I started playing guitar when I was five and I picked up a bunch of different instruments along the way from that. It was one of those, the parents decided I needed a hobby and sent me off to guitar lessons kind of thing. I was in school bands and I played trumpet. I did the marching band and all that stuff for school. I did my first real club gig at about 15 and from there it just never stopped. I've been pretty much playing ever since. That's been about 20 years now as somebody who's been performing in clubs.
How did you get interested in music?
Again with my parents, they started me off at a young age because they wanted me to have a hobby. I guess never figuring it would turn into what it did. Starting me off at such a young age, I grew up with it. It was always something that was with me and around me. I was very rarely without a guitar within a room from me. It's always been that interest in them.
Who were some of your main musical influences?
I grew up with a lot of '80s rock so you have Journey and Bon Jovi and Foreigner and Boston and bands like that. My biggest influence of all is a guy named Rik Emmett from a band named Triumph. As a singer and a guitar player, the guy has always blown me away. I have been an amazingly huge fan of his since I first heard him in 1977. It's cool now because I know the man and he's going to be playing and lending his talents to my next album. It's really nice that all these years later, he's my biggest influence and idol in my musical career and he's going to be playing on my album.
That's cool when people get a career in music and they meet and work with their idols. How many different instruments do you play?
Less now than I actually used to. I play guitar, bass, drums, keys, and I also used to play sax, trumpet, and a ton of percussion instruments. Nowadays mostly guitar and voice. Which I do most of my writing. I've toured as a drummer with a band for a year. I spent five years with a band as bass player/keyboard player. I go back and forth, but mostly right now it's just bass, drums, keys, guitar.
Who have you recorded and toured with?
I've done some studio work and there's been a lot of different recording projects. I cut an album about 12 or 13 years ago with a band called Sneaks Noise that I was in. It did fairly well in the Northeast region. I toured with a band called Doctor Max. I was on tour a solid year with them. We did all over the country state fairs, festivals. It was pretty good. Everywhere from little clubs up to 20-30,000 people a night at state fairs so it was pretty cool.
I understand you have a degree in audio engineering.
Yeah, I went to the Center For The Media Arts in New York City and I got a degree in audio engineering. Basically I already knew what I was doing. I just went there to get a solid grasp of the terms. I had been doing engineering for a while so when I went there it was more just to learn the proper techniques then anything else.
I understand that you have a CD out called Leap Of Faith. You played all the instruments except the keyboards. How did you manage to do all that?
Very tediously. Leap Of Faith was one of those things where I hit a crossroad in life and I had burned out in my mid-20's, late 20's on originals. Just running the circuit for years and years and years and years and banging my head against the wall burned me out. I left and I joined a cover band to keep my chops up and I had a nice paying social life. I hit that point where I was questioning what I was doing because I was a songwriter and I wasn't writing songs. I started to really think about the direction I wanted to be so that's where the album came from. It was a "do I have what it takes" kind of album. Because of my history in the past, I've been in bands where I've seen bad management blow potential record deals. I've seen other guys in the band blow potential opportunities. I decided that if I was going to do this again, I was going to do it by myself so that if it fell on it's face I had nobody to blame. It was my baby and if it went well, great. If it didn't go well, then I had my answers. I didn't have anybody to blame. It was a definite do or die situation for me. Took me about a year to record it because I did it one or two nights a week and I had to track each instrument one at a time. It was a wonderful, wonderful year. Very tedious. Very frustrating at times. Very consuming. There were a few times where I wanted to quit. Luckily I didn't and here it is today a couple of years later. It's up for rock album of the year with the Just Plain Folks organization so that's cool. It's already won one CD of the year award from another website. It's gotten tons and tons of press and great reviews. It's been a good run. I guess all my questions were answered.
I understand that "One More Tomorrow" is a duet with your wife.
Actually ex used to be wife. I wrote the song and I really wanted to write everything on the album alone. I hit a wall with that one but I was really liking the direction it was going so I gave it to her one night. I said "here, play with this. See what you come up with". She very begrudgingly finished it and gave me some directions to go in and finished the song with me. She had a great little voice. She hates to sing is the only problem so I dragged her into the studio and made her sing it. That's how that came to be.
Which songs stand out to you the most?
The title track itself I think is a very powerful song. Just the message that it conveys is something that a lot of people lock on to. The positive aspect of it. The hope and the believing in yourself aspect of it. I get a lot of e-mail when people hear that song about how it spoke to them. Made them feel good. Gave them a little kick. That song. I think musically "Shangri-La" is one of the hooks of the album. It reaches out and grabs from the start. It's a very recognizable, easy song to sing to. I think the other song that really does it for me on the album is "Here Without You" just because of the emotion that I got out of me onto tape for that one. It's one of those songs that took everything I had in the studio to really put it down the way it should have been. I'm proud of the way that sounds actually.
I understand you did a 23 city tour. How did that go?
It went great. What had happened was, when I put the album out, it was independent at first. I knew I needed to play. I knew I needed to get the name out there but I didn't have a band at the time. If I would have went to clubs, I would have gone on at 7:00 to 8:00 in an empty club and it would have done me no good to book the shows. I approached Barnes And Noble and pitched the idea at them and I contacted about 35 stores, 23 of which I booked. I did predominately a Barnes And Noble tour in the cafes on a Friday and Saturday night which were packed. I moved about 400 to 500 CDs on that tour. I did a couple of little cafes with it. Then I went out to Las Vegas where Dave Tedder booked me at the Ultrasound Fest in it's inaugural year and I played out there. I'm a very big PR/press person. I do my own PR and press and I'm a monster. I don't know when not to promote myself. All the press and all the PR attracted the attention of some of the labels in Europe, A2 Records being one that I really liked. They were going to be at the Ultrasound so at the end of my tour, they loved my performance that they saw and they signed me to a licensing deal to release the album worldwide. It put a nice cap on a pretty successful tour. Definitely the hardest tour of my life. Going out there, usually with a band, you need a few seconds you let somebody else take the spotlight. When you're up there by yourself for 45 minutes from the first chord to the last chord, you've got to be on. Everything you say, every note you sing, there's nowhere to hide. It's definitely a tour that made a better musician out of me. Just because you had to be good every single night.
I remember seeing Billy Squier on his Barnes And Noble tour. I can imagine. Tell us about A2 Records.
A2 is the label for Leap Of Faith. Nice little upstart company out of Europe, just outside of London in the UK. Nice guys. Got me distribution all over Europe and the U. S. Very nice to deal with. Very friendly. Very professional. No problems with them. I grew into a position where now I'm signed to another label. They licensed out Leap Of Faith for that album only. They didn't have the financial ability to take me for another album and finance it which is what I really needed. I financed Leap Of Faith and I couldn't and didn't want to do it again. Now And Then Records and I opened a dialogue and now I'm signed to them for the next three albums. I'm signed to Now And Then Records which is a really nice place to be because it's the best label for the genre that I'm in. A lot of people who are very recognizable in music belong on this label. It's a good place to be but A2 Records, I can't say a bad thing about them. They definitely came through as promised with everything they said they would do for me and they were great the whole way.
How did you secure an endorsement deal with Ovation Guitars?
Combination of being pleasantly persistent plus the touring plus all the press and promotion. I sent them a promo kit and I told them that I was touring and it was an acoustic tour. I was using two of their guitars every night and showed them pictures. Sent them all my press. They were more than happy with the package I presented them and they offered me to come out as an artist in the Cayman Artist program which is Ovation Guitars.
It sounds like things are really going well for you. You have a record deal, sponsors, and you've been in a number of magazines in less than a year. Did you think all this would happen in such a short span of time?
No, no, absolutely not. I picked up a string sponsor in ING strings and they gave me a full endorsement so that's fantastic. The magazine and the press exposure. Leap Of Faith had over 100 reviews. I did about 23 or 24 feature interviews last year. That's one of the things that made the labels in Europe stand up and take notice. I was getting press in the same magazines as all their artists but I was getting the press ahead of their artists. They all took notice of that like "where is he? Where did he come from"? They started to pay attention. That coupled with the fact that I like to play and that I'm not shy and I have no shame when it comes to my promotion. That kept me in the eyes of everybody in the vein and definitely helped when it came to negotiating out for a deal. But no, I never thought when I put this out independently...it was a goal for me to just put it out. I was satisfied at that point that I had accomplished what I set out to do. Sitting here now with a record deal, a three album deal, and a major guitar company sponsoring me and a string endorsement and everything else. The album up for awards. It's totally blowing my mind and freaking me out a little bit but it's kind of cool.
A lot of locations had sold out of your CD. That must have been pretty exciting.
Yeah, that I can attribute to some good radio play. I backdoored my way out to the Scott and Todd show on WPLJ in New York. That's one of the biggest shows in the country for mornings. It's the biggest show in New York. About 2,000,000 listeners. I just got myself in there and got myself on the air. They were gracious and in a good mood that day and they kept me on for about 14 minutes which is a lot during drive time. The CD just flew out of the stores that day. That was the highlight. It's been a nice, slow, steady burn since then. I wish it would have just took off and went like gangbusters but I'm actually kind of happy that it's been a real steady, slow burn because there's a real solid foundation this is sitting on and it kind of grows up. There's no flash in the pan here for me. It's been a nice crisp climb. I put it out independently, toured alone, signed to a licensing deal, toured again, got signed again to a record deal. It's been a nice progression up the ladder.
When can we expect your next CD?
I was actually supposed to be recording in New York in September but obviously we know what happened there. The label got thrown out of wack with that and they also had a big festival that they run over in England. A lot of the bands that were going cancelled after what happened in September. The festival was last weekend and they struggled just to keep from cancelling it so their time had been very much consumed with that. Now that that's over, hopefully they're going to get the production schedules back on track and get me in the studio. The band and I have been rehearsing like crazy and are very, very ready to cut the new album. Plus like I mentioned before, I have Rik Emmett working with me. I have Randy Jackson from Zebra who's committed to playing some guitar. I have C. P. Ross from Blessid Union Of Souls who's going to come play some keyboards. It's a nice situation right now. Hopefully at some point this month they'll say we can get into the studio and start cutting.
Any other thoughts or comments?
Please tell everybody to go to my website. That's just johntaglieri.com. I also have on the site Leap Dog Music which is my company. I do music promotion. If anybody's looking for music promotion send them my way. We do website design as well. My webmaster and I have won awards for my website so we decided to branch out and start doing others if anybody's interested. We have a couple of clients already so it's nice. I'm going to be booking a tour in January for about six weeks. East coast and then out to the West coast for Grammy time. I'll be attending the Grammys this year and I'm going to be gigging while I'm out there. Stay tuned for the tour dates and everything.