“Zero Friction” John Stiles

© John Stiles
© John Stiles

John Stiles is a talented musician (Vocals & Guitar) with Zero Friction, an acoustic duo playing rock n roll and original music (band of Mark Dickinson and John Stiles). He has played guitar since twelve years old. Served in the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division, and then in Chunchon, Korea. John is also the Alderman of Cottleville, Missouri.

Interview by Stephen Thompson, Ph.D.

Welcome to OpenBeast. Tell us about yourself.

I’m the father of three, Emma, Kathryne, and Joseph. I have a BSBA degree from UM-St Louis. Came to St. Charles in 1994 and immediately joined St. Joseph Church in Cottleville, where I am the President of the Athletic Association. I moved to Cottleville in October of 2003.

How and why did you get into the world of music?

I’m not really sure exactly how it happened. My dad was a very talented pianist and tried getting each of his three kids to play piano but, I didn’t really care for that kind of structured teaching. He gave me a guitar for a birthday or Christmas, I guess. Before I knew it, I was taking group lessons at school. My first lesson, we learned a three chord song called “Proud Mary” (the CCR version). I practice changing the chords all week and, when we met again, I played the song so fluently that the instructor moved me into the advanced group. A few months later, I was playing in the Children’s Choir at Church and did that for my remaining years at Mary Queen of the Universe elementary school.

John Stiles 2
© John Stiles

What is “Zero Friction” all about?

Mark Dickinson and I are also in a rock band called “FATBOY”.  It’s an oxymoron… none of us are fat, none ride a Harley, and we have a female singer too. I asked Mark in 2009 if he wanted to work on an acoustic project. He said yes. We want Zero Friction to be a fun band with some difficult guitar pieces, lots of harmonies, some obscure songs from the past that bring back memories, and even a few of our originals.  We “play for the song”. That means we don’t upstage each other. Mark is an extremely talented guitarist and his ear for harmonies is exceptional as well.

The name?? Well, that was pretty much Mark’s brainchild… he is an avid golfer and there are golf tees called Zero Friction but, more than that, we wanted a name that lets people know that when they see Zero Friction, it will be a relaxed environment with “zero friction”.

Talk to us about your passion for music?

My passion for music only lies in playing the guitar and singing. I’m not an authority on music at all. In fact, many of the songs we play, I wouldn’t be able to tell you who the artist is.

What’s your best gig thus far?

We are about to play our 100th gig at the Cottleville Wine Seller on May 25th. We love playing there but, I think our “best” gig would have been the “launch”.  We prepared ten songs for a Benefit Concert for Angels Arms (a local foster home that doesn’t separate siblings). We just wanted to know what people would think. The feedback was so positive so, we took it to 35 songs so we could play a three hour gig.  It’s been a great ride and I couldn’t ask to have done it with a better human being.  Mark is a great friend.

Tell us about your recent Alderman win and related plans.

When I decided to run for Alderman, it was mainly to get involved in the community. A part of my philosophy is “if you don’t vote… you give up your right to complain” so, I decided to VOTE BIG TIME and threw my name in the hat. Since my name was in the hat, I had to go for it as hard as I could so, I went door to door the last two weekends before the election and, knowing as many people in the church, the word got out quickly. I appreciate all the help from everyone who mentioned my name and voted for me. My neighborhood, Rosedale, was extremely supportive and got out to vote.

Related plans??  Well, first I would like to find a way to get more citizens involved in the community by getting the Board of Alderman meeting attendance up. People need to be informed and it would be nice to see the community come together more. I have some ideas on how to make Cottleville a “destination” rather than a “cut through” town too. But, I’m going to save publishing them until I am closer to knowing they can be accomplished. Let’s just say a couple of them are pretty lofty goals.

What are your leisure time activities?

Having 3 kids, I stay pretty busy.  I coach soccer and baseball, ride motorcycles, and hang with my kids as much as I can. Music is more… therapy than anything. I play for myself as much as I play to entertain others.

Dogs or cats?

George Carlin did a great set on dogs and cats. Check it out some time. I prefer dogs over cats. Dogs are loyal, will walk with you, and can fetch. Cats are just plain sneaky. They’re crazy quiet.

Thank you. 

For more information, visit/like!/ZeroFrictionSTL