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John Pippus Comes of Age

If everything has it's own time, then this is John Pippus' time.

By Shelley Gummeson

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“Turn Turn Turn (To Everything There Is A Season) - The Byrds.

Vancouver singer, songwriter and musician John Pippus has taken the long way around to a music career. He has resurrected his inner rock star on Howl at the Moon, and the go for broke authenticity of this album is hitting a chord with fans and industry alike.

When John discovered rock and roll, things pretty much went sideways after that, according to his mom. Even “Pipps Pages”, the family Christmas newsletter, declared ‘John has left the world as we know it’.  These reckless, heady times were foundational for John Pippus.  He was a longhaired teenager, with a guitar and it was the summer of love.

“I’m a rock n’ roller from way back, like many people” says John. “I was fourteen when the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan.  What could be more perfect? What age would you rather be to see the Beatles on Ed Sullivan?  That was like ‘oh my Lord, I wanted to have fun, be creative and get paid for it that’s amazing’.  I was seventeen in 1967. That was the summer of love.  To be a young buck out on the streets in Vancouver or even San Francisco.  I went to San Francisco in ’68.  Talk about hitting the sweet spot.  It shapes you.” 

Life is full of diversions, and we get detoured around roads we thought we’d take. Pippus was no different.  “In my teens and in my twenties I wanted to do something with music,” says John.  “I wanted to have fun, be creative and get paid for it.  That didn’t pan out so everything went on the backburner and I forgot about music for the most part as I raised my family and worked my day job.“   He continues, “The kids grew up and left home. Like many people, it was like, now what?  What was I doing before all this happened?  People rediscover themselves.  It’s a common and wonderful thing that happens in this time in life.”

John Pippus

John’s hair is silver and short now, and he’s looked at life a while through his blue eyes. Times are heady for John Pippus once again.  The popular Vancouver artist has released four full-length albums, all to positive reviews.  They reflect the eclectic taste he has developed over the years.  When asked which album was the biggest challenge John had no problem picking one out.  “The first one [This City],” he says.  “Because I didn’t really know what I was doing.  For the most part I only wanted voice and guitar on it, that in your ear, late night sort of thing.   But to get that quality I had to stop singing so hard, I had to stop trying so hard.  It took me a long time to learn how to do this album very, very simply.  That was in 2009 and seems like a long time ago. I’ve learned so much about the recording process, the writing process and the marketing of an album.”  Pippus learns his lesson well.

Music is the great leveler

John Pippus is a highly creative individual and has put his urban flavor on the rock, blues and folk he grew up listening too. Through his original songwriting and honed musicianship on guitar and harmonica, John has pushed at the accepted boundaries that accompany the various genres.  This is particularly apparent in his third album Wrapped Up In The Blues.    In album two, Born a Genius, and the latest release Howl At The Moon, John addresses current social maladies and norms, spinning his words into a somewhat derisive and biting commentary.  When asked what brings that side out, as in “Bozo’s On The Bus” on Howl At The Moon, John chuckles.  “That’s the curmudgeon in me. I walk around and see these people in their little shi shi clothes and we all do it, everyone wants to look sharp.  You know when that asteroid went streaking through Russia and that other one missed the earth by 27,000 kilometers I thought that’s great.  It makes political parties, and wars, and little things like ‘oh, I’m worried about my teeth’, go right out the window, we just dodged it you know.”  That’s the idea of the song John says.  “We all do silly little things and really we’re just a bunch of “Bozo’s On The Bus”.  The bus of life.” 

As the Friday night music host at Trees Organic Coffee & Roasting House, John is exposed to all kinds of music and people.  His collaborative nature has put him in cahoots with many of Vancouver’s young and vibrant artists and producers. One of which is producer Adam Bailie “Like so many people I meet, I booked him at Trees. He was in a duo called Watasun. They caught my attention right away.  We got to talking and he ended up producing one song.  That was easy and fun.  We did a bit more and then I said lets do this album together.  He produced Born A Genius and he’s done the last two as well.”   Pippus can’t say enough about Adam’s contribution and his approach to music. “It’s huge.  This album [Howl At The Moon] should really be called the Adam Bailie, John Pippus experience or something because of what he brings to the albums.  Also it’s what he brings to my attitude, as I’m about to record them.  He makes it easy for me where it’s okay if I screw up or it’s okay to be spontaneous. There’s huge Adam footprints on these songs.”

“Music is the great leveler,” says John.   He’s surrounded himself with musicians and a team that speaks the same musical language - from his band mates, (one of who is his son). Jacob Pippus as the drummer in the John Pippus Band, bass player Tony Kerr, and background vocalist Aynsley Leonard to radio promoter Bryon Tosoff and publicist and sometime co-writer Lucy LeBlanc and vocal coach Laura Lang.  John is quick to give credit to his team and says it’s nice to know there are people who’ve got your back.

The John Pippus Band,   John Pippus , Tony Kerr, Jacob Pippus
The John Pippus Band:
John Pippus , Tony Kerr, Jacob Pippus.

What does John Pippus have to look forward to?  “Well, I look forward to going back  to Europe this summer. I was there last year playing festivals.   I’m already booking festivals in Holland for 2014.  I look forward to going to Europe more often.  They really appreciate my music there.  I look forward to doing more music, you know, pushing the boundaries and not getting complacent.  I’m looking to having a good time and challenging myself creatively.”

When John was asked what he’d like to tell people about himself and his music his response was, “It’s not so much about me. I would say to people ‘do find something that you can do’.  It doesn’t have to be music, music is great but it can be anything.  Do something that you can wake up and look forward to doing that day.  I think if we do that we will all be healthier and happier people.  Selfishly it’ll make my world better.  If people are passionate and opinionated it’ll be more interesting for me to walk in the world.  I hope everybody does that.”

Perhaps we should tear a page from “Pipps Pages” and ’leave the world as we know it’. 

 
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