Ellis Johnson – Interview
Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: What type of artist are you?
EJ: I’m not sure actually! I’m kinda like a hipster smoothie of Gangsta Rap mixed with Tracy Chapman. No, in all seriousness, I’m a singer songwriter from manchester uk. I guess you could stick me in the Indie – Pop – Rock category.
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
EJ: As I said, I’m from Manchester Uk. I started playing drums at the age of 10-11 through my Father’s influence on me. He got me into Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Who etc but also Soul records and Manchester music. I studied music at university and I’ve since travelled our globe as a performing musician.
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
EJ: My musical influences, although they change all the time, they have deep roots in Rock/Punk for the instrumental side of things, and in Soul and Pop for the vocal side of it. I guess Nathaniel Rateliff, really captures an amazing balance of the two right now. Soul Rock!
Early day influences were John Bonham, from a drum perspective. Led Zeppelin lead to Grunge and Punk for me. I’ve been a huge Nirvana since a kid, I remember I had the live compilation album ‘From The Muddy Banks Of The Wishkah’ and it completely knocked me out. I was hooked with it’s noise and aggression yet some of the melodies were pretty and the drummer sounded like a modern bonham. I’ve been in awe of Dave Grohl ever since. Even as a person, he strikes me as a musician that plays music for all the right reasons, he gives so much respect to music and he’s a fuckin’ incredible musician and songwriter. I’m crazy on punk bands like Alkaline Trio & The Flatliners, and I’m also mad on John Mayer. In answer to your question, I don’t know! I’m lucky enough to say I love most types of music, so anything can inspire me, based on my mood or fascination.
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
EJ: My dad has always said he wants a porsche, and he often mentions it when i’ve got a big gig or a single coming out! I’d love to be in the position to make that happen, through a successful music career. I don’t have a goal to reach in terms of ‘I want to play stadiums’ but I would absolutely love, a loyal following that love my music enough for me to continue performing for the forseeable. I’d also like a nice big house with a pool and a bar that never runs out of lager.
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
EJ: I write all my own lyrics and music. The songs differ in their meaning, some are characterised and I guess semi biographical, some are based on personal experiences and some are just made up stories inspired by life. I’m a long time sufferer of anxiety and depression, so it’s often difficult to leave that out, when i’m in the writing process, even not intentionally.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
EJ: The way the world works today I guess! Social Media. The days of standing outside a venue with a flyer are a dead star away. I remember one of my favourite comedians ‘Mitch Hedberg’ once said… “Giving someone a flyer is like saying, here you throw this away!”
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
EJ: Roll with the punches, just like every aspect of industry. I’d love to recapture the days of having the hard copy of an album there in your hand. But it’s just clutter these days. And that has a huge affect on artists, because the listener may not be actually interested in the artist anymore, just the music the artist produces and If he/she/they/them have made a dick out of themself and it ends up on TMZ or youtube. It’s a shame, but one thing it does promote is the need for live music. Musicians know that you’re not gonna get a sniff of money through downloads or streams, until you’re really really really well known, so if you wanna make money and survive in the industry, you’ve gotta gig… a lot!
PD: What song do you wish you'd written and why?
EJ: None. If I love a song ‘that’ much it’s because it’s perfect and the artist made it so, if I wrote it, it’d be a completely different song.
But if I had to choose, probably Gangnam Style.
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
EJ: Loud eaters! It winds me up, just eat and shut the fuck up, it’s easy! And also, poverty.
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
EJ: Probably the day I picked up a pair of drumsticks, because that was the stepping stone to my life and the story continues from that beginning.
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
EJ: Not sounding like a total dick head in this interview. It’s a thin wire.
I’m always writing music and recording ideas on a daily basis. I’m building back my gig calendar, since the covid lockdown restrictions are easing slightly. During the pandemic I have been recording personalised recordings of favourite songs for key workers in the front line, a lot of which in health care, because those guys have been incredible. Our NHS in the uk have been amazing and we all owe them.
I’m also writing music for another manchester artist, and I juggle.
PD: What music have you available online and where can we buy it from?
EJ: I have 3 singles out at the moment, and SO much more in the pipeline. You can find them on Spotify, Itunes, Apple Music, Deezer etc etc…
Ellis Johnson links:
Band/Artist location – Manchester England
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