Breaking through and building upon your progress. Winning as an artist.

Posted: June 22, 2023
The definition of “breakthrough” - “a sudden, dramatic, and important discovery or development”.

Which of the two would you rather experience? A breakthrough or a break down? Most of us would choose to experience a breakthrough. Often, we relate a breakthrough with finding a cure for an illness. The investment in a breakthrough usually comes at high price. Depending upon the subject, the breakthrough may be pursued but never obtained. Take for instance, the cure for cancer. An illness that has plagued many in this world. As a cure for cancer is pursued, it hasn’t become the ability of man or scientists to find a cure. For the last 3 years we have been diligently working to overcome a pandemic that has affected everyone to some degree. The world in general has experienced a breakthrough with vaccines and preventive medications.

This is just a few examples of a breakthrough that we all can relate too. How about a breakthrough that is specific in nature. Can each of us experience a breakthrough that will ensure our individual successes?

A subject more relatable to our audience “is” the music industry.

Many that work in the music or entertainment industry are always seeking a breakthrough. Especially if you are just starting out. Let’s consider musicians or artists today. What sort of breakthrough would they be looking to have? It could be as realistic as their first single release. Maybe their first gig. How about their first festival. Maybe it’s the first time they opened for a big-name artist. The list goes on and on. Nonetheless, a breakthrough is important. It is a sign of progress, and success. Each one of us, non-artists included need to experience a breakthrough. It can have a huge impact on your confidence.

What steps do you need to take to have a breakthrough? Well, that depends upon the subject that you are focusing in on. However, start with the basic steps, and master them. Avoid, faking it, to you make it notions. They never work. Take baby steps, until you realize that you have had your first breakthrough.

When I was a booking agent, my first breakthrough came when I signed an artist to a major country music festival in Texas. Then booking an artist on a mini tour was another one. Then following it up with signing some of the hottest bands in the music industry was another. I interviewed some major talent in the entertainment industry. Such as the Bellamy Brothers, the Barbie Twins, and indie artist Aaron Watson. Just to name a few. I even got a chance to review the 50th Anniversary album for Alabama before it was released. However, I always set my sites on having a breakthrough in the entertainment industry. It is unending for me. Each breakthrough gets me closer to my overall purpose in life. Successfully breaking through is a necessity for me.



Reigning from Southern California, Robert Jon & The Wreck take the Southern rock sound from the east coast and make it their own. Since their inception in 2011, these native Californians; Robert Jon Burrison (lead vocals, guitar), Andrew Espantman (drums, background vocals), Henry James Schneekluth (lead guitar, background vocals), Warren Murrel (bass) and Jake Abernathie (keyboards) have been electrifying audiences all over the world with their soaring guitar leads, rich vocal harmonies, and memorable tunes.


Simply put, it is difficult to ignore when these talented musicians take the stage.

Little wonder they have made an impact on audiences across the world, where they’ve played a run of sold-out shows and proudly shared bills with talent the likes of Joe Bonamassa, Blackberry Smoke, Peter Frampton, Buddy Guy and Rival Sons. 2020’s ‘Last Light On The Highway’ garnered worldwide acclaim for the band and 2021’s ‘Shine A Light On Me Brother’ continued their upward trajectory, leading to a collaboration with Blues Rock Titan Joe Bonamassa’s Journeyman Records, which has paved the way for even more new and exciting music. Most recently they released ‘One Of A Kind,’ a dynamic, multi-faceted EP, featuring material produced by GRAMMY-Award winners Don Was (Bonnie Raitt, The Stones, John Mayer) and Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, Blackberry Smoke, Rival Sons). This year also saw the release of ‘Live At The Ancienne Belgique,’ their first official live concert film spanning the last decade of their exceptional career, which Music News called, “one of the best live albums I have heard in years." The Wreck are touring extensively across the world and recording even more new music to release to their rapidly growing fanbase. To stay updated visit at #GetWrecked

Robert Jon Burrison lays it on all the line for Robert Jon & The Wreck. The driving force behind the band, he works year-round ensuring they’re on the road or in the studio. The namesake lead singer grew up listening to his to Dad’s Motown records and playing the drums, but when he discovered classic rock as a young teen, he picked up a guitar and never looked back. Burrison tips his hat to endless blues and rock icons that continue to inspire him, but also finds inspiration close to home with Jay Buchanan from RIVAL SONS who has been a friend, mentor, and champion of Robert Jon & The Wreck for years. When Burrison’s not rocking venues or working on new material, he can be found enjoying a generously poured glass of whiskey or trimming his impressive beard.

Drummer Andrew Espantman’s uncle played bass and toured Europe with a Danish pop star. Naturally, he looked at his uncle and thought, “If he can do it, why can’t I?” And that’s just what Espantman did – minus the bass and Danish pop star. Holding down the rhythm section since Robert Jon & The Wreck formed in 2011, Espantman continues to deliver fiery percussion in the studio and on the road. His time interning at Spitfire Studios for Warren Huart (Aerosmith, The Fray) led to a long relationship with the esteemed producer, who worked with the band on four albums. Inspired by greats like John Bonham with a sweet spot for tastemakers like Travis Barker, Espantman delivers beats on his custom Ludwig type C drum kit that’s reminiscent of a blue candy cane and very likely the only one of its kind.


Robert Jon & The Wreck

It’s built a structure that I can visualize now. I know what I need and how to get it. I know that all the back work is needed and looking to future knowing we are going to hit that stage again, makes it all worth it”.


Joining Robert Jon & The Wreck in 2017, Henry James is the lead guitarist and overall groove master bringing psychedelic edge to southern rock. Fascinated with the classic sounds of the 60’s and 70’s, James spent his teenage years in various psychedelic blues bands that performed around southern California. When he’s not performing with RJTW or customizing his own guitars, he’s focused on his side project, King Tree & The Earth Mothers. The project features original compositions that pay homage to psychedelic and progressive rock. If James can find spare time beyond his musical ventures, he’s out hunting for vintage vinyl, a good comb, and spare guitar parts.

Bassist Warren Murrel has been liberating the low end for over a decade. Prior to joining Robert Jon & The Wreck in 2017, he played bass with several SoCal acts including The Higgs, MadTab, PWEST, DMTina & the Bumps and Sutter Zachman Band. Murrel is also a graduate of the Musicians Institute for Drums and Audio Engineering, with a session engineer resume that includes work for Dweezil Zappa, Don Preston, Gordon Campbell and many more. When Murrel’s not jamming with Robert Jon & The Wreck on his one-of-a-kind Echo Park J Bass, you can find him sipping a strong IPA in sweatpants or enjoying long walks on the beach (seriously).



GT: It is a pleasure to be able to ask you a couple of questions today. Can you personally relate to the topic of having a breakthrough? If so, what recently would quantify that for you?

RJ: I’d say that my breakthroughs are constant. Most recently the “Breakthrough” relating to the music industry was how important and vital preforming live was to me personally. How much I get out of playing live in front of an audience that’s giving me every ounce of energy that I’m giving to them. During the pandemic not preforming live, was slowing emptying my cup, we were working on writing songs, and becoming better musicians but nothing was filling my cup as much as the energy from the live audience does. We give a lot on stage every night and the way we keep that train moving is because the crowd every night is filling it back up.


GT: What did you hope that having a breakthrough would do for you? Has it built your confidence, in your ability to accomplish other tasks, etc.?

RJ: It’s built a structure that I can visualize now. I know what I need and how to get it. I know that all the back work is needed and looking to future knowing we are going to hit that stage again, makes it all worth it.


GT: Guitar Thrills Magazine was impressed with your accomplishments to date. Bring our readers up to speed on what has been happening with Robert Jon & The Wreck over the last 12 months.

RJ: That’s a question that I can barely put into words. We have recorded in multiple cities with multiple legendary producers, which was a great honor and privilege that we were able to do. We’ve been on the road in n out of the country since Feb. of the year and will continue to do so until the end of the year. We strive to make the best music possible with our blood, sweat, and tears.


GT: Do you have any specific marketing strategies that have been effective over the years? Or have you just grown your fan base by your popularity and ability to perform at a high level?

RJ: Our biggest marketing strategy to date is to be there. Simply put in the work. Don’t assume that if you do “This” “That” will happen. You do everything that you can in hope that it moves the needle forward.


GT: How important is marketing and promotions, beyond just social media and getting on Spotify playlists, for an indie artist?

RJ: It’s a huge part of the whole picture. I think it’s very important. Although you must have all the pieces of the puzzle not just social media and not just a playlist, nor just being a good band, nor just playing as many shows as you can. The whole train must move in motion together. It’s a lot of work. So, you also have to love what you do and everything that comes with it.


GT: As an indie artist, do you handle most of the business side of your career or do you have a team that helps you?

RJ: This band wouldn’t be possible without every member of this band. We all do so much in different avenues that it’s the only way to make it possible. We’ve been slowly building the team along the way, so now as we work with agents and management the train is coming together.


GT: What are some misconceptions people tend to have about indie artists that you must battle frequently?

RJ: that’s a good question and as of right now, I’m not to sure. Possibly misconception that we don’t have a lot going on. Cause its constant 24/7 to keep the train moving. Possibly we can just play whatever venue or festival we want to so we get ask “Why aren’t we playing here” or “You should play here” it just doesn’t work that way sometimes, but it’s not something we battle with. Some of those places we want to play so it makes us work harder.


GT: As a band with numerous talented musicians, how does that help when you two are writing songs? Performing on stage?

RJ: It honestly makes you a better songwriter and better musicians. Surround yourself with people that inspire you and make you a better person. Plain and simple.


GT: On the flip side are there times where you need to get away from each other for a while to work on music?

RJ: Of Course, I think it’s always good to have time apart just as its important to have time together that isn’t always on stage or in the studio. It’s a relationship like any other it takes work, patience, and time.


GT: In past interviews I have read, you talked about wanting to do a national tour or a tour of the UK are there any plans in the works for either type of tours?

RJ: We are currently on the road in the US right now as I’m writing this, and we got back from our last UK Tour in Feb. and have another UK Tour in September 2023, so the plan is working.


GT: When you are putting together a show or tour, what things do you look for, is it the venue? The show lineup? Other factors?

RJ: The venue is always a factor. We always try to perform at venues where true music enthusiasts attend. Festivals are a great example of this. We also aim to get the most exposure as possible for our brand. Doing market research on the area and determining the type of music that is popular is one avenue that helps us in determining what venues to target. The lineup is absolutely very important to us. If we can be paired up with a similar artist with a large following, that’s always a good thing.


GT: What are some bucket list venues for Robert John & the Wreck?

RJ: Red Rocks in Colorado


GT: I know you love all the songs that you have released, but is there one that means just a little more to you than the others? Why?

RJ: “One of a Kind” that we recently released I wrote for my son, and about my son. So right now, that one means a lot to me. It will change as we write and record more but sitting right here that one means a lot.


GT: As we move further into 2024, what is up next for Robert Jon & The Wreck, what can your fans look forward to?

RJ: A lot more music. A lot more shows. A lot more good time.


GT: We want to take the time to thank you for your contribution to the success of the music industry. We also look forward to a follow up interview in the soon.

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