Behind The Music with John O'Brien on Happy To Love and building a career in music

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Band Name: John O'Brien

Song name: Happy To Love

Music Genre: Pop

I live in... St Augustine Beach, Florida

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Love is such a beautiful thing. It’s always part of us and everything we do. I’ve always been amazed when I see two people that are so in love, that it’s as if nothing else around them is even happening.

They are oblivious to everything except each other. I’ve also thought a lot about that moment when you might see somebody for the first time standing somewhere in the place where you are and somehow your mind takes you to a place where you and that person are close and feeling love for each other.


This happens to everybody, even though you may have never seen that person before, never interacted with or spoken with them and remarkably, you don’t know whether you’ll ever see them again as long as you live.

I asked myself, what is that all about? I concluded that there is a very strong human emotion in all of us that love is happiness.

There are many things that can make a person happy, but the one thing that trumps any other source of happiness is the feeling of being in love with another person and just being absorbed in the comfort that comes from that love.

I was scheduled to go to a recording session at Full Sail Studios in Orlando, Florida where I was scheduled to record two new songs. I had written another song that was about the love I felt for my brother after he had passed away from an overdose of opioids and I just had to find that other emotion of love, the love I just wrote about. I thought about my son, who is a rap artist, and his girlfriend and thought about how happy they are together. I ended up dwelling on that and this song just came out of me so I wrote it down and finished it in two hours.

While it may not be about them, it may not be about anybody, but what it is definitely about is that feeling of love that we all want so badly. It is a song of love at first sight (“your beauty gripped me right from the start”), the joy of confronting that person in those feelings (“I heard some music and I wanted to dance”), the joy that comes from actually being together and having the love grow to an unmistakable point (“you’ve made my world just so much brighter”), and finally the love of staying together forever (“I never realized I could love you so much”). In its totality what the song says it is we are all really, really “Happy To Love”. – John O’Brien

My music…

direction now can be described as our proposed motto which is “New Rock! With the Feel of Jazz and Pop”. I grew up listening to Symphony Orchestra’s that my parents would play and then discovered the Beach Boys, the Beatles and all the bands that followed. I started learning to play guitar and played in a band even before the Beatles came out. After playing in a band when I was only 13 years old and then playing in college and touring all over the Northeast, I kind of retired into folk and Americana. I got back into pop rock and played in several cover bands doing stuff like Santana, ZZ Top and so on. I moved to Florida and started a southern rock band which I fronted for five years, then played in a pop cover band for another seven years and finally decided that I had to do all original music. What inspires me is the joy of creating songs and then performing them and if I can record them and distribute them, I just love that.

How do you think this release represents your current direction..

This song is pure pop. But, Pop music is evolving into something very different than it once was. I have to think about whether the booming synthetic bass drum that occupies so much space in a modern pop song actually does enhance the music, or does it just force people to listen to the music?

I also want to begin taking a more bilingual approach to songs. We did a recording of the song on our new album called “En Tu Tiempo” translated in your time which is based on the song “leaving in your own time” which is in the album. It has both English and Spanish lyrics and it and it came out beautifully. I think there’s a lot to be said for a bilingual approach to music and in the US English/Spanish is huge and is just going to get bigger.

We are writing now for a new project and we are taking on some topics in the new songs that are not based on the concept of love between people. For instance, we have a new song called “mother ocean” which is a song celebrating the blood of the earth, which is the ocean and talking about how we love and need the ocean and how we are not being very loving to the ocean as a human race. We intend to produce a series of demos right now that we will either produce ourselves or in cooperation with a record label depending on what label is willing to give us a shot. I think our last album, which happy to love is in along with other songs that are known to you, speaks for itself and the quality of musicianship and arrangement that we can bring to bear.

What most inspires you?
I do a lot of things in my life, but the one thing I do that most pleases me is songwriting, performing, and recording. There's just something about the whole process of starting with a couple of notes, putting the progression together, putting an arrangement in the progression, adding a lyric, putting together a straight demo, bringing that to the studio to work with other musicians, arranging the song with input from everybody involved, recording all of the tracks, and then doing postproduction with a talented engineer in the recording studio. I love doing all of that and I am very happy when the product of all that work comes out well. That's what enriches me about music.

John Obrien AVA LIVE RADIO(3).pngJohn Obrien Behind the Music AVA LIVE RADIO(3).png

The music business…

The music business today is pretty tough. It's hard to know exactly where to go. My new album has close to 400,000 Spotify streams and in a way you can sorta sit there and say "so what?" One needs to go back and think about the fact that 400,000 times people listen to the song and must've liked it because they didn't have to listen to it. But then what do you do with it? Myself and my bandmates are struggling with that question right now. We are seeking to arrange a short tour in London in the surrounding area at the end of this year and we are writing songs now for a new project. However, those things involve a real commitment to go forward with and there are alternatives that you have to consider so I would just say that as a musician there lots of choices, some of them can be pretty hard, and you just sorta have to feel your way along in do what feels right because there's not many people you can really ask for advice that is actually seeking solely to benefit you.

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Twitter: @johnobrienmusic
IG: @johnobriensmusic