Jonny Love: 'Just me and my guitar'

By Martine Rolls

He's s an exceptional singer-songwriter, softly spoken, smart and unpretentious. Jonny Love is one of New Zealand's up and coming original artists and he's coming to Tauranga on May 4 to play an acoustic, intimate gig at Classic Flyers.

Jonny Love, (pictured) - without the "h" and yes, it is his real name - is a well travelled man. His younger years were spent in many countries, and he's been travelling around the world ever since.

"My dad was in the Air Force, so we moved around a bit when I was a kid," he says.

His father, Tauranga's well known David Love, was based with the Royal Air Force in Hong Kong, Germany and Belgium when Jonny and his brother, Andrew, were growing up.

Jonny spent a good few years in Birmingham and London, where he pursued a career in sports playing semi-professional rugby for London-based club Harlequins. He moved to New Zealand to get a tertiary education, which eventually landed him a double university degree in marketing and music, whilst also aiming to break into New Zealand professional sports.

But, like many other rugby players, injury forced Jonny to change direction.

When a torn hamstring forced him to end his days on the rugby pitch, it was time to unleash his creative side and playing music became his favoured path to travel.

After settling in Dunedin, where his family is from originally, Jonny set up a record label which he named Limelight Records, then signed himself up as the sole artist.

"It was the right time and opportunity to pick up my guitar and get the vocal chords into gear," he says.

Jonny moved to Auckland in 2006, where he made some great connections in the music scene and hooked up with bands like OpShop and The Feelers.

He soundly established his musical career in 2008 with his self-titled debut album, which features a compilation of warm acoustic indie pop songs.

For his new album, Courage, Jonny has taken a side step from the acoustic guitar he's known for and plugged in the electrics. It became a recording with a real blast of raw energy.

"It's definitely a bit more rock this time," he says.

"I guess it was time to crank up the volume. I felt the need for some more upbeat songs so I have taken it up a notch, and I have so much fun performing them at the live shows."

Jonny now calls Auckland home, and he has become hugely popular on Auckland's music scene. With friend and fellow musician Joe Walsh, he fills the air with upbeat music early Wednesday afternoons on Radio Ponsonby.

The end of last year, Jonny spent time in the US, playing with OpShop and travelling around. "We ended up playing in the infamous Viper Room in Los Angeles together, which was pretty cool."

He is once again happy to be back in New Zealand, and is just about to go on his new solo tour Acoustiki which will take him around the regions.

"I'm not touring with a band this time. It's just me and my guitar," he says. "It'll be solo acoustic gigs, and I'm really looking forward to it."

When we spoke to Jonny, he was just finalising the dates for his Acoustiki tour, but the gig at Classic Flyers on May 4 is definitely set in stone.

We asked if he would be staying in the Bay for a few days afterwards, but Jonny says that although he'd love to hang around for a while, he has to get straight back to Auckland to play with OpShop again at Ponsonby's premier venue, The Whiskey, in its huge Music Month celebrations.

Jonny has close family ties here in the Bay, so we will certainly see a lot more of him. Meanwhile, you can find more about Jonny and listen to his music online by looking him up on Facebook, MySpace and YouTube.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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