John Meeks didn’t just listen to classic country, he lived it. “That was the music on the radio in the car when I was a kid.” His dad performed country music in honky-tonks across New Mexico, and the family traveled as a unit. “As much as I was irritated that I had to be awake at three in the morning, I did get extra cherries in my Shirley Temples,” he says.
He describes his musical inspirations as “Other great music, whether it is a well-written song, a beautiful melody, an interesting use of rhythm, or a lyrical phrase that rips your heart open and makes you want to lie on the floor.”
Meeks spends a lot of time on the road. “I think every song on my album was started in the car.” He records his inspirations on an iPhone. “In the car is where I can sing without feeling self-conscious. It’s a good place to write. I think Dylan said the same thing — that he’s always got to be in motion to write music.”
At the end of a day, Meeks says he makes a proper demo at home, which his bandmates — who have included Brian Holwerda (Blackout Party), Matt Resovich, Tom Peart, Brad Lee, and Kyle Zantos — flesh out later in the studio.
John Meeks writes all the music and heads up the band that bears his name. He has also played with Plural and with Jimmy Lavalle from the Album Leaf. His debut three-song solo demo was recorded in 2008 by Pall Jenkins. In 2010, he released Old Blood, which won Best Americana Album at that year’s San Diego Music Awards.
His fourth full-length, released in 2016, is a collaborative rock effort, featuring members of the Locust, the Album Leaf, Blackheart Procession, Three Mile Pilot, and Mr. Tube & the Flying Objects. “The album title, On a Sea Darkly, was my bandmate Matt Resovich’s idea. It was a nod to a photo project his mom did when he was younger, called Through a Lens Darkly, which was a nod to the Ingmar Bergman film Through a Glass Darkly. A lot of the new songs we do reference the sea, or drowning, so I thought it was perfect. Not to mention I love Bergman films, and Matt loves his mom.”