Contributor’s Note: With a new band, Caleb Johnson And The Ramblin’ Saints —Josh Sawyer (lead guitar), Brennan Dugen (bass)–soulfully and bombastically take us to the church of rock ‘n roll. Johnson uses this album to showcase his southern roots and he channels a spirit that combines gospel, blues and rock n roll into a modern but classic and timeless sound.
After being crowned the winner of Season 13 of “American Idol,” Caleb Johnson went to work recording his first album, Testify, with a major label. It debuted at #1 on the iTunes Rock chart and #24 on the Billboard “Top Album Sales” chart. He was subsequently recruited as an opening act for some of the biggest touring bands in rock n roll: KISS, Cheap Trick, Sammy Hagar, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, and Black Stone Cherry, to name a few.
Even with all that, Johnson wasn’t content. Testify had been rushed out right on the heels of his “Idol” victory, leaving him less than satisfied. He needed to write, record and perform music that better reflected what he could accomplish without restraint, so in 2016, he headed to Nashville where he began working on what would eventually become Born From Southern Ground
“This is the album I’ve always wanted to make and I’m super excited for people to hear it”, declares Caleb Johnson. “It’s real, raw and honest. Music is a religious experience and can be life changing. Moving forward I hope this album will inspire others the way I was inspired when I first heard the gospel through rock ‘n roll.”
I was fortunate enough to be able to get some chat time with Caleb Johnson for Madness To Creation in the midst of his busy schedule.
Mark: Do you feel that your second album is a more accurate representation of who you are as an artist compared with your debut release which was released shortly after American Idol ?
Caleb: Yes absolutely! I had complete control over this record and the difference between the first record and Born From Southern Ground is like night and day!
Mark: With similar British shows the artist seem to lose all their creative control and appear to be manipulated by higher powers and outside influences tied into the TV series-They become a product to make money-how much artistic control have you retained over your career?
Caleb: For the most part now that I’m out of all the contracts. I have 100% creative control over everything.
Mark: American Idol is a widely and even globally recognized brand-do you have plans to capitalize on that by touring more outside of America-any concrete plans in place currently for that?
Caleb: I would love, love to come to the U.K. and Europe, because rock ‘n roll is in a different place over there. I hope to be across the pond soon!
Mark: You appear to be caught between two stools in terms of country and rock music-but which do you identify more closely with ?
Caleb: I actually consider it to be more southern rock than country. I’m heavily influenced by The Black Crowes and Lynyrd Skynyrd, and those come across on the album .
Mark: Can you attempt to explain the ever increasing popularity of country rock especially in recent years as a musical genre?
Caleb: Good music is good music and if people continue to make it, people are bound to hear it.
Mark: Moving on I would like to discuss your own musical influences in terms of your own music collection…Can you please list an album and give an explanation under the following heading?
“The soundtrack of my life”
Caleb: Meat Loaf, Bat Out Of Hell
Mark: The record that introduced me to musicians:
Caleb: Queen “Night At The Opera”
Mark: The record that reminds me of my family:
Caleb: “Greatest Hits” by Elvis Presley
Mark: The most underrated band:
Caleb: Mother’s Finest
Mark: The record that reminds me that I have a soul:
Caleb: “Greatest Hits” by Aretha Franklin
Mark: My favorite live album:
Caleb: “Queen Rock Montreal” by Queen
Mark: My Saturday night record:
Caleb: “Greatest Hits” by CCR
Mark: The best album that I have made:
Caleb: “Born From Southern Ground”
Mark: The song I want played at my funeral:
Caleb: “Celebrate” by Kool and the Gang
Mark: Finally if the roles were reversed and you could sit down and interview someone(maybe not even a musician)-a personal hero or inspiration.Who would you choose and why?
Caleb: Freddie Mercury and Chris Cornell, because I’m such a fan of them both and are they huge inspirations to me musically and artistically.
And there you have it! This Friday, “Born From Southern Ground” by Caleb Johnson And The Ramblin’ Saints is being released via Big Johnson Records. In the meantime, check out the video for “Born And Raised” below:
Caleb Johnson & The Ramblin’ Saints have the following gigs coming up:
Thu. 6/13 and Fri. 6/14- The Grey Eagle in Asheville, North Carolina
Sat. 6/15- Downtown Hampton in Hampton, Virginia
Caleb Johnson & The Neverland Express will be performing “Bat Out Of Hell” by Meat Loaf in its entirety at the following gigs:
Fri. 7/19- Summer Concert Series in Copaigue, New York
Sat. 7/20- The Warehouse in Fairfield, Connecticut
Sun. 7/21- Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury, Massachusetts
For tickets and further information on any of the gigs listed above, click here.
Fans can find Caleb Johnson at the following locations:
- Photo Credit: Chance Edwards