His first album went straight to number 1 in the UK, while his first single went platinum in 10 countries; selling 3 million copies worldwide. John Newman has also released his next album in a rather unique manner – by accompanying it with his first book.
Documenting the process behind making the album, as well as sharing some pivotal moments from his life, Revolve: The Book showcases John’s journey from the North Yorkshire Dales to the life of a platinum-selling singer.
John Newman’s journey is an impressive one, and it’s only just begun. Helping us to learn more about the man behind the talent, he shares some photographs from Revolve: The Book, captioning his Mood Board with insider tales and tribulations…
John Newman’s Mood Board for Notion
Favourite Place: Route 66
John Newman: Whilst I was recording my second album in LA, I made sure I squeezed the most out the trip that I could. I loved it there and knew it wouldn’t last forever so wanted to do as much as possible whilst I was there.
Before I started seriously with music I was training to be a mechanic, I’ve always loved cars, and wanted to go out on an all-American road trip. Route 66 was the obvious choice, and I wasn’t disappointed. We were out for two days, driving up to 18 hours a day. Our destination was the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and on the journey there I saw some of the most incredible sights of my life, stopping off at random diners and museums along the way until we eventually reached the Grand Canyon. Then we got to do the whole thing all over again the next day as we headed back to LA.
‘Come and Get It’ – Music Video
John Newman: Possibly the most fun I’ve had on a video shoot. We had so many ideas for the video, and in my head, they’re always huge, glossy and cinematic. As ever we were still restricted to a weekend shoot with a tight budget, however, the Director (Alex Herron), managed to make it work.
The first day was spent filming in an amazing house in the hills with a skyline view over downtown LA. Christine Donlon, who played the leading lady, was a pleasure to work alongside and she completely embodied the Audrey Hepburn type character I had in my head.
The second day was the most fun, spent over two locations. The first was a seedy house in the Valleys where the character’s abusive, alcoholic boyfriend lived. The second was the Pacific Coast highway where we had to shoot guerrilla to get everything we wanted within budget. I got to drive up and down some of the most inspiring coastal road I’ve driven with Alex and the camera man trying to shoot discretely out the side and back of ‘mum’s soccer waggon’, all the while hoping we didn’t get shut down by the authorities!
My Incredible Family
John Newman: I couldn’t do this mood board without mentioning my amazing family, my Mother Jacquie and brother James.
My dad left us when I was four, so as long as I can remember it has been the three of us and to this day we are incredibly tight. My brother is one of the main reasons I am doing what I do today; he moved out of the small town we lived in, Settle, up to Newcastle University to study music. I was so inspired to see him with his band, playing out live at any given opportunity. I was studying mechanics at the time, but had lost interest in college – he knew that and didn’t want me getting up in the small repetitive cycle of life I had ahead of me. It was him who pushed me in the right direction; I then enrolled on the Pop course at Leeds College of Music.
I know my mum would have been proud of me whatever I became, but to see the pride on her face when she comes to watch me live or when my singles chart is all the impetus I need.
My Touring Family
John Newman: I take a huge amount of pride and pour all my effort into my live shows. I want to continue to build a reputation as a live performer and be meticulous to all small details, such as what the band are wearing and the design of the stage, the lighting, the set list, everything.
There are a select team of people that have taken years to find that I can trust whole-heartedly to give it their all. There is one person, in particular, that is my right-hand man when it comes to playing live, Dean, my tour manager. He’s my best friend and is there whenever I need him, touring or not. He takes my ideas and helps them blossom into reality in the quickest and easiest way possible.
I’m not going to mention any more names, because there are so many; my band is up to nine people strong now, and then there is all the crew. Each of them play a vital role and are as equally important as each other, and I love them all as much.
Playing out at Glastonbury
John Newman: For me, Glastonbury was probably one of, if not the key highlight of my live career so far. As a musician, or even just a music lover, it is hard for Glastonbury not to play some sort of role in your life. Whether that be attending, watching back the shows on the internet or just speculating with friends who will be this year’s eagerly awaited main stage headliners.
To play at Glastonbury was a dream come true, this was made even more so by the fact that I was going to be playing ‘The Other Stage’, the second main stage. It came at the back end of a thirty-eight festival run and we were all rearing to go. I remember walking over to the stage whilst Blonde was playing thinking, ‘I can’t believe I’m going on after this’. When we arrived backstage the stage manager told us they were expecting a few more to turn up for our show. I think we ended up playing to about 80,000.
What’s more, it had been absolutely chucking it down all day and then, somehow, miraculously the clouds cleared to glorious sunshine for the entirety of our set. Shortly afterwards it began to chuck it down again! The whole experience was surreal from start to finish.
Favourite Album: Otis Redding – Blue
John Newman: Just after New Year 2009, I had a phone call from my mother, I knew it wasn’t good news the second I answered the phone. She told me that two of my best friends, Tom Rodgers and Ben Ineson, had both been in a car accident – it was fatal, and just like that they were gone.
It had been Ben and Tom that had taught me I could break away from the small town we had grew up in and that anything was possible. The news hit me hard and ripped away a hugely important part of my life. I didn’t take it well. Throughout those darkest days there was one thing that helped get me through it all, Otis Redding’s ‘Blue’. To this day it is still hard to listen to ‘A Change is Gonna Come’.
Ultimately, that album changed me, I listened to hours and hours of the same songs and they penetrated my soul. The music sunk in deep.
Revolve: The Book by John Newman is published by Quadrille and is out now, price £18.99 in hardback. You can buy John’s new album ‘Revolve’ here.
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