by Chandler Christopher

June 28th, 2022

John Andrews is a New Jersey-born multi-instrumentalist that is currently based in New York City. An extremely talented musician, Andrews has been working with several well-known bands for years like Woods and Quilt– most recently touring with the band Widowspeak. With the majority of his early 20s spent playing in other bands, it was difficult for Andrews to branch out and record his own material. It was in 2013 that he began working on a debut album while living in the remote, Amish country of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, before eventually relocating with friends to a Colonial farmhouse in the woodland of Barrington, New Hampshire. It was finally in 2015 that Andrews released Bit by the Fang as John Andrews & The Yawns. “The Yawns” were meant to be a fictional backing band to Andrews, as he played all of the instruments on this record. John Andrews Interview John Andrews Interview

Although it was mentioned that Andrews is based out of New York City, it should be noted that he is loosely based there. Amongst the indie music community, John Andrews is known as quite the road-dog– always touring either as The Yawns or with other bands. He confirmed this during our interview, saying, “From the ages of 20-28, I always had a tour booked. The longest I had been home was three months during that span of eight years.”  Andrews has fully dived into his career, naturally spending nearly all of his time playing, creating, and fostering a sustainable musical lifestyle for himself. 

Andrews recorded his debut record completely solo– and although he garnered a band following the release, his low-key and lo-fi pop vision was hardly affected, as proven with the release of his second album, 2017’s Bad Posture. Andrews’ most recent album, 2021’s Cookbook, tightened the focus on the ‘70s California soft-rock influences that inspired him. Cookbook was the first record Happen Twice was introduced to, led by tracks River of Doubt and New California Blue. Support John Andrews through his Bandcamp here and check out our Q&A below!

John Andrews Interview

Q:  When did you first get into playing music? Do you come from a musical family?

John Andrews: I was around 16 years old… I just started recording music on my own. I was sort of embarrassed about it and kept it a secret for a while. I didn’t play shows for a long time. I never took proper lessons or anything so it was just a long process of trial and error. There was music in my family, but it wasn’t directly pushed onto me or anything. My grandpa on my dad’s side was in a big band group in the 40s, but you know it’s not like there was constant music in my household.

Q:  How was the music scene in New Jersey where you grew up? 

John Andrews: It was tough because there were kids in my high school that played music, but we were kind of worlds apart. I was into The Kinks and Bob Dylan and these kids were more into hardcore and emo music. I never really played music like that so it took me a while to find my group of people. In the Myspace days, there were a couple of cool bands that lived in some towns near me and I started going to their shows and sort of fell into a music scene with like-minded people. It was hard in the suburbs of New Jersey to find that.

Q:  What artists have had the biggest impact on your music?

John Andrews: The Kinks, Bob Dylan, so many different phases. Every other month I was getting into another artist that I was obsessed with. The Velvet Underground and Lou Reed were life-changing for me when I got into that… I think I was about like 14 or so. Still, to this day, listening to Loaded (an album by The Velvet Underground), you know… I’ve heard it so many times, but it never gets old to me. There’s something about those songs that are just timeless. When I was 16 I also got into Daniel Johnston… Elephant 6 bands… A lot of stuff from the 60s and 70s. 

Q:  Tell me about your experience with your first touring band, Quilt…

John Andrews; Quilt was kind of the first band that I started touring with. I met Anna from Quilt when I was 18 and I played my very first show in Boston. We kept in touch and eventually I joined that band. Through that band is where I met the Woods guys and I ended up joining Woods. 

Q:  You’re known as a bit of a road dog, always touring. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

John Andrews:  When I first started playing music more seriously, it just seemed like the only way to do it was to just constantly be out there playing shows, traveling, and meeting people. The label we worked with and the manager we had briefly…. Everyone that we were working with was just pushing us to tour as much as possible. I love traveling, playing music, driving, and meeting people, so it just seemed like the thing to do. I dropped out of school to play music like ten years ago, so I try and do it as much as I can. When I’m not on tour, I go to bed early and don’t go out much. Within the past couple of years, I’ve realized I need to be on the road as much as possible. 

Q:  In what ways has always being on the road shifted your personal path?

John Andrews:  From the ages of 20-28, I always had a tour booked. The longest I had been home was three months during that span of eight years. It’s been cool but it can affect relationships and keeping up with friends. Sometimes it’s weird because it feels like you’re always meeting people and making friends, but they’re all spread out all across the country. That’s what living in New Hampshire felt like towards the end. Sometimes I get freaked about it… Like I’m 31 and I just have to realize that everyone’s on a different path. A traditional lifestyle doesn’t mean shit. I met Alice Phoebe Lou recently and she was also traveling and just subletting bedrooms and we just instantly started talking about what life is like bouncing from spot to spot. Last year I went to therapy and tried to figure myself out… And talking to Alice… Who’s in a similar place as me, just to hear someone else relate so directly was nice, and she just had such a positive way of looking at it. 


Q: Has moving to New York City from New Hampshire been a massive change of pace?

John Andrews:  I’m definitely currently stepping out of my comfort zone by living in NYC, but my plan is to move to California, and it seems like a really special time to live there. I want to move there and try and tap into the scene there a little bit. To be completely honest, I miss playing music with people. Those last few years in New Hampshire, I didn’t really feel like a musician because I was just playing alone mostly. I want to be in a community where I can just be playing music with people. 

Q:  What’s the biggest piece of advice you could give to a young musician who wants to get on the road and tour?

John Andrews:  I started by begging people to let me play house shows… Once I started wanting to play, it was really hard to tap into the scene around me. You can’t be too overbearing, you have to be able to compromise. The biggest help was for people to allow me to be bad, and get that opportunity to be bad and then to be able to get better. You can’t expect to jump right in the first time and be amazing immediately. Allow yourself time to grow as an artist. You’re never going to feel like you’ve reached this certain point of growth, you’re always growing. Listen to songs you like and take note of what makes that song good and try to let yourself be inspired by that song. Taking inspiration from your surroundings is huge. It’s like looking at a bowl of fruit in order to paint a bowl of fruit. Also– play in other people’s bands. If you have the opportunity and have friends that have bands, playing in other people’s bands is a great learning experience and opportunity will just come from that.

Q:  Tell me a little bit about the conception of your solo project, John Andrews & The Yawns

John Andrews:  I’ve been writing since I was about 26 or so. It was under a different name for many years. When I started to play with Woods, Jeremy Earl asked me if I wrote any of my own music. So I played him a song and instantly he was like, “Dude, I’ll put this out (on Woodsist Records) just finish the record and send it over.”  I had like two songs and I decided to make a record and put it out (Bit by the Fang). I was still learning how to be a writer, but in the long run, I’m glad that it exists and it’s out there because people can see the growth and it’s a prime example of learning as you’re going.

Q:  I saw online that most of Cookbook was written 4 + years ago… When you look back on that record now, does it feel like your newest stuff or does it seem much different to the stuff you may be writing nowadays?

John Andrews:  I’m definitely proud of it, but there are still things I would change and do differently. That record represents who I was four years ago, and it’s still not an accurate representation of the songwriter I am now. I wasn’t touring and playing shows as The Yawns even before Covid happened, so I didn’t have an opportunity to play the record live. So I’m still very proud of it and it’s been so fun to play them live now. 

Q:  My favorite song on Cookbook is probably River of Doubt, it definitely was the song I discovered that put me onto your music. Can you tell me a little bit about the backstory of that song?

John Andrews:  That’s a song that I began writing in 2017. I didn’t record a version of it that I was happy with until 2019. It’s basically just a song about a friend that kind of helps you get out of your ruts. I can get down on myself and stressed out, so it’s about any friend that’s willing to listen to me rant about my problems and help me get out. I’m very appreciative of the friends that do that. In a way, it’s also about falling in love with the person who’s helping you through that.

Q:  Do you have any new music you’re working on or are you primarily focused on touring and playing shows?

John Andrews:  I have a whole record that’s finished, we’re just mixing it and then it’s done. Hopefully, it’ll be out around this time next year. I’m really proud of it and it’s the first record I did completely live with all of the musicians in the room. I hired a string quartet so it’s kind of more old-school and cinematic feeling. 

Check out some of John Andrew's tunes and support artists by following him on his socials linked below! :)