Friday, 2 October 2015


A few months ago, myself and Katie were lucky enough to interview John Waugh on behalf of Newcastle Gig Guide and hear all about his newly released EP, Flight. You can read the interview below, and download the EP here.

During Gig Guide’s second meeting with John, there’s an air of excitement and a genuine sense of passion behind every sentiment expressed by the Newcastle based musician. He meets us to discuss the upcoming release of his debut EP, Flight, the first solo endeavour to be produced by the talented saxophonist. We’re dying to hear all about it, and dive right in talking about timing, inspiration and exciting plans for the future.

You’ve spent time touring with The 1975 and working with The New Standard, how have you found the time to put together this EP?
With touring, a very small percentage of that time is actually spent playing music so you get a lot of time in dressing rooms, or on flights or on a train. I had a lot of spare time even though the schedule was really busy so I was able to write bits and pieces while being on tour. Since being at home in January I’ve had a lot more time to kind of refine those ideas and work with musicians, because up until then all the ideas I had either existed in my head or just on my laptop. So really, for the most part it was just working on it here and there and then piecing those ideas together while I was at home.

If you could describe the EP in three words what would they be?
Naturally it’s quite eclectic and there  are parts of it that are decadent as well, so really quite lavish and over the top. There’s a little bit of self-indulgence but not to the extent where it’s really arrogant or anything like that. So I think eclectic, decadent, but hopefully it still remains quite humble. I think I can stand by those three words.

So where do you get the inspiration for composing from?
One of the tunes I wrote for Stu’s band, called Fillmore, was inspired by San Francisco and specifically a venue. That often is the case – travelling is quite a big influence and that makes sense as well with the timing of writing a lot of this. I was travelling around the world, which is a very inspiring thing to do regardless, so to kind of feed that in to this EP was really cool and quite natural. The name was really influenced by the timing of everything, and the experiences I had and the people I met travelling.

How would you say your time specifically touring with The 1975 influenced this EP?
Just being around them really influenced it, obviously they’re musicians too and they love music just as much as I do so we’re always sharing music. There’s a lot of common ground there in terms of the stuff we listen to and all draw an influence from. I think if anything, it just heightened everything I love about music and it just distilled a little bit more self-belief in me as well because they have so much belief in what they do and they’re so ambitious. You see it work for them so much so naturally that inspires me to have enough faith so that if it does all fall apart or someone doesn’t really embrace it the way you’d expected it doesn’t really matter because you’ve got so much out of it yourself. It also made perfect sense with the exposure of touring to do the EP now when I had about 6 months away from working with the band and to have something with my name on it when I start touring again just makes a lot of sense.

Where did most of the production happen?
A friend of mine who I used to work with in Leeds, Lee Roy,  did a lot of front of house and studio engineering for the bands I was playing in, and I moved up to Newcastle around the time he’d just got a job in Newcastle College so I was able to get access to a studio through him. A lot of the tracking and recording was done there – most of it happened in Newcastle. Most of the guys I’ve got playing on the EP have their own recording facilities at home so they’ve been able to record it and send stuff through. That’s all happened in the North of England; if it hasn’t been in Newcastle it’s been in Leeds or Huddersfield so it’s been quite local.

You’ve mentioned that you’d describe your EP as eclectic, so what different kinds of music would you say influences you?

A lot of old soul and RnB and that kind of music scene inspires me in terms of harmony and how chord progressions are pieced together, and how the fundamentals of groove are built. The thing that I really wanted to do with this EP was to have a core live band but then embellish that with live electronics and ambience. One of the people me and the guys on tour listened to a lot is a guy called John Hopkins, we got his new album and when we were on tour in Europe we listened to him a lot in the dressing room. He’s amazing at orchestrating electronic sounds and making them sound extremely musical, for example he could sample someone sitting on a chair, and take that audio apart and make that into a percussive kind of groove. It’s not that my EP sounds like that, but there are definitely elements of embellishing the live band, and I suppose it’s eclectic in that regard.

What do you find are the main differences performing your own songs or playing with another band?
I think if you’re playing with another band and you’re working collectively as a unit then you have a kind of pack mentality. I don’t really get nervous when I play with The 1975 because it’s not just about me obviously. You’re confronting the crowd and playing for them as a unit, whereas when you’re playing your own music and you’re the face of something there’s a different kind of responsibility there. As much as I still kind of feel responsible playing with other people, I’d be way more nervous playing a tiny gig with my own music than playing in front of 20,000 people with the 1975.

Do you have any plans for the future? Maybe another EP or more work with The 1975?
Yeah, I’d love to release an EP of my own music on a yearly basis. I’ve started working on a new EP already! The first one is written and I’m halfway through recording it and now I’ve got some draft ideas that I want to finish working on and get recorded next year. I’m not really sure if I’m allowed to say much so I probably shouldn’t, but my calendar is pretty full next year and I’m meeting up with the guys over summer to play on some of their tracks which I’m excited about.

When do you reckon the EP is going to be ready?

That’s a really good question; I keep pushing it further ahead. Ideally I want to have it finished before I go away, so towards the end of July and if not, then September – it’ll definitely be released this year, which I know is a huge space of time. I haven’t got any management and I’m not signed to a label so I’m the only one pushing it, and there’s 19 people who are creatively involved so there’s lots of people I’m trying to get in a certain place at a certain time. For the most part, the other guys are involved in other projects and some even have a wife and kids, so it’s hard to fit in a studio session. It’s definitely getting there though and starting to take shape, and it’s really grown a lot since being a collection of ideas on my laptop. It’s amazing, when you bring an idea to life and give it a live energy it’s so satisfying, regardless of how many people hear it.

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