Eric Johns interview July 17, 2006 for Rock Detector

Interview by Metal Mike

One of the coolest new bands, Southern Gentlemen bring a hard rock southern blues sound to the table.As the hard rock blues are my fav sound in the world, well I felt a little obligation to dig a little further into this band. First thing I learned was they kick ass plain and simple. They have some bar sounding blues riffs with a lot of attitude delt in the lyrics. They really hammer home what the blues are about with both the music and the words here. Even though Eric didnt think about the comparison to David Coverdale, before it was brought to his attention in a review, I would have to say in the song "Even Now" if you listen to the part where he sings" even now i wonder why, why your love was in disguise." well you will get the Coverdale feel weather you are thinking it or not. He smoothly transitions into his own style of deep soulfull bliss. I also really get a Robin Trower feel with these songs. One of the Best bands I have ever had the opp to touch base with. And truly one of the Coolest Vocalists on the planet. So without further BS here is our interview with Eric Johns vocalist for the band Southern Gentlemen

1.METAL MIKE AND THE MONTALIAN: Can you tell me how often you guys play together as you live in Cincy and the band is based in Georgia? or have things changed for you?

Eric: Sadly, we don't get to hang together very often. We have pretty much done all the work on the new album in two camps. Mike Haid and David T. work on their parts in Georgia & Dave Swart and I work in Cincinnati. Its weird to be a band in the Internet and digital age.

2.MM&M: Any reflections on Third Time is a Charm , as it has now been over a year since its release?

Eric: I am still very happy with and proud of the work I did on it. I still get tons of people who write me on MYSPACE and our website telling me they like it. I like it that we are not a cookie cutter band doing what every other band on the radio is doing. We are definitely a throw back to what I think was a better time in music. I like being unique.

3.MM&M:Any plans for a new CD yet?

Eric: We are workiing on it right now. All the drums and guitars are done. The bass in coming along nicely and I have written lyrics for 8 of the 12 songs that will be on the CD. I think it is a bit of a departure in that it is a darker record in some ways. But, we live in a dark world right now and I think that the blues are based on that. After all, the music we play right now was originated by slaves singing in the fields about how hard their lives are. I think good blues music of our era should reflect the hardships of the world right now. I am excited about the record and can't wait for people to hear it.

4.MM&M:How about a video? any thoughts here?

Eric: I certainly wouldn't be opposed to doing one. It's all up the budget and licencing of the new record. If there is money to do one, I am pretty sure we would do one. The cool thing about the world today with the Internet is that you don't have to pray MTV picks up your video. People can see it anytime they want.

5. MM&M:As you are an extremly talented vocalist. I was wondering how much effort goes into preparing for a live show or even practice, and can you tell us a little about that process which gets you there?

Eric: First off, thanks for the compliment. There is a regimen I do before every show. I warm up for about 20 to 30 minutes just singing at low volume first and then working up to full voice to loosen up. I usually try to do some stretches to get my body ready for the workout of a live show. I always try to have a lot of water handy and stay hydrated. Another weird thing I do that actually works is that I avoid dairy products before shows. It tends to make your mouth dryer and your mucus thicker. Gross, I know, but true. In the studio, I always have a bottle of wine handy. A producer firend of mine taught the trick long ago. Wine actually makes you produce more saliva than water or some other beverage. That is very helpful when you have to sing for hours without a break.

6.MM&M: Outside of music Eric, what are some of the things that have your attention right now?

Eric: I am huge football fan, so I can't wait for the NFL season to start. I love to read, so I spend a lot of time buried in one book or another. I am really looking forward to the new seasons of Lost and Heroes. Oh yeah, I can't stop watching that Rock of Love show with Brett Michaels from Poison on VH1. Its a total train wreck, but I can't stop watching. I also love to shoot pool, so if you see me out some where ask me to play you. Bring $5 a game...

7.MM&M: When did you fall in love with the hard rock blues?

Eric: For myself it was the first time I heard David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes, two Icons for me that led the way. Coverdale and Hughes are legends. Two of the best singers in hard rock history and they were in the same band at the same time. An Internet buddy of mine sent me a link to YouTube where someone posted Deep Purple's California Jam performance in 1974. Coverdale's version of "Mistreated" was so good I was blown away. When I was very young, my Mom was very into Janis Joplin and my Dad was a big Led Zeppelin fan. I think that was my first exposure to bluesy rock vocals. I sucked that stuff in like a sponge. To this day, I will hear recordings of myself and go, "I stole that from Robert Plant or from Janis." Later on, when I was playing with Simple Aggression, Dave Swart got me turned on to the Allman Brothers and Gov't Mule. I think that is when I really started thinking about moving from being a metal singer to more of a blues based vocalist.

8.MM&M: How important do you think influences are to the style of a band and the sounds that they produce?

Eric: I think it is the most important thing. People can tell when you love what you play and when you are faking it. There are no new notes on the piano. There is only what you can do based on what you have heard and what you had affinity for. I have never had the least problem wearing my influences on my sleeve.

9.MM&M:As your mother was a major influence Im sure, and you grew up with music all around you as you have explained in past interviews, I was wondering what led you to become a vocalist, what drew you here and not to say the drums or the guitar?

Eric: I suppose I was just blessed with my voice and it came easy to me. Whenever I play an instrument, I have to think hard about what I am doing to not mess up and that takes away from the enjoyment of just playing. When I sing, I am lucky enough that I just open my mouth and it works pretty well without thinking about it. My Mom used to say that I was singing before I learned to talk. So, I guess it has always been with me. I have been very lucky in that regard.

10.MM&M: How extensive were your vocal lessons as a youth, and how much were you commited to them at that time as you recall?

Eric: I took lessons pretty much from the time was about 8 years old until I left college when I was 20. I was always really into learning about better ways to sing and improving my technique. I had some amazing teachers. If anyone wants to sing, I think it is so important to learn how to do it right for you. Mick Jagger may not be the best technical vocalist, but he is still able to sing at age 60+ because someone taught him how to do it right for his voice. That is what is so important.

11. What led to the Demo tapes being sent to David, as this was ultimately what got you into Southern Gentlemen?

Eric: David T. and I stayed in touch after my old band Simple Aggression broke up. He would check in from time to time to see what I was doing musically. I mentioned I was playing with a cover band that was doing some classic rock and blues. We had just cut a demo for booking purposes and asked him if he wanted to hear it. He asked me to send it, so off to Atlanta it went. The demo had versions of me singing "Piece of My Heart" by Janis Joplin and Gov't Mules version of "She Said, She Said" which is a Beatles song off Revolver originally. David apparently really liked the way it sounded and I think that planted the seed in his head to ask me later to sing some stuff for what would ultimately become "Third Time is the Charm." So I must give many thanks to Janis Joplin...

12. One Last question, were you and Dave Swart a package deal in this demo, or did he happen along later?

Eric: What actually happened was that when David T. asked me to demo the songs, Dave Swart was in the early stages of building his own studio. I asked him if he would let me record there to demo the tracks and he was all for it. After the record was done vocally, David T. asked me who I thought we should get to play bass for the record. I was actually quite flattered that he asked for my input as he could have simple chosen whoever he wanted himself. I mentioned that Dave Swart really liked the music when he heard it while cutting the vocals. David T. asked if I would like to invite Dave Swart to play in the band and I jumped on the chance. Dave Swart and I have been friends since we were 13 years old.

I would really like to Thank both David T. and Eric for their part in getting this together. And would also like to encourage all of you to stop by take a listen to some really cool jams and check out the downloads as well as their cd Third Time is a Charm. You will thank me for a long time to come. Keep it Metal and today its Bluesy Metal Metal Mike and The Montalian

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Song samples from "Third Time Is The Charm!"

New Southern Gentlemen Pictures

"Third Time Is The Charm" lyrics

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