Between the lively tempo, and the opening verse “Hey Johnny Walker watcha doin’ in Louisiana, don’t you call East Texas home” I was hooked immediately. Get hooked on this absolute vibe from the Texas A&M and rising star Jacob Stelly.
Phone interview with Jacob Stelly
Reed: What is the background behind “Johnny Walker”?
Jacob: I wanted to write something about my grandfather, we called him Big John. He passed away when I was in fifth or sixth grade, great guy, but he he was one of the most interesting characters you’d ever meet. He was really just an old hippie. He went and hunted all of his food. He was a hell of a cook, he grew his own pot, and he would just literally just smoke weed pretty much every single day of his life.
So the idea was to write something about him. Then there’s this character, you know that the song is about Johnny Walker, and it all is kind of loosely based off of that drifter lifestyle that he that he led.
The actual name for the song Johnny Walker comes from, my lead guitar players grand grandpa, his name was Johnny Walker. I just I thought that was that name was just cowboys shit when I started writing. But the actual song tracks a story about this musician is kind of traveling all over the country playing music, and um, it’s just kind of three different kind of peeks into his life. He starts off in Louisiana then Chattanooga he’s playing songs for free all the way up to California, and he’s kind of made it at the end of the song. So the whole time it’s kind of a family member or a friend talking to him, asking “Well…what the hell are you gonna do when you’re not writing songs anymore? So that’s kind of where everything comes from and the inspiration behind Johnny Walker.
Reed: When I first listened to the song (for whatever reason) I heard it from the perspective of a sad guy driving down the highway running out of sad country tunes to listen to driving down the highway. This guy is sad and getting over a breakup or whatever in which he was drinking a bunch of JOHNNIE WALKER (the alcohol) haha. Eventually he gets over it, is happy again, reaches success, therefore Johnnie Walker (the alcohol) misses him because he isn’t sad and drinking anymore.
Jacob: Yeah, and so and you bring up a good point, the chorus part I have that kind of double meaning. The idea about it when I was writing it (if you’re looking at it from a really literal perspective) was that it’s somebody asking Johnny Walker, “What are you gonna do when you run out of songs? And, you know, if you assume that he’s a musician then you know, one day, this is all gonna come to an end, and he’s gonna have to figure something out. But, then there’s that other side of the token. A whole lot more general kind of perspective yeah… “What happens when you run out of sad songs to play when you’re going down the road? That’s a really cool perspective.
I’ve always been told that poetry, but especially music, is that 50% of it is the writer and 50% of it is what you bring to the table as the listener.
Reed: What’s your favorite lyrics from Johnny Walker?
Jacob: My favorite lyrics… I think I’d have to say, “Moon dog chasing the greyhound station while he’s young enough to roam”.
That came from a rough draft I had written for the song and it was way different. I was sitting in class one day because, I’m at A&M (and I’m almost done). When I was in class I was kind of humming the melody, you know, “just a moon dog chasing the Greyhound station while he’s young enough roam. And I kept going through my head with it. Like, okay! I really dig that.
Also I’m actually a big Matthew fan. I fucking love that movie The Beach Bum (Matthew McConaughey plays Moondog) That’s kind of where the the idea for that lyric came from. So if I had to pick a favorite line it would be that… “Just a moon dog chasing the Greyhound station while he’s young enough to roam”. It really encompasses the whole energy of the song in one line.
Reed: Where did you write the song?
Jacob: So the the song kind of started off as most of my songs start off; just a melody in my car I was driving to, I guess I was driving up to Shreveport, Louisiana or something. I couldn’t get it out of my head. It wasn’t until I got back to college station, sat in my room and smoked a little weed. That’s my thing I guess it gets me creative haha. So I did a little bit of that sitting in my room until about two o’clock in the morning, and it all came out in about 20 minutes. The first draft of it, um yeah. So I guess if I pick a location, I guess it’d be in my room under the influence of some good devil lettuce.
Reed: What else would you like to add about the song?
Jacob: Well, let me think. I love the song. It’s a little piece of me you know? I feel like I put in a lot of work to this particular song, but man, I mostly am just looking forward to what’s coming out next. I think this is just kinda showing everybody what we’ve been working on, and and the kind of style that we’re we’re kind of transitioning into. I just really like what we’re doing now. I really love the producers we’re working we’re working with. They used to play in six Market Boulevard and we’re working with them out in Stephenville. So, you know, I love the people were working with. I love the sound that that we are developing, and I just I can’t wait for what comes next!
Josh Serato & Ben Hussy (Producers)
Ben Hussy (Bass) Jack Pirtle (Guitar) Logan Bowers (Drums)
Jacob Stelly is managed by Dalton Domino & Honco Music Group. He is definitely in great hands over there. If Dalton Domino sees this kids potential (we surely do) and is investing his time into him… be prepared folks for more amazing music in the future.
Check out Jacob’s performance from our 2020 Country Underdog Award Show!