Q&A: A Summit County staple, John Truscelli talks new album, songwriting, life
June 1, 2017
Under the direction of front man John Truscelli, the John Truscelli Band has been a staple of Summit County for more than a decade, playing hundreds of shows, festivals and functions every year for well over a decade.
Crossing genres as they produce a unique sound derived from Americana, rock, bluegrass, folk and alt-country music, Truscelli and crew have become known for a mix of unique and fun covers with original music that has even been included in film and television shows.
The single "Hard To Say Goodbye" was featured on "Deadliest Catch" on the Discovery Channel and in the movie "The Fifth Quarter." Additionally, Truscelli earned an honorable mention nod at the Telluride Bluegrass Troubadour competition in 2013.
His debut album, "Leave Tomorrow," includes three songs licensed for film and TV, while the newest album "Pictures," released this month, also has a pair of songs licensed for film and TV on it.
Truscelli has worked on many recording projects, as well with numerous artists, including Chuck Leavell of the Rolling Stones, Ed Roland of Collective Soul, Peter Stroud and many others.
He's played with Clint Black, Trenna Barnes, Girls Guns and Glory, and he's opened for such acts as Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Coco Montoya, Martin Sexton, Trailer Choir, Splitlip Rayfield, Ryan Montbleu and Waylon Payne.
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The band recently released its second album, "Pictures," and held a record-release party March 5, at the Silverthorne Pavilion. Before the event, Truscelli with violinist Jess Rose Moidel talked with the Summit Daily News in between playing songs and plugging the show on the local radio station Krystal 93. Find out more about the band at JohnTruscelliBand.com.
Summit Daily News: Tell me about the John Truscelli Band.
John Truscelli: Different arrangements have played up here in Summit County for 15 years or more — at pretty much every bar and restaurant you can play in Summit County. Some of them, we even talked them into doing music … In a small community like we live in, you have friends, you don't burn bridges, and you can make a pretty good living doing what you love in a resort community like this, so it's pretty cool to be able to do that.
SDN: Did I hear you say there are going be 10 members of the band (for the album release party)?
JT: Ten. Yeah, total. Myself, Jessica Rose Moidel (and) Mike Huberman — he actually was my duo guy for a long time and was in the band forever and still is, but he moved to Missoula, Montana, to follow a girl, which is a good thing to do, if you ask me.
If you're going to do something in life, at least follow a girl, you know. It's in the movie. Haven't you seen the movie?
(Others band members include Tyler Easton and Sean McLaughlin on bass; Patrick Crean and Andy Sweetser at live shows; Mike Levesque on the new record for drums; Tyler Truscelli on guitar; Christopher Zaragoza on percussion and Angie Janzen on fiddle).
(Truscelli and Moidel take a break in the interview to play a song on the radio before returning.)
JRM: Adjectives for John Truscelli 'legendary.'
SDN: What are some others?
Jess Rose Moidel: No, no.
JT: Humble. Can you be both of those things?
JRM: You can be confident.
JT: Let's be that.
JRM: You're not egotistical. You're the kindest person I know. Everybody would say that.
JT: You're sweet. Thank you.
SDN: Since you only get to play a few, how are you picking the songs you're playing on the radio today?
JT: It's mostly according to what notes I can hit this early. No, it's just the whole record is pretty much standalone songs. So we're trying to do some that are a little different. It's a very eclectic style on the record, like you hear a rock tune, and then one that's more front-porch, bluegrassy and you might hear one that's adult-contemporary sounding. So it's kind of mixed up, not necessarily on purpose, but just the writing style, sometimes you just get eclectic.
SDN: Now this is an all-original album. What kind of pride do you take in having an entirely original album?
JT: Huge pride. This is the second one I've done, but I've never done one like this. This one is the most time and energy, and financially, the most I've ever put into an album so it's pretty exciting.
SDN: For someone who picks up the album, what are they going to hear when they hit play?
JT: Hopefully, they take it and use it for what they need it for. Because I kind of learned a songwriting trick from Bob Dylan, which is make it personal but make it vague enough that someone else can take it and make it personal for themselves. So the writing style has always kind of been that way for me as far as wanting it to be relatable for whatever situations someone else is putting it to, and they can use that for healing, or for inspiration, or for whatever.
SDN: In addition to Bob Dylan, who do you think are some of the biggest influences on your music?
JT: God. Neil Young.
JRM: My dad taught me Neil Young was god, and John Lennon was the other god.
JT: And The Beatles, for sure. If you think about The Beatles, and what they did. I'm talking far apart from the whole glam — you know, the crazy screaming girls and that side of The Beatles. I'm talking about their songwriting, and the fact that those four guys were together in a band, they wrote so many songs on their own, but they brought it to the group and did it together.
Just songwriting, to me, the good ones come in like five minutes. It's a you're-racing-to-write-it-down-type thing.
SDN: So are you feeling the emotions in the moment when you're writing most of your songs?
JT: Well, like with a love song, you can't force one. It has to be something you're thinking about or feeling. So usually, yeah (I am feeling it in the moment). Songwriting is almost like a therapy for me because I have one of those busy brains that's always going. So to get it out on paper is almost something that's helps me.
Certain songs are also written from a standpoint — when I write anyway — of maybe helping someone through something. I did one called "Hard to Say Goodbye" that is about the death of a loved one. It got something like 60,000 views on YouTube and more than 100 people have used it for like their wake for their dad or they made a video for someone, and it's just overwhelming.
JRM: And "Scars," too.
JT: "Scars." Yeah, my brother has PTSD from being in the military. My step-brother. And he said, "Write me a song about how we feel when we come home and everything," and that was "Scars."
SDN: Focusing on you. You're on the radio, being featured in the newspaper, you have your second album out. What's it like to be you right now?
JT: Oh my god, so much fun, so cool. I'm pinching myself, definitely. I'm sure everybody (in the band) is pretty excited about (the new album and the release party). It's a big day for the band so I'm super excited. Lucky would be the one word that I'd say how I feel.
This story was originally published in the March 14, 2017 edition of the Summit Daily News.
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