At the tender age of 17, John McCullagh is already on his second studio album. His forthcoming record, Newborn Cry, was, in part, written with 1990s Britpop giant John Power of the band Cast.
“John’s a really good friend, now. I met him in February this year when I went down to London for a few days. We went to the studio and wrote about four songs together, and it went on from there; he’s gone on to produce my second album.”
Coincidentally, McCullagh has been announced as the main support act for Cast’s UK tour, which will see them taking in the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds on Friday night.
McCullagh’s lucky break came in the form of label owner and Guardian music blogger, Alan McGee, who was immediately impressed by the young performer from Doncaster.
“I did a gig when I was about 15 at a pub in Rotherham, and Alan McGee was down DJing it,” John recalls. “I just did a few Bob Dylan songs, and he liked it and said, ‘Go back and write a few of your own songs and come back to me’, so I did.”
One of McCullagh’s biggest idols is Bob Dylan, who he reports to have seen live more than a few times in his life. “I’ve seen him 14 times,” he laughs. “It’s a good number, but it’s not as good as some of the people I’ve met at Bob Dylan concerts – some have seen him over 60.”
McCullagh has already paid his dues extensively, having supported the likes of Richard Hawley, Reverend and the Makers, and even having the daunting task of trying to win over a Babyshambles crowd.
“A lot of the audiences have always been really good and appreciative of what I’ve done.
“Some were a bit hard, I’d say crowds like the Babyshambles’ were a bit harder because Pete Doherty is like a hero to them sort of people, so it’s hard to go on before them.”
An attribute that makes him a stand out are his very mature lyrics. Tracks like Towerland Lullaby and Box of Tricks sound as though they were penned by a man far beyond McCullagh’s years.
“I don’t want to sound like a 15-year-old. I’m 17. I’d rather not try to be something I’m not, but have more of a mature sound to my songs.”
John McCullagh and The Escorts support Cast at the Brudenell Social Club tomorrow, sold out – returns only. http://www.brudenellsocialclub.co.uk/whats-on/cast1/