There’s an alarming epidemic that’s sweeping our veteran community, as statistics reveal that 22 of our warriors kill themselves on a daily basis. As this tragedy continues to wreak havoc on our veterans and their families, there’s one Marine rock star by the name of John Preston who’s dedicated his life to this fighting the issue of PTSD that plagues the veteran community through his music that he’s branded “for veterans by veterans.” Through his music, he not only brings hope to veterans by writing songs about issues that they routinely deal with, but then donates the majority of what he makes from his albums straight to organizations that help make a difference in our warriors’ lives. But on January 16, 2016, an event would take place in John’s life that would forever change him, as that statistic of 22 veteran suicides a day would hit tragically too close to home.
I had the incredible opportunity to sit down with John for a very candid interview about how he got into writing music, his military service in the Marine Corps, and his new single Superman Falls, which is the heart-wrenching song about his older brother taking his life January last year, after succumbing to the effects of years of PTSD. You can scroll down to the bottom of the article to watch our full interview, but here’s some of the highlights that will make you incredibly proud of what John has accomplished as a musician, a father, a veteran, and a fire fighter, as he’s quite the incredible red blooded American.
One of the first things that struck me about John is his incredible strength and perseverance in the face of the horrifying tragedy that took his older brother last year. John said there were no warning signs that would’ve led his family to be concerned that his brother was considering taking his own life. But after his brother’s suicide destroyed his family, John’s mission now is to find people just like his brother within the veteran community who are contemplating suicide, and reach them with the message that killing yourself is never the answer, and to consider what this permanent decision will do to your family.
“The only reason this album exists is because of what he did. I want to find him. My brother was a police officer for 20 years..he had his sh*t together,” John began. “He had a family with four children and this incredible life and somehow, some way in his brain, he couldn’t go on. He thought that life was going to be better without him. He bit a .40 caliber bullet and called it an end. I need to find him in our [veteran] community. I’m looking for him. That’s what Superman Falls is all about. It’s showing you the aftermath….I wake up every day as John the little brother and I wonder what I could’ve done on that day to save my brother’s life. And I want people to take their kids out and look at them in the eyes and see how much they love them. I want them to realize that life is NOT better without you…and there’s nothing in this entire world that can fix this [suicide] and there’s no way that you can come back and say ‘I’m sorry dude.’ You can’t. And you’ll live with that [suicide] for eternity. Because I know you’re sitting here watching me right now going ‘sh*t what did I do? why did I do this to my family?'”
John and his family are still devastated over the loss, but all he can do at this point is just pour himself 100% into his music and hope that he can make a difference in the life of someone out there who is struggling with PTSD like his brother Mike was, and inspire them with a message of hope before it’s too late.
“My family is a wreck right now. We lost our father six months prior to Mike’s death. We’re trying to find what a new normal is. And I’m just doing what I’m doing to try and rock the entire world and heal our family along the way. There’s 8 other combat veterans on this Battle Cry album…this is all combat veterans telling our stories and I’m taking Superman Falls to the highest stage possible.”
The way that John creates his songs are incredibly unique, as he sometimes gets inspiration in what can only be described as supernatural. He said that the song about his brother Superman Falls basically wrote itself, and he recalled the eerie way that he woke up at 3 am singing the lyrics to the song. He knew he had to immediately go to work to capture what he was hearing, as he felt his brother was giving him a message from “beyond the grave.”
“I call the process magic..maybe it’s from beyond the grave..who knows. I woke up in the middle of the night singing this chorus. I literally woke up at 3 in the morning actually singing the chorus to the song. I had never even worked on it or come up with anything and I jumped out of bed and started writing immediately. The first verse and the chorus came out as if it were just flowing out directly. I think I finished the entire song in 15 minutes. I usually know when I do that it’s done it’s a good song and it’s on it’s way.”
John said after writing the song, the incredible dark cloud lingering over him for months was abruptly lifted.
“I was under a cloud..I had written an entire album about Mike’s suicide already prior to this. I still felt like there was a cloud sitting over me like there was this heavy weight that was still holding me down. And after Super Man falls, when I wrote it and I got it out, it was as if it has completely lifted. I called my producer the next day and said, ‘we gotta go to work now I’m ready to go.’ It was pretty magical how it all came together.”
It’s so incredibly heart wrenching to hear John’s story, but I told him that his brother’s death will not be in vain, as this incredible message of Superman Falls is making an incredible difference in the lives of those suffering from PTSD, and bringing the message to millions that killing yourself is never the answer. You can purchase John’s album Battle Cry, where 100% of the profits from his song goes to the Valerie Initiative that was founded to help our warriors who are dealing with the ongoing trauma of war.
Be sure to follow John on facebook at this link. You can purchase his album Battle Cry wherever digital music is available, including Spotify, Itunes, and Amazon. John’s music will also be available on Pandora in the near future.
Below is the full interview I did with John.
H/T [Prissy Holly]