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KISS ARMY AUSTRALIA TOUR INFORMATION Q&A With Damon Johnson

Damon Johnson at KISS Army Australia
DAMON JOHNSON
Photo by George Xirocostas

 

 

Another world exclusive brought to you by the
KISS ARMY AUSTRALIA!

DAMON JOHNSON INTERVIEW
by Felice Vaiani
(KISS ARMY AUSTRALIA Writer)

 Message from Damon to the KAA

Thanks for all your support and for letting me participate and I hope to bring Whiskey Falls down there one day soon!

Damon


www.damonjohnson.com

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Q1. You have mentioned that your father
was a huge Johnny Cash fan. Did Johnny become an idol personally and
professionally?


Yes, absolutely 100%. Honestly, there has been no greater role model for me as an artist than Johnny. Although years apart, we had very similar upbringings, as we both grew up in simple, country farm environments. And my Dad played Cash records incessantly, so it's all I heard as a kid.

Q2. When did it dawn on you that playing
guitar was going to be more than a hobby for you?


When I saw how much pleasure it brought to people in the room when I would watch my Dad and his brother play guitar together. It was only the living room at our house, but that got me fired up. And of course when I started playing guitar on KISS, Skynyrd, and Ted Nugent covers for the girls in my 9th grade class, that pretty much sealed the deal.

Q3. As a songwriter you’ve worked with
many talented artists including Stevie Nicks, Carlos Santana, Skid Row
and Sammy Hagar. How did you get to know them best,to create songs to suit
their unique styles?


The Stevie Nicks and Santana cuts that I got were absolute luck...lightning striking twice. They were both songs that I would have recorded on my own album ("Just Feel Better" was actually written for my Whiskey Fall's bandmate Buck Johnson's solo album initially). Sammy and I became friends when Brother Cane toured with Van Halen in '96 and I was flattered that he wanted to write with me. The Skid Row guys are like family to me. We could have played in the same band together, easily.

Q4. When you are low on inspiration, what
song or piece of music is guaranteed to kickstart your muse?


That's a great question. For me, I can get kickstarted from anything in my CD collection. Through the years I've gotten rid of all the mid-level stuff and tried to keep only the quality albums and songs. My iPod is playing constantly and I can get inspired as easily by The Band or Peter Gabriel as I can The White Stripes or Judas Priest or Otis Redding or Artic Monkeys.


Damon Johnson at KISS Army Australia

DAMON JOHNSON with ERIC SINGER AND FREINDS 2005
Photo by George Xirocostas


Q5. Tell us a little about touring in
support of Robert Plant with Brother Cane in the 90s. What
inspirational things did he say or do for you and the band?



If not for my great friend Tony Ruffino, we might not have gotten that tour. Tony was a legendary promoter in the southeast and had booked Zeppelin shows back in the day. He called up Robert's manager and spoke highly of us, therefore leading to the tour. Robert was a god to me growing up and getting to spend some time with him was fantastic. He always let us watch his band performances up close, which was a staggering education. And after watching us perform an opening set one night he told me my slide playing reminded him of Jimmy Page on "In My Time of Dying". My ego has not retained any humility since (insert laughter!).


Q6. What was your fondest memory of your
time with Alice Cooper, onstage or off?


I love Alice. And all the guys in that band. We were fucking fantastic together. Starting the show every night with the riff to "No More Mr. Nice Guy" was all my childhood rock fantasties come true; and I got to do that at every one of the 250 shows I played with Coop. Offstage, I don't think I've ever laughed harder than during the great moments we had on the world's best golf courses or just hanging out playing poker in the back of the bus. Priceless memories...

Q7. How did your newest band 'Whiskey Falls' come about?

Buck Johnson (no relation) and I are both from Birmingham, Alabama and have known each other since our early 20's. He called me to play guitar with John Waite in 2000, and we started writing together and providing an ear for each other's careers. He called again in early 2006 and said, "Damon, I've found our future," after meeting Seven and Wally and hearing their songs and exchanging ideas about a new country rock band. Everything that we've done has happened at warp speed, and we are grateful to have so many exciting things happening at the moment.

Damon Johnson at KISS Army Australia

DAMON JOHNSON with ERIC SINGER AND FREINDS 2005
Photo by George Xirocostas


Q8. What's your favourite song that you've
worked on and why?


That's an impossible question for me. There are so many. To pick only one or two, I'd have to say "Got No Shame" with Brother Cane because it introduced us to the world with a bang. And then perhaps "Better Days Will Come At Last" from the Whiskey Falls album, as it's one of the few songs that I've written completely by myself.

Q9. What do you think is the common thread
in all of the bands you've played in? Why did they call to you
creatively?


There's an element of straight forward, timeless songwriting in all the bands I've played in. I'm very proud of Brother Cane and the vibe we created on those three albums, and that same commitment to songs continued in Slave to the System. Now with Whiskey Falls, there's a band comprised of four experienced artists/musicians that are all pretty fearless. The possibilities are endless.

Q10. Who are your guitar mentors and have
you been lucky enough to meet them?


My number one guy is Scott Gorham from Thin Lizzy. And thanks to being in England with Alice last year, I had the priviledge of meeting Scott and spending some time with him and his wife, Christine. Scott's style is incredibly fiery yet very melodic...everything I aspire to be. Eddie Van Halen, Ed King from Skynyrd, Joe Perry. All these guys were a huge influence and it's been an honor to meet them and play shows on the same bill.

Q11. If you could choose between fame or
fortune, which would it be?


They do tend to go hand in hand, but I could care less about being famous. It's never mattered to me. And being that I have my wife and children to take care of, making a living is much more important than getting recognized in the airports.  


Damon Johnson at KISS Army Australia

DAMON JOHNSON with ERIC SINGER AND FREINDS 2005
Photo by George Xirocostas


Q12. Here's one for the Army. What's your
favourite KISS album and why?


Destroyer. I fucking love that album, and still do to this day. The combination of the songs, the sound, and that awesome album cover was completely captivating for me. It was their benchmark as a truly great band, in my humble opinion. We crank that album at my house often!

Q13. Which musician would you most like to
meet, past or present- and what do you think you would chat about?


There are so many. As I'm currently on a traditional blues kick, I'd have to say Robert Johnson. It would be great to get a guitar lesson from him, and to also ask what Satan really looks like (haha!).

Damon Johnson and George Xirocostas

DAMON JOHNSON with 'THE' GEORGE XIROCOSTAS

Q14. When you're away from home, what's
the thing that you miss the most?


Without a doubt, I most miss Lynda and the kids. We've always dreamed of having enough money to travel together often, but the road is tougher on them than it is for me. But our youngest son, Gabe, is a total little rock star and has been to more concerts than most 17 year olds!

Q15. Any parting words of wisdom or
encouragement for those of us who think you rock? *wink*


Eat your vegetables! Seriously, to anyone that wants to do this for a living, make sure that you love it...all of it. My job is not playing music; that is actually my passion and favorite activity. But my job is spending tons of time in airports and hotels and rental car lots and restaurants. And I promise that if you love it, it will be the best job you've ever had!

 



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