(Mark Dean Interviews): DAMON JOHNSON

Contributor’s Note:  Interview starts at 2:34.  

Recently debuting on Vevo, the new video for the title track to Damon Johnson and The Get Ready’s upcoming album, Battle Lessons, due out February 19, 2021 via Double Dragon Records. The video was directed by Carl Johnson, remotely from his Detroit studio, and features the trio ripping through the cut with a megawatt energy.  The album’s iconic cover art is also utilized throughout the piece symbolizing an entity in motion moments before encountering a powerful electrical charge and ultimately exploding from the screen.

Of the track Johnson says, “The lyrics to the song “Battle Lessons” are about some past experiences in various bands I’ve been in through the years. Though the words could easily be applied to any relationship.” He adds. “The lyric instructs me that I should take all the experience from my musical past and apply it to my now fully focused solo career.”   No battle lessons lost on him.

The internationally renowned guitarslinger, vocalist, songwriter, announced the release of his new album late last year. Battle Lessons is anchored by the searing title track showcasing Johnson’s gutsy vocals and razor riffs over presto grooves by The Get Ready drummer Jarred Pope (Tom Keifer) and bassist Robbie Harrington (Steve Vai).  The song immediately reacted at radio, reaching #13 on the Classic Rock Chart.

Work on the new album was made possible with the assistance of  an Indiegogo pre-order helping to support the recording of Johnson and his new trio, The Get Ready.  Recorded in Damon’s adopted hometown of Nashville, Battle Lessons was produced and mixed by multi-platinum producer/mixer, Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains, Evanescence, Rush, Stone Sour and more).

 Rock fans know Johnson’s name from his years of scorching stages as lead guitarist in the Alice Cooper band, and later with Thin Lizzy and the Lizzy-offshoot Black Star Riders in addition to fronting the potent ‘90s Southern rockers Brother Cane. Johnson’s songs have been recorded and sung by stars like Stevie Nicks (“Everyday” from her Trouble in Shangri-La) and Steven Tyler (singing on “Just Feel Better” for Carlos Santana’s All That I Am).

With Battle Lessons, Johnson returns to his original hard-rock sound, feeding that fire he first discovered as a teenager playing Van Halen and AC/DC covers while in garage bands.  Featuring nine newly written songs, the tracks are just as much about clever lyrics and sticky melodies as eyelash-searing guitars. “These are as good of songs as I’ve been a part of creating, ever in my whole career,” Johnson says.  And that’s saying something – as singer/guitarist, and frontman of Brother Cane, the Birmingham, Alabama rock band who notched a string of ’90s rock hits, including “Got No Shame,” “I Lie In The Bed I Make” and chart-topper “And Fools Shine On.”

In 2019 Johnson released Memoirs of an Uprising, a solo project that is both fierce and diverse. The first single, “Shivering Shivering” became an instant Top 10 Rock track. Immediately following that albums release Johnson spent the remainder of the 2019 on a series of dates crossing North America including several shows with The Winery Dogs (a supergroup of rockers featuring Richie Kotzen, Mike Portnoy and Billy Sheehan), a run of shows supporting Clutch, and the U.S. leg of the UFO tour.

I caught up with Damon Johnson for Madness To Creation ahead of his new album release.  After some initial Zoom -tech issues we were quickly up and running.(After apologising for my ineptitude regarding Zoom interviews.) Fans can find Damon Johnson at the following locations:

www.facebook.com/officialdamonjohnson

www.damonjohnson.com

Damon Johnson:  I don’t think we’re supposed to get used to it, honestly. I know it’s the best we can do. And I’m grateful, man, to have a record to put out, and to talk about. But man, it’s a big drag that we can’t follow up all these interviews with a handful of tour dates. You know?

Mark:  How has the last year been for you, both professionally and personally?

Damon Johnson:  Mark, I can’t complain, buddy. You know what I mean? My family’s been very healthy. I’ve got teenage kids, and they’ve been in school virtually. They haven’t seen the inside of a school building since March of last year. So I’m really proud of them that they’ve figured it out. It was a challenge there for a while for everybody. For the teachers, for the kids man. Making this album has definitely kept me busy. The schedule was very unorthodox. Every other record I’ve ever made in my entire career, you go in, you record all nine, 10, 12 songs, whatever it is, you finish it, you mix it, you put it out. It wasn’t like that this time because of the COVID. But man, I’ve kept busy. I tried to stay healthy. My wife is a great cook, Mark. She feeds me healthy food, and I’ve been getting some exercise. To tell you the truth, mate, I’ve overdone it with the exercise, and tomorrow I’m going in to get a minor surgery on my knee.

Mark:  Right.Thats not too good..

Damon Johnson:  How’s that for a party? But it’s not a big deal, man. I’m actually looking forward to it, to get back to 100%. But like I said a minute ago, I’m not going to complain. We’re doing okay, we’re healthy, and we’re just making the best of what we have to deal with right now.

Mark:  What’s the situation like in the States for bands playing gigs? Is that starting again or is it still no live music at all?

Damon Johnson:  It’s pretty much no live music at all right now. Every once in a while, there’ll be some things. I know there are a few, some bars, that they’ll have a band, some kind of a house band playing. And man, I just think the facts, the news, the doctors, the scientists, all the information they’re giving us is that it’s just not time yet to congregate indoors where everyone is breathing the same air. I do think that after this year that we’ve all been through, just civilization as a whole, I do think that we’ll be able to gather in some more outdoor settings much more than we did last year when we still didn’t know a lot about the virus. You know what I mean?  

We know so much more about it now. And I think there can be some outdoor gatherings. Maybe even by the springtime, certainly by the summer.

Mark:  How are Americans generally taking it? Because I know in the UK people initially followed the government guidelines, followed the rules strictly, but now it’s got to the stage where there’s a lot of resentment that governments are telling people, essentially, how to behave.

Damon Johnson:  Yeah. It’s tricky, mate. There’s definitely some of that here. I feel like you guys over there in the UK, I feel like that you dealt with it far better than we did here in the states. Just if you do the numbers, just the percentage, the case numbers, the number of deaths, the number of people that were in the hospital per capita. I mean, it was just so much more over here because our government did not do a great job of handling it. They did okay. Look, there’s no owner’s manual, really, of how to deal with something like this in the 21st century. It’s a tremendous challenge. But there was just so much misinformation, and there was some indifference from our government for a while. So I think we’re paying the price for that. 

We have been paying the price for that over the past several months. As you know, we have a new administration now. I personally am hopeful that we can really roll up our sleeves, and manage this thing better. All indications are that it is starting to happen. Again man, there’s a lot we don’t know. They’re still making some things up as we go. It’s a mess for the whole, mate. I get it. There’s people losing their businesses. They have no way to make a living, compared to what they’ve been doing for the last decade. So it’s an incredible time, buddy.

Mark:  If I take that financial side, people are obviously going to look at your career resume and think, “This guy’s been in a lot of big bands. He’s going to be financially set.” But that’s not really the case, is it? I mean, you guys struggle like everybody else.

Damon Johnson:  Oh yeah, man. Listen, I’ve had a great career and I’ve certainly been able to support my family my entire adult life, raise five kids over two different marriages. Got a house, and our cars are paid for, and stuff like that, man. But you deal with a situation like this, where we’ve not been out touring, and you know yourself, Mark, pretty much over the past decade, the only real way musicians can generate revenue is by performing live. You don’t make money on record sales anymore. You’re not going to get rich selling t-shirts on your website. But I’m proud of my family. Everybody’s been very frugal. My wife and I, we just made some projections early on way back in March. We were like, “Okay, let’s take a look at the books. Let’s figure out what we can do without for a while. And let’s be as thrifty as we possibly can be.” And I mean, we’re making it. We’re getting by. We’re going to be okay. But it is a struggle. It’s a challenge. It’s not easy. You’re looking at the bank statement going, “Okay. Maybe it is time to put one of those guitars on eBay.”

Mark:  Wow.

Damon Johnson:  So far, I haven’t done that, but I’m certainly not afraid to, or ashamed to if things got to that.

Mark:  Obviously you mentioned there a couple of times you’ve got good and strong family support. Has it had, this whole COVID situation, has it impacted on your mental health, your own mental health? I personally had five or six months with no income at all. And I find that it affected me.

Damon Johnson:  Yeah. There’s no denying that at some point over the last nine or 10 months, every one of us, it’s inevitable. We have all felt some anxiety, some depression. For me, it was back in the springtime, when we were just receiving that initial blunt force. Like, okay. No shows, everything’s getting cancelled, everything’s getting shut down. All these plans are off. And there’s a big question mark about how long it’s going to last and when we can return. I felt some anxiety as, I think more than anything, as a band leader. This is my band, this is my little independent company I’m running. And selfishly, I had a mountain of plans for 2020, and certainly into 2021. So this just put a stop to all that. And it was tough. It was tough. 

And those are the moments that you’re grateful for your family, your inner circle of friends. I mean, I had so many deep, deep conversations with my band mates, with my producer, Nick Raskulinecz. And I guess in a way we were all trying to lift each other up. If one person was really down this week, then we would focus our energies on that person. And a lot of times, man, they just need to talk, and you just need to listen. So I’ve done a lot of listening, mate, over the last year for sure, because there’s definitely been a lot of people in my inner circle that have struggled a lot with this.

Mark:  Returning to the album then, when was it actually recorded? The songs themselves, were they all new? Was it recorded pre COVID? What was the whole process that took place to get the album done?

Damon Johnson:  Mark, all the songs, except for one, were written back in the fall of 2019. So the song writing pretty much all preceded the COVID. We started recording three songs in late February, early March. And of course, March 15, here in Nashville, that was the day that the lockdown happened, and they had everybody stay at home. So we did three songs then. We weren’t able to get back together, partly because of COVID, partly because of schedule conflicts, until June, until the summer. And we did three more songs then. And then we did the final three tracks just this past October. So as I said earlier, it’s been a very unique method of making a record. But we got it done. I hope we don’t have to make it that way ever again. But you do what you have to do.

Mark: What about the album cover? I mean, how do you select an album cover? Do you have a song in mind when you look for a design for the album cover? How does that selection process for an album cover take place?

Damon Johnson: For me, obviously as the song writer, and I just have all these things in my brain. And I began to look around at different pieces of art, watching some film, and just thinking, “Hey, let’s see what presents itself. What might be a good vibe for this?” I wasn’t even really sure what the title of the record was going to be yet. But Mark, I have an incredibly talented brother-in-law, my wife’s brother, Carl. And he is a graphic artist, and he had several things up on his website, and I was just looking through it one day, literally for fun. And I immediately was impressed, and I thought, “Wow, maybe there’s an album cover right here.” And that’s exactly what happened. I picked that image. And of course I called him, and I said, “Hey, man, I really love this monolith, this thing, it represents an explosion of energy.” And I said, “It really, it speaks to me as knowing what the record sounds like, what the songs sound like, and feel like.” And he was so happy, and then he did a great job of coming up with a new logo, the way the album title is done on the artwork. I couldn’t be happier with that album cover.

Mark: The bio on the press release that it got, which I read through. It says, “The song lyrics to Battle Lessons are about some past experiences in various bands I’ve been in through the years.” That’s going to set you up for a lot of questions to elaborate on that comment.

Damon Johnson:  Well, yeah. I mean there’s great experiences. There’s positive experiences, there’s negative experiences. Bands are like a marriage, and anyone that’s been married will tell you that marriage is tough. Anyone that has been in a band, a working band, will tell you it’s tough. And I looked at all of that as simply a journey. That is all the experiences, the path that I have taken. It’s crazy to think, Mark, that I’ve been a professional musician now, literally, for 30 years. That’s a long time. So as I look back over those, I just think, “Hey man, what an amazing experience to write, record, tour.

Discussions about artwork, discussions about business, discussions about finances, about road crew, about travel, about the schedule, all that stuff.” It’s hard work, man. That part of it is really hard work. And that’s, for me, I feel like that’s what’s cool about the lyric and the chorus. It talks about when we were young, nothing to lose. When you’re younger, you’d play for free. You would play music for free. You’ll go to band rehearsal for free. We would drive hundreds of miles and play for free because we were young, and in developing, and the energy of it, the excitement, the newness of it. You grow up, you do it professionally. You got to tighten up your belt strap, you know mate?

Mark: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Damon Johnson:  It’s a business then. And it’s hard sometimes to run a business with other people because everyone has different priorities in their individual lives. So Battle Lessons is a look back to that. It’s like, “Hey, I’m going to take everything I’ve learned. These are lessons. These are battle lessons that I have learned.” And like the song says, there are no battle lessons lost on me. I guess they’re like notches in the back of my guitar. You know what I mean?

Mark: Yeah.I do indeed.

Damon Johnson:  And it would be a shame had I not paid attention and learned from all those things. So I find that, ultimately, it’s a celebration, Mark, to be where I’m at now, back behind the microphone, putting these records out on my independent label, and calling the shots. Some days, man, it’s really exhausting and it’s a lot of work. It’s certainly not easy, but it’s simple. There’s just things I got to do day to day and get it done. And it’s nice, man, to not have to make decisions by committee anymore. You know what I’m saying?

Mark:  Yeah. It’s actually quite-

Damon Johnson:  It’s nice!

Mark:  Go on.

Damon Johnson:  I was just going to say, it’s nice not to have 50 emails a week, and there’s 20 people copied on it, and you got to, “Well, this is what I think it should be.”

Mark:  Yeah. Yeah. It’s actually quite a surprise, hearing you mention, obviously there’s going to be negative experiences, as well as good. Because I mean, throughout your career, it always seemed like a smooth transition, when you left one band, and moved to another. There was never any bad talking or backstabbing about what happened, even though the age old musical differences were never mentioned. So to hear you actually mention that there were some negative experiences is quite a surprise. Or maybe it’s a sign of your character, that you actually didn’t come out in public, and say anything bad when you moved between bands.

Damon Johnson:  I take that as a compliment, Mark. Thank you. Man, any band that I’ve ever departed, really and truly, it was more to do with me deciding and feeling like, “Okay, my time here is done. I’ve been here, I’ve invested my time, my talent. I brought as much to the table as I can. I’m ready to do something else now.” And really and truly, that’s all it is. And man, I don’t take it for granted that I’ve been so very fortunate that one door would close and another would open, or right about the time I might start getting restless, another opportunity would present itself. And I don’t know, brother, maybe that’s the ultimate celebration of, not just the Battle Lessons album, but just the work I’ve been doing for the last three years. I cannot overstate to you or anyone else how fulfilling this music is for me, how fulfilling doing it on my own truly is. I’m proud of it, man, because I can see the next 10 years. I can see the next 20 years. I mean, listen brother, I’m not in denial about another fact, Mark. And that is I’m going to be an old man very soon. It’s coming brother very quickly.

Mark:  Do you find making a Damon Johnson solo album is actually easier or more difficult than being in a band?

Damon Johnson:  I mean, I guess I would choose to say that I enjoy both processes very much. Obviously making my own records, I get to do what I want. I get to write what I want, sign and say what I want.

Mark:  Yeah, but there’s more pressure.

Damon Johnson:  I’m certainly open to ideas from the people around me, my band, my producer. Again, that’s another great thing about experience. You don’t take it as criticism when someone says, “Hey man, let’s work on that second verse a little bit. I think that could be better.” I don’t get offended by that kind of stuff. The great thing about doing it in a band situation, that’s what I loved about Black Star Riders is that there was a sharing of the pressure. We could all share the responsibility. I know in the beginning, Scott Gorham felt a heavy weight. It’s like, “All right, man. I’m putting a new band together. We’re going to write new songs, and I’m going to be under the microscope more than anyone.” I totally understand that and appreciate that. But it was a relief for him, I know, when Ricky and I stepped up, and started doing a lot of heavy lifting in the songwriting department. And then it was just fun. It was just a blast, man. It was never hard work, never a challenge to write songs with those guys, or to make records. It was always a lot of fun, man. And I miss that experience with them as much as I miss being on tour with them.

Mark:  Yeah. You mentioned Scott Gorham. Of course, you did a recent online show with just Thin Lizzy songs.

Damon Johnson:  Yeah.

Mark:  You’ve obviously been a huge fan of Lizzy from way back, but what was it like, the first time you went into a studio, and there was Scott Gorham, and you were going head to head with him, dueling guitars with one of your heroes?

Damon Johnson:  Yeah. It was incredible, Mark. It was incredible. I’ve often said that it was a really good thing that Scott and I had had about two years worth of tour dates. More like a year, a year and a half under our belt together before we were in the studio. I think I would have been much more nervous, uncomfortable to go in the studio with a hero like that, someone who’s clearly a legend and has earned it. I would have been much more unsettled than I was the way it ultimately happened. You’ve certainly talked to Scott, you talked to a lot of other people that have worked with Scott. Man, Scott’s just got a great attitude. He’s still got that California cool that he had when he first came over to England back in the early ’70s, you know? 

And it’s a real calming energy that he brings, and he was super supportive, and let’s be honest, man. Ricky and I were coming up with great stuff. We were walking in the door with some fantastic songs. So it was a relief for Scott to hear that music and go, “Wow. All right, we’re going to be fine. These songs are good. We’re going to be okay.”

Mark:  Do you have any plans to do something maybe similar to that Lizzy show that you did online with maybe another band, and just do all their material, maybe one of your heroes? Has thought ever crossed your mind? Something similar to the Lizzy thing?

Damon Johnson:  Honestly, Mark, I haven’t thought about that. Richie Faulkner and I are mates. We’ve been friends a long time and Richie lives here in Nashville now. So that was a big part of that idea coming together. I wouldn’t be opposed, man. I mean, because it’s just fun to play the music from your childhood, or your teenage years, your development years. But I will say those two things. One, we’re planning to do a new live stream. We want to play the bulk of the new album. Treat it almost like a regular Damon Johnson concert, play some of the hits from my past, and from some of the other bands I’ve been in. But for the most part, play the bulk of the record. I’m also happy to share with you, Mark, that we got such an incredible response to the Thin Lizzy tribute, that we’re preparing, what is essentially, an encore presentation of that same show.

Mark:  Wow.

Damon Johnson:  It’s a lot of work to put that together. There were a lot of people involved in that. There were hours of rehearsals. Those songs are not easy, but the great thing about doing a great show like we did is now we have it. The video looks amazing, the audio sounds amazing. So we’d like to present that to the public again, like I said, an encore presentation of that same stream, because a lot of fans have asked about it, man. I’m never going to make a DVD of that. It’s not sustainable. You know what I’m saying? 

It’s like what am I going to do? Print 1,000 DVDs and sell a couple hundred of them. Then I got a batch sitting in my garage. Everybody watches their stuff on their phones, and their computers now. And so, I’m excited about that, man, to present that, to give people the option to see that again, because we did a great job, man. The band played amazing, and it looked and sounded great.

Mark:  For the album you decided to adopt a fan funded approach with Indiegogo. I just wondered was this the first time that you’ve adopted that method? And think you have, indeed, any reservations about using that as a method of funding an album?

Damon Johnson:  Mark. You don’t know this about my experience from two years ago, but my first experience with PledgeMusic was with Black Star Riders. 

We incorporated PledgeMusic with the making of our Heavy Fire album. We had a great experience. The fans loved it. Everything went great. So two years ago, when I was making my first proper full electric solo record, Memoirs of an Uprising, I went with PledgeMusic again. And I’m sure you, as a journalist, you know that they went bankrupt, and they made off with almost $20,000 of my money that the fans had contributed. Without revisiting all of that in a deep matter, I’m proud of the fact that I went to the bank, borrowed the money, all the fans that pre-ordered stuff, they got every single thing they ordered. I refuse to call, to email the fans, and go, “Okay guys. Sorry. They went bankrupt. So take it up with your credit card company.” You know what I mean?

Mark:  Yeah.

Damon Johnson:  I wasn’t going to do that. Indiegogo has been flawless. They’ve already delivered all the revenue. That’s how I’ve been able to hire a Grammy winning rock producer, the best publicist, the best artwork, the best vinyl manufacturing plant. All of that stuff, man, is all because of fans. So it’s a big part of what I’m doing now as an independent business, Mark. I can’t overstate my gratitude to the fans. They’re giving me this opportunity to prove myself to step up and go, “Okay guys, you’ve invested in this. Here’s what I’ve done with that.” And so far, man, the reaction has been 100% positive across the board. So I’m really proud of that. And I’m grateful to those fans.

Mark:  I guess it helps as well that, obviously, you’ve worked with Nick before.

Damon Johnson:  Totally mate. Totally. I fucking love that guy, man. I’m going to be making records with Nick Raskulinecz the rest of my life. I’ll work with some other producers along the way, I’m sure. But I just see Nick as someone that’s going to be a part of my musical life, more than anything, because we’re mates. Our families are friends. He doesn’t live that far from me, we’re about 20 minutes away. So our kids are growing up together, our wives are great friends, that kind of thing. So what an honour, man. It’s crazy to think we’ve made four records together now. It’s just, it’s incredible. So I love Nick. I’m grateful for Nick.

Mark:  Yeah. You’re based in Nashville. Still, obviously, widely recognised as the home of country music. Indeed, you visited that musical genre with Whiskey Falls. Have you ever had any plans to do a different Damon Johnson album, maybe in a musical style or genre that people wouldn’t associate you with?

Damon Johnson:  That’s a great question, Mark The cool thing about that, as it relates to Damon Johnson, is I’ve already proven that I love so many different styles of music from the bands I’ve been a part of. All you gotta do is look at my discography, the Brother Cane stuff, Slave to the System, my solo acoustic records. Certainly Black Star Riders. It’s all under the category of rock, I guess, except for Whiskey Falls. But man, right now I’m so in the mind space of just rocking the fuck out, Mark. The riffs, the big amps again, tempo, energy. But, hey man, I wrote a new song yesterday, and it was very acoustic. It was very melodic. It was not anything like what’s on this new record. So you never know, man. You never know. I would never pretend to equate myself with some of my other artist heroes, like David Bowie, and Tom Petty. But the roadmap they’ve made for us is, if you’re really an artist and a songwriter, you can do anything you want. If it’s quality, your fan base will be there for that and support that. And I love that fact, man. But my fans, they already know that I can be a hot mess. They don’t know what’s coming next, man.  

Mark: Have you ever given any thought to, maybe, a Damon Johnson blues album, or not?

Damon Johnson:  I absolutely have, Mark. I absolutely have. Two of my biggest longtime heroes, not just as guitar players, but also great singers are Gary Moore and Stevie Ray Vaughan. And man, I’ve got so much respect for blues music, proper blues and hard blues. I would not want to, even pretend to put my hat in that arena unless I could really deliver something special. I don’t know, man. That’s a great question. I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to trying it. I just feel like my musical DNA is so stamped by so much straight ahead rock and hard rock that- 

I mean, I love Rory Gallagher. I certainly love Hendricks and ZZ Top. And then all the old blues guys, man, even before The Rolling Stones, the Muddy Waters, and Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Albert Collins, and people like that. That’s what it would take me. I’d want to do a deep dive on all of that energy. And it would be fun to make a blues record.

Mark:  Obviously nobody knows what the future holds, and things are up in the air. Do you even have a schedule at the moment for the rest of the year? Have you got anything provisionally lined up to promote Battle Hands? Or Battle Lessons, sorry.

Damon Johnson: That’s all right, man. There’s just a couple. There’s a couple shows in the books. We’re hoping to get confirmation for an outdoor show in April. There’s a couple of support dates for some bigger bands, that’ll be fun, they’re talking about possibly in May or June. Same, later in the summer, there’s a couple shows. Man, what we hope will happen is that the COVID restrictions will lift because the virus is being better contained and better managed. I think the important thing is not just that people are ready to get out. I think people are beginning to feel safe to get out.

Mark:  Yeah. Yeah, sure.

Damon Johnson:  The vaccines are here. It’s taken a while to get that rolled out and everybody gets those shots, but I’m telling you, buddy, I can’t wait to get mine. I’ve already put my name on the list. And here in Tennessee, I’m technically in, what’s called, phase three. The good news is I’m so healthy that I have to wait. I’m so healthy that I’m in good shape. The bad news is that I’m going to be one of the last ones to get the vaccine, though we’ll see. We’ll see.

Mark:  And obviously you mentioned earlier, you’ve got this hospital thing to get through first.

Damon Johnson:  Yeah. The people at the orthopaedic hospital were laughing at me because I’m just so happy about getting this surgery. I was excited to get the MRI. I was excited to get… Like, “All right, here’s the date, and here’s when you got to be there.” Because I guess any kind of surgery can make people anxious, but man, I’m just so ready to get this knee back to 100%. I’ve been limping around on this thing. You’ll find this almost definitely interesting, Mark. I injured this leg in the summer of 2019 when I was doing those few festival dates with Thin Lizzy. Remember we did the Black Rose album in full at Steelhouse? 

Then we went down to Belgium for a festival there, and I was in the little gym there at the hotel, and I pulled my knee a little bit, and I just thought it was something minor. It didn’t cripple me. I could still walk around, and play shows, and whatever. But man, it just never healed up. And so I’ve been managing that for a bit too long. So very happy to get this done tomorrow, man.

Mark:  You mentioned there Thin Lizzy, you mentioned Black Star Riders earlier. How would you describe your relationship with Ricky?

Damon Johnson:  Oh, Ricky’s my mate.

Mark:  Obviously you’ve gone out together many times in bands, just the two of you. It seems like a really good relationship. Is that something that, I mean, it’s not confined to studio and live shows, that you are genuine friends?

Damon Johnson:  Genuine friends, man.  Totally. I’ve spoken to Ricky quite a lot in recent weeks. It’s almost funny that we both have a solo album coming out on the exact same day, February 19th.

Mark: There you go.

Damon Johnson:  I sent him a text, and I was like, “Oh man, we should do something together.” He’s like, “Well I can’t do it on this date, mate. I’m too busy. I got too many interviews. I got too much stuff.” Which of course, I totally understand. But I don’t know, man, I’m open to any and everything when it comes to Ricky. I really hope we get to do some more work, doing an acoustic show some time. I got a couple of songs just on my desk that I’ve thought about Ricky, maybe sending him these ideas, and see if he would want to help me finish them. He’s just such a great writer. I learned so much from writing with him, and working with him. He’s genuinely an inspiration. So that’s certainly one of the great relationships of my musical career. No question about it.

Mark:  Yeah. Right Damon, I’ll let you get on. I wasn’t given any scheduled time, so I don’t want to be keeping you in case you have other interviews scheduled.

Damon Johnson:  Mark, I got something coming up, man. But I’ve enjoyed that we’ve had the flexibility of some proper hang time, man. It’s good to talk to you again.

Mark:  And you. You take care.

Damon Johnson:  Yeah, buddy. You as well. I hope we can get in a room together soon, man. I want to bring this band and this music to the UK very, very soon.

Mark:  And the UK is crying out for live music. I miss it so much.

Damon Johnson:  I know, brother. I know you do. Well, please say hello to everyone for me. And I appreciate you talking with me and spreading the word about this new record, mate. I’m super proud of this record.

Mark:  No problem. Chat to you soon. Hopefully see you, as you said, back in the UK, as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Damon Johnson:  Thank you so much, Mark. All the best to you and your family. And stay healthy, brother.

Mark: And you, Damon. Thanks. Thanks very much.

And there you have it!  Fans can find Mark Dean at the following locations:

www.antiheromagazine.com/author/mark-dean

www.spillmagazine.com/author/mark-dean

www.facebook.com/Mark-Dean-Media-Journalist

www.twitter.com/DeanoJou

Fans can find this episode featuring Damon Johnson via Soundcloud below:

Author: Mark Dean

2 thoughts on “(Mark Dean Interviews): DAMON JOHNSON

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