John Mark McMillan is something of an anomaly. A singer-songwriter, bending genres and defying categorization by carving out his own unique and independent path. With an ear for melody and a poet’s eye for metaphor, no topic has been off-limits. While each album has continued to explore new territory, it’s John Mark’s ability to give lyric and language to the human experience that many consider his greatest gift. Building on the success of his fourth studio album Borderland, which landed on multiple Billboard charts, McMillan followed it up with The Borderland Sessions. In 2015, John Mark launched his own record label, Lionhawk Records and debuted a new project by joining up with Sarah McMillan to release, You Are The Avalanche. In 2016, the focus remains on new music as most of the year was spent working on his seventh studio album which will release in early 2017. His brand new single, “Wilderlove,” recently dropped on August 12th. John Mark is bringing the fire to the stage this summer as he heads out with NEEDTOBREATHE for 29 shows across the US, playing in 3,000-12,000 cap venues. Recently, John Mark talked with his about his new single and life on the road.
Congratulations on the release of your new single, "Wilderlove!" Tell us more about writing this song and the message you want to share with it.
Thank you very much! "Wilderlove" is about wrestling with who we are and what we believe about the transcendent part of ourselves... the way we approach the bigger picture, love, nature, eternity and God. There’s not a clear message really, but that's the point. It’s about the struggle and the ideals that haunt us for better and sometimes for worse.
What is the concept behind the "Wilderlove" music video?
I gave the director one word - conflict.
You just recently hit the road with NEEDTOBREATHE and Mat Kearney on Tour De Compadres, what were the first couple of shows like?
They’ve been a blast! It’s 4 bands and a pretty big crew. Almost all outdoor venues. So it’s almost like a traveling festival or a small circus of friends. The best part has been watching the other bands play every night. I never get bored.
Is there a certain tour stop you are most looking forward to?
There are lots of stops I’m anticipating, but the one that everyone keeps talking about is Red Rocks. It’s supposed to be beautiful and it's pretty legendary.
Is there a particular message you hope fans leave the night with?
I hope we add to the total emotional value of the overall experience. I want people to feel a connection with us in a way that adds to the conversation of the evening. I’ve never been message driven as much as moment driven. I want to share some sweet moments with a great crowd of people in a way that makes them feel more alive, more connected to the big love, and the good life.
What are some must-have items for when you are on the road?
A good book and my bicycle.
What can you tell us about the progress of your next album? What should fans expect from the new record?
It’s a little hard to say cause we’re still discovering it ourselves. I never jump into a project with an end game in mind. Obviously I’m toying with new sounds. I’m really into Asian instruments right now. But overall, I’m pretty excited to see how it shapes up myself.
Can you summarize for us what your songwriting process is like. Do lyrics or melody tend to come first?
It’s like an excavation. Uncovering ideas. I start with a word or a feeling and just chase it down until I hit a dead end. It can be a melody or a lyric. Or often they hit me at the same time.
Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations right now?
I’ve really been enjoying the Penumbra record by Benjamin James, and the new Bon Iver stuff is pretty. I’ve been listening to a lot of Bob Marley and Prince lately too.