Seventh full-length solo record from Youngstown, OH’s Johnny Stanec. Featuring ten new songs and a more straightforward rock and roll sound. For fans of hooks and harmonies.
With every song you write, are you still learning to become an even better songwriter?
I think that songwriting is hopefully always something I’m getting better at doing. Every time I finish a song or a record, I hope I’m putting something different into it to set it apart from the previous ones. Even if what I’m putting into that song is that it feels like it happened naturally and wasn’t something forced. It’s hard to judge your own work, but I like to think that with every release I get a little better at what I’m trying to do. I’ve released music at a pretty steady pace for the last twelve years, so I hope it’s a gradual incline as far as quality goes. I’d be happy if that never changes.
As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?
Not really. I mean, I’ve written songs that are lighthearted and uptempo, which go down a lot easier than the songs that I’ve written that are slow, dark and acoustic; so it just depends. I just hope that whatever the case is, that the songs come across as honest and something people can relate to. It will always be weird waiting for some kind of reaction to a new record or trying to win over a crowd for the first time, but it’s something I like doing, so it’s just part of it.
Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?
Absolutely, yes! There are just so many people trying to get your attention now that if anyone listens, it’s an accomplishment. I’ve never had a label or booking agent or any type of assistance getting my songs out there, so it’s always uphill. I suppose every time I release something there is a slightly larger group of people interested in it than the one before, but unless there happens to be some kind of breakthrough, it will always be difficult.
When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?
Every now and then you’ll be sitting around, strumming some chords and then all of a sudden you hear something in your head. Even though you’ve played those same four chords a million times, you hear them differently and a melody comes out. When that happens, it’s a good feeling. When I started writing for this last record (Things Were Better, When) I went into it with a few songs already written, but as they were being arranged it opened up some new ideas and then I wrote nearly all of the record in a few weeks. I can’t say if any of them are hits, but there is definitely something fresh about this set of songs. They were arranged with a band instead of just in my own head, so that definitely made a difference. The drumming is also very driving and gives the tunes movement. That’s a big factor. They sound urgent and immediate. None of them are longer than three minutes, which is a first for me. People should check them out!
You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?
I think lyrics, in general, are what set all songs apart. There are plenty of people who can come up with some kind of melody or arrange a song in some way, but it’s hard to fake lyrics. When the lyrics are weak, the song suffers. I like to think that I write better than average lyrics, so I hope people pay attention if they ever listen to my songs. Not everything has to be a massive statement of importance, but at least the lyrics need to be clear and clever. Something that shows the writer cares about what they are doing. If you can manage that, then that’s at least something to hang your hat on at the end of the day.