West Coast Singer-Songwriter John Enghauser Brings His Cool Rockin’ Sounds To NYC

Written by on December 15, 2011 in December 15, 2011, Interviews - Comments Off on West Coast Singer-Songwriter John Enghauser Brings His Cool Rockin’ Sounds To NYC

John EngahuaserSinger-songwriter Enghauser capped another year of musical growth and recognition among his peers with his selection as a “Hot 100 Live Artist For 2011” by respected trade publication, Music Connection. He also moved cross country recently – from San Francisco to the Big Apple, New York City- where the live music scene is much different.

All Access Magazine (AAM) caught up with the 2009 L.A. Music Awards “Hot AC Album” winner recently.

AAM: Who is John Enghauser?

JE: (Laughs) I’ve been trying to figure that out my whole life. I’m such an enigma that it’s difficult to put my finger on a single description. I’m an introvert who loves to be the center of attention sometimes; a hard worker who procrastinates; a serious person who loves a good time; creative yet business savvy; energetic yet LOVES to nap; a traveling home body and a pretty good friend/brother/son/boyfriend.

AAM: How would describe your musical style?

JE: Amazing! Just kidding (laughs). I still struggle with this question. I call my genre “electro-acoustic soul rock” with a heavy emphasis on melody and groove, but I ask listeners to first listen and then they can decide what it is to them. It contains elements of jazz, funk, blues and even fusion at times. My music has been compared to artists like Lenny Kravitz, Steely Dan, Todd Rundgren, The Chili Peppers, John Mayer and Jamiroquai. Toss all of that into a blender and out comes a concoction that is my music. Personally, I think I just sound like me, but if I have to be compared to anyone that’s some pretty nice company.

AAM: Kudos on being selected a “Top 100 Live Artist for 2011” by Music Connection. How did that happen?

John EngahuaserJE: I think it started with first getting recognized by Music Connection when I won “Hot AC Album of the Year” with my album “Lost in the Pages” and subsequently receiving three more award nominations at the LA Music Awards. This prompted the folks at Music Connection to review my CD which was pretty well received and then I was selected for the 2010 Hot 100 List. In the last year I’ve had some success with film placement which helped me with the 2011 selection.

AAM: When did it first dawn on you that you seriously desired to become a musician?

JE: I always dreamed of performing as a vocalist with my heroes when I was about ten years old. The first instrument I played was slide trombone at age twelve, but I think I started to take it seriously when I was seventeen when I had my performance as a singer in my high school variety show. A group of guys were putting a rock band together to play in the show with no lead vocalist. While I was still a somewhat shy person at the time, I approached them and told them that I could sing lead. They all knew me, but didn’t have any idea that I could sing. Actually, no one had much idea that I could sing, even my own family. But I knew. We did three nights in a row in front of about 500 people each night and then I knew I was hooked!

AAM: Who do you list as your primary music influences, be they alive or deceased?

JE: Wow! There are too many to list, but I’ll mention a few… Stevie Wonder, Peter Gabriel, (early) Genesis, Yes, Steely Dan, Earth, Wind & Fire, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Jamiroquai, Allan Holdsworth, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Todd Rundgren, Level 42, Foo Fighters, Al Jarreau, George Benson, Weather Report, Jaco Pastorius, Police, Paul Weller, Francis Dunnery, Dennis Chambers, 24-7 Spyz and King Crimson. How’d I do? (laughs)

AAM: You recently moved from San Francisco to New York City. What do you see as differences between the two live music scenes in each city?

John EngahuaserJE: New York has an unbelievable wealth of talent which is similar to what I experienced in L.A. and Boston when I played with so many Berklee music students. I also played with some tremendous musicians in San Francisco. SF is still Jerry Garcia’s town. It’s not as much of a rock town as L.A. or NY. But, If you’re a music fan I’d say that you can find just about anything you’re looking for in both towns except jazz is somewhat scarce in San Francisco. The industry itself pays more attention to NY than San Francisco these days. There haven’t been as many artists coming out of San Francisco as there used to be. Hopefully that will change.

AAM: What’s the best gig you ever played, and why?

JE: What’s funny is that I’ve played on some pretty big stages, but I’ll never forget those moments in the smaller, more intimate clubs when I’d be in a band just starting out. The best example was with my original funk rock band in Boston called Jamawokee. We put on a high energy show and used to play at this tiny underground café in Northampton, MA called “Fire and Water”. The owner loved us and used to have us play there often so we watched our audience grow with each and every show. It would get so hot and crowded in there that I’m surprised the fire marshal never caught on to us. We were very young and all of my band mates were fantastic musicians. We’d literally write entire songs in rehearsals and the chemistry that the four of us had on stage was unprecedented. We’d stretch the tunes out live and do a lot of improv just to see how far we could push our abilities. For each sound check we’d just improvise to warm up. For any audience members that would show up early to hear it, I’d announce, “We call that tune ‘Sound Check’.” A trademark of ours was a tune named “The Menu”. It was a song I’d just written and wanted to play at the next Fire and Water gig, but I hadn’t completed the lyric yet. So I picked up a menu off of someone’s table and sang the contents of the menu to the song. The chorus morphed into a call and response with me waving the menu around and screaming “The Menu” and the rest of the band responding with “The Menu” and back and forth. It absolutely killed! And the owner loved the free advertising (laughs). So we took that concept on the road to some other clubs. If they didn’t have a menu, I’d find something else to read. But it had to be off the cuff and something I hadn’t read before. That was a very creative and pivotal time for all of us. I realized then that I was to be a songwriter, not just a front man. On a side note, the guys from Jamawokee have gone on to become very accomplished musicians and are doing very well. Some have toured with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Josh Grobin, Shakira and many other A-list artists. I am collaborating with one of them now.

AAM: You wrote a song about the late Jaco Pastorious on your current album, Lost In the Pages. Talk about that.

JE: Jaco was the best bassist of all time, period! Everyone tries to copy him, but can’t come close. When I wrote the tune, I didn’t have Jaco in mind at first, but when I started writing the lyric I had recalled parts of his biography which I read twice. The only book I’ve read twice in my life, by the way (laughs). The lyric could actually apply to several celebs who died tragically (e.g. Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix), but it’s about Jaco. I recently had the honor of presenting the posthumous award to him at the 2010 LA Music Awards that his son John received. What an amazing moment for me to meet his son listen to his stories. Some of which I recalled from Jaco’s biography which brought everything to life for me.

AAM: Talk about some of the new songs you are writing?

JE: Ahhhh, you’ll just have to wait and see, but I will tell you that a lot of the tunes have a shuffle groove this time. No special reason, it just turned out that way. I’m very pleased with the songs. I’d say you’ll find some similarities to “Lost in the Pages”, but it will definitely have an identity of its own. In terms of performing the tracks, I am performing vocals, guitar and keyboards. I am not playing bass this time. I’ll leave that to my good friend Eric Holden who will be recording the bass lines when he gets off tour with Shakira in a couple of weeks. Dicki Fliszar will again be featured on drums and Joerg Stoeffel, my sound engineer, performs on some electric guitar.

AAM: Where do you desire for your career to be in, say, five years?

JE: I have never had a five-year plan, though I’d love to be well established as a songwriter in film and TV. And I can only hope that I write that one perfect song that I’ve been chasing by then.