A happily married father of two who just happens to make films and make music, John Wallace Wheatley has a unique sound for the masses. We speak with him about his new album (set for release on 23rd November), favourite books and future plans.
OSR: What can you tell us about your new album Spent The Morning Watching TV An Looking Through My Phone?
Wheatley: Having played around in the UK Americana scene for quite some time, I got bored of mandolins, banjos and hipsters wearing cowboy shirts and singing about mountains, trees and birds. I needed a change. I started playing electric guitar again for the first time in years and felt the desire to do something much more like the music I loved growing up. The result is an amalgamation of The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, The Small Faces, Smokey Robinson, Hall & Oates, INXS, Nirvana, The Flaming Lips, Oasis, The New Radicals, Embrace, Arctic Monkeys, Arcade Fire, Father John Misty and more. Hopefully, it makes sense.
OSR: Do you often spend mornings watching TV and looking through your phone?
Wheatley: I wouldn’t say often, but definitely more this year than previously.
OSR: What is your opinion on the impact of social media in the music industry?
Wheatley: I recently watched The Social Dilemma and the only thing stopping me from deleting all of my social media apps was the fact that I had this poxy album to promote. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have their flaws, but they do provide a place to get your art in front of people. The whole thing’s a little oversaturated, but if it wasn’t for social media we would have no way of getting our music heard in the current climate.
OSR: What are the pros and cons to being a solo artist?
Wheatley: Pros – you get to make all of the decisions and answer to no-one but yourself. Cons – you get to make all of the decisions and answer to no-one but yourself.
OSR: Which are your favourite and least favourite tracks on the album?
Wheatley: ‘Neurotic Dancer’ is the kind of record I always wanted to make. It started out as a joke. I was playing around on my kids’ keyboard and using the drum kit sounds I tapped out the beat. The piano part and vocals came very quickly. It pretty much wrote itself. I think I still have that initial recording somewhere; I bet it’s awful.
Least favourite track? Maybe ‘World War III’. I feel like it would have benefited from a middle eight section, but you live and learn.
OSR: Have you read any good books lately?
Wheatley: I haven’t been reading much lately, but if I was to recommend some of my favourite books I’d say ‘The Third Policeman’ by Flann O’Brien, ‘Slaughterhouse Five’ by Kurt Vonnegut, ‘The Idiot’ by Fyodor Dostoevsky and ‘Sapiens’ by Yuval Noah Harare.
OSR: What are your future plans?
Wheatley: As ever, I have a number of projects on the go, including a series of animated shorts called ‘Going Up?’. We have eight episodes ready to go and more on the way. Andy Fairclough (mellotron player on the album) provides the music and we have a special guest voice appearance from Gwylim Lee, you’ll know him as Brian May in the Bohemian Rhapsody movie. Really excited about it. You’ll be seeing it sometime in 2021.
OSR: Do you have a message for our readers?
Wheatley: I do. If you’re reading this, then I guess you’ve read the whole goddamn interview and, if that’s the case, you’ve just about made my day. Thanks for showing an interest.