Up and coming Austin-area musician JB Elwood has music and several videos newly released. We sat down to chat with JB about all his projects and the way one riff can stick with you for years.
AH: What was the recording session like for “Something In The Water”? Any stories in particular about recording this song?
JBE: I wrote the guitar riff for my song “Something in the Water” when I was in middle school and I never knew what to do with it. It took me over a decade to complete that song. In other words, “Something in the Water” was the most difficult song for me to write. It is funny to think about all the different melodies that I have written over top of that guitar riff. The guitar riff is upbeat, yet I have written sad songs, depressing songs, and even angry songs over that guitar riff.
But I knew that I had a really catchy guitar riff so I did not want to give up on it. It wasn’t until I went to college at UC Santa Cruz that I knew that I had to write a party song with the riff. I had one of the most epic nights of my life while going to school there, and this experience helped spark the idea and melody for the song. Even after this experience, it took me a couple of years to finalize the lyrics. I can confidently say that I am officially happy with how the song turned out.
I work with an amazing producer based out of Nashville, named Andrew Middleton, and my music would not be the same if it was not for him because he is super talented at what he does. I brought this song to him, we recorded the bare bones of the track, which was the guitar riff, and we built it from there. I am super happy with how the song turned out and I hope a different song of mine does not ever take me over a decade to complete again.
AH: How do you compare or contrast “Something In The Water” with your song “Say Oh”?
JBE: There are many differences between my first song, “Say Oh” and my third song “Something in the Water”. “Say Oh” has a more modern pop sound to it and I have many more pop elements to it. In contrast, “Something in the Water” has its pop elements, but I would categorize it as alt-country and with an Americana influence. I grew up with rock n’ roll music, with my very first CD ever being Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses, and I believe when I wrote the guitar riff to “Something in the Water” it was heavily influenced by my love for classic rock. It was not until I discovered Tom Petty and Rob Thomas, that I began taking lyrics and melody writing seriously and began completing my songs. A similarity between my two songs is that, sure, they may have a slightly different sound, but a lot of my songwriting style was captured in both songs. The way I write the song is that I want to go for a big and catchy chorus that sticks in someone’s head. I start off with an interesting melody in the verses that is scaled back just so the chorus hits hard and stands out from the rest of the song. This is why Tom Petty and Rob Thomas are two of my favorite musicians because they took this same approach in their songwriting.
AH: Do you have a favorite aspect of the song “Something In The Water” — either a favorite lyric line or a favorite musical moment? What makes it a favorite?
JBE: My favorite aspect of my song “Something in the Water” is the guitar riff I wrote for it. It sticks in my head and sometimes my own riff even gets on my nerves because I catch myself humming it all day long.
Another favorite aspect of the song is the pre-chorus lyrics, and I love the part where I shout “no regrets” in the song because those two words capture the entire meaning of the song.
This song is about breaking free from the 9 to 5 grind, letting loose, and having a great time with amazing people. Life can be hard and work can drag people down, but it is important to find time to be silly, have fun, and forget about your problems. I wrote this song to be an anthem for those who feel trapped in their work life and need the feeling of breaking free and just having a great time.
AH: Tell us more about what it’s like being a city boy with a country heart. How is this helpful in your songwriting?
JBE: I really like this question because hopefully I can explain who I am as a person and as a musician to your readers. I was born and raised in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, but I have bounced around from city to city my entire life. I think this was a great thing because I believe having this life experience makes someone a well-rounded person. My familial roots are from Appalachia, more specifically, southern West Virginia as well as Kentucky. A majority of my family still live in this region but are spread out in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. My father is a structural engineer, so that is why we always lived near big cities. I have lived in Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, and now I reside in Austin. My parents now currently reside in Culloden, West Virginia and live on land that has been in our family for hundreds of years. I have never forgotten where my familial roots are from and I strive to represent them in my music and songwriting. My grandfather on my mother’s side, was named Eugene “Poppy” Jackson, and he gifted me his 1960’s Gibson Dove Guitar. He carried that guitar around every where he went. He was a preacher and preached the gospel throughout many hollers in the Appalachian region. He was a self-taught musician and played the guitar like a banjo. He used banjo picks and played his heart out so much that he chipped off a lot of the wood finish on the guitar. His 1960’s Gibson Dove Guitar is my prized possession and I feel like it is an important aspect of who I am as a person because that guitar has so much family history behind it. My grandfather played that guitar at church every Sunday, and I even had family members who sang gospel songs on local radio stations. My grandfather would always tell me “Son, you sure know how to pick that guitar. Stick with it, and you will go somewhere one day.” Well Poppy, my music journey is dedicated to you. I will take care of that guitar until the day I die because I know that he blessed that guitar and made it a connection between him, me, and my family. I will not let him or my family down.
AH: What instrument would you like to write a song on that you can’t play?
JBE: My biggest regret was in 6th grade, I had the choice between a violin and a saxophone. I chose the violin. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed playing the violin and that is how I began learning and understanding music. But, to this day, I think the saxophone is the sexiest instrument in the world. It sounds good on anything and it gives me chills any time I hear one. That is why I was obsessed with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. I have always been a huge fan of his songwriting and his band. They were a dynamic group and the saxophone definitely was a key part of their great sound. Maybe one day, I will pick up a saxophone and learn it.
AH: Can you give the readers some record recommendations of albums that you’re really into lately?
JBE: My musical tastes are all over the place so please bear with me. A new artist that I have been really into lately is Sam Fender. He is a pop/rock alternative musician based out of the UK and his music incorporates a lot of the same songwriting styles as Bruce Springsteen. Sam Fender writes meaningful lyrics and his music drives similar to Bruce Springsteen songs. He even incorporates a saxophone, so you already know why I am a big fan of Sam Fender. Sam Fender even states that Bruce Springsteen was one of his biggest inspirations to him writing music.
Another favorite artist of mine is Leon Bridges. His new album Gold-Diggers Sound is incredible and I am excited to see his continued growth in his music career. Leon Bridges is hands-down one of my favorite modern-day artists.
Lastly, Dangerous: The Double Album by Morgan Wallen was the best album of 2021 hands-down. I love every single song on that album and he continues to write masterpieces and will go down as a country legend in my opinion. I have many family members that live in Eastern Tennessee and even in Jefferson City, which is a city he sings a lot about in his music. I can keep going, but these are my top three favorite artists at the moment.
AH: What’s your fall and winter tour schedule look like?
JBE: As a new music artist, and new to Austin, I have been focused on recording songs and music videos and building my social media following. But I am now in the process of lining up concerts for late 2022 and into 2023. I recently put together a great band here in Austin and we’re excited to start performing in Austin and throughout Texas and surrounding states soon.
Thanks for chatting with us, JB. Ask yourself, what does a blend of Guns ‘N Roses and Tom Petty influences sound like? Check out his music, and see if you agree with us: there’s something exciting and very genre-bending in the mixes for JB Elwood. “Something in the Water” is an exuberant anthem. Produced by Andrew Middleton, these songs are really smoking.
Find more info about JB also, here: https://www.instagram.com/jbelwoodmusic