John McLellan


I blame my parents. All songwriters are supposed to be monumentally dysfunctional, and there’s no one better to blame for one’s own epic dysfunction than one’s own beloved parents. Here’s my case:

My folks say when I was four years old I’d be up in front of church congregations singing my little heart out. Apparently I’ve always loved to sing and perform for people. I guess I haven’t changed much since I was four.

In elementary school my folks insisted I take piano lessons. I’d start in the fall and have a spring recital in May, then take the summers off. Each fall my mom would say, “John, honey, you got so good last year at piano! You should keep going!” I’d agree, then by Christmas I’d be frustrated at how difficult it actually is to learn to play piano. Mom would lay the law down, “HEY BUSTER, YOU AGREED TO TAKE LESSONS FOR A YEAR SO STOP WHINING AND PRACTICE.” By summertime I’d swear to never take lessons again, but by the fall I’d hear, “but honey, you got so good last year!” Parental manipulation. Mom’s ego boost would convince me to do another year of lessons. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

By high school I could actually play piano. I sang in choirs (at the urging of my parents, of course) and a month after graduating high school, I bought my first guitar. Dad started informally teaching me how to play, and thus my fate was sealed.

I called my folks after seven semesters of college to tell them I was going to drop out and make a solo acoustic record. Dad’s exact words to me were, “dude, go make the best record you can make.” He should’ve told me that if I actually got my pharmacy degree (which was my plan at the time) I would enjoy a lifetime of eating good food that I could actually afford. But no. By being supportive, dad was only pushing me deeper into years of eating bowl after bowl of Top Ramen for dinner, since that’s all a broke musician can afford.

In the past few years, I’ve spent my summers gardening when I’m not playing my guitar. I don’t share my delicious organically grown produce with the band, yet, because that’s my ace in the hole for the coming day when they might kick me out. “Oh, fellas, you’re firing me? Well, how about you enjoy some organically grown chives! Mmmmm. You like? Now let’s go make a record my good buddies! Oh, and here, have some Tic Tacs. You all have onion breath.” Who taught me how to garden? My folks. It’s all their fault.

Favorite Clintons song to play live?
-Follow Me Home.

Most embarrassing record in your collection?
-Gwen Stefani, SWEET ESCAPE. Some of the songs on that record actually make me nauseous.

Most embarrassing onstage faux pas?
-While in Glendive, MT, I said, “Thank you Glasgow!” on the microphone. A.J. fell over from laughing so hard. What’s worse was, I didn’t even know why he was laughing. Clueless.

Most memorable road story?
-A naked Levi running down the middle of a downtown Boise street at 3am while a naked Josh chased him with his arms outstretched yelling, “COME BACK TO ME! COME BACK TO ME!” I was behind the wheel of our RV yelling at them both like an angry dad barking at his children, “THE BOTH OF YOU GET BACK IN THIS RIG RIGHT THIS MOMENT OR I’M LEAVING YOU DOWN HERE!”

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
-Small Plot Intensive (SPIN) farming an acre somewhere and brewing hoppy beer.

Any songs you’d like to cover that your band mates will refuse to play?
-Jeff Healey’s version of “Stuck In The Middle With You.” Levi has literally walked off stage to go get another beer from the bar when I’ve started that song, leaving me without a drummer for 3 minutes. It’s hilarious how much he dislikes playing that particular tune.

If you had your own TV show, what would it be called?
-Chaz & Gadget’s Tomfoolery Show. I’ve got it all planned out in my head. Chaz & Gadget are sock puppets with their own variety show. Think “Flight Of The Conchords” and “Lake Wobegon” meets “Sifl & Olly.” That’s Chaz & Gadget.

If you could be in any other band, what would it be?
-Cross Canadian Ragweed.

Do YOU have any insight about me that others might find interesting?  Leave a comment!

8 Responses to John McLellan

  1. Julie M. May 20, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    Can’t believe just how much you look like your dad in this picture!!!! WOW

  2. Matt March 2, 2011 at 12:50 am #

    The first time I heard John playing or learning to play the guitar was in the dorm at Powell, I heard some kind of terrible noise coming from down the hall, I walked down and saw him jammin away. Along way from them days to six cd’s and 1000 plus live shows…
    Must say you guys are one of my favorite bands, can’t wait to see ya live again.

  3. Chris February 1, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    Saw 1/2 of the Clintons at a bar when I went to Helena over New Years! My great friend introduced me to you. Really like your stuff and trying to promote you guys out here on the East Coast!! You guys are really good!!

  4. Dan January 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    John McLellan…………….a friend of epic proportions. A man of profound wisdom. A son of a great man. A father of a wonder-to-be. A husband with pure trust and love in his equal. And a musician of which the world has never seen.

    I’m just happy that I have been able to be part of many of those men. John, every time you take the stage, you join three other men and create an ambiance that changes the very understanding of live entertainment for the viewer/audience.

    You have a gift my friend, and let your sense of humor, your dedication to the music, and your passion for creativity echo after every word, note, and chord!

  5. zack January 13, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    i just wanna tell you that you are still my favorite singer.btw how is big d

  6. Debbie Hunsaker November 11, 2010 at 6:06 pm #

    You made my 40th birthday so wonderful. For the past four years I reallly thought I wanted the Clumsy Lovers, but then I heard you at Lakeside and was in awe at your voice and knew that you would be perfect. Thanks for convincing us to also bring on Josh. The two of you are can really work a crowd. I have had so many comments about it being the best party that people have ever attended and I owe that all to you. You are amazing at not only singing, but reallly knowing your audience and making sure everyone has a good time. I wish you all the success in the world. Thank God for your parents realizing the talent they had and encouraging you to stay with music.


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