Learn more about John at his website - http://www.commonjackmusic.com
Yo! Who are you?
My name is John Gardner and I am playing John a vampire in The Hunted and I also wrote one of the songs for it.
When do you start getting into writing music?
I started writing music kind of as a hobby when I was in high school but it was something I never really started pursuing until I was probably 22 when a world tour of a Broadway show called Once and that show kind of encouraged me to take it a little bit more seriously.
How long were you with Once?
I was with Once for almost two and a half years. We started in August of 2013 and we just finished this past December, end of 2015.
What have you been up to since then?
I’ve kind of been hitting the ground running here in New York with my band, I found some musicians that I really click with and I started playing the club scene here in NYC. We successfully crowd-funded a second full-length album and recorded that in the spring/early summer and just recently released it on September 9th. So that’s kind of been the focus point of all of my energy.
What’s your band called? I can’t believe you didn’t say that.
Oh yeah, I totally forgot. The band is called Common Jack. I’m very good at these things.
What musically influenced the creation of Common Jack?
Ironically one of my biggest songwriting influences and inspirations in high school was Glen Hansard who wrote the music for Once. I’ve always had a good laugh about just the nature of things and how that worked out. But besides him a lot of the music I grew up listening to was that old, southern-influenced rock and roll. Bob Dylan, some of the later George Harrison kind of stuff. So I’d say you can hear some of the southern roots in Common Jack’s music, but it’s not certainly just limited to that. I would say especially in terms of song structure and lyrical influences, Bob Dylan is hands down the top of the pantheon.
Was that what you listened to all through High School or did you shift somewhere in the world?
The first album I remember my Dad putting on for me was a Bob Dylan record when I was 7 or 8, I don’t really remember. But I do remember him putting on Bob Dylan’s Freewheelin’ album. I always liked it, but I never really got to the kind of obsessive place that I am now until probably 4 years ago. I have a bit of an eclectic taste. In high school especially I was really into classic rock and punk rock...really any and all things rock.
That was interesting because I felt like I shifted gears a little bit and went back towards the theatre side of things in thinking in terms of what is the musical embodiment of this character. I kind of tackled it more from the character aspect. For anybody who watches, yeah, he’s a vampire and he’s definitely the villain, but there’s something a little bit quirky and a little bit silly about him. Like he can’t quite get his act together? And so I really kind of tried to put some of that silliness into that music, but also keep it distinctly villain sounding. From there it was figuring out the sound and the orchestrations with the help of Marcus (Bagala, Music Supervisor/Composer for The Hunted: Encore).
How many instruments do you play?
Oh god. Last time I think I counted I think it was like 12 or 13?
Have you gained more since then?
I don’t know. I’m not sure. I would say things that I’m very proficient at it’s like 5 or 6 instruments, but if it’s within the family of the guitar-style instruments, I can play it.
How many instruments did you record for “More Than One”?
I think we ended up with five or something? There’s a bunch of guitars and a bunch of synths and drums and bass, and all that kind of stuff.
You basically wrote a song that is antithetical to what Common Jack does. So what were the challenges of writing a song that took you outside your most recent comfort zone?
I think the main challenge was just convincing myself to trust that the direction is was going was correct, for the vibe of the show and the vibe of the musical itself. So kind of casting aside any self imposed doubt. That was the biggest trouble. But once I kind of convinced myself that it was heading in the right direction it was actually pretty easy from there on out.
This is actually the second attempt at the character of John. We did the unreleased reboot of The Hunted: Expulsion with this character. As we were going about approaching the writing of Encore like 6 months ago, I told you that I wanted you to play a multiple character vampire bad guy, in a mockumentary so it couldn’t take itself too seriously, and you also had to play a bunch of instruments on screen. How did that inform how you approached doing John since you were the only person who got to basically craft your entire character structure including your song?
I would say the thing that changed for me between the unreleased reboot and where we ended up with Encore is that John is significantly dumber than when I played him in Expulsion. You never want to try and tell yourself that your character is dumb, but sometimes you have to be objective. He’s not good at his job and I honestly have a lot of questions as to how he even got to be running the New York City vampires in the first place. So embracing that kind of aspect of it, allowed everything to click, both musically and as an actor.
In like 3 weeks we release an action comedy vampire slayer mockumentary web series. What do you hope happens post release and happens with your specific song?
For the song and the series I guess you could say Six Seasons and a Movie (a la Community’s #SixSeasonsandaMovie). I would love to have a feature film. The Hunted already has a feature film so we would be like, the next chapter? I hope it gets out to as many people as possible. I think it’s a very niche kind of show but I think it has its audience, and I think anyone whose watched any of early Joss Whedon will probably love this. So I hope it gets out there because I think we’ve hit on something that’s super fun and different.