Special Interview: Andrew Johnston

theaussieword.com catches up with Andrew Johnston.
Give us an introduction. How did it all begin? What had you first interested in music?
Def Leppard Hysteria and Guns n Roses Appetite for Destruction.  My Dad bought them for me at Sam the Record Man in Toronto.  And we drove back to Ottawa (my hometown) that day listening to them in the car.  By the end of the drive I was hooked on rock and roll.
What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music?
To be a positive influence on my son.  Show him that if you follow your dreams and believe in yourself that anything is possible.  To demonstrate that there is magic and wonder in this world, and getting the most out of life is all about having a positive attitude and being open to adventure.

What are your biggest goals you hope to accomplish as an artist?
Just to write great songs.  I want to try to top myself with each new song that I write.  I study songwriting in the same way that a craftsperson or tradesperson studies what they do.  To me it’s all about the mechanics of it melding with inspiration – that’s where the magic lies.  I can hear an uninspired song coming from a mile away.
What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour?
My goal is to tour the U.S and Canada in 2016.  By 2017 I want to be touring Europe, Australia, and Japan.  This year (2015) I’ve done two tours of Canada.
Tell us a bit about your latest album and how would you best describe your music?
My latest E.P “Brace for Impact” was recorded with my band The Hurricane at Seratone Studios.  It’s kind of our clubhouse since it is run by a couple of our buddies.  It’s a solid little studio with enough mics and stuff to get good results.  You don’t need Pro studios anymore really to make music that people will love.  We have recorded there a lot over the last few years.
Musically the songs on “Brace for Impact” are about hardship and struggle and overcoming those things.  That’s the life I have come to know.  I’ve lost friends and family over the years to suicide, cancer, and mental illness.  I’ve had falling outs with great friends  and made mistakes that cost me dearly.  The trick is to not give in to negativity and understand that life is about trying to overcome these things.  You have to stand strong, keep your head up and persevere.
Success, what is the secret to it?
Success is attitude.  Simple as that.  I’m a success because I’m satisfied with the songs that I write. Any kind of recognition is nice, but it’s of secondary importance to focusing on your craft and constantly trying to improve.
What has been your biggest career highlight?
Ron Sexsmith bought me and a couple of friends a pitcher of beer.  Jesse Malin bought me a beer the other day.  Murray Lightburn (The Dears) is producing my new album (The New Great Game).  Getting to meet and work with your heroes is a pretty surreal, amazing experience.
Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?
Taylor Swift.   You can just tell she is cool as hell.
Any new projects in the pipeline?
My new album, The New Great Game will come out in 2016.  It’s a huge sounding rock record and I’m really overwhelmed with excitement about it.
The music industry is huge, where do you see yourself a few years from now?
At home with my family, sitting on my porch with an acoustic guitar and a cup of coffee, learning a Ron Sexsmith song or writing one of my own.  Probably working with a small team of folks to book and promote a tour somewhere.  Nothing glamorous – just doing the work.
Name a few of your favourite Aussie artists.
I had the great privilege of opening for Colin Hay (Men at Work)  a few years back in Montreal.  He was a gentleman.  He shook my hand and let us take a few photos.  He told me to keep writing those great songs.  When I was a kid my Mum used to drive me home from school and we would listen to Men at Work, Phil Collins, Hall and Oates – it was a very special moment for me.
Also, Crowded House – Neil Finn writes such incredible songs.
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
To be honest it all seems like a dream or something. Illusory.  The only thing that really makes sense is sitting at home with my piano and acoustic guitar and looking up at my wall of CDs where I see names like Ryan Adams, the Beatles, Steely Dan, Townes Van Zandt etc. etc.  That’s my safety zone, and writing songs is my therapy.  Everything else is terrifying and hard work.  I’m still getting the hang of social media.  I would love to say I’m a wizard of online marketing and promotion like Ryan Adams or something, but I’m not.  I’m still trying to find an entry point to social media – something that feels real and authentic to me.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not bashing social media or anything, I’m just a little slow on the uptake I guess.  I’m just really focused on being true to myself, and being me -whatever that means 🙂 🙂
Thanks for the interview! What final message do you have for us today?
I know it sounds corny or whatever, but be good to one another.  The world seems to be getting tougher and tougher everyday, but we can never lose sight of our shared humanity that unites us all.  And don’t be afraid to get out there and stir up a little magic and adventure.  It’s out there waiting for you.
🙂 Cheers!




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