Brainchild of “The American Relics” John Gitano is well versed within the confines of the music industry, having been signed to the producers of Kiss, partnering with Casablanca Records, having negotiations with Elton John’s record label, and having been signed with Nile Rodgers management throughout his career.
He now has formed a project called “The American Relics” whose mission is bringing original music with the echoes of sounds gone by as well as new music with analog sounding melodic production to the listeners of today. His music combines everything that makes the heartbeat, while not letting his past steal his present. Through his music John Gitano has learned to accept what it means to be human, through the sound and texture of his music…
When did your career begin and what inspired you to become a musician?
I picked up a guitar my mom had bought for herself to learn to play. It was the 1960’s. The first thing I had learned how to play was the 4-note hook in the Beatles’ “And I Love Her.” I said, “This is easy!” Boy, was I wrong. But after my mom walked me around the corner to introduce me to a 3-piece band that we heard practicing every day (I was too shy to go myself), I practiced with them for 4 weeks and progressed. We did our first gig, a “Battle of the Bands.” I was the singer, and the bass player. And we won!! From then on I was hooked.
How would you describe your song writing process?
In different ways. Sometimes I hear a melody in a dream believe it or not. I learned to always go to bed with something to record it by my side when I wake up. Sometimes an emotional upheaval will give birth to a melody supported with more minor or ‘darker’ chords. And sometimes I just want to ‘rock out’ and I draw from influences I love.
PS…always eat something a bit too ‘heavy’ to eat before bedtime if you want to expect a melody when you awake.
How would you describe your music?
Music inspired by all great music that was. I try to learn what I believe was their musical and creative thinking process, learn from that, and add something unique of my own. Also, I believe the key to good ‘Pop’ music is related to how the melody traverses the accompanying records. Or vice versa. I try to find a fun combination, still audibly pleasing to the listener’s ears. The Beatles were masters at it. Make something more musically complicated, sound easy. And make something simple sound a little more complicated.
What inspired the creation of your band?
The sometimes discontent of many older music listeners with current popular music. I’m not knocking it, it’s just that we grew up with great music…especially the 60’s. I started our band/project with an album release titled, “The Eyes of 1969.” The song with the title of the same name is about meeting a young girl nowadays who has ‘the same eyes’ as the young girls back then. And the implications of all that is her character, so reminiscent of young people from that time. Future releases will encompass all eras, all influences, even from today’s music. But I think what The American Relics have, is the seasoning, personal experience, and credibility factor of a combined playing experience of 1 million years.
What where your early music influences?
I loved Jack Bruce’s (vocalist, bass guitar, and songwriter for CREAM) approach to all of the above. The Beatles, Woodstock, Stones, CREAM, Clapton, Humble Pie, Neil Young, Crosby Stills & Nash (the song Immigration Man exemplifies that entire generation in my opinion). Even/and The Dave Clark 5, Paul Revere and The Raiders (listen to Good Thing), Nina Hagen, the Go-Go’s, Steppenwolf especially Creedence, etc. I would need a half hour to complete the list.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
In a place of satisfaction, by having had the good fortune of having many of the approximately 150 songs I’ve written over the years popularized by The American Relics and other artists covering the tunes.
What new projects are you currently working on?
A lot. A song about how I realize that all the time I spent with my mom in her latter years (who has since passed) has made me accept any of life’s failures. That I was lucky enough to see her smile, even at 90 years old, and that one can call oneself a success in life, if they helped achieve that alone.
Also, an original tune I hadn’t played since the 70’s, that I believe captures the innocence and musical feel of the time.
Also, an original dance tune influenced by the heyday of the big clubs in NYC during the 1980’s. And lastly, I’m working with a number of artists, Adrienne Dugger, a former lead soprano of The NY Metropolitan Opera, and Nelson Montana, a very talented multi-instrumentalist and song writer, on soon to be released additional material. There are stories, bios, music, etc. at https://www.theamericanrelics.com
Is there a moment that you can recall that changed the trajectory of your career?
Personally meeting and speaking with Jack Bruce of CREAM made me understand my own musical importance, and purpose. That no matter how a musician might distance himself from music, the music never seems to distance itself far from him/her.
If you could have someone ask you any question on the planet what would it be and how would you answer?
Through experience, knowledge, knowledge, wisdom, learning, with all your years on this planet, what have you learned?
Answer: As in the line in an old song….”I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”
Interview by Eileen Shapiro