“We try and let people think whatever they want to about it because, honestly, the story I would tell you would be no where near as interesting as the meaning you make up yourself.” Those are the words of Adam Johnson, guitarist for the New York based band God or Julie. No matter what meaning you give to the name you will be blown away by their brand of rock and roll. They have shared the stage with artists such as Buckcherry and Everclear and have enjoyed enormous success on the internet securing more than 300,000 downloads on YouTube for their single “Say Your Last Goodbye.” Their newest release is due in stores February 19th and there is already a tremendous buzz building in the industry surrounding this CD. Adam Johnson was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to speak with me about the bands grueling tour schedule and their newest offering, This Road Before.
The public perception of life on the road differs greatly from the reality of it. Can you tell me a little bit about how you travel? (Bus, Van etc...) What accessories do you equip your ride with to make the time go by? What are the living arrangements like while on the road? Adam: We travel in a 1999 15 passenger van, with a couple of the rows of seats taken out. We added some cheap bucket seats last time out which makes it a little more comfortable. We managed to fit an LCD screen in between the two front seats, which we strapped down with bungee cords. It wasn’t very stable, but made the journey a lot more entertaining. Our Xbox 360 blew up about 4 power converters, but last time we were in Vegas we got somebody to run a line off the battery to solve that. The whole thing is starting to look like a bit of a safety hazard, but you know, it’s a work in progress. As far as living arrangements, on the last tour the tour routing was pretty insane. We basically spent about 20 hours of each day either playing or driving. Most nights the deal was, drive until you just can’t drive anymore, stop at a motel, sleep for 4 hours and hit the road again. We had a few nights where there wasn’t enough time to sleep at all. You get done playing the show, you hop in the van, drive all night, and still show up to sound check an hour late. If we didn’t have such an amazing road manager that tour, I don’t think we would have made it.
Do you have any special rules or rituals that you follow while you’re out on the road? Adam: Hmmm. Well, we TRY and eat healthy. The problem is, if you really stick to that you end up just eating trail mix, because that seams to be the only healthy option they have at most truck stops. So that doesn’t last too long. I know it makes us sound like a bunch of fat housewives, but we try to have a no junk food in the van rule. JP usually breaks that one pretty fast and we all ending eating his leftovers. And of course, don’t drive tired. We have a couple other rules for the van which we won’t talk about... but you get punched by everyone in reach every time you break it.
Do you find it difficult being away from family and friends for such an extensive period of time? How do you cope with the separation? Adam: Yeah, being away from family and girlfriends and stuff sucks. But there is plenty of time in the van to talk to friends. Although, someone else is usually watching a movie or something and it’s hard to hear. Also, it’s not a very good environment to be calling your girlfriend schnookums or something. Not that we would do that, that’s gross. iSight is pretty awesome. It’s way better to see someone.
What is the one thing you travel with that you just can’t live without? Adam: Wow, that’s a hard one. Besides a cell phone? I think we are torn between our Xbox and our laptops.
When you are out on the road anything can happen and often does. Can you think of any disastrous events that happened while out on tour? How did you solve the problem? Adam: We have been lucky enough to not have had anything too disastrous happen yet. Besides some occasional car trouble and some nearly missed gigs we have all arrived safe and sound. Touring can be pretty dangerous, especially during the winter so we take all that stuff pretty seriously.
Are there any tracks that are your personal favorites or that have some good stories behind them? Adam: When JP came in and first played some of This Road Before, it really struck a chord for us on a lot of levels. As soon as I heard it, I saw the album artwork in my head and suddenly the whole album made sense. I think that song can be applied to a lot of situations for people which is why people have responded to it so well. It ended up being the title track because it kind of encompassed the band as a whole as well.
The name of the band God or Julie is interesting to say the least and it sounds as if there is a story behind it. Where did this name come from? Adam: We try and let people think whatever they want to about it because, honestly, the story I would tell you would be no where near as interesting as the meaning you make up yourself. But, to make a short story shorter, it involves one of our friend’s musical influences.
Every band has its musical influences. What are some of the artists or bands which have greatly influenced you guys and your music? Adam: Most of us grew up listening to classic rock, so that stuff is really big. Led Zep, Hendrix, Thin Lizzy, Tom Petty, Cream, the Kinks, and first and foremost, The Beatles. In terms of new stuff, Queens of the Stone Age is probably one of the best bands out there right now, so we have been listening to a lot of them. When we were younger the Foo Fighters album The Color and the Shape kind of blew our minds. Silverchair, Muse, Keane, NIN, Ours, Our Lady Peace and such... we could go on. We have a huge amount of influences, but we try not to wear any of them on our sleeve.
God or Julie has shared the stage with some very big musical acts such as Everclear and Buckcherry. What was that like? Did you find it intimidating? Were the fans receptive of your brand of music? Adam: Getting to play with bands like that is amazing. We really can’t say enough good things about both Buckcherry and Everclear. I wouldn’t say it is intimidating, especially if the bands you are playing with have your back. The most intimidating thing is to look over and see them watching your set I think. The crowd response has been great. We love working in the studio, but we really do put a lot of hard work into our live show, and I think that comes across. I think that’s a big reason why we have gotten along so well with the other bands. After a few nights watching they begin to respect you as a band. Let’s face it, most opening bands suck. We try no to be one of the shitty ones.
What is next for God or Julie? Adam: More touring, more writing, more recording. Hoping to get out on some more big tours this year, and as always, when we aren’t on tour we are writing and recording new material. We are also quietly working on a 72 part plan for world domination. [ END ]