Review Fix: What inspired “Dictator”?
Andrew Johnson: It’s kind of a melding of personal and political. I think i was thinking about how on the grand scale some countries sort of intimidate or persecute other countries, but then on the micro scale we can somehow be our own worst critics and do that to ourselves. the plight of persecuted nations become a metaphor for the individual’s daily struggles.
Review Fix: What artists do you get motivation from?
Johnson: Anyone that seems to be somewhat truthful in their work and not motivated by trying to be cool or hip or whatever. I kind of feel out of step with modern trends in some ways in that a lot of the artists I get inspiration from our from the 70s/80s. Ron Sexsmith is an artist that seems very genuine to me. I feel that he can’t help but be what he seems to be. Ryan Adams is also very exciting to me: A lot of what he does is performance art or commentary on the gulf between so called serious art music and pop culture: he’s probably a lot smarter than his faux hipster/weirdo personality would have you believe. The Dears are heroes of mine: its exhilarating hearing so much passion, sophistication in their music.
Review Fix: What are your goals for 2017?
Johnson: Honestly Im just trying to survive at this point. The world seems to be tipping into a whole new weird wild direction that is alarming.
Review Fix: What makes “The New Great Game” a special album?
Johnson: I guess it depends what you value in music. If you are a nerd about vintage analog recording gear it might excite you to know that it was recorded at Studio Frisson using some seriously rare, vintage gear. I kind of wanted it to sound like Damn the Torpedoes by Tom Petty and we used the same Neve recording desk and mics and stuff that they would have used.
If you care about the Dears and the work of Murray Lightburn then it might interest you to know that he helped produce the album along with Fred Bouchard (Adam Cohen, Neema): between the two of them I don’t think I could have hoped for a better production.
Ultimately, its the sound of a band that tries to put musicality and tunefulness first. We hope you agree that the record is full of big hooks, and anthemic choruses: I guess its a bit of a sing along protest record for modern times.
Review Fix: bWhat’s next?
Johnson: I’m working with Sinbad Richardson (Sam Roberts, Young Galaxy, Plants and Animals etc.) on a music video for the next single of the record called “Redheads.” Hot on the release of Redheads we will probably put out the full record and try to get some shows in. I hope this record gets a chance – its the one I worked the hardest on and invested the most in. I think its a worthwhile piece of work.