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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

I Sing in the Shower. I could Probably Do It.

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John Sotter (“Acoustic Warrior”) is a San Clemente singer-songwriter who performs locally but has also performed in countries around the world. I met up with him on Thursday 30 August 2007 and conducted the interview on his front porch.

I know you’ve traveled all over. If there were one place you’d name as your favorite, what would it be?

I had a great time in most of the places that I visited. I was a really big fan of New Zealand. There’s Auckland and Christchurch which are kind of small cities compared to Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, but beyond that it’s all just little main street towns and lots of national
parks. It’s kind of like here where you can ski in the morning and surf that evening. There’s mountains and beaches in pretty close proximity. They’ve got a very (pause) environmental demeanor there I guess. They’ve got a lot of parks and places to camp out and a lot of beautiful scenery, a lot of subtropical rainforest. I’ve been there twice and spent seven months in New Zealand. I’d be perfectly happy to go back there for a long time, at any time.

I was also a big fan of Nepal and the Himalayas. Very simple people, very religious people. It was interesting to compare the people that live four days walk from any sort of fucking paved road, people that have never seen a car in their life, people that are really just into their religion. They’re praying multiple times every day, dressing a certain way and doing certain things to fully observe their religion. Coming from a place like this where Christianity is just such a convenient religion. You show up on Sunday morning and put your ten bucks in the basket and you can be a bastard the rest of the week.

I spent a lot of time in Mexico too. That’s really close and accessible. I’ve spent about a year there now and I always have a really good time down there as well.

What made you want to become a musician?

My grandfather was the conductor of a brass band in Sheffield, England. He died just before I was born. My dad was from Pennsylvania, and he went over to Sheffield to do his Master’s work. He was a jazz trumpet player and he was walking down the street one day and heard the brass band practicing, and he knocked on the door and asked if he could sit in. I guess he was used to doing that as a jazz trumpet player, y’know just walking up to a gig and asking if he could sit in. So, the conductor, my grandfather, thought it was pretty odd for him to just walk in and say “hey, I’ve got my trumpet. Can I play?” It’s like a fifty-piece band with rigorous a tryout for getting admitted to the band and that sort of thing. He ended up introducing him to his daughter and having him over for dinner, and they eventually got married. So I have music on both sides of my family.

We had a lot of music in the home growing up. My parents were turning me on to opera, classical music and big band music. My parents were always very into it. They’d sit me down and say “Listen to this, John. This opera’s…” They’d give me the history of the opera give me the story behind the opera, and I’d pretty much be bored with it after five minutes and I’d ask if I could go upstairs and watch something else.

I played a bit of violin and clarinet going through elementary school. It was I guess kind of required that you take an instrument for a year, and then it was optional if you wanted to pick up a couple other instruments. After elementary school, I didn’t do anything until I got to high school. Some friends of mine wanted a singer for a band and I said, “I sing in the shower. I could probably do it.” So I became a singer in a rock n roll band in my senior year in high school. I was kind of uncomfortable just standing up there holding a microphone, so figured I’d learn to play the guitar.

I moved away to go to college and I bought a guitar at the age of eighteen and started teaching myself. And whoever around me knew how to play, I’d just watch them or get them to teach me a few things. I got a chord guide and started teaching myself chords. And about that same time, some friends of mine from college introduced me to the Grateful Dead, and I went to some Grateful Dead shows. Being a musician in this day and age is a noble thing, and it’s also a nice thing to do where you can bring pleasure to other peoples’ lives instead of suing them in order to get a bigger TV for yourself y’know.

You get to write the copy of the label that goes in the corner of your jewel case, what your music is all about. You get about twenty-five words or less. What does your label say?

(lights a cigarette.) Shit. Twenty-five words. What is my music about? Give me four or five months to figure that out and I wouldn’t come up with anything good. When I’m re-vamping my website maybe I’ll try to come up with some slick verbiage to describe what it’s all about. It’s tough, you know. [Sotter explains for almost four minutes, at which point the interviewer has an exchange as follows.]

If we boiled that down, we could have twenty-five words or less.

You’d have to boil it for twenty minutes.

[The following response is the result after twenty minutes of boiling.]
I have some passion in my voice, and mean what I’m singing. I’m a well-traveled singer-songwriter, guitarist, harmonica player, producer, engineer. Completely self-taught, inspired by the natural environment, original and from the heart.

You get to form a band with no more than four people, living or dead. Who is in John Sotter’s band?

Wow! (pause) it would be Jerry Garcia, Bob Dylan, Neil Young. And John Sotter?

You can have up to four people besides yourself.

Besides myself. (pause) Uh, let’s have another one, then. (pause) John Bonham. Need someone other than a guitar player, I guess.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a musician?

Whew! (long pause) I don’t know. In a way I can say I can’t imagine myself ever not being a musician. It’s something I love to do. Even though playing in bars a lot tends to kind of beat the enjoyment out of it. Having to play lots of cover songs and things like that, there’s moments when I’m not enjoying myself as much as I ought to be. I can’t see myself not being a musician, but perhaps if I wasn’t a musician, I might be some sort of traveling thespian.

Like a one-man show?

Like a one-man street performer or something like that. I don’t know. Perhaps I’m just some sort of rebel or something. Perhaps I’ve never grown out of that phase when you’re sixteen and you want to rebel against everything. I just think life is short, and life can be pretty damn meaningless considering how many millions and millions of people are on the planet right now. I mean, it doesn’t really matter if you’re an accountant or a ditch digger, your influence on the world is going to be forgotten so quickly after your death. I like to think there’s something greater to life. I’d like to leave some sort of legacy, whether it’s some great tunes that people can listen to after I’m gone. Or just the memory of having met me and enjoyed a beer and a conversation with me. Around here, you meet so many people that are just focused on the wrong things. I like to think that I can see a little bit past those false idols and I’m living for something more than just the biggest TV on my block.


For more information about John Sotter and listen to his music, visit his MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/johnsotteracousticwarrior


About the Writer

Gary Schwind is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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1 comments on I Sing in the Shower. I could Probably Do It.

Log In To Vote   Score: -1
By brookekb on October 08, 2007 at 12:54 am
i have some vintage john sotter from when you fronted "lost generation!" got the original cassette recording from 1988..is it worth anything?!!
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