Rising Star – Josh Taerk

Josh Taerk has recently released a very accomplished album 'Never Look Back' and he recently played a couple of UK dates back in November. Definitely an artist to look out for in the coming months and years…

1. What are you currently up to?

I’m always writing new songs, I consider myself a writer before anything else, and I have been having a blast recording new tracks with my friend and Producer, Terry Brown. Playing in the UK has been amazing, and I’ve recently been given the opportunity to open for The Soldiers on 12 dates during their upcoming tour in the New Year. 

2. A brief history of your musical career to date for those new to your music…

It all started when I was about 14 and working as a counselor trainee at a summer camp. I started playing around one day in between sessions and another trainee came over and she asked what I was playing. I told her, “Wonder Wall by Oasis.” She said, “I can’t follow the song unless you sing it.”

Singing was the last thing on my mind up until that time; I wanted to be the next Slash. However, I started the song from the beginning and sang it this time.  I finished the song, and looked up, she just stared at me and said, “I didn’t know you were a singer” and I answered, “neither did I.” 

That started me off. I started taking vocal lessons, guitar lessons, and then started writing my own songs. I’ll never forget the night that I wrote my first song, “Smell The Roses.” I felt so alive, and I’ve been writing ever since.

3. Could you take us through the new album 'Never Look Back'?

The album is really a collection of things that I, or the people close to me, have gone through. I called it Never Look Back because all of the stories that make up the album are about the journey, and always moving forward. Each song has it’s own feel and tells it’s own story.

Casie is about that first love, that really innocent love, but also a love that we both knew could never be.

Virginia is about those moments in life when you wake up one morning, look at the person you’re with, and say, “maybe I don’t know you as well as I thought I did; at least not as well as my roommate knows you.”

And Start Again was written during my first year of university, about living life to the fullest. It was also about how I’d wake up on Sunday mornings trying to remember just how much of life I’d lived the night before. Most importantly though, it’s about remembering that no matter how crazy life gets, you can always pick yourself up, dust yourself off and Start Again.

4. How did the recent UK showcase gigs go? Any plans to follow it up with a longer tour next year?

I love the crowds in the UK. Every show I played the vibe from the audience was amazing. I had the greatest time playing The 12 Bar Club and LUV Camden, and I’m definitely looking forward to coming back in the New Year on The Soldiers’ Tour. 

5. How did you hook-up with producer Terry Brown? Also how did Lawrence Gowan of Styx fame come to play on 'Smell The Roses'?

It’s a funny story actually. I was playing at an event in Toronto and someone approached me after my set and said, “Hey, I really like your stuff. Do you have a demo I could have?” I had a couple recordings I did in a friend’s basement, and so I gave him a copy.

A couple weeks later he calls me and says, “I hope you don’t mind, I played your demo for a friend of mine. He really liked it and wants to meet you.” At no point did he ever tell me who this guy was, but I was on cloud nine that he was so excited about this demo, so I agreed to meet him.

The next thing I know I’m having coffee with this guy and his friend. I meet “Terry Brown”. He said, “I like your songs, would you like to go into studio and record?” I was very excited; I mean it was Terry Brown.

So I’m tuning my guitar in his studio and I look up and see pictures of Rush, album covers of Cutting Crew, It blew me away. We’ve been recording ever since, and I’m so grateful for our working relationship and friendship.

The Larry Gowan story is also pretty cool. While we were working on the first album, “Never Look Back,” Terry sends me over a mix of the song “Smell The Roses,” and says in the email. “My friend Larry Gowan was in the studio and played the piano part on this track. He really liked your song.” It took me a couple minutes for my head to stop spinning and to read the email again. 

6. In an ideal world which bands/artists would you like to tour with?

I love music that tells a story, and my favorite storytellers are definitely Bruce Springsteen and Adam Duritz. The two also put on some of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. Adam Duritz puts so much emotion into his music and performance that you can’t help but feel something when you watch him. The messages in Bruce’s music always come out when you see him live, especially because the energy and emotion in his songs are only second to the energy and emotion he brings to the stage. Getting the opportunity to open for either Bruce or Adam Duritz would be a dream come true.  

7. What are the big differences between the UK and Canadian music scenes for a newer artist like yourself trying to get yourself established? Are there many chances to tour as support for other bands in Canada? Here in the UK it can be hard for newer bands to get a support slot unless they have some record label backing or a contact with the headlining act.

I’m a firm believer in doing what you love to do. I believe that, no matter what your passion, that passion is there for a reason. In saying that, anything worth achieving almost never comes easy, and to do anything well you need to put in your 10,000 hours. Music is that driving force in my life, it is what I’ve always wanted to do.

I’m unbelievably grateful for the amazing opportunities that I’ve had to play in the UK as well as the opportunities I’ve had in North America. I would say that the biggest difference would just be population density. Canada has a lot of support for artists. However, the population is so spread out it can be challenging to reach out to new audiences across the country. The UK, in my opinion, is a great place to play live because there is a bigger population in a smaller area, so there is a greater opportunity to be able to have your songs heard by a different crowd each night.

8. Have you been approached to front a band at all or do you prefer the freedom you get as a solo artist?

Through high school I played in a couple different bands. The first one really only lasted for about 3 seconds because everyone wanted to play leads, so you can imagine how that would have been difficult.  However, from the time I started singing I really wanted to write original material, and in that way it can be difficult to be apart of a band if everyone doesn’t want to collaborate and play original material. So after a while, I decided to go out on my own. I’ve always felt that everything happens for a reason, whether we know it right away or not.

9. Any good rock ‘n’ roll tales to tell…

I get an email at the beginning of last June from Max Weinberg’s manager saying, “Josh, Max is playing a show at Summerfest in Milwaukee, and wanted to invite you and your family to come to the show.” So my family and I fly down June 29th, the same night Max is playing the festival. We arrive in Milwaukee an hour or so before the show, meet up with Max and his manager says, “We’ve got a surprise for you. Max is paying a tribute to Clarence Clemons and wants you to come onstage and play, ‘Ramrod,” with him and the band.” Now, I knew the song but had no idea how to play it, so half an hour before the show I find myself sitting on a couch with Max, and Bill Champlin, from the band Chicago, going over the chords. The show was amazing, the band sounded so tight, and, “Ramrod,” was so much fun! That whole night was one of those experiences I will never forget.   

10. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from music?

Ever since I was three I’ve been skiing. I was practically raised on the mountain, and it’s one of my favorite things to do in the winter months. My entire family is very close and we all ski, so it’s been great growing into some of the harder terrain with my younger siblings right beside me.

I love to read as well. I’m an English Major and love writers that tell a very compelling story. It’s also a great source of inspiration for me, reading through other writer’s work and discovering different ways of conveying emotion and meaning within the given text.

Anything else to add and a message for your fans…

Thank you so much for taking the time to ask me these questions Jason, and to my fans; thank you so much for all your support. You guys are the best.

Stay in touch by checking out my fan page on Facebook, go on Twitter, or become a member of my mailing list. Go to the contact section of www.joshtaerk.com to sign up. I love all of your comments and emails and I try to get back to everyone who takes the time to send me a message.

The latest Josh Taerk live session was streamed on Sunday 12 December. The session above was a Halloween Special streamed on 31 October 2021. Josh’s next session is Sunday 30 January 2022.

Check out previous videos here: https://www.facebook.com/getreadytorockradio

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 GMT, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 19 December 2021 and celebrates The Best of 2021 based on the GRTR! reviewer selections and popular poll results.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 GMT as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 26 December 2021 and features show highlights from the year (Part 1).

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Power Plays w/c 10 January (Mon-Fri)
SMOKING MARTHA Wild & Free (Xelon Entertainment)
TRUE NORTH Fix (Out Of Line Music)
COLLECTED Say When (indie)
ABOUT KINGS Heaven On Down The Highway (indie)
WHALEDOG Leave Me Alone (indie)
LED BY LANTERNS Six Feet Down (indie)
KROOKED TONGUE Freaky Love (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 10 January (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 BITE THE BULLET End Of The Line (Escape Music)
12:00-13:00 CRYSTAL BALL Crysteria (Massacre Records)
14:00-16:00 SEAN TAYLOR The Beat Goes On (indie)

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