Maranda Pleasant: What makes you come alive or inspires you?

John Feldmann: I love just going out; long drives, the ocean, my kids, new music, new gear, new plug-ins, coffee, and donuts at four in the morning. Even just waking up and writing. A new piano, a new instrument, listening to stuff I grew up on like The Police and Social Distortion. All that stuff gets me super pumped. Also, having the right people around, having new clients to work with and seeing old clients that I haven’t seen in a while. Really good production gets me super pumped too.

MP: What makes you feel vulnerable?

JF: Talking about life experiences and growing up, talking about my dad dying. Whenever my kids get sick. Watching a great movie—just any great movie like The Fault in Our Stars or Guardians of the Galaxy, that kind of stuff. I feel like that opens me up to being inspired.

My kids and my wife make me feel vulnerable. Talking about adversity that I’ve walked through in my own life or hearing an artist talk about their own adversity makes me feel vulnerable.

MP: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be?

JF: Probably “I love my life” would be something I would say out loud to the planet—just that positive affirmation. And also, “Life is short,” “Don’t take yourself so seriously,” and “Lighten the f—k up.” And if that offends you, you really need to lighten the f—k up.

MP: How do you handle emotional pain?

JF: Not sleeping, talking about it, coffee, sugar, crying, watching a good movie, or writing a great song. It helps to find someone else who’s been through it and find out how they dealt with it.

MP: How do you keep your center in the middle of chaos? Do you have a daily routine?

JF: I meditate every day for between ten to twenty minutes. Every morning, I work out and go to the gym for an hour. I pray to the architect that designed me. I’m grateful. Whether I’m stressed out or angry or happy or depressed—however I feel, I say “I love my life,” no matter what. That usually keeps me centered. Walking my dogs, playing with my kids—all of that is really good stuff to keep me centered.

MP: What’s been one of your biggest lessons so far in life?

JF: I’ve learned that each day is definitely a gift. When my dad died, I made sure I said everything to him. I realized that once he’s gone, he’s gone. No matter how angry or resentful or whatever. We may have had our arguments through the years. I learned that once it’s over, it’s really over, and to not take anything for granted. When my son got sick and he was in the hospital, and they took out his kidney when he was less than a year old, I definitely learned that each moment is really precious and I don’t want to take anything for granted. I try to remember at least twenty to thirty things I’m grateful for every day, and I share those with at least one person that I am super grateful for.

Also, things always work out if you don’t send that e-mail. That’s another great life lesson: I’ve sent enough e-mails of just “f—k you, f—k you, f—k you” and hit send. I’ve learned a lot from never being able to take back that I sent that e-mail. I’ve learned the idea of pausing when agitated or doubtful. I can still write the e-mail but instead of sending that e-mail to the person I’m in a fight with, more often than not these days, I just delete it. Or I run it by someone else that I trust before I send it. And then I usually laugh at the e-mail and how funny it is.

MP: What truth do you know for sure?

JF: Nothing is for sure. Change is the only thing that is the absolute. Life will always change, and I’m always thinking about how to have a good-enough attitude to roll with the changes of life, of an ever-changing landscape. Finding the right attitude to roll with my career, the music business, my kids growing up, different styles of music—that kind of stuff. How do I not get so wrapped up in what I think needs to happen? Going with the flow is the way to do it.

MP: What causes or organizations are you passionate about?

JF: I’ve always loved PETA. I love Ingrid Newkirk; she’s a hero of mine. I’ve done a lot with PETA and animal rights and just educating people on where their food comes from, how leather is made, how factory farms work, how bad for the environment the meat industry is, and how bad for the world and your health eating meat can be. I’ve talked a lot about colon cancer and the result of living on a meat-based diet versus a vegetarian diet. PETA has always been close to my heart.

MP: Tell me about your yoga practice. What influence has it had on your life?

JF: I did yoga for about five years. Ray Cappo from Youth of Today and Shelter actually was my yoga teacher. I’ve had a lot of physical damage from touring: a herniated disk in the neck, I tore my ACL, I’ve had a bunch of knee surgeries, I broke my nose, whatever. A bunch of random injuries happened on tour. Yoga really helped with stress relief and just not hurting myself when I tour. It really was super helpful. I started meditating when I started taking yoga lessons with Ray. I do pranayama breathing now as a meditation, and that’s very helpful. Meditating changed my life.

MP: Tell me about your latest projects.

JF: I’ve been working with a band called Sleeping with Sirens that is an awesome live band with an amazing superstar frontman. I’ve known them for about two years now, and I’ve been following them up from the club level to theaters, and I’m honored to be working with them. I know I can help them develop a production and a sound that’s going to help grow the band and really help them with songwriting, arrangement, melodies, and all sorts of stuff. I just feel a real connection with these kids, and I’m really honored to work with them.

I’ve also been working a lot with 5 Seconds of Summer. I met them a couple years ago as well. I feel honored to have been a part of the beginning of them leaving Australia and watching them grow into this huge worldwide powerhouse of a live band as well as songwriters and just watching them become this household name. It’s been really amazing to be a part of that journey. They’re really, really great guys and great writers, and their songs are great. I’m really stoked to be a part of it.

MP: Why are these important to you?

JF: As an artist and a songwriter myself, I like to feel connected to modern culture and watch how sounds change. I moved to L.A. for the hair-metal phenomenon, that whole thing. Then I watched Jane’s Addiction and Fishbone and the Red Hot Chili Peppers change the face of music and really start what became modern alternative; I watched that whole shift happen. I saw Rage Against the Machine and Tool play their first few shows and watched it kind of change and morph into something new. Then starting a ska-punk band while watching that whole thing happen. I got to watch a rock-based alternative-radio trend change to this EDM world that we are kind of growing out of, now watching 5 Seconds of Summer shape it back into a Green Day, Foo Fighters kind of thing. It’s just been really cool, and it’s important to me to be a part of this vibrant new culture in music and to stay true to who I am and the groups that I grew up on. And yet also be a part of the ever-changing world that we’re in.

MP: What is love for you?

JF: Having my daughter in the backseat with her best friend, singing “Let It Go,” the Frozen song, at the top of her lungs, and just watching her sing when she thinks no one is watching. That, to me, is pure love.


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