LOS ANGELES — Albany-born rocker JJ Savage dropped another single, “State of Mind,” on Thursday, June 25. Savage, real name Joey Pettinato, is a 19-year-old hard rock and metal guitarist currently living in Los Angeles. His debut single, “Junkyard Dogs,” released in 2019, peaked at No. 9 on the Global Top 50 Rock Chart, according to metalfromtheinside.com. Savage sat down with The Spot 518 for a quick Q&A about the new release.
Kaitlin Lembo: What was the inspiration for “State of Mind?” I know you’ve said before you’ve been through some trauma, particularly when you were in New York. How did that trauma and your past experiences influence the project, if at all?
JJ Savage: The “State of Mind” title is a reference to my “mind over matter” philosophy. I think that even in times of crisis, we can do our best by controlling our own mindset. I also like the idea that rather than associating the term with a state within the union, the lyric associates the slogan with personal power. “State of Mind” basically says that with a good state of mind, you can accomplish almost everything. I have had my personal struggles, but as I grow older my personal power is more refined; I feel like I can control my emotions more so than before.
KL: Your song titles are incredibly alluring. I find myself really drawn to how original they are. Do you name the song first or write it? What does that process look like, especially to find a title that briefly fits the song you want to market?
JJS: My songwriting partner, Turmoil, is also my manager. We often throw lyrical ideas around while we are traveling and otherwise goofing around. He’s always taking what I say and throwing it back at me — and encouraging me to use my own catchphrases and words for song concepts. The song lyrics are my personal reflections and I try not to over-analyze them. Hopefully, they speak to the people and bring a bit of light and energy to the fans.
KL: You said you received a guitar at 9 and took lessons. Since then, you’ve been shredding with the pros. One of your influences is Zakk Wylde, one of my personal favorites. How did Wylde influence your style of playing? What influences your approach to your art form?
JJS: Zakk is my [absolute favorite] but I also dig many, many others. Frank Hannon from Tesla is another super sweet player that I love but I have a long list. Tommy Aldridge from Whitesnake. Obviously the greats like Ronnie Montrose, Angus, Randy, Eddie and Jimi; also I am digging some new cats that are just now coming down the pike.
KL: You’re on the charts with the likes of Five Finger Death Punch and The Killers. What has the journey been like from New York to where you are now? What have you learned as a musician as your name is becoming a household one amongst rock and metal fans?
JJS: I have learned to be more patient and to appreciate the moment. I am currently very lucky to be in a band with the great Andy Galeon, from Death Angel, and my [favorite] bassist, Michael Butler from Exodus. We were just starting to hit on all cylinders when the virus hit, so now we are just getting back to work and hoping the coast is clear for us to go out on tour. We want to get with our fans again as soon as possible.
KL: Tell me something about “State of Mind” that no one would know. What’s a fun fact about the writing/production/marketing of the single?
JJS: There really are no secrets, except for maybe if the fans really saw how the sausage is made, it might remove some of the glamour. Mostly, it’s sweaty work and long hours and intense moments. Sometimes things get heated and volatile, but mostly it all works out in the end.
KL: When did you finally find your sound and settle into the image that is JJ Savage?
JJS: I found my real sound when [Galeon] and Butler showed up. I’m also lucky to be surrounded by true music makers and producers that bring whatever talent I have into a good light. I am very thankful for all that.
KL: Anything fans from the 518 should know about your upcoming projects?
JJS: Yes. Hang tight, we are “coming soon.”