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John Allred On His New Concept Album

The songwriter wrote and recorded one song a month for 12 months.

By Zach Collier

Although John Allred hails from West Hartford, Connecticut, he’s become an artistic anchor for the music scene in Provo, Utah. Since 2004, Allred has consistently released vast amounts of material, including 6 EPs and 6 (soon to be 7) full length albums. His work has afforded him many opportunities: he’s opened for the likes of Parachute, Augustana, Ben Folds, Alex Goot, Secondhand Serenade, and others on North American tours. John Allred was kind enough to give us at Reach Provo a little bit of his time. See what Allred has to say about his upcoming album Seasons – due out February 12, 2016.

The concept for this album is interesting: one song for every month of the year. How did you come up with the idea? 

Back in 2009 I released an EP based on a single day called Sunrise/Sunset. In 2011 I did an EP where a sentence is formed by the track listing called Come Back.  So, I’ve been doing concept records for a while now. Early last year I’ve started writing a lot about the “Seasons” of a person’s life and the symbolism of that. So it kind of started from there and evolved into what became a collection of 12 songs.

Is the album specifically about each month? 

Not specifically.It’s songs written and recorded month to month of my life over a year. Almost like musical journal entries. Some were simple acoustic songs that took a weekend, while some of the others took many late nights in the studio and the full four weeks to finish production.

So what is the album about overall?

I tried to capture the feeling of every day life. The struggles, the good times. Being in love. Experiencing Loss. Trying to find meaning. It’s one of the most personal things I’ve certainly done. No filter.

John Allred

Personally, certain seasons really stick out in my mind. Like October, November, December, and then maybe like May and June. The rest of the months just kind of blend together. What did you learn about each month that you didn’t know before this project? 

I was surprised how some seasons were easier to write in than others. There’s something about the cold weather that keeps me in that state of mind where I can write constantly. Spring followed last year with a much happier and hopeful feel – as to be expected. But surprisingly, Summer ended up being the longest to finish. Fall was by far the fastest and easiest simply because the band was in full force at that point. 

You mentioned being in love, experiencing loss, and trying to find meaning. Were there significant life events that happened to you personally during the writing process?

I lost some people in my life this past year. Mortality is a major theme in these songs. Also, I passed 2 years in a relationship. That hasn’t happened before in my life, so it opened a whole new outlet to write about. Love songs are a pretty new thing for people that know me. 

What does this album release mean to you personally?

It marks almost 12 years since I moved to Provo. It’s my 7th record. This record feels like the natural progression and culmination of those 12 years. It also captured a year of the growth of 4 people I’m currently touring with.

Who are the members of the band that you’re playing and touring with this time around? How did they impact the creative process?

Eric Watson is on Drums. [He’s] a very versatile player. He certainly plays to a room when you tour. Dynamically this is a record that goes a lot of places and he was up for the task. He has such a nice feel and filled out the songs nicely. 

Jordan Adams is an accomplished bass player and a great singer. You’ll hear his voice singing harmonies on most songs on the record. That’s the first time I’ve included someone on the vocal end for over a decade. He’s an accomplished songwriter himself and certainly helped shape parts of the songs to turn out the way they did. 

Aaron Child is on lead guitar and cello. He’s our secret weapon. One of the most knowledgable guitarists I’ve met. He has incredible touch and sound. It’s unmistakable. He truly has a signature way of playing. We like to spend time improvising a lot, especially with string parts.

Allred with his bandmates Eric Watson, Aaron Child, and Jordan Adams.

Will you guys be touring in support of this album? 

We never really stop touring, but we head up to Rexburg and down to San Diego this February.

You said this album was self produced and self recorded. What was the recording experience like versus working with Joshua James at his studio for Forest Eyes?

Working with Joshua was an incredible experience. I learned quite a bit about my strengths and weaknesses with him in the studio as well as Scott Wiley at June Audio. The major difference was time. I had more time. It took 2 weeks to record Forest Eyes. I had a year to complete Seasons.

Do you have a favorite track from the album? What’s the story behind the song?

At the moment, I’m the most excited to play the song “Through The Night” live. It’s a more evolved sound and more like what we plan on doing more of in the future. 

What do you hope listeners will take away from the album after hearing it completely through? 

I hope it will connect with them. There’s a lot of honesty in the lyrics and questions that I think we all ask. It’s a very personal ride. I also hope they appreciate the effort of the production. It’s the most cinematic thing I’ve done – so much so [that] there will be instrumental versions as well.

Looking forward, is there another album in the works? Where do you hope to be five years from now?

We plan on doing an EP this year. Set for a fall release. We have 4 other songs lined up that we’re really proud of. We plan to continue to tour regionally. Our biggest goal is to grow as a band, work hard and continue to make the best music we can. 

Make sure to like John Allred on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. You can watch his stripped down, live performance of “Can I Get a Hallelujah” from  Seasons below.

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