. Tell us your inspirations behind these two tracks? What can we expect in the near future from Club Intl.?
JE: Thank you! “Ash is Gone” is a meant to be a soft bedtime lullaby performed in sync with a musical jewelry box. “Crush” is like a pulsing train whipping your emotions out of you on a crime scene dance floor. These are the first two release off of a full length album “In The Attic” coming in 2021.
VT: With 2020 almost coming to an end (and what a year this has been), what are your plans for 2021 and what are your hopes and feelings about entering a new year?
JE: 2020. What a fucking crazy year! There is certainly many ways to look at the past year. I think in a lot of ways it has been really great. People showing love for one another. People challenging themselves on how to do better. I feel very lucky to be healthy and be able to do what I love. I feel beyond blessed to be able to make music and art with people that I love and care about. 2020 definitely is not a wasted year. I’m excited for 2021 and can’t wait to put out the first Club Intl. Album.
Club Intl: Player