Meet the 'Steel Sessions' Artists: John Scargall

Posted by Gerard Longo on

Country rocker John Scargall will perform at PBS39 as part of Steel Sessions on Thurs., Aug. 13 at 2:30 p.m. Learn more about John, his early success, and his drive to be the best in the business.

First, what made you want to be featured on PBS39 Steel Sessions?
When I first heard about Steel Sessions, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. I love everything about it, from supporting local indie music, to being taped in an area close to my hometown. I tour all across the country now, so having an opportunity to perform locally means my hometown friends and family can come see it. I’m excited to be a part of it!

In your estimation, why is an opportunity like Steel Sessions important for up-and-coming musicians?
It’s huge. Of course, being on TV is a big PR boost, but I think it’s the experience of preparing for and executing the taping itself that’s the most invaluable. TV is a whole different animal than most live shows. There’s a smaller window of variability for your set time, so you have to really have your show locked in. That’s something that will make you a much better performer in the long run. So, Steel Sessions is invaluable on many levels.

You’ve released plenty of original material, which listeners can find for free on your website, JohnScargall.com. Tell listeners what they can expect when they check you out.
My music is Josh Turner meets Imagine Dragons. It’s country meets alternative rock. It’s got an overwhelmingly positive message that will get you in the right mindset to take on life. It’ll make you want to dance. It’ll inspire you. It’ll make you much better off than before you listened. I truly believe that. Go ahead, test it for yourself! 

Which artists have had the biggest influence on your music and career?
I would say Johnny Cash, Green Day, Queen, and more current artists like The Band Perry have influenced me the most. I’m a big fan of vocal harmonies, from the simple two-part harmonies of Green Day, to the complex and what seem like 20-part harmonies of Freddie Mercury.

Let me make a distinction here – I liked Johnny Cash before the movie Walk the Line came out and everyone started liking Johnny Cash. I’m just saying…

Interestingly enough, music wasn’t your first professional endeavor. What were you doing before pursuing music full-time?
Well, before going full-time into music, I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Business from Millersville University and founded two companies that I ran from my dorm room. Since neither of those companies was called “Facebook,” I sought a job in the business field upon graduating. I was fortunate enough to land a position in finance at Boeing, the company I had interned with for two summers while at Millersville. I was a member of the scheduling team for the CH-47 Chinook helicopter, the true workhorse transport aircraft of the U.S. military. It was a great job, but it just wasn’t for me. 

When did you know you wanted to follow your dream of being a professional musician?
I had the first thought of fully pursuing music when I was in high school at Malvern Prep. I was bitten by the music bug after I was the lead in Malvern’s annual musical. That desire to pursue music professionally stayed with me throughout college, but I kind of got spooked by the lack of financial security inherent in the music business. I tried to suppress it and pursue a “normal” career, but that desire just kept resurfacing. So, even though it didn’t make so-called “logical” sense at the time, I took the plunge into music. I believe there’s never going to be a perfect time to pursue your passion. That’s why you just have to do it.  

It looks like the right choice. You’ve had many great opportunities in a short period of time, including the chance to tour with NASCAR and lend them two of your songs – “Leave It on the Track” and “Live Out Loud” – for their new NASCAR ’15 video game. How did that relationship come to fruition?
Thank you. I’ve been very fortunate so far and am absolutely grateful for that. To paraphrase Chicago White Sox legend Minnie Minoso, “NASCAR’s been very, very good to me.”

I was originally introduced to the NASCAR opportunities by my manager. We ended up sending some music to the game developer that we thought made sense for NASCAR ’15. Fortunately, they agreed. They chose to use “Live Out Loud” and decided to feature “Leave It on the Track” as the main theme song of the game. Now, I get to play on the Fan Stage sponsored by Webasto at select NASCAR races across the country. It’s wild.

With so much success over the span of a couple years, how do you stay hungry for new opportunities? What would you still like to accomplish?
To paraphrase The Hulk, “I’m always hungry.” Okay, I’ll stop.

I stay hungry by setting my sights high. I want to take this thing to Bruce Springsteen level, selling out arenas, and I know we’re going to get there. Another big motivation for me is my passion for animal welfare. I want to be in a position where I can help bring about a world where every dog and cat has a family to love them. I’ll be hungry until they’re not. 

You’re set to tape Steel Sessions in front of a live studio audience at the PBS39 Public Media & Education Center on Thurs., Aug. 13 at 2:30 p.m. What can those in attendance expect from your performance?
Expect an all-out rock show. Expect to have a blast. Expect surprises. We’ll be bringing it on Aug. 13. See you there!

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