WASILLA — Justin McCain didn’t embark down the path of writing and performing his own music until he was 22 years old. Over a decade later, he can’t imagine a life without the ability to play music with his friends.
McCain recently participated in a question and answer interview to discuss his love for music, the local creative community, and adapting to the pandemic.
Q: How long have you been playing music?
“I bought a guitar when I was 22, and I haven’t looked back… I loved it the second I picked it up… A friend of mine was learning how to play guitar and showed me how to play… ‘Free Falling’ by Tom Petty was the first song I learned... and I was addicted to surprising everybody about how good at guitar I was.”
Q: When did that evolve to live performances?
“The first time I performed live was after I quit drinking… It was a good reason to hang out at the bar with my friends without drinking, because there’s no other good reasons to go to the bar if you’re not drinking… I was 25 when I did my first performance… It’s been a good ride.”
Q: So, has your live performance schedule been pretty slow this last year?
“Yes, it’s very slow. I’m doing a lot online... I’m practicing my ear training and vocals... trying to become a better musician… There’s something about the stage that’s addicting. I need to be on the stage. I have to. Money doesn’t matter. Fame doesn’t matter as long as I have a crowd.”
Q: Have there been some benefits from the online shows?
“I feel like a lot more people are watching me. It’s nothing in comparison. I’d rather have them in the room watching me.”
Q: So are you glad that you still have the chance to play at places like Schwabenhof?
“Yeah. Schwabenhof has been a life saver.”
Q: So you got your feet wet playing open mics, what do you like about that format?
“You get to hang out... it’s a beautiful thing playing with people, taking turns playing music… You’re all trying something new... It’s very loose.”
Q: What’s your take on the Valley’s pool of talent?
“It’s remarkable how much talent that’s in the Valley per capita in my opinion... The Valley is music over drama, like no one’s caring who’s getting the most money... We’re just all in this together... We’re all very supportive of each other. It’s like a family out there. I think open mics do help with our community being closer… Anytime there’s someone new, everyone gets super excited.”
Q: What are your plans for the future?
“I wanna play with people. I want more people playing music with me. My favorite thing in the world is playing music with my friends… It’s like, ‘this sounds better than when I’m playing by myself.’ It’s like a treat,” he said with a laugh. “My dream would be to play music with my friends across the world.”
Q: Would you say that music soothes your soul?
“Oh, definitely... I don’t see a foreseeable future where I’m not playing music... here’s to never being bored again....That’s my free time: at home, writing and playing music… Every song I wrote to change the world sucks, but every song I wrote for me, people like. My music aims to please, but first on the list is me.”
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org