Never Stop Going Further
John practices in his bedroom at home. The legacy of The Beatles have played a very important role in his writing.
story and photos by Joshua Lindsey
“I started playing music on drums when I was eleven.”
John Hatfield has been playing music since he was eleven. “I started playing music on the drums, my dad taught me how to play because he was a musician in college, and he was in a band.” At age fourteen, a freshman in high school, Hatfield began writing music. Even though he learned his craft on drums, he has since moved to other instruments. “I realized you can’t write songs on drums,” says Hatfield. “I picked up some old little keyboard and I realized that [playing the piano] is what I was meant to do.” Hatfield has never actually had formal training or instruction, and says that what he does comes naturally, and is easy for him. “I could play without knowing what I was doing,” says Hatfield. Now eighteen, Hatfield has already released his first album that is available at many different retail outlets. Out of the hundreds of songs written, kept neatly in what he calls a “twenty-five pound notebook,” he says that he is never finished writing. “Each song is better than the next,” says Hatfield.
“I realized you can’t write songs on drums.”
Above The rest of the band, Jacob Gaddie (left), and Austin Gordon take a break from rehearsals. Right John practices at home to get ready for his first live show the following weekend.
“The problem... is exposure.”
John, while disappointed, waits for fans to arrive for his show Saturday at The Open Hand coffee shop in Dickson, Tennessee. This was John’s first official live performance since his debut album was released this past summer. The only people who were in attendance was his girlfriend Lara (below, right), and her friend Katie.
As another band performs at The Open Hand, John leans in to suggest to his lead guitarist Jacob Gaddie that they leave early since no fans had arrived. Even though he enjoys his talent and has fun with it, he says that struggles come with trying to make it into the music business. “The problem with getting in the business is exposure,” says Hatfield. He is not alone in his journey to become successful with his music. Even though he does not like it, he must have people help him perform. “You need people to get you where you want to go,” says Hatfield. “You can’t rely on anyone, the people I work with are very unreliable.”
“I’ll never reach a point when I’m done.”
Even though no one arrived to see the show, he still performed just one song for his girlfriend Lara. With the perils of other musicians having to help him with his music, Hatfield says he doesn’t have the support of his family that he would like. “I get support from my family, but they don’t take me very seriously,” says Hatfield. “It doesn’t seem like a possibility in my family [to be successful].” Even as he has troubles and lack of support from the people in his life, Hatfield is hopeful that things are going to work out in his favor. “I’ll never stop going further,” he says. “I’ll never reach a point when I’m done.” Hatfield says that he will know he has reached his goal of success when he can support his family and his livelihood through his music.
While his mother Donna (right) is at work at the mall, John stops by to show her what he bought for a family member for Christmas.
A microphone waits to be used before a performace at The Open Hand coffee shop.