By Eric Dehm
Since Jeremy Siegrist retired from the Navy after 20 years of service in 2013 he’s done quite a bit. He’s released 3 albums with his Ohio-based band The Typical Johnsons and won several Ohio Music Awards. Oh, and just before starting an award-winning band? He learned how to play the guitar and write music.
That’s right, when he retired four years ago Siegrist had never really played an instrument beyond dabbling with the guitar in high school, and he’d never written a song.
It all came after his Navy career came to an end. In essence, while he knew he could have gotten out and done something more similar to his career field in the Navy, music was just more interesting and challenging. It was something he took to naturally and quickly, which he sees as something of a parallel to his prior career.
“It was almost unconscious,” Siegrist says. “Once it started it was like an avalanche and it just kinda took over. In that respect, it was kinda like the military where it just kinda took over and kinda guides you along. And I think any calling is like that. I kinda think the Navy was a calling for me, for you, for a lot of others.”
While he sees some similarities between his current and past lives, and his music is there are also some significant differences. For example, Chief Siegrist knew things would get done the way he wanted them when he wanted them. And if things didn’t get done? It was usually pretty easy to correct the situation and hold the proper parties accountable. Jeremy Siegrist frontman of The Typical Johnsons has to go about things in a different way.
“It just doesn’t necessarily happen like that out here,” Siegrist says. “And I’ve been retired for three years, four years? Time flies. I still have problems with that, whew that’s a rough one, especially as a Chief… occasionally my wife (bandmate Lynne Siegrist) will tell me ‘a little less Chief, a little more civilian’ because I do tend to order people around trying to get things done because that’s what I did for 20 years but now? It just doesn’t work like that.”
Despite the struggles of moving into a profession so drastically different from the military, Siegrist says he’s generally felt welcomed by the artistic community, in fact, he was encouraged by a well-known member of that community to pursue his musical career.
After seeing English singer Frank Turner perform, and meeting him after the show Siegrist decided to send an e-mail to him asking how to go about starting on a similar path not really expecting a response. Not only did he get a response, he also got some invaluable advice that he credits with giving him the initial push to pursue this dream, it’s also advice he says would help every veteran pursuing the musical dream.
“He’s like ‘well, just go do it, there’s nothing stopping you from just going to do this to get up on stage and play some songs’ and from there I got a guitar then played an open mic then wrote a song,” Siegrist says.
“1, 2, 3 and it just goes like that. I firmly believe anyone can go do this… you just gotta get up and write your story, write your truth and go do it.”
Siegrist says he has no plans to stop telling his story and writing his truth and is looking forward to continuing his musical journey, and along the way keep working to find that perfect balance between who he was and who he is.
The video for the first single from The Typical Johnsons new album “Rustbelt Renaissance” can be viewed below.