We’re back for our third installment of The Search for Geek! Today, we’re talking to John Anealio, who has written a ton of great geek music including “George R.R. Martin Is Not Your Bitch”, based on a Neil Gaiman blog post, and Gaiman/Martin approved. He also does NaNoWriMo!
Name: John Anealio
Instruments: Voice, Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Bass
Location: New Jersey
Year Formed: 1974
Favourite Fandom: Stargate
What is your geek origin story?
I went to see the original Star Wars in the theater in 1979 (during one of the re-releases) when I was 5 years old. (documented in my “Millennium Falcon For Christmas” Song. That was it for me.
Can you tell us a little about your musical background/training?
I was a late bloomer. I was super into 80’s hair metal, like Def Leppard and White Lion. I started playing guitar when I was 16. I became so obsessed that I practiced up to 6 hours a day, started taking classical guitar lessons and eventually got into college to study music. I just have a huge appetite for music and composing. I’m always getting into some new band, style of music or compositional technique. I’m always learning.
Before diving into the world of nerd music, you wrote straight up folk. How did that transition come about?
If you’re in your 30’s and happily married, writing songs about your broken heart can be pretty disingenuous. I eventually grew to write songs about all sorts of different topics. I’ve always been into Science Fiction and Fantasy novels and movies. One day, I happened to write a song about a vampire character that I created. I wrote two more using the same character. I then wrote a song about Isaac Newton and realized that I was on to something.
The blog was simply a way to get my music out there. I’m not a prolific writer, but I try to engage the community that I’m a part of by asking a lot of questions about what people are into and what they are creating. A recent post asking what podcasts people are into yielded almost 100 comments. Speaking of podcasts…
I’ve co-hosted The Functional Nerds Podcast (with author Patrick Hester) for the past 3 years. We talk about different nerdy things (often related to Sci-Fi publishing). Each week we have an acclaimed Sci-Fi/Fantasy author as a guest host.
Many of your songs are inspired by science fiction and fantasy novels. We’d love to hear more about your songwriting process there. Do you take typically wait until you’re finished reading to start writing or do you take notes as you go?
It depends. Usually I wait until some central concept will strike me and make for a good chorus hook. Once I have that, I’ll usually wait until I’m finished reading the book, outline my verses and then begin writing.
What is your most memorable encounter with another geek artist?
When I opened for Paul and Storm, I gave them the “Game of Thrones” Graphic Novel as a gift. Storm gave me a packet of mayonnaise.
You’ve performed at conventions including Balticon, Confluence, Fencon and Nerdtacular. What is your most memorable gig?
Definitely opening for Paul and Storm at Nerdtacular. We played to an audience of almost 500 people who were into it. We also performed dueling George R.R. Martin songs.
Any crazy fan stories to share from conventions?
While performing “George R.R. Martin Is Not Your Bitch” at Balticon a few years ago, the audience got so into it, that many of them used their iPhones/iPads to purchase the “lighter” app and started swaying their i0s devices in tribute.
Do you have a favourite song to perform live?
I’ve got an unrecorded song called “I’ll Be Your Thor” that I really love to perform. It’s about how my wife (who’s not a geek) has a crush on Chris Hemsworth.
This is really off-topic, but as Wrimos ourselves, we were really excited to discover that you’ve done National Novel Writing Month! What did you write about?
It was sort of an urban fantasy, with “Angel” type humans walking amongst normal humans in New Brunswick, New Jersey. I think I tried to work an Ourobours (the snake that eats the world from Norse myth) into it too. My song “Angels & Vampires” inspired the idea.
Have you ever considered “sci-fi novelist” as an alternate career path?
Sure, but my writing is crap.
Finally, are there any upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
I’ve been pretty focused on instrumental music this year. I’ve already been commissioned to score a documentary, webshow, podcast and RPG. I’m really enjoying the creative process in scoring music to picture. It’s something that I’d like to do even more.
John Anealio performs geeky anthems for writers, librarians, lovers of Sci-Fi, Best Buy customers & robots. His music sounds like John Mayer, Weezer & James Taylor playing Dungeons & Dragons together on their iPhones
You can find him on Facebook, and Twitter, and on his blog, Sci-Fi Songs. You can also check out the Functional Nerds Podcast! His full-length album, Laser Zombie Robot Love, is available on his Website. Debs listens to it a lot! 🙂 There’s also a whole bunch of music there that you can download for free!