COFFEE HOUSE SESSIONS: An Interview with Joe McCorriston
Ellie: Hey! I was going to say welcome to Liverpool but you mentioned during your performance that you’ve played here before
Joe: Hi! Yeah I’ve been here many times!
Ellie: Cool, which venues have you played?
Joe: Most recently the 27 Club which is a new venue, Attic, and I played a cool dry bar here, also The Jacaranda.
Ellie: Awesome! I love The Jac, I’m going to see Frank Turner there next week, you’ve been his support, are you playing there next week too?
Joe: No I’m not playing next week unfortunately!
Ellie: Ah fair enough, so about shows…on the Coffee House Sessions website it says you’ve played 650 shows! You tour a lot don’t you?
Joe: Yeah! Well I’ve been doing it for about 6 years properly now and I love touring. Unhealthily so!
Ellie: So what are your favourite things about touring?
Joe: My ultimate favourite thing is meeting new people and learning about them and making friends. A lot of the people I’ve met on the road have gone on to become literally best friends of mine and I wouldn’t know them if it wasn’t for touring. I love playing my music all the time too, it’s challenging and I like the challenge. I like the surprises that come along the way as well, it’s just a really good experience. Obviously there are negative sides to it but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives for me.
Ellie: Awesome! Also I noticed we follow each other on Instagram.
Joe: Yeah I knew I recognised you!
Ellie: Yeah! Well most of the people I follow on Instagram are somehow related to pop punk, what genre would you describe yourself as? It’s a bit of folk, a bit of pop, and a bit of punk from what I can see.
Joe: Yeah! It’s just fun I think. A bit of all that and I have some quieter songs too. I often get told I sound like an English version of Tom Delonge actually but I’m not sure how to take it.
Ellie: Definitely a good thing!
Joe: Well if we’re talking about the way he writes then yeah I’ll take that but if we’re talking about the way he sings live then I don’t know! (laughs)
Ellie: I’m a huge Tom Delonge fan.
Joe: He’s a genius, I love the guy.
Ellie: Same. So are you a big Angels and Airwaves fan then?
Ellie: Me too, what’s your favourite album?
Joe: I’m obsessed with LOVE, both parts, but I-Empire for me is the one. Once I hear the opening synths of I-Empire it’s just amazing.
Ellie: This must be how we follow each other!
Joe: Yeah it must be! It’s a good thing, the internet is a strange place. I find myself following people and then I’ll meet them five years later and it’s so cool.
Ellie: So other than Tom Delonge, who are your other influences and favourite songwriters? You’re obviously very into song writing and you can do it incredibly well, so who is it that you’ve taken influence from?
Joe: Quite a few people. When I was younger I was very into the whole Robbie Williams thing and McFly, they were the first bands I listened to really when I was 7 or 8 years old and they effectively taught me how to write pop songs because the songs are just full of melody. Melody is my favourite thing about music, melody and harmonies. So when I’m writing I definitely consciously always try to include a hook or a part that can have a beautiful melody that turns people’s heads. Other than that, Bob Dylan is a huge love of mine, funnily enough Frank Turner is that guy who originally turned me on to the idea of doing the shouty acoustic thing. I saw him open for Green Day in 2010 and I just thought wow, he’s playing with an acoustic guitar on his own on a huge stage in front of 40,000 people and I didn’t think that was really possible until I saw him. So he’s to blame for what I’m doing (laughs). Bruce Springsteen also, Regina Spektor is an incredible songwriter. And then I have some more modern influences as well, for example I really love Lady Gaga, she’s an incredible songwriter. Sigrid is a big one that has come onto the scene recently, she’s from Norway. She’s not that big yet but she’s getting there. She is going to be huge, she just has everything. Insane songwriter, insane musician, insane voice and her stage presence is second to none. I was turned on to her by watching just a Glastonbury set on the red button, I had no idea who she was and half an hour later I was downloading everything she has out, she’s just awesome.
Ellie: So do you go to a lot of gigs then?
Joe: Not as many as I’d like to. Mostly because I’m away all the time and then when I’m not I’m at home and just want to sleep or don’t have the money. A lot of the time a band will announce a tour, it even happened yesterday, a tour got announced and I’m away when the local dates are happening
Ellie: Who was that?
Joe: Gaslight Anthem. It’s sad but you’ve got to choose.
Ellie: Well if you’re getting to play with Frank Turner, I’d assume that would be a show that you’d want to go to anyway so getting to open for him is even better isn’t it?
Joe: Yeah definitely.
Ellie: I wanted to ask about lyrics too, we started on the topic then veered off it, what are your favourite lyrics that you’ve written and what are some of your favourite lyrics ever by anybody?
Joe: Okay so to start with me, I’ve written a song recently and there are some lyrics in there that I’m quite happy with: Trying to dig my way out of this abyss-like ditch/metaphorically insightful but poetically I kind of feel like life’s a bitch. And then a line I love from somebody else, and often quote whilst talking about my favourite songs is Bob Dylan Times they are a ‘changing/Don’t criticise what you can’t understand. That’s my favourite line of all time, you can apply it to everything, and it’s still relevant to this day. I love that song and I love that line in particular.
Ellie: That’s cool. I’m really big into lyrics. So what are you concentrating on at the moment? You just released an EP didn’t you?
Joe: Yeah and the reaction has been really nice which makes me very relieved. I’m currently concentrating on getting through these tours alive. I’ve got so much coming up over the next couple of months, I’m trying to tell myself that my body is going to be okay. I’m concentrating on eating healthy and getting enough exercise. I’m also concentrating on the fourth album, now that this new EP is out I need to start really structuring the plan for my next album. I’ve also been looking at where to record it, this is a big question on my mind at the moment. As happy as I am with the job that the producers in the studio have done with my last few albums, I think if I am to be considered for getting played on more mainstream radio stations and just appealing to more people (which don’t get me wrong, is something I would love to do. People pretend that they don’t want to get popular but I would love to make a full career out of this, I would love to have recordings that are good enough to be played on the radio) I need to look into where to record the next album and I need to book the second half of my year.
Ellie: So where are you for the first half of the year?
Joe: Finland after this tour, I’m doing 11 days there from mid-February. Then I have a week at home and then I’m doing three weeks in Germany. Then back from Germany I’ve got another UK tour. Three weeks covering every inch of the country. Then in May it’s festival season so I’m doing a little jaunt in Spain because I was meant to tour there in January but actually ended up missing my flight due to train strikes and had to cancel the whole tour which was heart-breaking! So I’ll reschedule that for May.
Ellie: Sounds good! So do you just write as it comes to you? You mentioned that you’ve had this album in the works for a long time.
Joe: That’s exactly how it happens yeah. People think I’m a lot more organised than I am. People always assume there’s some kind of structure to the way I write or I go into a topic with a set of lyrics but that’s not actually how it works for me. A lot of my writing comes to me when I’m in the most awkward of places. I’ll be out with my family and something will come to me so I have to mutter the lyrics or the melody into my phone and then I have to go and write the song when I get home. It’s definitely a spur of the moment thing rather than just sitting in a room and writing because that way I can’t really be as creative as I’d like, it’s not as free or real as I’d like so I try to avoid that. But it’s not like that for everyone, I’ve got a lot of friends who write songs and they’ll set a target, so they say “I’m going to write two songs today” and they sit in a room and do it. But, that doesn’t work for me.
Ellie: Fair enough. You mentioned about wanting to be successful, what would it take for you to feel like you’ve made it and you’ve got to where you wanted to get to?
Joe: Yeah, so my definition of ‘make it’ is very minimal. I would just like to be able to sustain a music career. I would like to be able to live off my music comfortably. Whether that means living in a tiny flat with my girlfriend, I’d still be happy. I don’t have huge aspirations like wanting to play Wembley or anything, my dream is to be able to write and sell my own music and tour, and live off that without any real trouble. And if I ever get to that level, I’ll be very happy and then I’m sure I’ll think of something new to aspire to but at the moment, that is my goal.
Ellie: Great, and then finally, if you weren’t a musician, what would you be?
Joe: I would be a football scout for sure, I’m obsessed with football. Music and football are so entwined and I’m so passionate about them both.
Ellie: That’s cool, who do you support?
Joe: Manchester United. (said quietly upon realising we were in Liverpool)
Ellie: Brilliant, thanks for the interview!
Joe: You too, thanks so much!