Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wednesday Duologues: John McGrew

So we're playing this show on Thursday at TT the Bear's Place.  I don't know if you heard about it maybe, but anyways, it's yet another incredible line-up put together by yours truly.  And by yours truly, I mean I told Aaron who I wanted on the bill and he did all the work.  (Thanks, KP!!!)

Now, if you're from Boston, you darn well oughtta already know Apple Betty, the rockingest trio of rocker chicks to ever rock this town.  And The Backup Factor (with members of The Motion Sick & Naked On Roller Skates, to name a few!) have made quite a sensation this year!  And then there's some Blue Heaven band. ;)

And then there's Apollo Run.  Actually, they're on at 9pm so don't be late.  But my point is, I love these guys.  They're New Yorkers who love Boston, I'm told, and I know you are gonna love them back.  Which is why I had to interview their lead singer, John McGrew, for this week's duologue.

At the outset of our conversation, I knew nothing about John but the voice.  By the end, I was making some rather serious plans with him - and the rest of the band, too!  Read on.

Photo by Andrew Harnik

me: aha! aim on gchat :)
John McGrewwoo!
verrrry niiice
i like to stack up my i.m.s
can't miss a drop
me: excellent.
sorry about the delay!
John McGrew: no worries t'all
me: i also have to apologize because i'll probably be interrupted a bit during the conversation.
John McGrew: thats fine. me
yeah, i have put out about 4 fires so far this morning in the apollo run world
so, more may arise
me: good for you! anything exciting enough to share with the world? tour business?
John McGrew: Ooo! yeah. We are putting together our fall tour right now to support our debut EP, Here Be Dragons, Vol. I. We are looking to hit spots in the NE, SE, MW and hopefully a trip back over to LA.
Booking a tour without an agency is tough stuff. But we are determined.
(side note - this interview will be full of (sic)s)
me: (that's how i like 'em)
John McGrew: The tour is happening at the end of Oct and beginning of Nov.
me: so, serious excitement, then! back to LA? have you toured there before?
John McGrew: yeah, we've played Hotel Cafe a couple of times an The Mint a couple of times. It's kinda nice. LA is really supportive of what we are doing. We love LA, and in return, they love us back. Its a very healthy relationship.
We LOVE Hotel Cafe (side note)
me: lovely!
let's go back a sec, since i've gotten ahead of myself.
John McGrew: worrrd
me: and since this is the first conversation between john mcgrew and mackenzie outlund ever, in the history of conversations...
John McGrew: fun!
me: hi, nice to meet you, thanks for agreeing to subject yourself to this nonsense!
John McGrew: wuddddup! pleasure is all mine!
me: i don't know if you're aware of how this all came together, since we arranged the gig with jeff...
John McGrew: looking forward to catching a drink in person at TTs
me: me too!
John McGrew: Yeah, I have no idear.
me: so i actually found out about Apollo Run first through
(is that your sister?)
John McGrew: no way
my sister is a crazy-good writer, and she has always been so supportive of us
me: she's an amazing writer. incredibly inspiring. i've been reading her blog for years now, i guess.
John McGrew: oh, that's just awesome
me: right? :)
John McGrew: i am so happy for her!
she's carved out a nice little piece o the internet wih her blog
me: so i downloaded Stars and Love Song
John McGrew: well deserved
oh, nice
me: Stars is absolutely the most beautiful song...
and i think i even posted it on my blog and FB for friends to check you guys out and thought... maybe someday we could play with them.... but then that thought got filed behind a million other To Do's.
John McGrew: oh jeez. many thanks! when we wrote it, we got really excited that we were the ones who get to sing it!
me: i know that feeling.
that is a great feeling.
John McGrew: we are filming a video for it right now, with the awesome Alex Fishcher (
me: oh amazing. what's the shooting been like?
John McGrew: pretty incredible. he is using a bunch of stop motion / slow motion techniques. the whole process takes a long time and requires  lot of patience. but when you are shooting with people like Alex and his girlfriend Camille (and Jeff and Graham from A) it's fun as hell and time flies.
(from AR)
me: slow motion - does that mean you get to lip sync at high speed? (i had to do this recently for our Slow Dance Slow video.)
John McGrew: thats exactly right
imagine those "oom bah diddy oh wah yay"s in high speed. its hilarious. and takes all of my concentration not to laugh
me: right?? i had to do that while staring wistfully out a car window driving around salem, mass at night with a bunch of lights stuck to the interior of the car.
that is absolutely the strangest thing i've ever done. i think.
so far.
John McGrew: so good. i love our jobs.
me: me three.
what do you love the very most about it?

John McGrew: singing my ass off
followed closely by travelling. we would love to travel more.
also, can't fail to mention, getting to play with two of the most talented and stellar dudes i know, graham and jeff.
they are my brothers
me: (oh - the rest of that how-we-got-you-on-a-bill-with-us-this-thursday story is that my friend Agent (Mike) Bishop emailed me one day out of the blue to ask if I'd heard of Apollo Run because they were looking to gig in Boston this fall and I should check them out. i e-squealed with joy and the rest is history.)
John McGrew: (brothas from anotha motha, i believe the kids are saying)
me: those kids.
i love that. how would you describe your band dynamic ... in two words or less?
John McGrew: i will go with less: love
call is cheese, but tis true
i love those guys,
me: i knew it.
it was all in the picture.
i think we might be band soulmates.
John McGrew: ;)
me: so let's see. silly duologue questions...
John McGrew: bring em on
me: did you happen to read any of the previous ones? do you know what you're in for?
John McGrew: nope! let's do it!
me: cool.
John McGrew: (i played 'f*ck, marry, kill' with my girlfriend last night for over an hour, so i am ready for anything)
me: well the first question is usually: who are you?
John McGrew: (that sounds really messed up for anyone who doesn't know what that game is). anyway.
who am i
me: (want to explain the game?)
John McGrew: quickly sure: you list three people. of those three people you have to f*ck one, marry one and kill one. for exmaple i would say to you: f*ck, marry, kill - graham, jeff, and john from AR.
tough stuff
who am i? you are a heavy hitter!
me: ha ha
John McGrew: i am a performer. i am a composer. i am a teacher.  i am an artist. i am a dog lover. i am an astronomer (in another life). i am a naturalist. i am a yogi. i am a hockey player. i am a lover. i am a friend. i am an adventurer. i am an optimist. i am coffee snob. i am secretly in love with Dexter.
i coulda gone on, but i think you get the point
me: who's a heavy hitter? :) so why astronomer in another life?
John McGrew: you are a hevy hitter coming out the bat with a question like that!
i almost majored in astronomy in college and i am fascinated by all-things-outer-space. my interest influences a lot of what i create. when i settle down as an old man in a cabin in the woods (with a couple of dogs) i will be sure there is no light pollution around so i can point a big ol' telescope to the sky
me: YES.
... have you ever watched Doctor Who
John McGrew: nope
should i
me: (that's my old age dream, too. just one dog, though. german shepherd.)
i just recently became obsessed with it.
the most recent season is stellar (ha)
but i'm a moderate to severe sci-fi dork.
John McGrew: niiice
me: i mostly ask to preface the next question.
do you know the premise of the show
John McGrew: i saw a hilarious sci-fi show the other day on the "syfy" * sigh * network. it was some team of people searching for leprechans in ireland.
me: did they follow the rainbow?
John McGrew: that made a nice little joke about it, but they were "serious leprechan hunters"
(they made a nice little..)
not "that:
uh oh. here come the typos. it can get ugly with me and chats
me: bring 'em on.
John McGrew: did i get the theme right? thirsty, right?
me: yeah :)
my silly marketing plots...
it will get sillier between now and thursday.
John McGrew: i love it. i find myself thirsty on every night of the week, but that might be the irishman in me.
me: you'll fit right in here
John McGrew: we love boston.
me: boston loves to be loved.
but it won't tell you that.
okay so doctor who. the doctor is a time lord from another planet with a machine that can go anywhere in the universe. all of space and time.
John McGrew: oh jeez. where do i sign up?
me: yes!
so when/where would you go first?
is the question.
John McGrew: hmm. i would definitely go 50 years into the future, to NASA's headquarters, steal any documents that have proof of life on other locatable planets, and make my next stops those planets. you gotta know where to look for life before you go out and waste your first stop.
if we could pin point the exact moment of the big bang, i would like to go witness that, but as you might figure, that's just hilariously impossible.
me: an impossibility within an already impossible situation...
so why not? :)
John McGrew: true dat. does that cancel out its impossibility and make it awesomely possible?
me: i say yes.
John McGrew: its so, done!
i am headed to check out the big bang. bringing popcorn.
sorry, got cutoff. you still there?
me: still here!
John McGrew: cool
 me: popcorn at the big bang! what if you dropped a kernel?
it'd end up inside a planet probably.
John McGrew: if pre-big bang, i wouldnt worry too much about it. it just get sucked in a compressed with all else. if post big bang, well damn. it just be a burned up popcorn kernal. not the first time i've burned popcorn.
me: oh i missed the NASA part! the good news is that the doctor is 900+ years old and would already know a lot of cool planets.
John McGrew: oh jeez. see you there!
me: one episode featured a sapphire waterfall.
John McGrew: fancy
me: yeah. something went wrong on the way so we never saw it.
so i guess it wasn't actually featured.
i digress. 
John McGrew: i bet music on other planets would be pretty sweet.
me: sh*t!
you're right!
i can't believe i've never thought of that.
John McGrew: maybe some sigur ros meets animal collective meets dvorak?
me: my brain just exploded. please standby while i call the janitor.
the instruments...
would be all different, right?
John McGrew: totally.
me: well obviously
but maybe very different, depending on limbs and things
of the aliens.
John McGrew: right. scales, chords, even audible range!
those aliens be singing notes we cant even hear!
like mariah carey at her peak. i wonder if she was an alien?
she's definitely not an alien anymore. she is so, so, so very human.
me: oh oh! the doctor has a sonic screwdriver, which is useful for many things - opening locks, getting cash to fly out of atm machines, and allowing humans to hear sounds beyond our range.
maybe she was half-alien.
John McGrew: perfect!
me: okay let's see.
what do you believe in?
John McGrew: The Scientific Method. Yin and Yang. Something else, something unknown.
me: something unknown... how do you know you believe in it?
John McGrew: because i don't know everything.
knowing that there is so much unkoown gives me comfort
peace of mind
me: like... epistemological dark matter?
John McGrew: oooo! tasty!
me: what do you know for sure?
John McGrew: that the majority of the people in the world would have a really good time at an Apollo Run show.
brought it back down to earth for a second!
you like that!?
me: well done!
the majority of the people in the world is a LOT of people. give me 3 reasons all those folks would have a good time.
John McGrew: yeah, i bet if we played a show for everyone in the world and they were given a survey after the show that said "did you enjoy apollo run"? over half would check the box "yes". because: a) the music we make is melodic b) the music we make is diverse c) we don't take ourselves too seriously.
me: swoon, swoon, and swoon.
what do you take seriously?
John McGrew: Ha! We enjoy when people swoon as well. What do we take seriously? Work ethic. We f*cking work hard.
Also vietnamese sandwiches.
Don't mess with our weekly supply of vietnamese sandwiches.
me: i'm picturing a sandwich vault, now.
with lasers
John McGrew: its serious.
me: what about you personally?
same answer?
John McGrew: same answer. i'd add that i am serious and disciplined about growing as an artist. but so are jeff and graham. for sure.
me: what's something you don't know but wish you did?
John McGrew: I wish I knew how to obtain all the resources our friend Dr. Who obtained.
me: awesome.
hmm we're getting near done....
would you rather have several short-answer quickfire questions or one grand-ish question?
grand as in great
not as in 1,000
John McGrew: quick fire!
me: great! one word answers, please.
what makes you smile?
John McGrew: saratonin
me: what makes you laugh very very loudly?
John McGrew: (sorry, that should be serotonin)
it's always sunny in philadelphia (sorry, more than one word!)
me: (minus 10 points)
John McGrew: agh!
me: what makes you go "hmm"?
John McGrew: space
me: what pisses you off?
John McGrew: pessimism
me: what inspires you?
John McGrew: experience
me: what makes you feel like dancing?
John McGrew: usher's OMG
(when that beat kicks in, you know what im talking about)
ive never felt so naked.
me: i'm doing something right!
sometimes i wish i could sing like eddie vedder just because i think it would feel really good. also, michael stipe, actually. obviously i never will know what that's like. do you have anyone like that?
(don't know where that question came from.)
(i think you're the first singer i've done the duologue with.)
John McGrew: Eric Alatorre, from Chanticleer
me: i sang with them!
John McGrew: what!? awe. some.
me: actually, that was my very last choral performance ever. in college.
John McGrew: thats amazing!
i also want to sport Mr. Alatorre's facial hair, of course.
me: our choir director had an in. they're so incredible. although they did poke a little fun at the number of people wearing birkenstocks.
in the choir.
John McGrew: niiice.
me: totally.
all righty, so you get to decide on the last two questions: one for you to answer and one for you to ask me!
(thank you for spending all of this time, by the way.)
John McGrew: my pleasure
well, i already asked you one, and i think you dodged it.
me: ha!
what was it?
John McGrew: f*ck marry kill, john, jeff, graham. go.
me: oh my god.
John McGrew: cornered!
me: okay let me look at this photo again.
John McGrew: hahaha!
me: by the way, do you mind if i use the confetti shot for the blog post?
John McGrew: not at all, just credit "Andrew Harnik"
me: can do.
okay, well since i've never had any interaction with graham at all, he's gotta go.
John McGrew: later graham!
you just got all Dexter on his ass
me: sorry, graham.
and i'm all about that cabin in the woods with telescope scenario, so we'll have to get married.
John McGrew: word! so are you saying you want to set sometihng up with jeff after the TT's show?
me: it's all hypothetical.
also, my boyfriend is also my guitar player.
he might have qualms.
John McGrew: oh is it, now?
oh is he, now?
I kid, I kid.
me: :)
i have wondered about bass players. they're just so chill, generally.
although not ours.
he bounces a lot onstage.
beyond that i can't say.
John McGrew: just wait until you see jeff on stage.
its pretty remarkable.
me: i'm looking forward to it!
okay, what's the last question you absolutely must answer for my 20 readers?
John McGrew: although you might regret killing graham. i'm not sayin', i'm just sayin'.
me: i already do.
i had nightmares after 2 episodes of Dexter.
the intro alone.
but i also freaked out at The Shaggy Dog when i was 7.
old enough to know it was impossible to spontaneously turn into a dog.
John McGrew: hmmm. you aren't cut out to be a remorseless butcher, eh?
(no pun intended)
me: i don't think it's in the cards for me.
but i am a gemini. so you never know.
John McGrew: the last question you should ask me:
"what should the readers do after they download your debut EP, Here Be Dragons, Vol. I, from iTunes?"
the answer is: "watch this video:"
me: that. is. amazing.
is the EP available right this second?
John McGrew: right this second!
me: brilliant, i'm on it. i watched the video first... do you think it will matter?
John McGrew: nope. as long as you do both, you should be good to go...
me: ::phew::
well, talking with you has been a total treat. thank you so much!
John McGrew: thank you! looking forward to the show on Thursday!
me: yes! and please tell your sister thank you, as well. for rocking.
that's all.
John McGrew: will do! ciao!
me: ciao!


Anonymous said...

McGrew sounds totally dreamy.

Anonymous said...

McGrew is totally dreamy... I would have married Graham though...

zan said...

This is wonderful. I'm so glad to know that somehow I helped this conversation exist in the world!

MacKenzie said...

Zan! Yay! Thank you so much.

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