It's a strange world for all of us. The pandemic has completely changed the way we consume music and the way that music is being made. For musicians like John Pedigo, the world of music seems even stranger.
"My whole life, I basically have thought of music as just an album," Pedigo says. "You write a song, and then you write a collection of songs, and then you put all those songs together and you make a record."
After the record is made comes the promotion and the tour. Everything about the process creates a snapshot of that album's moment in time until it is put away to capture the next moment. Time doesn't move the same way these days. Weeks pass like months. Months pass like weeks. And the music industry is having a hard time finding its moment.
"Why not release singles?" Pedigo asks, looking at a folder of about 16 rough recordings. "I can engineer, to a certain degree, myself and I can mix it myself. I can kind of master it. I can kind of do the work myself. So why not just kind of put music out until, I don't know, the inevitable end of this disaster that we're dealing with."
Starting with today's release of "I Don't Wanna Be Alone," John Pedigo's Magic Pilsner plans to release one new single on the last Friday of every month until, well, they don't have to anymore.
"Next month I have a song called 'Laguna,' which will be dropping in similar fashion," he says. "Then the following month I have another single. Around Christmas time … I'll maybe I'll do a Christmas song or something."
For Pedigo, releasing a new single monthly is not about the money or even the acclaim. Creating and releasing music is simply all he knows how to do, especially at a time when there isn't much else to do.
"Selling singles is a much tougher proposition than it was in the '80s or something where singles were actually something you'd sold," he says. "It's more a compulsion at this point."
As the first single released since 2018, "I Don't Wanna Be Alone" is the quintessential summer power pop song.
Pedigo explains that he wanted to come back into the minds of fans with something different and something relevant.
"My last record was really melancholy," he says. "The last record was done in a certain way because it was what I was dealing with at the time. Now that I have a whole new batch of songs, I wanted to release something that is ready for a set of speakers, boat-ready, flip-flop-ready, or whatever you want to refer to it as."
Although social distancing was far from the mind of the artist when he jokingly wrote the song's chorus before his wife left him at home alone one evening for a girls' night, Pedigo cannot help but notice the connection between the lyrics and the world they are being released into.
"The video concept I have — and I will release a video — is all pandemic," he says. "It is about a character that is dealing with how he doesn't want to be alone because of the pandemic.
"I'm apprehensive because I don't want to look back and a year or two and think, 'Man, I didn't want to just harp on exclusively about the pandemic,'" he says, "but I don't know what relevance [that] is going to have to all of us when it's over or if it's maybe a lingering thing. Maybe this is part of our new culture, but I certainly hope it isn't."
In addition to his solo work, Pedigo is also busy mixing the new Ottoman Turks record due out in the beginning of 2021, working on a new 40 Acre Mule album and producing new music with 18-year-old sensation Ryan Glenn.
"There's something else that I've forgotten, but you know, every minute I'm working on something, depending on the minutes of the day," he says. "I don't know ... trying to stay busy and positive."
The 40 Acre Mule, for which Pedigo plays guitar, is set to perform its first show for a limited live audience since the lockdowns on Sept. 2, at Lava Cantina in The Colony.
"This is really the water-testing," Pedigo explains. "Is this going to work? Can we play a show during this time? I know that, for sure, me and the rest of that band don't want to be the musicians who say it's OK to do it because we don't know if it is or not. Hopefully things go well, but if you see a feed of us with all masks on, then you know it didn't go very well."
Safety precautions and potential outcomes aside, Pedigo and company do look forward to their first show in front of an audience after playing a handful of livestream shows over the course of the last five months.
"Imagine being a comedian, and you tell a joke, but you're looking at a camera, like, maybe that's funny, but you need the crowd reaction to help kind of boost you into the next joke," he says about playing to empty rooms. "But at the same time, I, like most musicians, love to play, and that's why we do it."
While the music world may look very different than it did at the start of this year, the compulsive drive Pedigo and others share in the creation and dissemination of music gives us hope that music and access to new music is not going anywhere.
"I'm old enough now to know that it's too late for me to do anything else," he says. "It's part of my fabric and any chance that I get to do it, I'm pretty lucky."
We are too.
Listen to "I Don't Wanna Be Alone" below:
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