Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Isaac Johnson

Isaac Johnson and I have been great friends for a long time now. I have even managed to break him away from L.A. a time or two for some Midwest shows. He is someone that I can say I need 5 minutes on the phone with and he gives me 2 hours. He is a humble heart and an incredible person and it is my pleasure to be able to talk with him today. Sit back and enjoy some good dialog with an impressive voice and genius in songwriting.

When was the first time you realized that you wanted to do music for a living?

Let’s see. The first time? Hold on, I have to think about this for a second. I think probably when I was 18 and I started playing when I bought my first guitar. It was a sort of thing where I had been looking for something and trying to figure out what I was supposed to do. Having brothers that areathletic and not being athletic at all helped the situation. Music was something that was always came naturally to me and I had never paid much attention to that until that point. Something that I always loved and that I was pretty much hooked when I picked up a guitar.

Where were you born?

I was born in southern California. I moved around a lot because my dad was an Air Force guy. I actually lived overseas at one point. We lived in Belgium. I have been back in southern California since I was 5. I have been here my whole life for the most part.

How does the competition of the L.A. music scene affect your career?

I think I saw it as competition for maybe the first year or so when I was out here. But I stopped seeing it as that when I started meeting a lot of L.A. musicians. I think that has actually helped in the aspect of collaborating on shows and music. It feels like it’s a community. It’s not “I’m doing my thing and you are doing your thing”; it’s more of help each other out. I have enjoyed that. We are all doing the same thing. In a large way, getting to know a lot of L.A. musicians has been challenging but in a good way. See what they are doing so that I can compare it with
what I am doing. It has made my music better. It has been a good way to measure my live performance versus their live performance.

Out of all the guys you have played with who was your favorite?

I recently opened for one of the nicest people I have met. Matt Nathanson is the most real person and he actually knew my name. He picked out my music. He had listened to it and was a fan of it. I can tell he had actually listened to it. It wasn’t fake industry chatter. It was real talk. He is who I opened for when I played the House of Blues in L.A.

When you are on stage what are you drinking?

It’s going to sound pretty boring but water. That is with the exception of someone buying me a drink and handing it to me. More than one drink and I am singing out of key.

What are you doing on a typical Saturday night?

I am out at someone else’s show if I am not playing.

What did you have for breakfast yesterday?

Breakfast always includes some sort of combination involving bacon.

Who is the one artist that you would do anything to play with?

U2 hands down. They have always been the ideal band and I have loved them since I was so young. It would be a surreal thing.

When should we expect your next album?

That is a good question. Hopefully we will start recording in the new year.

What is your biggest goal as a musician?

Honestly, right now, to be able to do more. To tour more and to record more often is where my focus currently lies. I mean, those are the practical goals right now. These are the things I want to do. I really just want to reach people and connect to them.

You are playing the Super Bowl at half time. What three songs do you play?

There is a new song that some people have heard live but with no recorded version. It’s called ‘My Coma’. Want to play the up tempo stuff too so I would say ‘Coming Down’. And defiantly ‘New Bike’. It’s my biggest autobiographical song. It explains a lot about me.

Have you ever been booed off stage?

Thankfully, no. No one has ever booed. There has been silence but no booing.

What is the biggest crowd you have played for?

House of Blues in L.A.. It holds 1,200 people or so. It was sold out. It is the sickest feeling in the world. If I could do that every night of life I would be happy.

What do you want to be remembered for as a musician?

Music is something for that is life changing. If that is something I can do for other people then great. I have always wanted to write for people to hear something and have a good time but find something deeper than that. I want to write something that makes people think.

Who is your biggest influence?

U2 is the biggest band to me. The Beatles were great songwriters. They are all bands that people usually list. But that was the thing to me; it’s the way that they talk about things. It is sort of the way I understand things. They were pretty big influences.

So I have this book of lyrics that I have been meaning to have you record. How about we record an album together?

Let’s do it. Who is footing the bill? At this point I really don’t have any qualms about recoding something someone else has written. As long as the material is great I am all for it.

If you were not playing music what would you be doing?

The tragic or wonderful part of that is nothing else. I have tried to replay that scenario in my head a thousand times. Should I be doing something else? I have never had answer for that. Even if no one is listening to it I have to do it.

If you could live in any city other than L.A. where would it be?

I am a city guy. New York would be great. Chicago. I love a big city. So many diverse people in one area exciting to me.

What dressing do you put on your salad?

Whatever is low fat or low calorie. I am trying to keep it healthy. I am a fanatic when it comes to eating right.

I always like to give you the last word.

Music is something that has been so important in shaping who I am. I can’t describe that feeling. It’s amazing to think that something you wrote on the end of your bed can affect someone’s life. That’s the reason that you are doing it. Or at least the reason that I am doing it. It’s to affect someone’s life. It’s a blessing to be able to do that. Part of it is a gift you have been given and you have to be responsible for that.