They say that art is often borne from adversity. With his new album, Kingdom From, due for release April 20, John Schreiner demonstrates how even the most perilous period in one’s life can result in some of the most moving and compelling music imaginable.
“There are plenty of reasons to pursue music,” Schreiner notes. “But every real artist I’ve known insists they were writing to save their own life.”
That’s certainly true of Kingdom From. Written in the aftermath of Schreiner’s seven year bout with drug addiction. it was spawn from a debilitating period in his life that found him mourning the loss of friends and family members, struggling with stifled creativity and attempting to resolve the conflict between his personal demons and the need to maintain his equilibrium and responsibilities. It was, he says, a malaise marked by moral and emotional anguish.
Now well on his way to recovery, Schreiner maintains “the metaphor of the phoenix that’s risen from the ashes could not be more aptly applied.”
Written and recorded between February and August of last year, the album was initiated within a four day writing retreat at a cabin in Berkley Springs, West Virginia that was attended by John and his guitar playing brother Zach, bassist Jay Glaspy, and drummer Zach Miller. Half the material was co-written by Schreiner and his companions during the retreat, with the rest of the songs completed by Schreiner on his own before and after his Achilles transfer surgery last April.
The album was subsequently recorded at Ivakota Studio in Washington D.C. and produced and engineered by Ivakota owner Ben Green.
With a sound that at times brings to mind the Rolling Stones, the Black Keys, Gary Clark Jr., Kings of Leon, and Royal Blood, the record documents Schreiner’s journey along his path to personal and professional recovery and redemption. “I found the strength to rise above the pain that had submerged my entire existence,” he reflects. “I found my voice, and with it, the possibilities that come from determining my own destiny.”
Songs such "Miss Marietta," "Coyote Beautiful" and "Uh Oh Love" -- the latter a number one hit on Reverbnation’s regional rock charts -- are celebratory in their stance, flush with drive and determination.
A video for “Miss Marietta,” which will be released concurrently as the album’s first single, will go public on May 17.
“The album is bookended by a pair of tracks that encapsulate the respective start and end of an era in my life,” Schreiner explains. “The first song and the album’s namesake, "Kingdom From," captures the internal perspective that crystalized within me as I emerged from drug addiction in 2017. The tone of the lyrics is merciless and unyielding, but for me it’s very hopeful. In Jungian terms, it is me speaking to my shadow, knowing what I have come through by conquering the demons I needed to defeat to take control of my life. I’ve emerged confident of my own strengths and grateful for the victory I achieved, as well as the fact that I can now look forward to living the life I’ve ultimately chosen to build.”
He notes that "Hiiiiiiigh,” the final song of the set, marks another pantheon reached late last year, that being the birth of his son, Valor.
“The morning after my wife and I received confirmation that the pregnancy was healthy, I woke up with a deep and euphoric clarity...a sense of joy and reward I felt about Val, juxtaposed with memories of the life I'd left just a year before he was conceived. It was overwhelming. I described the sensation of that moment as accurately as I could, and that's in fact where the song came from.”
One of the most sought after musicians in the Washington D.C. area, Schreiner’s performed for members of the Senate and House of Representatives, several Fortune 500 companies, and in concert with such notables as Brian McKnight and Ed Sheeran.
“With music, it really wasn’t like I had a choice,” Schreiner reflects. “I was compelled to pursue it, and knew that I would be a professional musician by the time my parents divorced when I was only nine.” That decision led him to pick up the guitar at the tender age of 12.
With three earlier albums to his credit, he currently teaches and counsels upcoming young musicians at Contemporary Music Center in Washington. He also commits himself to serving the needs of the military community and supporting the causes that promote their welfare.
Following the release of Kingdom From in April, Schreiner has a full slate of activities planned. He’ll be a featured panelist at this year’s Wammie Awards in Washington D.C. and perform at the East Coast Music Conference, the Leidos 50th Anniversary celebration, a sold-out event at Jammin’ Java and at MGM National Harbor, where he’ll open for Jethro Tull.
Ultimately, Schreiner hopes that the new album will inspire others. “I want people to feel empowered enough to regain control of their lives and to have the confidence to direct their habits and actions towards the accomplishing those things that lead to life’s true calling.”
Kingdom From Track Listing
1. Kingdom From
2. Pale Horse
3. Miss Marietta
4. Rolling Stoned
5. Coyote Beautiful
6. Uh Oh Love
8. Slow Sure