Audio-Technica Expands Blog Content with New Interview with The Doobie Brothers’ John McFee

Virtuoso instrumentalist has also worked with Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Steve Miller, the Grateful Dead and others

Audio Technica PrPhoto JohnMcFee June2020

Audio-Technica has again expanded the content on its blog with a new interview – this time with multi-instrumentalist John McFee, best known as a longtime member of The Doobie Brothers, where he is credited with guitars, pedal steel, violin, harmonica and backing vocals. He is also an in-demand studio and live collaborator, having worked with Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Steve Miller, the Grateful Dead, Huey Lewis and the News and many others.

The interview covers McFee’s current work on a solo album, his continued tenure in the Doobies, the band’s changing plans in adapting to the coronavirus, his early history, and his go-to Audio-Technica tools.

On his upcoming solo debut, McFee notes, “In 2018 I promised my wife to at least start my ‘debut’ solo project in 2019. Her request was really the result of having watched me work on so many other people’s projects, and me putting off doing something of my own, to where she felt I needed a little prodding. Miraculously, I actually did start the project in 2019 and am now nearing completion in 2020. I expect to get it out to the public sometime later in the summer or early fall.”

Comparing the sound of the upcoming project to The Doobie Brothers, McFee notes, “It will be leaning a little harder in some instances towards my country roots, particularly on a couple of instrumentals I’ve written that are part of the project. I’m also incorporating more of my bowed string instrument playing, with violin, viola, and cello, than I’ve ever used with the Doobie Brothers. My lead vocal work may surprise some people, too.”

Reflecting on his go-to A-T tools, McFee notes, “I have to say that I totally rely on a pair of AT4060 microphones of mine. The AT4060 is really my favorite all-around microphone ever. I’m using it, for example, on all my lead and background vocals on my solo project, as well as on any of my acoustic string instruments – guitars, banjo, mandolin, violin, viola, cello, dobro, autoharp, you name it. My headphones of choice are the ATH-M50x – they’re all I use when working on recordings.”

The year 2020 was supposed to be the 50th anniversary celebration of the band, but touring plans with returning frontman Michael McDonald were derailed by the COVID-19 health crisis. McFee states, “Those touring plans have now been rescheduled for next year, 2021. We were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which just happened to coincide with our 50th anniversary. The induction ceremony has been rescheduled from May 2 to November 7, so hopefully that event can take place later this year. In addition to that, we do have some new music – five songs produced by John Shanks – that will be released sometime this year, although exactly when has yet to be determined. Meanwhile, we have so far done two ‘lockdown’ videos to keep the music flowing. ‘Black Water’ was first posted on the Rolling Stone website, and has been incredibly well received. We did one of ‘Listen to the Music’ that aired on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. We’ll undoubtedly be doing more of these, so we’re all staying on a positive musical path through this pandemic year.”

McFee sums up his work ethic with one piece of advice for aspiring musicians: “The time and focus one puts into learning an instrument or developing their voice or building an approach to songwriting is all important; there is no substitute for hard work.”

Read the John McFee Q&A here.

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