What is your name?
My name is John Thumb
What is your genre of music?
Right now I’m trying to imitate my bluegrass heroes,
I guess you’d call it folk music, country music..
Give us a little bio about you.
I was raised in southern Ontario, in the countryside.
My dad was a carpenter, my mother a church singer.
I did terrible in school and often got in trouble for skipping class
And for not finishing assignments. After high school I played in a
Rocknroll group with my brother and eventually we recorded an LP in 2011.
Since then I’ve spent most of my time hitchhiking around the country and working
In the bush of northern Ontario to pay for it.
What made you go in to music?
I am the youngest child in my family I have 5 brothers and sisters.
My whole family plays music so it was something that was always
Around me growing up. There were always guitars lying around the
house and we had a big old piano that I would climb up to and fiddle
Around with. It started at a very early age.
Are you a signed?
Yes, I’m signed to Other Songs Music Co. an independent record label
Based out of Hamilton Ontario.
Your set to release your album ‘ John Thumb’, tell us more about it.
It was recorded in April of 2017 at the Other Songs studio in west Hamilton. I was living in Thunder Bay at the time and flew down and recorded everything in 3 weeks. Most the songs I wrote around 2011- 2014 but a few of them are brand spankin new from 2017.It was a really exciting record to make because so many of my favorite musicians out of Hamilton were willing to perform on it. Because its all acoustic we spent much less time on the production Of effects and fancy tricks and put all our energry into getting a performance from everybody and I think it translated into a very honest sounding record and so I am very proud of it. I feel very lucky to have been able to work with so many great people
what was the naming process like?
A former girlfriend of mine would always refer to me as being “all thumbs” because I am so clumsy and so eventually she would call me “johnny thumbs” Then after we made the record we had to come up with a name and it just started to make sense. I am pretty clumsy, sticking my thumb out hitchhiking has got me where I am today and my guitar style is heavily influenced by people like Mississippi John Hurt or Doc Watson who were pioneers of finger style where you have your thumb alternating on the lowest strings to get that driving bass rhythm while the melody is played on the higher strings with your fingers.
So It just made sense; im all thumbs- Im clumsy, Im a hitchhiker, and I lead with my thumb.
What was the writing process like?
The writing process for me is always pretty unconscious at first. I can kinda tell when a song is coming but if I sit down and try and force it nothing comes out so just go about my day and try to remind myself that there are songs in me and once and a while they just pop out. A lot of my best songs are written by just sitting down and playing the whole thing straight through as if I already know the song. Then its just a matter of capturing that 3 or 4 minutes and remember it and playing it over and over again.
What was the recording process like?
The recording process was great. We tried to get as much live off the floor as we could and record a lot straight to tape to give it that nice warm feel. Recording was simple and laid back. Like it should be. We were just trying to capture the performance of the musicians rather than trying to create something new out of thin air, which can be great but doesn’t fit with the style of this record. I also walked around downtown Hamilton with a microphone and recorded the sounds of the city which are all over the record.
Do you have any gigs or tours coming up?
I do but nothing is finalized so id rather not say too much. Will likely be doing a tour in the spring/summer.
If so where will you be heading?
I would like to go Canada wide but if I had to choose I would choose the east coast.
You work with Other Songs Music Co., how did this come about?
Scott from Other Songs came approached myself and the band I was in around 2010 and
Asked us if we wanted to be on his record label. We were all pretty young and didn’t have much going for us at the time so it was a no brainer. We were pysched!
Do you play any instruments?
Yes I play a few different instruments but mostly guitar.
Who are your influences?
I could go on all day about my influences. The obvious ones are people like Doc Watson, Bob Dylan,
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Band, Neil Young, Ricky Skaggs, Tony Rice, John Prine.
Ones that might not be so obvious are people like Nasir Jones, or Wu Tang Clan or Jurassic 5.
I am as influenced by other genres as I am by the genre of music that I play. Sometimes more.
How do you get inspiration to write songs?
Its not something I can just go out and get. Like I said before sometimes I just know a song is coming and I just wait patiently til it comes. Someone once told me “if you’re going to be a writer you have to have interesting experiences to talk about.” So I try to keep things exciting and am always on the move.
Where do you see yourself now in 5 Years?
I see myself sitting on my bed or sitting at the kitchen table practicing fiddle tunes on my guitar.
When you’re not doing music, what do you do?
Outside of music my favorite thing to do is to ride my skateboard. Very few things in life provide as much freedom and excitement as bombing down a hill amidst the noise and traffic. I also like to get out there away from civilization and into the bush. I was raised in the country so I can never stand to be in the city for too long.
What was the song you listened to most that influenced you to go more in to the music scene?
In the 6th grade I was struggling with my math homework when “Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan came on the radio and I heard it for the first time. It was like a bullet through the heart. I immediately closed my math textbook and picked up my guitar.
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
My dad always said “Be Here Now” which I’ve tried to live my life by.
He also told me “just cause someone’s giving you advice doesn’t mean its good advice”
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians not about the industry and just as an artist?
Don’t give up but don’t force it either. Follow your ears.
What quote or saying do you always stick by?
Raised by the wolves I knew no bounds, life was good when I lived with the hounds
Now I am tame and live behind walls, I still fight the urge to lick my balls.
Where in your hometown is a must go to visit?
Your straight off tour;
1/ where do you go? Dundas Ontario
2/ who do you see? My best friend James.
3/what do you eat? Samosas
When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget?
The guitar, the chords, the lyrics, the melody and the rhythm
If you had to give your younger self advice, what would it be?
Don’t sweat the ladies and practice your guitar twice as much.
Do you have social media accounts so your fans can follow you?
Yeah you can follow me on instagram
Tell them to send nudes.