Songwriter, singer, musician, producer. John Pedigo of The O's branches out into new musical territory with his upcoming full-length solo project, Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner. An homage to his father, Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner is John's unique musical brew of ten satisfying tracks, simmering in piano and acoustic guitar, that center on failed relationships, mortality, and embracing life to the fullest.
TDC is proud to premiere the video for the lead track from the album, “Some Days,” which offers the gentle reminder that while life has its ups and down, it’s up to us to do our best, persevere, and enjoy it to the fullest. The video, shot in black and white, captures the sentiment of the song while simultaneously being sweetly nostalgic, slightly goofy, and exciting. Watch the video in its entirety below, then read the interview with John who took the time to speak about his Dad’s influence on the record, "Some Days," and more.
In addition to The O’s, you've been in bands like Slick 57, Rose County Fair, and Boys Named Sue, but Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner is your first solo outing. What influenced your decision to release this record?
In January, my wife and I were in Ireland, and on the 18th I remember talking on the phone with my Mom who told us to come home right away because it was probably the end for Dad, who was very ill. We scrambled, got a flight, and came back as fast as we could. On the way home, I wrote a song about my Dad called “King of The One Liners,” and because of that song, I was led down a path to finish a bunch of other songs that, in general, dealt with mortality, family, and life’s discomforts.
During the time my Dad was ill, The O's were between album cycles, and I found myself writing more, and wondering if I could pull off a whole album. So, I spoke with Trey, who I worked with on the Vandoliers’ records [which Pedigo produced], and he agreed to work with me. One thing led to another, and here we are. I tried to get the record done as quickly as possible, but my Dad passed away two months ago. Unfortunately, he couldn’t hear it all, but he heard rough bits of it as it was coming together and said it was his favorite thing of mine I’ve ever done, which was very encouraging.
I believe that must have been so. You give your Dad a nod with the name of the project, Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner.
The name comes from my Dad’s failed beer, and his more successful bowling team [PM Pilsner]. In the early 80’s, before there was the internet or any textbook on how to make home beer, my Dad made one, which by all accounts was terrible (laughing). He would take the labels off Lone Star, show up at parties and say, ‘Hey, I made this beer,’ and then give it to people. Thing is, he’d see the same people six months later, and the beer would still be there because it was so bad they wouldn’t drink it (laughing).
Maybe was a bit ahead of his time in his own way.
Being that you’ve worked with groups and duos, how differently did you approach this record?
There are two of us [Pedigo and Taylor Young] in The O’s, so when we make a record, we tend to have a producer who gives some insight, so we’re not myopic in what we're doing. This time, I mixed, produced, and engineered most of it myself, so it was a pretty solitary endeavor. I had a drummer and a bassist, and other people would chime in, but most of the time it was me tinkering in the studio and working things out because when I started the record, the sound certainly wasn’t definitive. I knew I wanted it to be acoustic guitar and piano driven, but I had to think about where it was headed. Then, slowly but surely, I added certain elements so that the record would have a full band approach led by those two instruments. And I think, I hope, I accomplished that.
Absolutely. My initial thought at first listen was that it was a very piano driven record, which I love. Who did you get to play keys?
Chad Stockslager, who is just the master. His work was so good that I knew it needed to be up front. And at first, I just wanted him to play on the record, but in the back of my mind, I knew I had to wrangle him into the band, which at that point was really just kinda me (laughing). Eventually, I hoodwinked him and now we’re doing a bunch of shows, as Pilsner Lite, that are half playing and half comedy because Chad’s a comic genius.
Sounds like it's a good time!
“Some Days” is the track that you chose as people’s introduction to the record. Is there a story behind that song, which to me is incredibly relatable?
There is no real story to the song, but I feel that what it is trying to say is pretty straightforward and can be applied to different things in life. It starts off with “Some Days are good/Some Days I pray” and I think everyone feels those things depending on which day it is. We generally hope for the best and expect the worst - I do it all day long, but in doing so, you want to live life to the fullest.
I’d written the song some years ago and it didn’t make it on an O’s record, so when the time came to do this record I thought it was perfect for the point I’m at in my life and the situation with my Dad. When I wrote it, I didn’t have a tangible connection to it; I couldn’t dig my nails into it. But now, if I’m playing it, it’s my Dad who I’m thinking about, so there’s a strong emotional attachment there, more now than when I wrote it.
The video for the song is quirky, nostalgic, and at the same time, thoughtful.
Initially my idea was to put old home movies of my Dad in there, but then I figured it might get too dark or I was taking it too far, so I had the idea to go out there with a car and screw a green screen to the back of it….and I could tell everyone around me did not think it was going to work (laughing), but I assured them it would. I lightened it up with the footage of old cars and added movement with the chase. It’s playful and goofy and nostalgic because it’s based around my Dad; and when I think of my Dad I think of drive-in movies, bowling alleys, and old cars as well as goofy slapstick which was always interesting to him. I think the video is entertaining, and I hope people will like it.
It's really well done and has a lot of different, and interesting, elements to it.
Finally, I always like to know, what are you listening to currently?
I’m constantly listening to something. This morning it was some Damien Rice, and a little Noah Gunderson, and the new Royal Blood album, which I love. I'm also listening to whatever artist I might be working with like 40 Acre Mule and the Vandoliers, who I think I have heard more than they have (laughing). I started playing music though because I was handed a tape with the Smiths on one side and the Pixies’ Bossanova on the other, and that has always been my life album; the Pixies or Frank Black's Teenager of The Year are the ones I return to every couple weeks.
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