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Not that I doubted him, but John wasn't joking when he said he's a multi-instrumentalist, lol. Guy wrote, recorded and performed some decent songs of his own throughout the decades and seems to have more workable vocals styles than almost any artist I know. 

Been Down

Vancouver 2010 Blues

We Are Not One

Edited by daniel_v
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Not only that but I saw he also worked with Gob.  Guy is definitely talented and a very genuine person. Glad to have met him through the Bored. 

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On 1/22/2021 at 10:13 AM, Shepp said:

I've launched a bandcamp site and intend on issuing a few more releases

The first one is up here:

 

https://johnnyshepp.bandcamp.com/releases


Man, not that the versions on Youtube are bad by any means, but I can notice a big difference in the production quality from what was uploaded there verses what was is downloaded from Bandcamp. I'm assuming that simply has to do with there being less compression in the versions from Bandcamp verses what's uploaded on Youtube? Either way, I've been loving listening to these for several reasons, not least of which is that the production quality/style I heard on LOTGA can be heard in these too. If anyone who reads this enjoyed what they heard on Youtube, and has the the spare cash, I would strongly recommend purchasing a copy of the songs from Bandcamp. The increased production quality alone, imo, makes them worthwhile. I love the fine balance mix between acoustic/electric on different songs (Feeling and Enchanted for example) along with clearly defined and beautiful sounding drumming. 

Then there is the lyrical content. As I said elsewhere, John, I'm glad that when you originally uploaded them to Youtube that you included the lyrics to each song in real time. Processing both the lyrics of a song while listening to the instrumental work made it so that I gave/give more consideration to the meaning of the song each time I listen to them now. Similar to Matt's work, I'm also glad that they're written in a way that can be interpreted subjectively by the listener as opposed to some bland "My heart is broken" pop act lyrics, or a "I want to suffocate myself" emo/screamo, nu metal act (Papa Roach comes to mind).  

Another interesting thing is I find that the majority of these songs get stronger with each listen. It's funny you mentioned Jeff Buckley as an influence because my reaction to his work was the same too: I appreciated it more and more the more listens I gave each song. Speaking of influences, another note is that I can hear a lot of worthwhile ones in these songs without the over all song sounding derivative or unoriginal. Whether it's tinges of blues, folk, rock, or country, I can hear elements of all those genres though out different songs in both your albums.  It seems you were/are definitely someone who came from the 90s (even though were you were playing in the 80s too) and I mean that in the best possible way in the sense that all of the best influences from 60s, 70s and 80s seemed to positively influence the greats that produced/wrote music in that time period/the decades afterwards. Like Buckley, Radiohead, Soundgarden, Coldplay, I would imagine all of you grew up with some of the same influences which would explain some of the similar sounds. That said, even though I can hear the similar influences,  I do personally think that these are well enough written that they simply sound like "you" as well. 

Personal favorites for me are Been Down, Lover's Canyon, Feeling, and I Never Missed You (even though that one isn't included in either of the Bandcamp releases). With Been Down, that lead riff for the song, along with the drumming, immediately pulls you in. Then the bass and background acoustic take over to eventually progress to the verses where you do some fantastic vocals and from there the entire progression of the song is beautifully unique and ensnaring. I really appreciated that it keeps you engaged without turning into a generic, power chord rocker. I think that simply has to do with the way you wrote/mixed the drumming (love that constant, steady high hat in the chorus) along with the acoustic strumming in the chorus. Then the ending drives it home with that extra lead guitar. It really does showcase how being a good writer and a good producer can make a song even better than it would have been otherwise. Hell, even the subtle back ground electric in the pre-chorus adds that worthwhile, extra texture that I appreciate about well produced songs. Really, even today it could still fit well as a single on radio. Same thing goes for Feeling: I love how I can hear all the instruments as clearly as I can; the mix between acoustic and electric creates a very noticeable texture; and the drumming drives along with the main guitar work in a way that makes the song standout noticeably. With Lover's Canyon, as I've mentioned before, I really do enjoy the ending especially. I've found myself, more than a few times, turning it up on my speakers, grabbing my own guitar, plugging it in and jamming along with whatever random lead guitar I can come up. Same goes for Been Down too. They're just standout songs that really inspire more creativity in the listener. 

As a conclusion all can say, John, is that I really enjoyed this collection of songs that you wrote/recorded over the years and I'm grateful that on top of everything else you've done for us here you took the time to collect these and share them with us. Music to me (and I'm sure many others) is a little like heroin to other people: something that people seek out almost obsessively because of what it does for them (except that unlike heroin or other external drugs music is actually natural and healthy, lol). Listening to these songs does for me what all my favorite songs do by changing my mood and my thinking. Sometimes that change in mood and thought is positive, sometimes it's challenging, and sometimes it's pleasantly relaxing. These songs seems to do all of those things. To me, if an artist can achieve that for his or her listeners (whether it's millions or only few that do hear them) then they've succeeded in doing something worthwhile. For me, these songs did/do that. 

A couple questions for you when you have some free time to answer them:

1. With the space between the recording of each song, would I be right to assume that you just wrote/recorded all of these when you had free time in between recording other bands/musicians at Utopia Parkway Studios?

2. I mentioned that Been Down, Lover's Canyon, Essential Truth, and I Never Missed You were favorites of mine. Do you mind sharing the story behind these songs and what inspired you to write them? 

3. You mentioned some influences yourself on your BC page. Would you include Zeppelin in there too? For some reason I thought of them a little when listening to Never Missed You (though that may just be my own subjective interpretation). 

4. With regards to your vocal styles, as was noted early, you certainly do seem to know how to utilize different ones. I find that's pretty rare for artists. most of the time a vocalist only has one (or maybe two) and sticks with it through their career. In these songs though you seem to easily more back and forth between more than a few different ones depending on the genre and mood of the song. Was that intentional on your part or just kind of an unconscious adaptation you naturally did? 

Edited by daniel_v
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First I would like to thank you Daniel for your detailed interest in my music,
it shows you have a keen ear for details and layers, which is what I endevour
to do when writing and arranging my songs, and those of my clients. There are
several tricks of the trade that you have uncovered. 

Similar to artists like Jeff Buckley, I've always been quite eclectic in my 
tastes. The vast survey of music that informs how I approach arranging music
becomes evendent in the layers of these songs. 

As a kid my first two major interests where in Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin.
My sisters bought a lot of records, went through their Beatles phase, and 
brought home Zeppelin III, on which I feasted. Then there was my parents
jazz and classical collections, and oceans more... 

I first started recording when I was about 12, using two cassette machines
to overdub back and forth until I had all the elements down. I already
played drums, guitar, and bass, but my guitar was a classical, which I 
replaced the nylon strings with steel electric guitar strings, threw
a microphone in the hole, and plugged into a clock radio I'd ripped apart
in order to get that distorted tone I was after-I wanted it all to sound
like Foxey Lady. Then came my high school friends, who I would jam with,
record everything, and use their amps and electric guitars to learn on.

By 15 I was learning all the Rush songs on Moving Pictures, drums, bass
and guitar. I just accelerated from there. I have thousands of hours of
tape from that era. At 17 I got my first 4 track, and Shepp Studios was
born, with all my friends recording our songs, one of which I put on Youtube
entitled "Absence Of Compassion". 

1994 was the year I first heard Grace by Jeff Buckley, brought by the
Studio by Rob Wilson, who I was producing. It was the next major spring
board and so inspiring, but during those very densely packed years of
producing records, I did not have the opportunity to write and record
until about 1999, and that's when most of Mixed Emotions poured out. 

Here's a snippet of my schedule when I was working on it
========================================================
11/2/99            Green Room                        
11/3/99            Green Room                        
11/4/99            Lavish Mix                        
11/5/99            Jax                        
11/6/99            Jax                        
11/6/99            Jeff                        
11/7/99            Thomas                        
11/8/99            Bocephus King                        
11/9/99            Bocephus King                        
11/10/99            Bocephus King                        
11/11/99            Bocephus King                        
11/12/99            Marq DeSousa                        
11/12/99            Transvestimentals @ The Brickyard                        
11/13/99            iMac $110.37                        
11/13/99            Quagmire                        
11/14/99            Automatic Slim                        
11/15/99            To Do's                        
11/15/99            Quagmire                        
11/16/99            Jeff                        
11/17/99            Jeff                        
11/17/99            Solarbaby @ Roxy                        
11/18/99            Peggy from SRO                        
11/18/99            Jax                        
11/19/99            Shirley Meeting                        
11/19/99            Jeff                        
11/19/99            Automatic Slim                         
11/20/99            Quagmire                        
11/21/99            Darren Staten                        
11/22/99            Zubot and Dawson                        
11/23/99            Zubot and Dawson
=========================================================

(I was using the name "Quagmire" then, later I changed it to "Quagmyre", but then
to my chagrin, another band started using Quagmyre, so I decided to release under
my own name Johnny Shepp.)

As you can see, just in November of 1999 there was very little time available, so I
would slave away, starting at 10am and working until 3 or 4am.

Nevermind, then Feeling, then Enchanted, then Lover's Canyon, and a few others where
under development. 

The approach was usually a guitar and voice demo to click, to which I would slowly
overdub the other elements. Vocals, there were several passes done, and I would always
take home a cassette copy to tear apart. The lyrics would evolve from there. Some would
undergo surgery, others, like Feeling, where stream of consciousness, just delivered vocally.

Since I was wearing all the hats: Artist, Producer, Engineer, Musicians, I was super hard on
all of them, but I know what trying to achieve perfection will get you-bland. So I always made
sure that what ever I did gave me the chills, rather than the chringes. But Nevermind and Lover's 
Canyon I was never happy with then. I felt they were all deeply flawed. But listening to then
now, that many years later, I realize their collective merits.

Now to answer your questions:
1. With the space between the recording of each song, would I be right to assume
that you just wrote/recorded all of these when you had free time in between
recording other bands/musicians at Utopia Parkway Studios?

A: Yes

2. I mentioned that Been Down, Lover's Canyon, Essential Truth, and I Never Missed You
were favorites of mine. Do you mind sharing the story behind these songs and what 
inspired you to write them?

A: Been Down is a spiritual song, and I did relay my dedication of the song to Ray
Garraway, a dear friend who sadly passed away in 2013. He loved this song. I think
because of the groove, the bassline, and the way it releases at the end, he had
a huge grin on his face when he heard it. Back To You, Back To You, it's a mantra.

Lover's Canyon and I Never Missed You, which I wrote the former in 2007 long after
Utopia closed it's doors, are both relationships gone bad songs, quite universal.

Essential truth is about a dear friend's struggle with schizophrenia.

3. You mentioned some influences yourself on your BC page. 
Would you include Zeppelin in there too? For some reason I 
thought of them a little when listening to Never Missed You 
(though that may just be my own subjective interpretation).

A: As I stated above, always Zeppelin, Bonham, Plant, Page, Jones,
all of their shades are in me. You can hear it especially in
the song Disdain, but I think it cool you hear it in I Never Missed You,
perhaps the acoustic guitars and capo'd acoustics are similar to Page.
The little melody lines in the chorus. Yes.

4. With regards to your vocal styles, as was noted early, you certainly 
do seem to know how to utilize different ones. I find that's pretty rare 
for artists. most of the time a vocalist only has one (or maybe two) and 
sticks with it through their career. In these songs though you seem to easily 
more back and forth between more than a few different ones depending on the 
genre and mood of the song. Was that intentional on your part or just kind 
of an unconscious adaptation you naturally did? 

A: Always intentional yes. Like I stated above, I can't stick to a genre to
save my soul, ecclectic. Just listen to Peace Bomb, and you hear to
electronic side of me. The voice is an amazingly versitile instrument,
but most artists stay within a style because our marketplace is ruled
by strata councils of genres. I refuse to do that. Even on LOTGA we weren't
intirely sure what we were, but it was Rock, and that's all we needed then.
Now, it's alphabet soup of genres. 

More questions please if you please.

JS


 

Edited by Shepp
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More snips from my schedule at Utopia Parkway, kind of shows what chaos I was living in, writing and recording in the gaps

 

=======================================================================

 

1/2/00            Jerry Nickel                        
1/3/00            Jax and John                        
1/4/00            Jax and Jeff                        
1/5/00            Stuff To Do                        
1/5/00            Jax and Jeff                        
1/6/00            Re:MGB                        
1/6/00            Jeff                        
1/7/00            Quagmire                        
1/8/00            Jax and Jeff                        
1/9/00            Jax and Jeff                        
1/10/00            Tech.                        
1/10/00            Jeff                                               
1/11/00            Saturnhead                        
1/11/00            Sales Call                        
1/12/00            Saturnhead                                             
1/13/00            Jeff                        
1/14/00            Bocephus King                        
1/15/00            Jax and Jeff                        
1/16/00            Jason Michas                        
1/17/00            Jason Michas                        
1/18/00            Mimosa                         
1/19/00            Sales Call                        
1/19/00            Saturnhead                        
1/20/00            Quagmire                        
1/21/00            Call Terry                        
1/21/00            Jax and Jeff                        
1/22/00            Steve Dawson                        
1/23/00            Jeff                        
1/23/00            Don Clark                        
1/24/00            Jeff & Tony                        
1/24/00            Meet Mark Hensley @ Airwaves                        
1/25/00            Jeff & Tony                        
1/26/00            Jeff & Tony                        
1/27/00            Terry Jacks                        
1/28/00            Jeff & Tony                        
1/29/00            Quagmire                        
1/30/00            Quagmire                                                                  
2/1/00            Terry Jacks                        
2/2/00            Terry Jacks                        
2/3/00            Quagmire                        
2/4/00            Quagmire                        
=========================================================================

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On 1/27/2021 at 8:37 AM, Shepp said:

First I would like to thank you Daniel for your detailed interest in my music,
it shows you have a keen ear for details and layers, which is what I endevour
to do when writing and arranging my songs, and those of my clients. There are
several tricks of the trade that you have uncovered. 

Similar to artists like Jeff Buckley, I've always been quite eclectic in my 
tastes. The vast survey of music that informs how I approach arranging music
becomes evendent in the layers of these songs. 

As a kid my first two major interests where in Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin.
My sisters bought a lot of records, went through their Beatles phase, and 
brought home Zeppelin III, on which I feasted. Then there was my parents
jazz and classical collections, and oceans more... 

I first started recording when I was about 12, using two cassette machines
to overdub back and forth until I had all the elements down. I already
played drums, guitar, and bass, but my guitar was a classical, which I 
replaced the nylon strings with steel electric guitar strings, threw
a microphone in the hole, and plugged into a clock radio I'd ripped apart
in order to get that distorted tone I was after-I wanted it all to sound
like Foxey Lady. Then came my high school friends, who I would jam with,
record everything, and use their amps and electric guitars to learn on.

By 15 I was learning all the Rush songs on Moving Pictures, drums, bass
and guitar. I just accelerated from there. I have thousands of hours of
tape from that era. At 17 I got my first 4 track, and Shepp Studios was
born, with all my friends recording our songs, one of which I put on Youtube
entitled "Absence Of Compassion". 

1994 was the year I first heard Grace by Jeff Buckley, brought by the
Studio by Rob Wilson, who I was producing. It was the next major spring
board and so inspiring, but during those very densely packed years of
producing records, I did not have the opportunity to write and record
until about 1999, and that's when most of Mixed Emotions poured out. 

Here's a snippet of my schedule when I was working on it
========================================================
11/2/99            Green Room                        
11/3/99            Green Room                        
11/4/99            Lavish Mix                        
11/5/99            Jax                        
11/6/99            Jax                        
11/6/99            Jeff                        
11/7/99            Thomas                        
11/8/99            Bocephus King                        
11/9/99            Bocephus King                        
11/10/99            Bocephus King                        
11/11/99            Bocephus King                        
11/12/99            Marq DeSousa                        
11/12/99            Transvestimentals @ The Brickyard                        
11/13/99            iMac $110.37                        
11/13/99            Quagmire                        
11/14/99            Automatic Slim                        
11/15/99            To Do's                        
11/15/99            Quagmire                        
11/16/99            Jeff                        
11/17/99            Jeff                        
11/17/99            Solarbaby @ Roxy                        
11/18/99            Peggy from SRO                        
11/18/99            Jax                        
11/19/99            Shirley Meeting                        
11/19/99            Jeff                        
11/19/99            Automatic Slim                         
11/20/99            Quagmire                        
11/21/99            Darren Staten                        
11/22/99            Zubot and Dawson                        
11/23/99            Zubot and Dawson
=========================================================

(I was using the name "Quagmire" then, later I changed it to "Quagmyre", but then
to my chagrin, another band started using Quagmyre, so I decided to release under
my own name Johnny Shepp.)

As you can see, just in November of 1999 there was very little time available, so I
would slave away, starting at 10am and working until 3 or 4am.

Nevermind, then Feeling, then Enchanted, then Lover's Canyon, and a few others where
under development. 

The approach was usually a guitar and voice demo to click, to which I would slowly
overdub the other elements. Vocals, there were several passes done, and I would always
take home a cassette copy to tear apart. The lyrics would evolve from there. Some would
undergo surgery, others, like Feeling, where stream of consciousness, just delivered vocally.

Since I was wearing all the hats: Artist, Producer, Engineer, Musicians, I was super hard on
all of them, but I know what trying to achieve perfection will get you-bland. So I always made
sure that what ever I did gave me the chills, rather than the chringes. But Nevermind and Lover's 
Canyon I was never happy with then. I felt they were all deeply flawed. But listening to then
now, that many years later, I realize their collective merits.

Now to answer your questions:
1. With the space between the recording of each song, would I be right to assume
that you just wrote/recorded all of these when you had free time in between
recording other bands/musicians at Utopia Parkway Studios?

A: Yes

2. I mentioned that Been Down, Lover's Canyon, Essential Truth, and I Never Missed You
were favorites of mine. Do you mind sharing the story behind these songs and what 
inspired you to write them?

A: Been Down is a spiritual song, and I did relay my dedication of the song to Ray
Garraway, a dear friend who sadly passed away in 2013. He loved this song. I think
because of the groove, the bassline, and the way it releases at the end, he had
a huge grin on his face when he heard it. Back To You, Back To You, it's a mantra.

Lover's Canyon and I Never Missed You, which I wrote the former in 2007 long after
Utopia closed it's doors, are both relationships gone bad songs, quite universal.

Essential truth is about a dear friend's struggle with schizophrenia.

3. You mentioned some influences yourself on your BC page. 
Would you include Zeppelin in there too? For some reason I 
thought of them a little when listening to Never Missed You 
(though that may just be my own subjective interpretation).

A: As I stated above, always Zeppelin, Bonham, Plant, Page, Jones,
all of their shades are in me. You can hear it especially in
the song Disdain, but I think it cool you hear it in I Never Missed You,
perhaps the acoustic guitars and capo'd acoustics are similar to Page.
The little melody lines in the chorus. Yes.

4. With regards to your vocal styles, as was noted early, you certainly 
do seem to know how to utilize different ones. I find that's pretty rare 
for artists. most of the time a vocalist only has one (or maybe two) and 
sticks with it through their career. In these songs though you seem to easily 
more back and forth between more than a few different ones depending on the 
genre and mood of the song. Was that intentional on your part or just kind 
of an unconscious adaptation you naturally did? 

A: Always intentional yes. Like I stated above, I can't stick to a genre to
save my soul, ecclectic. Just listen to Peace Bomb, and you hear to
electronic side of me. The voice is an amazingly versitile instrument,
but most artists stay within a style because our marketplace is ruled
by strata councils of genres. I refuse to do that. Even on LOTGA we weren't
intirely sure what we were, but it was Rock, and that's all we needed then.
Now, it's alphabet soup of genres. 

More questions please if you please.

JS


 


Good lord, man. Definitely doesn't look you had much free time at all. As always thanks for all the info. Love reading this stuff.

Since you're cool with more questions, I'll throw another one out here with regards to tunings. Would I be correct in assuming Been Down was written in drop D and Feeling in standard? Would love to teach myself those two on guitar. 

Edited by daniel_v
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Ok Daniel, here we go... you may need to re read this a few times to get the gyst.

 

I'm going to describe not only the tunings, but also the the arrangements in terms of tracks. The best advice I have in terms of learning
these guitars is to first be familiar with the CAGE chord shapes in standard, as these alter quite a bit when you play in open tuning.

Most of the songs from the Mixed Emotions era, ie, 1999-2002 were written with open tunings on the acoustic guitars, blended with standard tuned electrics
on top. Lover's Canyon, Torture, and Essential Truth are standard tunings, however in Essential Truth you'll hear a capo'd 12 String
doubled over the final Choruses; (Most 12 Strings that are older are never tuned to standard EADGBE, but a whole step down to DGCFAD because the 
neck would warp over time from the higher tension) and that was the case here.

 

Been Down's tuning on the acoustics was DADFAD in order to get the minor/major stress points out. I believe the electrics were just Drop D, 
as in DADGBE. This allowed the deviations you hear occassionally on the E chords from minor to major dominant (a blue note) in the altered 
chorus. But of course I chop up the progression to keep it more interesting during the piece. The fingerings are quite a challenge.
The electrics were a Dean Cadillac through the Marshall using the neck pickup.

 

Nevermind's acoustics were tuned to EAEABE (keep in mind that using this tuning puts stress on the D string as it's up tuned to E)
This tuning has a minor 6 flavour to it. It starts like a celtic drone with the Hammond B3 blended in throughout. The Electrics were
all a 1963 Telecaster through a Fender Blues Deluxe.

 

Torture is in Standard, quite a lot of modal movement in that one. One Acoustic, hand drums and shakers, Wurlitzer, two Strat tracks, one with a Fuzz pedal on it. Because of the repetious nature of the progression, there are some later jazzy aspects on the Wurly. 

 

Lover's Canyon has a very common progression in the Verse/Chorus sections, but the bridge has a E major 7, to E minor 7 flat 5, to A7 modal section
which changes the feel to push the final chorus section. I used a 1980's Stratocaster through the Marshall for all of the guitars, and an Ernie Ball
Wah on the solo guitar.

 

Enchanted is a drop C tuning CGCGCD. That's why the main riff melody has a celtic sound to it. The electrics are in standard, Stratocaster through a Marshall with a Maxon tube screamer in between. The main rhythm guitar is a Telecaster as is the delay guitar, using the Roland 555 tape echo liberally.
Then wurlitzer and a Roland MKS for synth bits. I even added a touch of tambourine.

 

Lies uses that same tuning as described previously in Nevermind. The acoustics are doubled around a finger style single acoustic, with two tele tracks with special effects on one, delay and pitch bend from an H3500, printed to tape. 

 

Feeling's tuning is DADGBD, and the opening line is accomplished by using an octave on the 2nd and 5 strings on top of the open wash of the others. There are two heavy telecaster through Marshall guitars, likely using Boss Orange Distortion pedal, and the double stops are doubled on a third track. All of these guitars are standard tuned. Then a 12 string stratocaster enters in the prechoruses. This is standard as well with lighter overdrive. 
 

Hoping this illuminates the obviate :)

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Been a few months and made time the past few days to again listen to your album Mixed Emotions John.  It's still really enjoyable every time.  Voices, Essential Truth and Enchanted are probably my favorites if I'm forced to pick between tracks.  But hard not to include Lovers Canyon, I really like that outro.  Great musicianship but more importantly to me are all the great songs.  Did you have any time between that recording schedule to get a band together and get these songs played live?  

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Thanks very much, I'm glad you're enjoying the tracks. I never did pursue getting the material ready for live as I was quite busy playing out with my

studio partner's band and producing, doing live sound and all the other stuff. I would have been fun to do however, it would have likely been a four piece 

group.

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