I love discovering new singers/songwriters. I'll never forget the day I was driving with one of my best friends and I asked him, "Who are we listening to?" I like him. My friend told me, it was his favorite singer/songwriter, Jon McLaughlin. I hadn't heard Jon's music before that day, but as we spent the day driving around, I found myself getting more and more immersed in Jon's music. From his relatable lyrics to his calming beats, Jon's songs resonated deep with in me.
It's such an honor to get to interview the man behind the songs. I loved talking to Jon about his music, his inspirations, fatherhood, touring, and how he hopes to improve his life by one percent better everyday! Jon's latest album, Like Us, is out now and has been on my iTunes rotation non-stop. I'm thrilled Jon's new tour, Don't Mess with my Tour, will be launching this fall. He'll be stopping in New York City on September 22 at the Highline Ballroom. Can't wait to hear him live on stage! Click here for tickets!
Catch Jon's tour, Don't Mess with my Tour launching September 13!
1. Let's start at the beginning. Who or what inspired you to become a singer/songwriter? What's it like being a boy from Indiana, now living out your dream? Is the reality of it the same as what you had envisioned? My first inspirations were Billy Joel, Harry Connick Jr. and Elton John. Then I remember, in 8th grade, hearing Ben Folds Five for the first time and it changed my life!! I've been drawing from those guys ever since. In a lot of ways I still feel like that kid from Indiana so it's really amazing to be 33 and still be doing what I've always dreamed. And, yeah, I would say the reality is what I always envisioned. When I'm up on stage playing my music it's exactly what I've always dreamed of.
2. This September you are embarking on your full band tour, Don't Mess with my Tour to promote your newest album Like Us. What is your favorite part about touring? What is the hardest part? What do you enjoy most about meeting your fans? Yeah, really excited about this tour. The hardest part about touring is definitely just the travel. The shows are the best part. The way I look at it is I get paid to travel, the shows are free. It has been great over the years to see familiar faces in the crowd in certain cities. I really feel their support in a really meaningful way.
3. How did you come up with the album title Like Us? Well, this album is all relationship-based songs. I've been married now for over 10 years so I felt like I had more experiences to draw from to make a really well rounded album. And I wanted there to be at least one chorus or one verse or one lyric on this record where every couple will look at each other and say "that's just like us"....
4. How do you keep yourself healthy and fit while on tour? It's funny, I find it much easier to stay in shape on the road as opposed to at home. I think it's the structure and routine that's so absent from home but that is very present on the road. I'm always at a hotel that has a work out room, I'm working so I'm snacking less and just overall a little healthier.
5. Three of my favorite songs on your new album are "Thank God," "Let Go," and "Walk Away." What is something you "Thank God" for everyday? What is something in your life that you have "Let Go" of or would like to "Let Go" of? When did you "Walk Away" from something you knew was not right for you? How did it feel to leave that thing behind? Ha! Love it. I thank God everyday for my family. I have let go of mistakes I've made in the past. In the music business, where there isn't really a clear path to "success," it's easy to look back and think if I would've done that record differently or if I had picked a different single, etc...I would've sold more records or I would've sold more tickets, etc...And I have reached a point where I've had to just let go of that kind of mentality. On the same hand, I've learned to walk away from yesterday everyday. Yesterday doesn't matter no matter how good or bad of a day it was. Today is a new day and it's gonna be awesome.
6. If you could record a duet, make a music video, and go on tour, with three of your favorite artists (alive or dead), who would you drop into each category? Definitely duet with Elton John, music video with Ben Folds and tour with Harry Connick Jr.
7. Going back a few years, you recorded a song with Sara Bareilles, "Summer Is Over." Now, Sara's music is being represented on Broadway in the Tony nominated musical Waitress. If you could have your music in a Broadway show, would you want it to be a biopic show of your life or would you want to have your songs featured in the book of someone else's story? Well I don't know if a biopic of my own life would be interesting enough! It would be a huge thrill to have my music on Broadway though!
8. In addition to being a singer/songwriter, you are also a dad to two beautiful daughters. How do you feel fatherhood has changed you as a singer/songwriter? How do you balance, fatherhood, family, and work? The balance is definitely tricky. Being a dad is just the absolute greatest thing. I think it makes me see the world in general a little differently than I did before and that of course influences my writing. It makes being on the road very difficult because I can't stand being away from them.
9. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? For me, I find it really challenging to be present in each moment. I get so excited about things that are coming up and the next thing I know, I'm perpetually getting ready for things that haven't happened yet and missing my life as it's happening.
10. As someone who does a lot of interviews, what is one question I did not ask that you wish I did? (Please provide your answer to that question). Ha! Well, I'd say you did a great job but you failed to ask me what other talents I have to which I would have said that I can change a diaper with one hand and make a really good egg scramble (not at the same time though).
Born and raised in Anderson, Indiana, singer/songwriter Jon McLaughlin began taking classical piano lessons at an early age. Though he lost interest in the instrument during high school and was side-lined by an accident that injured both wrists; he rediscovered his talent during senior year and began incorporating his piano skills into soulful pop music. Jon enrolled in the music program at Anderson University, where he studied piano and spent his free time writing songs. Eventually, he won a school competition that allowed him to release his self-titled debut album in 2004. A follow-up EP, Songs I Wrote and Later Recorded, came out the following year, and Jon was soon given the opportunity to audition for three major labels. One such label, Island, signed him to its roster, which led to the nationwide release of Indiana -- an album that included re-recorded versions of two songs from his first effort -- in 2007. Later that year, Jon's profile received an extra boost when he contributed an Oscar-nominated song, "So Close," to the Disney film Enchanted. He also performed the song during the 2008 Academy Awards Ceremony and used the resulting momentum to drum up support for his third studio album, OK Now. Jon parted ways with Island after the release of OK Now. In 2011, he rallied with the self-released Forever If Ever. The album gained enough good word of mouth that he wound up with a contract with Razor & Tie, who added a couple of tunes to Forever If Ever and released it under the title Promising Promises.
Once Jon began writing the new songs that would ultimately fill Forever if Ever, the rest fell into place just as quickly as his career took off. He began producing for the first time, drawing from hours spent with brilliant producers he’d worked with throughout the years. He experimented with equipment, including some a former tour manager had sagely told him to explore. He wrote exactly what he wanted to, spending weeks upon weeks making sure every lyric, every note was just where he needed it to be. And perhaps most importantly, he recorded with the musicians he’d been touring with not only his entire career, but his entire musical life.
Jon's latest album, Like Us, was released in 2015. This fall Jon will be embarking on his newest tour, Don't Mess with my Tour.