For all those who have never heard of Johnny B. Morbid - how
would you describe your music to give people a general clue?
Johnny B. Morbid is a unique blend of
punk and metal of all types with mostly dark lyrical content. I try my
absolute best when writing my songs to maintain a consistent theme
throughout while still being able to cater to all different types of
musical tastes regardless of one's cup of tea.
talk about your new album Welcome To Die! for a bit, and what sets
it apart from previous Johnny B. Morbid-albums?
to Die! is the first Johnny B. Morbid album to ever be produced in a
professional recording studio. The previous 5 albums were all recorded in
my basement. 4 of which were mixed by me and only 3 of which were
mastered. Welcome to Die! not only drastically strays from all
of my previous releases in sonic quality, but also in the songwriting and
my overall style as well. In addition, this release is the 1st one to ever
include a DVD and a 12-page-booklet.
can you tell us about your musicians on your album, and why exactly these
The drummer (Archie Panic) has been playing in my band on and off since
2006, so naturally he was my first choice to include as the drummer on
this album. This was not his first rodeo with me though as he had also
contributed his drumming talents to my releases in both 2008 (Some
Things Are Better Left Undead) and 2009
(Monsterpiece). I performed all instruments on my first 3
albums, but when I realized that Archie had far surpassed me as a
drummer, I thought it wise to include him on my records instead of just
in my live band.
The guitarist (Count Vlad Cadmus) was in a band with me back when we
were 16 / 17 years old and have kept in touch ever since despite
whatever projects we may have been involved with along the way. He
started in Johnny B. Morbid as a fill-in for when certain members
couldn't play shows. Eventually it became a permanent position and he
has been the lead guitarist since 2007. Much like Archie, Count Vlad
Cadmus's talents on guitar bury mine so he is the one I call in when I
see fit to add solos, leads, and harmonies on top of the rhythm guitar
tracks that I write and perform on my albums.
Tony Baptist was called in to finish tracking drums on this album due to
scheduling conflicts with Archie. I know and work with him in a band
with Michale Graves (ex-Misfits Vocalist). He was able to lend his
expertise and pick up the slack on what Archie was unable to complete.
Tony appears on 3 tracks off of Welcome to Die! which are Enough,
Drinking About You, and also the hidden
Chibo Jones was called in to add a guitar solo to the hidden track
because I thought it seemed to fit his playing style perfectly. I know
him from working with Michale Graves and Marky Ramone.
take us through the "making of" of Welcome To Die, from
initial ideas to studio sessions and the like?
Some of the writing for Welcome to Die! began shortly after
the release of Monsterpiece in 2009. Only fragments of songs
would begin to take form in what eventually became a 4-year hiatus. That
was due to my working as Marky Ramone's drum tech as well as being
Michale Graves's bassist. It seemed that I had finally caught a long
enough break to start piecing together 4 years worth of fragmented songs
and ideas in mid-summer of 2013. I sat down and started writing music to
vocal melodies I'd had in my head for years and vice versa. I also knew
at this time that I wanted to pull out all of the stops and release a
professionally recorded, mixed, and mastered album for the first time
since my band's emergence in August of 2005.
Enter: Kickstarter. I
decided to utilize Kickstarter in order to adequately fund the project I
had been dreaming to accomplish and with that and a devoted fan base I
was able to raise more than the necessary amount of money needed. This
is when the idea for a CD/DVD combo pack came in to play along with a 12
page booklet and the production of what would be our first music video.
I promised to provide more bang for everyone's buck who contributed to
my Kickstarter instead of releasing just a CD with a 2 page insert and
no DVD and pocketing all of the excess money for whatever I please.
I decided to seek out Soundmine Recording Studio in East Stroudsburg, PA
to take on the project because I had already worked with them previously on two
Michale Graves albums and loved the results. In just 2 weeks time, the
album was tracked, mixed, and mastered. We finished in August and the
album was released in October. The sessions were not always easy or fun
and many unforeseen hardships were faced due to faulty software and/or
instruments, but nothing worth while ever comes easy so it was of no
concern to me as long as I received a product I could be proud of after
all was said and done, and I do believe that is exactly what has
music video for the song Forever stars indie horror icon and
good friend of this site Suzi Lorraine [Suzi
Lorraine interview - click here] and was directed by another good
friend of this site, James Morgart [James
Morgart interview - click here] - now how did that collaboration
come into being, what's the video about, and do talk about the shoot as such for
I met James through Keryn Thompson (www.kerynthompson.com) on
the set of a film they were working on called Stockholm in
which I played the role of a cashier and was also given the opportunity to
write and record the title track for. I originally sought out an
acquaintance of mine to handle the music video duties, but there were
too many costly issues that prevented it from working out. Keryn suggested
that I get in touch with James and see if he could make this work for me.
Low and behold he was not only available, but ready and willing to dive
right into a music video project with a bunch of amateurs. James, Keryn,
and I each added just a little bit of our artistic ingredients to what
would become a perfect cocktail of visions and ideas for this music video,
but it was James who suggested that Suzi Lorraine be involved.
Johnny with Suzi Lorraine
stunned that such an experienced and established actress / model
like Suzi Lorraine was
willing to work with a band who had zero screen time to speak of. She was
an absolute delight to work with though and helped guide me through our
scenes together by giving me little pointers and hints here and there.
James was also very helpful and patient as he directed myself and the band
through this journey. It wound up being a 14-hour day, but we got
everything we needed with the combined talents of James Morgart, Suzi
Lorraine, Daniel Lipski (director of photography) and Adam Torkel (make-up
& fx). The video was then sent out to be edited by Wolfgang Meyer [Wolfgang
Meyer interview - click here] and
was done in just a weekend. I couldn't have been happier or more satisfied
with the final product and not only that, but I was also thrilled that it
got back to me with enough time to add it on the DVD that would included
with the CD of my new album.
One of your tracks is to be featured in the upcoming movie Stockholm
- now how did that come into being, was the track written specifically for
the film, and how do you feel about your music used in movies?
This opportunity was orchestrated by Keryn Thompson who I've known since
2010. It was she who mentioned the idea of having Johnny B. Morbid do
the title track to James Morgart. After getting the green light, I
decided to write the track specifically for the film and also include it
on my upcoming album. The timing just seemed too perfect not to do so.
I'm beyond grateful to not have only had the opportunity to have a song
in Stockholm, but to have it also be the title track. I love
the idea of having my music in movies and I truly hope that more
opportunities will come to me in the near future.
future projects (of whatever kind) you'd like to share?
only thing on the horizon as of now would be the release of my final album
in 2015 to commemorate and put a cap on 10 years of Johnny B. Morbid.
That's not to say that I won't be touring or playing shows, it will just
be the final studio album.
got you into making music to begin with, and did you receive any formal
education on the subject?
I spent the weekend at my
cousin's house when I was 13 or 14. He had a snare drum that for some
reason I could just not leave alone. It was shortly after that when I
began taking an interest in playing drums so I got a drum set and began
taking drum lessons when I was 14. I played out in a band for the first
time when I was 14 on the seaside heights boardwalk at a place that now
rests at the bottom of the atlantic ocean due to hurricane sandy. When I
was 15, I began messing around with my mother's bass guitar and eventually
taught myself how to play. The same thing happened with guitar when I was
16 or so and within that time I had already begun singing but only
received a total of 4 months vocal instruction in my lifetime because I
couldn't stand it. I played bass in a band when I was 15 and was the lead
singer in another band during the same time period. In 2005, I was the
singer of a metalcore band which overlapped the birth of Johnny B. Morbid
and as the metalcore band began to burn out, my passion for the Johnny B. Morbid
project had begun to set fire.
What can you tell us about
your musical endeavours prior to/besides Johnny B. Morbid?
played drums in a band called Cultivate The Grave when I was 15. We were
only a band for 6 months, but we played every single weekend in that time
and would practice 2 or 3 times a week. We also released a CD & won
3rd place at an under-18 Battle of the Bands in which we competed against
47 other bands. Next was a pop-punk project called Self Reliance which
I played bass for and shared vocal duties with the rhythm guitarist who
would later become a founding member of the Johnny B. Morbid live band.
During this same time period, I took on vocal duties for a death metal
band called Shackled Humanity, which also had 2 other members in it from
Cultivate The Grave, 1 of which would also become a founding member of the
Johnny B. Morbid live outfit. When I was 16, I recorded vocals on a 4-song
EP for a metal band called Shadowcast, but never played out live. At this
time I was also a vocalist for Burnt To Ashes which was a metalcore band.
Both Burnt To Ashes and Self Reliance released CDs in 2004. In 2005 I
found myself doing vocals for a different metalcore band called In Memory
Of, which had members from both Burnt To Ashes & Self
throughout this chaotic musical journey, there was also one goofy project
that would fade in and out from time to time but would never die... it was
called Dysfunctional Barnyard. That was started in 8th grade, but we
wouldn't release anything until 2005 when we were all seniors in high
led to the launch of Johnny B. Morbid, and how did the project
evolve over the years?
Johnny with Michale Graves
It was my fascination with The
Misfits that led to the creation of Johnny B. Morbid. It was the summer
after I had graduated high school and some friends and I had plans to
start a Misfits cover band just for the summer to have fun and play out a
few times before we all disappeared to college. We all picked out aliases
for this band and mine was Johnny B. Morbid. The band never happened, but
one day I was on my delivery route at work and heard a familiar voice in a
song on a college radio station. It was Michale Graves and apparently he
had just released his first album in 4 years. When I got home from work I
decided to look him up online and see if he would be playing any time soon
and he was so I told a few of my buddies and we took a ride to see him one
night. Mind you none of us had ever seen him with The Misfits because we
were too young at the time or hadn't even heard of them yet. So after
seeing Michale Graves for the first time in July of 2005 I decided to can
the Misfits cover band idea and just do my own thing like he was doing. I
began writing my 1st album just days after that concert in August of 2005.
The first song I wrote was called UFOh No.
What are typical Johnny B.
Morbid studio sessions and live shows like?
The studio sessions used to be very stressful because I would do
everything alone. If I messed up then I would have to get up, run over
to the console, and start a new take. That's how it was for my first 3
albums. For the 4th and 5th albums, it wasn't as bad because other
people were involved. We'd break for lunch during 8 hour sessions and
usually be drinking beer to make being in a basement for 8 hours seem a
bit easier to tolerate. A lot of what we did wasn't pre-rehearsed
though. We'd jam out the song a few times and then hit record when it
was fresh in our minds. Welcome to Die! is the first album
we ever did the "right" way.
Our shows are usually a lot of fun for everyone because I'm a big fan of
crowd participation. Sometimes I'll turn the microphones around to face
the crowd so they can sing along. I always try my best to include the
audience because it gives people a reason to keep coming back to see us.
What's the point of playing at people when it's more fun to play with
people. They can just stay home and put on a CD or Spotify or Pandora if
they don't want to be involved with the band. People go to shows for a
little interaction and that is what I try to provide.
who inspire you?
Obviously seeing Michale Graves was a
major catalyst to starting Johnny B. Morbid, but other than that I would
have to say Mike Patton and Glenn Danzig because they both seem to do
whatever they want regardless of what may be considered marketable or what
have you. It's just great to see people who are that successful without
ever bending for anyone and without ever compromising their sound.
And since this is first and foremost a
movie-site: Your favourite and least favourite movies?
favorite movie of all time is Encino Man. I've probably seen that
movie 867 times since I first saw it when I was 6 years old or so.
least favorite would have to be The Royal Tenenbaums. It was the
only movie I ever walked out of in my life.
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website, Facebook, whatever else?
Anything else you are
dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Willis is a ghost at the end.
for the interview!
Thank you so much for the opportunity! I
sincerely appreciate it very much.