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John Elefante

John Elefante interview 
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John Elefante
Submitted by Kaj Roth on 2010-10-26
One of my favorite albums is Windows of heaven from 1995 with John Elefante where the chorus of the title track is the highlight of that year. Now I can also recommend John´s latest album Revolution of mind (aka Mastedon 3) from 2009 where John has written some of his best songs so far but also for the heartfelt version of the Kansas hit Dust in the wind. I am glad to finally present an interview with my vocal hero here at melodic.net!
Hello John, it was good to see you back releasing new music with Revolution of mind last year.
How come you wanted to make a rock album again?


This is a record I have been wanting to make for a long time. I have been asked by so many many people both here in the states as well as abroad to please make a Mastedon record. It should have been made way sooner than this but all in all this was the right time to make it.

I have always been moved by your lyrics and it all started when I heard "Everybody´s my friend" in 1983 with the words "4 oclock in the morning, I hear the telephone ring, its the voice of a stranger saying, I like the way you sing".
Do you have a close relationship with your fans?


Yes, that song had a very tounge and cheek aspect to it. I welcome all of my fans, they very much encourage me to keep it going and they are very sincere, even at 4:00 in the morning.

I must say it came as a surprise to see you and Kerry Livgren working together again on the track "One day One lake" on the latest album "Revolution of mind" which is the best song Kansas never wrote according to me.
When did you get the idea of working with Kerry again?


Very interesting the way you say this is the best Kansas song Kansas didn't write wow!! The origin behind the song is that I actually (in my mind) did write it for Kansas and would have loved to of had them record it. I tried through a few sources to get it to them but it just didn't work out. I was going to scrap the song because I thought what is a very Kansas sounding song doing on my record, finally I invited Kerry to be a part of it and when he agreed it then made sense to put it on the record.

You have worked very hard the past 20 years with two record labels, Pakaderm Records and Selectric Records. Releasing plenty of high quality music but in 2006 you took a break. Did you feel burned out as a producer/musician or what led to this hiatus?

Yes I did hit a burn out wall in around 06'. I felt like it was all passing me by and who really cared about a guy in his 40's delivering dated sounding records. Honestly I had to ditch that notion because it wasn't true and the response I've received from the new record proves that. And having 2 teenagers and seeing how many of their friends are in to classic rock that really turned me around.

Last christmas you recorded your own version of O come all ye faithful where you sing better than ever, you truly have taken care of your voice after all these years.
What´s the secret? (there are several singers getting a limited vocal range after a long career)


People ask me that a lot, I haven't lost any range at all. In my early 20's I took intense vocal training, not so much to make me a better singer but to learn to sing correctly so you don't destroy your instrument. It's the same technique that opera singers use that's why those guys still belt it out well in to their 70's

Here in Sweden we certainly have been blessed by so many great Christian artists touring from USA like Petra, Michael W Smith, Hillsong, Jars of Clay and last year I went to see John Schlitt outside my hometown. But I miss seeing John Elefante in concert over here. When do we get the chance of hear you sing live in Sweden?

With all honesty, I don't know. But would love to.

Now I shall be a bit criticising towards Kansas, I wasnt too pleased to see the reissue of The Best of Kansas in 1999 without your composition "Perfect lover". It´s like they cherish the Walsh-era more.Are you still friends with the Kansas members?

It seems to me that that's just the way it is!! They seem to want to erase my tenure with the band. I'm not bothered by that because I feel that God has blessed my career with or without the props. I stay in contact with Kerry and Dave and facebook Rich a bit.

I know they still play Fight fire with fire and Play the game tonight live so the band havent forgotten those albums of their career.
Have you heard Walsh sing these songs live
?

I'm honored that they still perform those songs yes. No I have never heard Steve sing them, I'm sure he sounds great though.

We know lots of your own musical work but what do you like to listen to yourself?

My mood dictates what I listen to, it varies from classic rock to Jazz to classical to old Motown and everything in between.

You worked as a producer/background singer for Petra for so long and I love all those albums. It felt like you became the 6th member and put a trademark on their sound for over a decade, now when I have the chance to ask you about this wonderful band. What Petra songs or album is closest to your heart?

There were songs on every Petra record I liked so I never really had a favorite one. We did so many it's a bit blurry to me
.
How does a normal day for John Elefante look like, do you compose every day or do you have another hobby like perhaps fishing?

A normal day for me is spending some time with my kids, writing music and reading about current events. I'm a sports fanatic.

If we turn back the clock to 1985 now and the St Elmos Fire Soundtrack that was produced by David Foster, how come you managed to get your song "Young and innocent" featured in the movie?

David fell in love with song and felt it fit the theme of the movie perfectly.

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Did you know that?

In April 2010, ten days were spent recording the majority of the album "Dig Up The Dead" in Browder´s parent´s home in Louisville, Kentucky. The album was entirely self-produced, recorded, and mixed.

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