I sat down with John Konesky (aka John Bartholomew Shredman), lead guitarist from Trainwreck and Tenacious D one afternoon to help ya’ll get ready for their show at The Casbah. I hope this helps.
Trainwreck performs live at The Casbah, May 11th. 21+ show.
[Nick] – Do you want to be interviewed as John Konesky or as John Bartholomew Shredman?
[John] – We can just do a John Konesky interview.
[Nick] – OK, that seems like the easier way to go. I don’t have to be funny.
[John] – [Laughs]
[Nick] – Have you ever been interviewed as Shredman?
[John] – Yeah, we do that from time to time. Without the safety net of Kyle and some of the other guys here I’d just like to do it as myself. We usually, if we are all together we will do a character interview. But we get scared and alone when we are by ourselves.
[Nick] – What’s the history of the band? How did it start?
[John] – The history of the band is basically, it started out of Kyle’s desire to tour when Jack could no longer tour with Tenacious D because his movie schedule got too hectic. So Kyle and Lee, of The D (or Jason Reed) started the band Trainwreck. Basically named because any number of horrible outcomes could come from such a collaboration. So they were plugging away for a little bit and then picked up the rest of us out of Columbus, Ohio, oddly enough. And then we moved out west and kept going from there. That was seven years ago.
[Nick] – Do you want to take a moment to introduce the, I guess, the “characters” of the band?
[John]- Yeah, sure. Klip Calhoun, who is the cousin of Kyle Gass, is our acoustic guitar player / band leader / figure head / anything else. And then we have Donald on lead vocals and percussion. And Hair. And then we have myself, John Batholomew Shredman on lead electric guitar. The bass player is Boy Johnny. And our drummer is Dallas St. Bernard.
[Nick] – Have you done any touring or shows with Tenacious D?
[John] – Yeah. Actually most of us play for The D as well. I’ve toured on everything since The Pick of Destiny. I’ve done all the electric guitars for them and did a lot of the touring. Myself, John our bass player also plays for The D. And actually Dallas, our drummer, Nate Rothacker is his real name, Is going to be going out with us in June as a fill in for The D’s usual drummer.
[Nick] – Does the vibe feel like Tenacious D with a different set list or is Trainwreck a whole different kind of show and vibe?
[John] – It’s way different. I mean, In The D, you can’t take your eyes off of Jack for the most part. He is such a showman, he kind of carries the show. So in Trainwreck, because that element isn’t there, and granted it is a lot of the same people, but because that element isn’t there, we’re way different. All of our characters collectively carry the show in our unique way. And also just audibly, it is a completely different genre and everything else. So, it’s quite a bit different.
[Nick] – How much touring have you done as Trainwreck?
[John] – We have been touring off-and-on for the past seven years. We have probably done between two and three hundred shows. Which is not an insanely crazy touring schedule, but we have had busy years.
[Nick] – Do you have any favorite tour stories that you would like to re-tell?
[John] – I get asked this question a lot and usually the situation involves crazy group-type situations or anything like that, but for me the most fun I have ever had on tour was in Oklahoma City in 2006. A friend of mine who had texted me a couple of times after our show, uh, his tattoo shop is connected to a Karate Dojo. After one of our shows we all got a bit drunk and went over to the studio which was literally, there was no door between the tattoo studio and the Dojo. So we are getting drunk in a Karate Dojo where there are horribly unsafe weapons strewn about the place, that we were allowed to play with all night long. How no one was killed is a complete mystery. But I think that was probably my favorite, I mean, just for the photo-op alone of a bunch of drunk people with these martial arts weapons, the huge blades… I mean, what are we doing with this? We are going to kill ourselves.
[Nick] – Describe your life when not playing a show.
[John] – We all live here in LA and just try to deal with the traffic. I think that’s pretty much our lives when we’re home. We all play for a number of different things. We all write and we all do a bunch of different stuff. You try to get involved in as many different things as you can and hope that one of them starts paying you.
[Nick] – Do you make enough money playing guitar to not have a boring day job?
[John] – Well, there are peaks and valleys, but that’s all I have done since I moved here. So yeah, sometimes I wouldn’t necessarily call it a living, but other times it is actually pretty sweet. So yeah I do. At least I call myself a professional guitar player. I don’t know if that ever really counts as a real job.
[Nick] – Well, if you’re not living in the gutter, or you need to have a girlfriend or else you are not eating, then it counts in my book.
[John] – Yeah, that is true.
[Nick] – What sort of things do you do to pass the time on tour?
[John] – We try to stay pretty busy on the road because, you have to in order to not lose money. But when we’re not playing, we’re obviously just driving. We don’t have a bus or anything. We just tour in trucks. [Laughs] I think if you were to just, at any given time take a satellite snapshot of the inside of our truck it would just be five guys looking down at their iPhones.
[Nick] – Where has been your favorite city to play so far?
[John] – I would say there are two where we are abnormally more popular than other cities. Which is one of those is Oklahoma City, like I said. The other is Chico, where we seem to draw twice as many people as anyplace else in the country. I don’t know if other bands have that. I’m sure they do, where they have these weird pockets. Like there are bands that are big in Japan. Stuff like that.
[Nick] – Sure, like metal bands in Europe.
[John] – Yeah, totally. And they aren’t as big over here. For some reason us in small towns in the Pacific-Northwest is our; we are big in that region. [Laughs]
[Nick] – Have you played in San Diego?
[John] – We have actually. It has been quite a few years. Actually, come to think of it, we had a really great show at The Casbah, it had to have been five years ago now. But we love that venue. We always wanted to come back, but it took us a long time to get this record together. And now that we’re touring we are very happy to come back. I think we have a little secret fan base in San Diego, and I hope that they are aware of the show and come out.
[Nick] – So you are based out of LA?
[John] – Yeah, we are all based out of LA. 3/5 of us are originally from Columbus, Ohio.
[Nick] – Do you play in LA much? I guess you were able to just go straight to the National Level without having to depend on the local scene in LA.
[John] – Yeah I guess. I mean, Trainwreck’s first shows were outside of LA. But we play in town from time to time. You really can’t play in town here in LA more than a couple of times a year and expect the same kind of people to keep coming back. I think that happens a lot with bands, is that they maybe have a little bit of success here and then it kinds of falls off because people think “I’ve already seen it”. LA is tough. The crowds are different. I think they are; without insulting any one particular fan base, it is a little bit less active of a crowd. I think you find a little more enthusiasm outside of LA.
[Nick] – Why do you think that is?
[John] – I don’t know, and I would hate to even speculate because it would end up sounding bad.
[Nick] – You know, with me being in a major city an hour and a half outside of LA, it always seemed to me that there is so much going on up there; So many great bands relocate up there, they are almost spoiled. It is almost like living in Venice, Italy, where there is so much culture and history, so many geniuses have gone through there, you really have to rise to the top because the market is so saturated with quality bands.
[John] – Yeah, and that can very well be the case. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was one of the reasons why.
[Nick] – At least that is what I say when I don’t want to sound like a dick or that I am judging them. “Oh, you guys just don’t like good music” [Laughs]
[John] – [Laughing] Yeah, you know what I mean. You don’t want to [laughs]
[Nick] – You don’t want to trash the fans for not liking you more.
[John] – “Yeah, you guys should be having more fun!”
[Nick] – What is it like being in a band with the singer who has the Achy Breakiest Mullet in show biz?
[John] – … Well, um…
[Nick] – Or does he still have it?
[John] – Oh he still has it. You know, to me, it is just really good hair. I don’t really think one way or another about it’s history, necessarily. [Laughs] You kinda just get used to having a set of drapes on the back of the singer. And I mean, you know… good hair. Good hair.
[Nick] – Good Hair.
[John] – People like it.
[Nick] – Let’s see. I have some questions that some fans wanted me to pass along.
[John] – Oh cool. Alright.
[Nick] – There is a band in San Diego called The Cartier. They need a guitarist, a singer, and a bass player. Would you like their phone number?
[John] – [Laughs] Man, was that on craigslist or did that come through the web site?
[Nick] – it came through the web site
[John] – What do they sound like?
[Nick] – I don’t know.
[John] – Is it a paying gig?
[Nick] – I haven’t vetted them out.
[John] – Uuuuuuh, all of us are easily reachable online.
[Nick] – Another important, hard hitting question. Would you classify cheesecake as a cake, a pie, or a tart?
[John] – I would call it a cake. It’s in the name! It’s a cake with cheese.
[Nick] – As opposed to a tart of cheese.
[John] – Yeah, it’s not called a cheesetart or a cheesepie.
[Nick] – Who is your biggest anti-influence. Who are you trying to be the most not like?
[John] – I think, probably George W. Bush would be… If there were someone to try and strive to be the exact opposite of, that would be the person. I don’t think there is really anyone that comes close.
[Nick] – If we listen close enough, can we find a G. D. in your songs?
[John] – What? What’s a what?
[Nick] – Uh, a “God Damn”, or other obscenities.
[John] – Oh. Yeah. We do have some explicit language.
[Nick] – I know that The D has almost made it a new art form, crossing the line.
[John] – We don’t use the F-word quite as often as The D. I like to think that we are a little more creative with our cursing inventions.
[Nick] – Yeah. Any Cleveland Steamer references?
[John] – No. Not so much Cleveland Steamer.
[Nick] – I don’t know that you could get away with that more that twice a year, either.
[John] – No, we have to make sure that we don’t use any D references, because it just wouldn’t be right, I think.
[Nick] – How high can you jump kick?
[John] – Well, last time I measured, it was about 3 feet. Which is not a very impressive jump kick, I know.
[Nick] – Maybe we will have some professional measurers out at The Casbah and give you something to shoot for.
[John] – Alright. Sweet. Are you saying, fuckin’ we’re going to have a jump kick competition?
[Nick] – You can make it a competition if you want. We’ll just report the results.
[John] – Alright, I’ll have to remember to wear a loose fitting pant.
[Nick] – And the last question from the fans. Were any of you in The Never Ending Story part 17 with JB?
[John] – [Laughs] No. God, I wish. I don’t know how old I was when that came out, but if I were a child actor and had a resume between the age of 5 and 15 of acting credits, I wish that was on it. As like “background guy number 3″.
[Nick] – Do you have any words of wisdom for the kids out there?
[John] – Just, come out and see the show because it is really a good time. We really put a lot more in than other bands that you see. In fact, you will see other bands after seeing us and you will wonder why nobody tries as hard as we do. It’s a really fun time. It’s hilarious. There’s a lot of really great guitar solos. It is comedy and it’s rock ‘n roll. And it’s for real.