En solitario, el líder de los texanos Centro-matic y South San Gabriel ofrece folk-rock de fuerte carga sensitiva, que se agarra al esqueleto de las canciones de sus dos bandas y también al de sus propios discos.
Este formato explota con mayor profundidad si cabe el poder catártico de su voz, esa espiritualidad de gospel blanco desvalido. Así conquistó a la crítica en su primer tour por España en 2005. Además de músico, Will Johnson, el líder de Centro-matic y South San Gabriel, es pintor. Y pinta como hace música y viceversa. Sus canciones se asemejan a un lienzo cubierto de pinceladas de emociones y colores primarios, que luego el texano va salpicando, repasando con pluma, manchando con brochazos, encerrando en un círculo de puntos y acentos sonoros que ahora son más sutiles, luego audaces.
Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm (2017)
Con un desfile de sílabas envueltas en sombras que dan forma a melodías fantasmales, como si fueran meditaciones provocadoras desde un mundo de gran complejidad moral. Algo perceptible en los cinco discos que ha firmado a su nombre: "Murder Of Tails" (2002), ”Vultures Await” (2004), "Candidate Waltz"(2011), “Scorpion” (2012), "Swam City Vampires" (2015) y "Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm" (2017)-, un currículo personal al que hay que sumar el que firmó en 2009 a medias con el malogrado Jason Molina, “Molina & Johnson”, y “New Multitudes”, homenaje a Woody Guthrie aparecido en 2012 y en el que comparte protagonismo con Jim James (My Morning Jacket) y Anders Parker (Varnaline).
Los sonidos, las pausas, el silencio son los secretos de la melodía. Nos permiten conocerla desde dentro. Vivir la música es aprender a detenerse y escuchar, a relajarse y dejarse llevar; es disfrutar solo y también en compañía.
Will Johnson actúa el miércoles, 11 octubre en la sala Costello Club de Madrid, y nuestro comapñero Josechu Egido ha hablado con él para saber más de este último trabajo, y de su concierto en España,.
Your songs sound like intensive and elegant Folk and Blues mixed with Rock, Country and a bit of Jazz music and Pop. A great mix of styles that results on the fantastic sound of your music now. So, what really are your musical influences?
It depends on what sound, or sounds. are turning me on at the time. It also depends on the group of people that inhabit the studio for a particular record. As far as influences, it can be something as simple as a conversation, a certain line, or simple human folly. Sometimes it’s a new piece of gear that inspires or influences. It’s different every day.
Next year marks 15 years since Will Johnson edited your first album “Murder Of Tails”. What is the difference between the music of Will today and your music 15 years ago?
I’m less scared of falling on my face now than I was then. I’m more confident but also more willing to totally fail, if that makes sense. The solo recordings are more layered now. Back then it was usually me playing most everything on the record, and things were pretty stark. But now I usually get a few folks together and let the record find its identity in their personalities and abilities.
You edited your last LP titled "Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm" in Spring 2017. What do you expect from this album?
I had a couple of instrumental expectations for certain songs, but otherwise it was up to the group of people there. I had Britton Beisenherz, Ricky Ray Jackson and Matt Pence on board for this one. I wanted to present the skeletal version of the songs, then let them have at it. Their fingerprints are on this record as much as mine are.
What do we will see and enjoy in your live concerts for next tour around Spain?
The show is usually a mix of songs from the new record, and some old stuff as well. I’ll try to throw in some songs that (Jason) Molina and I wrote together, and maybe a couple from former bands and collaborations.
What are your plans for this year 2017 and next 2018? We assume that you will touring around clubs and festivals. Can you advance anything to us? Any important event?
I made a record in Memphis last year with my friend Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster, and the project is called Marie/Lepanto. That record comes out in January, and we’ll tour together after that.
Do you think the digital world will end with music as we know it today? What do you think is the future of music?
It feels like the future of music lies within the musician’s and bands’ hands as much now as it ever has. As a human race it feels like we’re as disconnected from each other as we’ve ever been, most often digitally. So as musicians I think it’s our job to go out and hopefully connect people through music. I need it as a listener and as a consumer as much as I do as a performer. It works both ways.
What is your best memory about music?
My mom teaching me how to use the turntable when I was about 5 years old. It taught me at an early age that a person’s relationship with music is a consistently changing and interactive experience.
How is a normal day in the life of Will Johnson?
Coffee, take kids to school, trail run, paint, write, nap, paint more, get kids from school, cook, baseball, paint, bed.
Could you tell us about...
... A book?:
I’m reading Michael Parker’s “Everything Then And Since”. It’s a book of short stories and most of them are three, maybe four pages long. It’s like being at a punk rock show where every song is bombastic and short, but wonderful and exhilarating.
... A movie?:
Still waiting to see “It”.
... A song?:
Lou Bond “To The Establishment”.
... An album?:
Jim Sullivan “UFO”.
... A group or soloist?:
I’m re-smitten with the recordings of the Swedish instrumental group .tape.
... A hobby?:
Staying away from a phone or laptop for significant chunks of the day. Trail running, hiking and swimming and playing music with my family.
Thank you very much. Best wishes from Spain,