in between looking at “cute” outfits that my wife cant afford and making sure my son was not going to do a header off of his high chair, i sat down to think about questions for my interview with will johnson. will is, in my opinion, the most underrated songwriter of our time.
prolific is not a term i like to use, usually it drums up thoughts at least in certain circles, of the hit or miss output of everyone’s favorite beer chuggin and high leg kickin uncle, bob pollard. will johnson is different kind of prolific, if thats possible. let me say this, if will was a workhorse, i would ride him all day. throughout his career, and various projects – which there have been a few, the quality of work is absolutely stellar. frankly, it puts 99% of songwriters to shame.
centro-matic’s new record, fort recovery, is without a doubt their finest hour. it prompted patterson hood of the drive by truckers to declare, “Centro-matic’s Fort Recovery is a masterpiece, and I don’t use that word often.”
captains dead: I know that you are a fairly big baseball fan, and I was wondering if you were to be featured on a baseball card what would you be doing? Would you want it to be an in action photo, a cheesy pose, or would you pull a Glenn Hubbard and pose with a python?
will johnson: i’d show up socks-high with a bake mcbride afro and a rollie fingers ‘stache, all while doing an ozzie smith take-the-field backflip.
cd: Being the music dork/failed musician that I am, I often find myself wishing, or better yet dreaming, that I had recorded this record or that record. Have you ever felt that way about a certain record, and if so is there one in the past 5 years that you wish you had?
wj: only one, really. we lost some of the four-track masters for static vs. the strings volume 2 on a west coast run about four years ago (we were mixing it on the road). or maybe they were stolen. we never found out for sure, but i’ve always been a little bummed that those are gone forever. that set us back some. we still haven’t finished vol. 2, though it seems like we’ll finally get to that within the next little while.
cd: I know it was your birthday recently, happy belated one by the way, and one thing I have noticed about growing a little older is that I cantstomach any carnival ride that spins. Is there anything that you seem to not be able to do as well or tolerate with your advancing age?
wj: i’m less tolerant of really late set times as i get older. a band starting at 12:30am on a tuesday morning just seems ridiculous to me. then there’s beer bongs, wine coolers, and A-Team re-runs. i just don’t dig that shit like i used to. i can still shoot some hoops, though, so i at least try to keep those skills goin’.
cd: Last and final question. I know after I listen to any of your recordings (in your various incarnations), I always feel a sense of hope that maybe all is right with the world. What do you want people to walk away with after they hear a Will Johnson composition?
wj: i’ll sometimes cite serious flaws in people or things in my songs, then throw in some feeling of hope that they’re gonna overcome whatever crappy situation they’ve gotten themselves into. i can onlyhope that these characters connect with the listener. sports and war metaphors often accomodate that, though i’ve done that a lot and could probably stand to back off on those. maybe political and religious figures are in the crosshairs next. who knows.