Singer/songwriter John Tibbs returns to his independent roots in partnership with PledgeMusic and Tone Tree Music for his Heartland EP set to release this fall on Windmill & Wave Records. Through July 14, pledgers who preorder the EP at www.pledgemusic.com/projects/johntibbs will receive an instant download of the first single from the recording, "Won't Let Me Go."
Produced by Ben Shive (Colony House, Rend Collective, Ellie Holcomb), the single has already become Tibbs' top-played song on Spotify while the song's lyric video gathered 45,000 views and 600 shares on Facebook in just the first two days following its release.
Q: John, thanks for doing this interview with us. Why did you decide to go the independent route via PledgeMusic for this new EP?
Thanks for having me! I loved my label (FairTrade) and am super grateful for all that we were able to accomplish there, but when it came time to do this new project, I wanted to be in a place where I was really free to make the music that was on my heart; music that moves me deeply. Being independent means that I have the final answer for both music and marketing decisions and that is important to me.
Q: Why did you call this EP "Heartland"?
With me returning to my independent roots, I wanted to make something that really felt like 'coming home.' I am a blue-collar musician - son of a preacher and teacher. I grew up in a coal-mining town, and I fell in love in Indiana. The music I naturally gravitate towards is Americana folk-rock, and so HEARTLAND really summed that up for me the best.
Spiritually speaking, the longing for Heaven has grown in my heart so much. I tour all over the country and this past year I've seen so much anger and pain rise-up in this political climate. And at the same time, it's not just here, I know that all over the world there are horrible events taking place every day - famine, war, disease. I see fear taking root, and it breaks my heart. This collection of songs is my prayer to bring Heaven to Earth. These songs speak to the current pain and fear and it's rooted in the hope of Jesus.
Q: How many songs will there be on the EP? And when do you anticipate its release?
The EP currently has 5 songs! But I have been known to change my mind and add songs before, so we'll see! The plan is to release the project in October with singles starting to release in August.
Q: "Won't Let Me Go" is the first song off the chute. What's the story behind this song?
I have always wrestled with fear and anxiety. One thing I'm learning though, is that worrying never does any good. There have been so many times I have put myself in situations that I really didn't know how it was going to end. I was just following my instincts ... my gut. To be honest, it has always worked out - every single time. So all those days and nights I spent paralyzed by fear was just a waste. I've found that Kindness, Generosity, and Forgiveness always catch me in the end.
So, I sing this song as a reminder to myself to spend less time worrying, and more time dreaming. I sing it in hopes that it may encourage someone else to be bold and pursue that thing that scares them to death. I think fear is only a sign that our dreams are getting close to becoming a reality!
Q: Can you tell us about some of the other songs on the EP?
Of course! The song "Midwest Magic" is one I'm really excited about. It's a song to my wife, Emily ... and I am excited for people to hear it! Another song "Shepherd" has a special guest that I can't wait for people to hear!! This is a corporate worship song I wrote with a buddy of mine, Michael Farren. I hope it is an encouragement to everyone who hears it!
Q: I have read in your bio that you once had a stuttering problem. How was the problem healed? I believe you are also spending time helping others with stuttering issues, tell us more?
I actually still have a stutter! It started when I was 6 years old. There are days when it's not that noticeable and days that are pretty rough.
It's something that I have always tried to hide. I saw a lot of speech therapists growing up, and that was a helpful thing as a kid, but as I grew up it became unhealthy. I put all my attention and effort into avoiding my stutter that I was really just keeping people out - I was isolated. So I decided to be open about it and that was a horrifying thing for me. I was afraid that it would be the only thing people would see in me. Fortunately, that hasn't been the case. It's been a really great thing. I've found a lot of freedom and self-value in being transparent, and I continue to share my struggle in hopes that it will bring freedom and hope to someone else!
You know, growing up, the only examples I had of stutterers were serial killers on crime shows. Seriously - that's it. I have since done a lot of research and found that a stutter is a super common trait, and so many folks have succeeded in the public eye despite it. I really want to be a part of normalizing it by pushing it into the public arena. I want to be an example for kids who have any sort of 'disability' (I use that word lightly). It's something I really believe in, and if I could encourage folks in that ... wow, that alone would make this whole thing worth it.
Q: What are goals and hopes for this new EP? How do you wish this EP would impact the lives of your listeners?
I try to not spend my time focusing on 'hits' and 'misses,' but rather approach every day as a chance to build a relationship with a listener. I hope that by sharing my story, someone else will be inspired to share theirs! I hope my music allows people to find a little more freedom and realize a little more grace. So what I would to have happen with this EP is to allow the relationship I have with my friends/listeners to grow a little bit deeper and wider.
Q: How can fans support your ministry and music?
Just say hey! The relationship side of this thing is really what makes it all worth it.
Obviously, listening and sharing the music means a lot, too. I think folks don't really know how big of a deal word of mouth is ... but it is king. It's shown to be the #1 way people find new music that they love. So, if a friend/fan were to ask me how they can support these songs I'd respond by asking them to let their friends and family know why they love my music!