John DeMena is an award-nominated rock singer and guitarist from Los Angeles who has worked with producers and musicians of Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Jane’s Addiction, and Steve Vai. Some of the benefits of today’s musical landscape is the breadth with which artists can record and produce their compositions, from famous acts to talented newcomers. That’s certainly the case with John DeMena, who wrote, produced, and funded his debut album Dreams and Lies (to be released in 2021) entirely by himself. As he points out, “after moving to Los Angeles and not being able to find anyone artistically or financially aligned with me, I had to take a DIY approach and do everything myself. It was the only way forward.” For a couple of years, he wrote nonstop, picked other instruments, penned all lyrics, and used software to program drums and other instruments in pre-production before seeking out session players for this debut. He then recruited musicians Glen Sobel, Pete Griffin, and Matt Rohde to record the drum, bass, and keyboard parts respectively and took on the guitar and vocal duties himself. Lasty, he invited axeman John Ziegler, who plays in Volto! alongside Tool’s Danny Carey for one guest solo on Angel City. John DeMena self-released an early mix of this debut in 2019, which earned him a nomination for the 2020 Hollywood Music in Media Awards under the best rock song category for his song Eternal Eyes. Previous winners of these awards include artists such as Trent Reznor or Amy Lee (Evanescence) in addition to an impressive list of Hollywood composers. On December 15, 2020 John DeMena was also hand selected by the iconic brand PRS Guitars as one of their new artists and listed on the company’s website.
Of course, DeMena’s journey wasn’t exactly easy. After emigrating from Spain to America in 2008, he found himself jobless, contactless, and without even a driver’s license or sufficient work experience. He explains: “I didn’t even have credit, so I couldn’t rent a place. Instead, I had to live in hostels and other inhospitable places for six months. Then, the recession hit, and I was laid off four years in a row. I spent years going from job to job, so those first years in L.A. were excruciatingly painful and lonely.” Never one to give up, he continued believing in himself and pushing forward; that resolve assisted in strengthening his character and moving him toward his main goal: a career in music. “Those experiences separated the boy from the man, in a manner of speaking, and helped me develop a military-style discipline and get to know myself better,” he adds.
Inspired by legendary groups like Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Alice in Chains, Pantera, Radiohead, NIN, and AC/DC—all of whom can be felt within Dreams and Lies to varying degrees—John DeMena set out to not put any limits to his creativity while presenting the listener with a personal and modern sound. Going back to “Eternal Eyes,” it was also turned into a (soon-to-be-released) music video by animator/filmmaker Ishan Shukla (whose work has won dozens of international awards and been featured at over one hundred film festivals). As with making the album itself, DeMena found their partnership demanding yet immensely gratifying: “I reached out to him with a mostly formed idea of how I wanted the storyline, aesthetics, and visual world to be. Then, we modified sections and let it all evolve organically. I can’t thank him enough for his patience.”
The future looks bright and busy for John DeMena, who cannot wait to start touring once the current pandemic restrictions are lifted, and who also already begun writing his next album. No matter what the future brings, though, there’s no doubt that he capped 2020, such a difficult year for every musician, with an incredible achievement sequence. DeMena has cemented himself as one of the most promising and worthwhile artists of his kind. If he can accomplish this much right out of the gate by himself, there’s no telling where he’ll go next.