Assisted Living

 

'Wishful' manages to capture - in the space of a single song - the rapt nostalgia we all feel for certain pieces of the past; and the people who shared those special times.
 

Some relationships - perhaps the ones that are destined to produce the most significant fruits of collaboration - take time to mature, like fine wine. Partners from back in the seventies, John Madeiro and Steve Hennessey spent almost three decades apart before reuniting to continue the work of youth. Their new single 'Wishful' is a unique piece - the artistic intersection of two people with a common past, charged by widely varying experiences to memorialize in song - with ultimately just one reason for taking the time to do so; friendship. The complex layering of the track bespeaks an intricate collaboration, suggesting that what might have originated from their younger counterparts would not have possessed the same depth and complexity. Furthermore, to wonder about such things would just be 'wishful' thinking. Independent reporter Lily Clark recently caught up with the talented duo to talk about their long association, the seeds of friendship that belatedly came to flourish, and their hopes for the days ahead.

LILY: Let's just get this out in the open - What is the craziest thing that has happened to you in your music career?
ASSISTED LIVING: John: A few years back, I was working my ‘day’ job and hopped in an elevator in downtown Houston with a friend of mine. The elevator had music playing, but I didn’t pay much attention until my friend turned to me and said, ‘John, that’s your song!’ I was in total shock. I couldn’t believe I’d achieved elevator music status. Steve: Nothing too crazy just yet, but I know it’s coming.

LILY: Your song ‘WishFul' is receiving a positive listener response on radio. What was your initial reaction when you first heard your song playing on radio?
ASSISTED LIVING: John: We caught it on the Sydney, Australia station KEDG about 10 P.M. and immediately started texting and calling everybody to listen. It’s a truly amazing feeling to hear your song in the same lineup as so many other great artists. It’s so surreal. Steve: I heard it on the London station WLDN and just thought 'wow.' It’s amazing to think our song is being heard on the opposite side of the world.

LILY: What was the inspiration behind your debut radio single?
ASSISTED LIVING: John: The chord progression was written a couple of years ago, but never really developed. I’ve always liked minor driven progressions so I kept the song around and later showed it to Steve. He ran with it and we started crafting the sound for Assisted Living. ‘WishFul’ as you hear it today was written for my sister Carmella, who passed away last year from ALS.

LILY: It is often said that great art arises from difficult experience. Is there something in your life experience thus far that you would describe as the ‘catalyst’ or ‘fuel’ for your desire to create music?
ASSISTED LIVING: John: My biggest fuel? I refuse to give up. I’ve been up and down the road so many times thinking that this would be the song to finally make it, only to be shut down. I’ve been doing this long enough though, that each rejection has become just another opportunity to prove that we can write and record music that people will enjoy. Steve: Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ was on the radio the day my grandfather died. I was very young then, but it’s the first song I connected to anything in my life. It sparked something that has never left.

LILY: How would you characterize yourselves as a musicians? (Ex. Down-to-earth, serious, fun-loving, complicated…)
ASSISTED LIVING: John: Driven, but with a great sense of humor. Not a day goes by that Steve and I don’t laugh about music. Our sense of humor is what keeps us going! And it’s the motivation behind naming ourselves Assisted Living. Steve: Very experimental.

 

LILY: What has your experience been like working with the other people on your team?
ASSISTED LIVING: John: It’s truly rare to find someone who has the same drive and taste in music. Steve and I haven’t had the opportunity to play together in decades. Yet the Internet brought us back together and immediately we clicked - it was just like old times. We share a mutual respect for each other’s talents and ideas. Steve: It’s been great. We’ve always had a connection and a natural rhythm together that’s really hard to find with others.

LILY: Did you come from a musical background? Are there other musicians in your family?
ASSISTED LIVING: John: Music was a constant presence in my house while I grew up. My sister was a talented pianist and my great grandfather performed with the Boston Symphony. And of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my parents. My father sang daily and my mother bought me my first guitar at five years of age. She was always my biggest fan. Steve: No musical background at all.

LILY: What do you find most rewarding about being an artist? What do you find most challenging?
ASSISTED LIVING: John: The most rewarding thing? Artistic freedom. The industry has changed so much now that all genres of music are welcome and waiting to be discovered. Artists can even carve out a great career doing what they love without the backing of a major label. It takes work but this kind of freedom is priceless. The challenge is to find the right path to move your music forward. Especially in this industry - so many people say they’re willing to help, but so many are looking to just make a quick dollar. Steve: Our biggest challenge is to always push ourselves to raise the bar higher with each and every song. The reward is the finished product.

LILY: Who are your role models in music?
ASSISTED LIVING: John: I have many, starting with the Beatles. The artist that has had the most profound impact on me however is the Alan Parsons Project. I had the opportunity to meet Alan at one of his shows. His writing, lyrics, recording and production work are truly outstanding. Steve: My number one role model is Rush. They were very much their own men, never bowing to pressure in the business or conforming to what others wanted them to be.

LILY: Describe your best or most memorable performance.
ASSISTED LIVING: John: KRIV Fox 26, Houston, Texas. The band I was in at the time got to perform during the morning show. That was my first experience with TV and cameramen. Our performance struck a chord with the audience. During lunch that same day, a waiter asked me if I’d been on Fox 26 that morning. Steve: It’s coming soon!

LILY: What advice would you give to young, aspiring artists out there who are unsure and need guidance?
ASSISTED LIVING: John: Don’t ever give up. Find the right musicians who share your dreams and leave no rocks unturned. It’s never easy, but having fans come to a show and buy your music is the most humbling feeling in the world. It makes all the hard work absolutely worth it. Steve: Keep playing. Keep practicing every day. Most importantly, keep learning. Always follow what you believe in.

LILY: What's next for you as an artist? Is there a new single in the works? If so, what can you tell us about it?
ASSISTED LIVING: John: We just released our new single ‘Trapped.’ Steve and I keep pushing the envelope in different genres of music. With radio airplay ongoing, we’ll keep writing, recording and producing. Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by and listened and liked Assisted Living. We are incredibly humbled and grateful. Steve: What he said. We’re already hard at work on our next track, so stay tuned.

LILY: Thank you both so much for taking the time to speak with us about your long - though fractured - collaboration and your goals for the days ahead. We're sure the next year will bring exciting new developments for the band!

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