Todd Johnson is the former frontman for the acclaimed Midwest Rock/Alt. Country band Trucker. ‘Herd’ is his second solo release.
We sat down with Todd Johnson to talk about his latest release ‘Herd’ and talk about all things music!
Where do you come from?
I was raised in Olathe, Kansas, attended Full Sail University in Orlando, spent a decade in Lawrence, Kansas then moved out to the country where I built a studio and raise children & chickens.
Tell us about your track ‘Rebecca’s Revenge’ off your album ‘Herd’. What’s the process behind it?
On this latest release, Herd, the track that has the most story behind it is Rebecca’s Revenge. My first summertime girlfriend ended up getting into a bad situation later on in high school. Tragically it ended with a man she was in a relationship with murdering her. The song takes the point of view of her father hoping she comes home and then plotting the demise of her murderer, which didn’t happen, but being a father myself I cannot imagine the rage and despair that would come from that.
How could you describe your music?
My writing and collaboration with band mates has always been a multi-genre mash up. The albums tend to flow from rock to country and almost punk twinges. Over the years I’ve heard Social Distortion, REM, Bob Mould comparisons which I can see. Overall I don’t think too much about genre when writing, it just depends on the time and place when the songs are being made and then it is what it is.
What made you want to become a musician?
I don’t think I really had a say in the matter. Now if you’re asking about making a decision to pursue it as a career? Well, obviously madness and the pursuit of heartache lead me here.
How would you describe your fans?
Since I’ve always played around with multi-genres I’ve been lucky to play to a wide variety of audiences. The old rockers, the young stoners, country boys, sorority girls, military guys. It’s always surprising and refreshing to hear feedback from different types of people. The common thread is that there was something in a particular song that made them feel something and that means a lot. That’s what you want as a writer.
You should always play like the place is packed.Todd Johnson
What’s the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you?
Not so much advice but in the early days a very accomplished Midwest band front man reminded me that we’ve all played gigs to only a bartender. You should always play like the place is packed.
What would you do if you made a mistake during a performance?
You keep going. This is the first thing any one doing anything on a stage should be taught. Whether it’s your mistake, a broken string, a horrible monitor rig, whatever. You keep going.
Describe your favorite and least favorite part about being a musician.
The industries lack of common manners and the endless pit of scams. There is nothing more brutal than being ignored. Rejection is one type of pain but having put significant money, efforts and resources into a presentation for labels or press and then hearing nothing back is a special type of burn. I do think too many people in the industry are too high on their own stash and forget why they chose to do what they do and either get snobby, cliche’y, or lazy.
Are there any musicians who inspire you? What qualities do you admire about them?
Jeff Lynne for sure. I remember watching a doc on him where they show you his house and he talks about his process. Drums in the dining room, the whole house just one big studio. I haven’t gone that far but when I moved from the city I knew I needed a dedicated building to lock myself in for days at a time to get accomplished what I wanted to do. I definitely feel a kinship with him and Brian Wilson as far as process goes.
What type of musician would you prefer to collaborate with?
I would love work with a full orchestra and choir for a big production. I have been honing my orchestral skillsets and to be able to explain then hand that over to the experts and let them run with their experience and input would be amazing.
What is it you would like people to do while listening to your song?
I just hope it enhances whatever they are feeling at the time or doing and in the end helps with whatever that is.
Do you write your music in order of appearance or do you shuffle how you would like to listen to on an ep/ album?
Not at all. Rarely is any thought given to how relates or compares to other songs. They are each their own little beast. When it comes time for album track orders then pacing and transition come into play for flow purposes but not during the composing time.
What is it about music that makes you feel passionate?
The ability to make a tangible thing from out of thin air is pure magic.
Would your music sounds the same 10 years ago? Or the 20 years older you? What would he change to it?
Having put out many records over the past 30 years I can give an honest answer. Someone’s first reaction as they look back is a bunch of would’a / could’as, and sure there are some remixes I’d like to do. Shoe string budgets, all sorts of things come into play when making a record but I think if you make sure to give it your best at the time in the end you’ll be happy. I learned a lot since my first record. 1000’s more hours of practice with talented band mates, 100’s of more live shows, things are gonna change.
I sing better than I did. I play guitar better than I did. I overall think the songs sound more polished as time went on but structure wise the songs are the songs. Now I can hear old recordings and be very proud. I know what it took to get it done and can appreciate the hard work and dedication then look at my progress and accomplishments over the years and feel pretty great about it.
Do you create for yourself or for your fans?
It’s always for me. It’s always been for me.
I feel lucky every time someone else likes it as well. It doesn’t get any better.
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