The Johnstones

  • Bobby Gorman posted
  • Interviews

The Johnstones - Ryan Long and Jarek Hardy

  • October 24th, 2007
  • New City Compound - Edmonton, Alberta

The Johnstones are about to blow up. Their single, Gone For A Long Time, is already tearing up Much Music and their infectious ska-punk is sure to leach into everyone’s frontal lobe in no time. The band isn’t concerned about the fame, in fact, they’re expecting it and are just enjoying the wild ride that’s taking them there. Touring for the sake of touring, goofing around with video cameras, harassing security guards and meeting the ladies, The Johnstones are living the rock and roll dream and are damn excited about it. We had a chance to sit down with the band and talk about some of their adventures as their toured through Canada. Thanks to Ryan and Jarek for doing it and Shum for setting it up.

Bobby: You guys are about to start this tour with The Afterbeat, are you excited?

Ryan: Oh yeah man, the tour’s going to be fucking awesome.

Jarek: Today’s the first day. We got here last night, partied, and now we’re about to start the tour.

Ryan: And we did two fucking awesome shows in Brantford and Callum right before we left. So we did two fucking cool shows and then straight out here and then we do shows sixteen days in a row, no breaks.

Bobby: It has been three years since you were last out to Western Canada, why so long a wait?

The JohnstonesRyan: Well, I think the first time we did it, it was kind of just a waste of time.

Jarek: Touring for the sake of touring.

Ryan: Yeah, now we’re doing a tour because we have a lot of demand and everyone knows us and if we have shows, we’re gonna have a lot of people at them. So it’s gonna be a lot cooler whereas before we would just tour because it seemed like a fun thing to do.

Jarek: We had nothing better to do, so we’d tour.

Ryan: So it was kind of a matter of waiting until we actually should tour because all the promoters wanted us here, you know what I mean? *playing with his new grill* I bought a new grill today.

Jarek: Bling-bling.

Bobby: Very nice.

Ryan: It’s bad ass.

Bobby: You guys did that last tour when you were seventeen, what was it like touring across Canada that young?

Ryan: It was pretty wicked. You know what; we caused a lot of crap.

Jarek: We got in a lot of trouble.

Ryan: *laughs* Yeah, we had days with no shows and we basically just….

Jarek: Busked down the street and found shows.

Ryan: One thing that was really cool was that we would actually have open dates and we would play outside the bar and then the bar owners would come out of the bar and be… you know what I mean, we were still good back then, just no one knew us. So we would play outside the bars, acoustically and stuff, and bar owners would come and be like “I’ll give you guys two hundred bucks to play at my bar tonight.” And then we actually hit that bar on this way back. It was like three or four, while we were on tour we got these shows. So that was a cool thing about it.

Jarek: It was, because we were seventeen, it was a lot of fun.

Ryan: But other than that, it was like “we’re seventeen, we’re going to have sex and do stuff with a lot of girls and party every night and end up in jail a couple times.”

Jarek: We did end up in jail a couple times.

*Here, we had to stop and move to a new location as The Afterbeat started doing a sound check.*

Ryan: *as we sit back down in a quieter area of the venue* So, talking about my grill… it’s looking pretty cool. I got it at West Edmonton Mall.

Bobby: Oh, you can’t come to Edmonton and not go to the mall.

Ryan: We were kind of disappointed. We thought it was going to be a mall with a roller coaster in it. You know what I mean? Like it goes through the stores but it was just kind of attached to it.

Jarek: An amusement park on the side of the mall.

Ryan: It seems like false advertising. They don’t have an amusement park in the mall, they have an amusement park attached to the mall.

Jarek: But the flamingos were cool.

Ryan: Have you seen them?

Bobby: Yeah, there used to be dolphins and stuff there too.

Jarek: They had a seal.

Ryan: A seal… no, a walrus…

Jarek: I don’t know.

Ryan: A sea-lion, definitely a sea-lion.

Bobby: That’s sweet. I once read that while you guys were playing a show in Georgetown, the power went out four times during one song. Is that true?

Ryan: Yeah, I do remember that. You want to know something else about that night? That show, the power was going out and we were rapping over just the drum beat and stuff like that in between. And then afterwards – it was at a community centre and there was this pool there – so we were causing all this trouble and the security guards came out and then we dove into the pool.

Jarek: After all the security guards were like “Don’t jump in it, don’t jump in it.”

Ryan: The security was chasing us and we hopped over a fence and dove into the pool and that was a really big scene. There was maybe two hundred kids there and they’re all cheering us on. Me and Jarek are taking our clothes off, we’re all doing laps and the security guards can’t do anything because they’re like jerks and they didn’t want to come in. That was pretty funny. That was more funny than the power going out. But we handled it okay. Like at one point I did a drum solo, you know what I mean? Just try and fill in the gaps.

Jarek: Power going out doesn’t happen a lot.

Ryan: Yeah, it’s the most ridiculous thing in the world. We played Brantford the other day and they gave me this freaking ridiculous mic, it’s like dropping on the ground.

Jarek: While you were playing.

Ryan: I was like “well, I don’t have a microphone and I sing; this is stupid.”

Jarek: We rap a lot, so we can make it up as we go along.

Ryan: Yeah, we can fill the gap. The worst thing is having awkwardness, you can’t have frigging awkwardness in the shows, you know what I mean?

Bobby: You can’t have the awkward silence.

Jarek: Yeah, that’s the worst.

Ryan: I find that we’re good at not having the awkward silence. We’ve mastered that.

Bobby: Yeah, I was at a concert on Saturday and when they had to go switch the guitars around it was like thirty seconds of no talking, no music.

Ryan: “Hello, is this thing on? Is this thing on?” Yeah, that’s the worst.

Jarek: Yeah, we switch the guitars, but we keep it connected.

Ryan: We actually go as far as grouping three songs together and say that if Rene switches instruments, we make an intro to the song that doesn’t include him so we actually make sure there’s no gaps. Our sets are planned to the point where we have three songs we play in a row. It’s not just one; we actually plan those kind of things out so we make sure we don’t have any awkward pauses. Yeah, if you have something to say, you say it if it’s funny.

Jarek: Yeah, we don’t leave time just to speak, we just see where it goes.

Bobby: Yeah, it makes sense, so it’s not like ultra-scripted or anything like that.

The JohnstonesRyan: Yeah, that would be kind of boring; unless it’s like obviously scripted – then it’s funny.

Jarek: We’d go over the top and make sure everyone knows it’s scripted – that’s the main thing.

Ryan: If it’s scripted be like *pretending to read a piece of paper* How is everybody doing out there? *laughs* That would be ridiculous.

Jarek: “Here’s my monologue part for the show.”

Bobby: Right now we’re in the middle of the digital age with the internet having a huge impact on everything, especially on smaller bands like you guys. You guys don’t even have a website, you just focus on MySpace…

Ryan: I didn’t think we were a smaller bands.

Jarek: Aren’t we bigger than Led Zeppelin was?

Ryan: I don’t want to be clumped with “smaller bands.”

Bobby: Well, how important do you think MySpace is for bigger bands like you guys?

Ryan: *laughs* MySpace is insanely important. MySpace is so important. For me, as soon as I hear a band, say it’s like “hey, can we open for you guys?” or our management are like “these guys want to open.” I go to their MySpace, check out two songs and make my decision on whether or not I like this band.

Jarek: slash the band name.

Ryan: And I bet there’s a trillion of people who do this. “Hey, I’m going to this concert” Boom. MySpace, check the two songs and then if you don’t like them, you don’t go. You know what I mean?

Jarek: It kind of took off where websites left off.

Ryan: Yeah, we don’t even have a website right now. We’ve got some serious offers and labels are offering to do it, but it’s like fuck it.

Jarek: Why do we need a website?

Ryan: Yeah, fuck it man. Your MySpace is your resume. You know if a band is big or not, good or bad. You go to their MySpace, listen to their songs, see if they have a lot of shows, how many plays they’ve got. That’s how I decide how big bands are, I look at their MySpace. So to conclude, it’s really important.

Jarek: Facebook less so.

Ryan: Yeah, I’d say Facebook less so.

Jarek: If Facebook did something for bands…

Ryan: Facebook is more important for friends.

Jarek: I hope Facebook doesn’t do anything for bands.

Bobby: They have, they’ve added the iLike application, now you can make a band profile.

Ryan: Yeah they have, I’ve seen it.

Jarek: Oh man, now we need to do one.

Ryan: I know, as soon as I saw that, I was like “awww, now I gotta go make one.”

Jarek: We have to.

Ryan: We have to go get on there before someone steals our domain.

Jarek: That would be a bummer to see.

Ryan: We’d have to get the Johnstones69.

Bobby: At the same, look at YouTube, I mean, you guys post tons of videos on youtube…

Ryan: Have you seen any of them?

Bobby: Yeah.

Ryan: What’s your favourite?

Bobby: I like the “fifteen ways how to be a bad ass.” What made you guys decide to do these videos?

Jarek: It’s fun to do.

Ryan: We go to the shows and instead of just sitting there and getting drunk, sometimes we make videos and it’s really fun. Like at this tour we’ve been filming the whole time. We’ve made a couple music videos and those are so fun. We go and hang out for five hours, make a video and I edit it in like a day. The thing is, those videos have actually really helped us. We signed to SLFeldman which is one of the biggest booking agencies in Canada, and one of their things was “we fucking love your videos.” That was a huge reason why they liked us. A lot of kids might not even fucking know our band, their friends will show them our videos cause they think they’re funny and the next thing you know they’re a fan.

Jarek: It kind of puts a face to our music, you know what I mean?

Ryan: And we are super funny.

Jarek: We want to play and make people be able to see us as well.

Ryan: Plus there’s so many bands with those crappy, lame, video blogs. It’s just like “These are so crappy, take if off your site.”

Jarek: We want to be the complete opposite of that.

Ryan: We know we can make good ones, so let’s actually fucking do it.

Bobby: You guys have videos like “The Versatile Roles of Steven Seagull” Where do you guys come up with the ideas?

Ryan: Well, we were in a little fad where we were watching Steven Seagull movies. We printed out the thing, the script, just to make fun of it. We were watching them on the internet; in everyone he has the exact same role: an ex-operative, we were just dying laughing. I had it in my bag and we were at the show and like “let’s make a video where everyone says one and we’ll be doing something stupid.” And basically, that was that.

Jarek: It was fun doing it.

Ryan: Have you seen the cooking one we made?

Bobby: Not all of it.

Ryan: It’s called “Cooking to the Darkness,” that’s the stupidest one.

Jarek: We did a whole music video to a Darkness song.

Ryan: It’s not even our song.

Jarek: “I Believe In A Thing Called Love.”

Ryan: In the plot, we’re cooking. It’s so dumb, it’s really stupid.

Jarek: But it’s got twenty thousand plays.

Ryan: It’s got twenty thousand plays, someone’s watching it.

Bobby: You could easily become a YouTube celebrity with these videos.

Jarek: That’s what we want. Why won’t Youtube give us a feature?

Ryan: We think YouTube should give us a feature.

The JohnstonesJarek: We’re getting pissed off about it.

Ryan: You know what I mean? They have the featured videos and we aren’t on there and that’s a crock of shit.

Jarek: It is a crock of shit.

Ryan: It’s probably because we’re Canadians, they hate Canadians.

Bobby: All sites take so long to add Canadians, even MySpace added MySpace UK before they added MySpace Canada.

Jarek: Yeah, I know!

Ryan: And then MySpace Canada, they don’t even update. It’s been that Bedouin Soundclash secret show -that happened like two months ago. Change the freaking thing, please. They don’t even try.

Jarek: Tom hasn’t gotten around to it. He’s too busy working on the US’ every second update.

Bobby: You guys were talking about making music videos, you have one on Much Music, I think it’s at number 18 now, for “Gone For A Long Time.” It has you guys running around half naked in underwear and then the tour poster is a picture of you guys dancing across a railroad. What were your parents’ reactions to you guys running around in your underwear on national TV?

Ryan: “Oh, that’s a cute little video you’ve got there.”

Jarek: “That’s so cute.”

Ryan: Yeah, they don’t get it – you know what I mean? But I guess now they kind of get it. Once you’re on TV, your parents kind of get it. But still, I remember when you first show it to them “oh, that’s a cute little video you and your little band did.”

Jarek: “Your garage band.”

Ryan: Once all their friends are calling them “oh, your kids on TV!” Then they get it.

Jarek: My dad’s a real man’s man, a mechanic guy too, when he saw it he was like… *stares with a shocked expression on his face*

Ryan: Like “you guys better not be gay.”

Jarek: All his friends are just shitting their pants laughing.

Ryan: Making fun of him? Your dad’s the laughing stock of the mechanic shop.

Jarek: All because of me.

Ryan: Let’s see their kid’s hit single.

Bobby: What would your reaction be if, let’s say someone took the tour poster of this tour – which has the five of you guys running across the railroad in your underwear – put it up on their locker at school and got suspended because it was “pornographic?”

Jarek: I don’t think we’d like that.

Ryan: I think we’d make a stink about that. I’d be outraged. Actually, you know what, straight up, if someone told me that, me and Jarek would just be “hahaha! Yeah! We got a kid suspended!” Straight up, we’d just be proud of it. That’s my new story for the day, I would tell everyone.

Bobby: That recently happened to somebody in Maryland. Do you guys know the band All Time Low on Hopeless Records?

Ryan: No.

Bobby: They have a new promo picture of them in their underwear.

Ryan: You know, I have seen that.

Bobby: She put it up on her locker and got suspended for three days from school.

Jarek: I hope someone gets suspended for putting our picture up.

Ryan: Me and Jarek used to get suspended a lot from school for a lot of other things.

Jarek: Not putting up guys pictures in their underwear though.

Ryan: I can’t remember where I know them from, but I know that band, I saw the video. They’re in a change room in the video?

Bobby: Yeah, I think so. Word Is Bond, your last CD, came out last year. Do you have any plans on working on a new CD, new material?

Ryan: Well we’ve been working on stuff for the last twelve months.

Jarek: We have lots man.

Ryan: We’re waiting to stir something up in the US. We have some serious offers in Canada and we’re going to LA for a month and we’re doing a lot of showcases and stuff. We’re basically trying to figure out what the home is going to be for the next album, label wise and publicity and everything. As soon as we get a deal that seems right, we’re gonna make the album. We’ve got tons of songs and the album is going to be insanely amazing, it’s going to be huge.

Jarek: We’re still making demos.

Ryan: Yeah, we’re writing like crazy, waiting to find a serious deal and the right people. It’s our career, so we have to find the right situation. As soon as we have that, then we’ll start thinking about recording the album. And we’re doing another video for Word Is Bond, we’re gonna do the “Sunny Days” video. Just waiting for our VideoFact to come in, which it will though.

Bobby: Why “Sunny Days?”

Ryan: I don’t know.

Jarek: What, you don’t like the song?

Ryan: You got a better idea?

The JohnstonesJarek: We couldn’t do “L.A.D.I.E.S.” because we already applied.

Ryan: We applied for VideoFact, and we didn’t get it, maybe a year ago. You can’t apply the same song twice. It would be a huge help to get thirty thousand dollars to do it. I don’t know, “Sunny Days,” it’s a good song. Everyone likes it.

Bobby: Do you have any ideas for what the video will be like?

Ryan: Yeah, actually.

Jarek: It’s gonna be really cold and we’re gonna be Eskimos.

Ryan: We’re gonna be Eskimos in it and then seals singing the chorus at one point. The seals mouthing the words.

Jarek: It’s gonna be pretty funny.

Ryan: Yeah, stupid stuff like that.

Bobby: Okay, I guess to end with a few stupid, moronic questions I like to ask at the end of some interviews. First off, if you were a member of the opposite sex for a day, week, month or however long you wanted…

Ryan: If you were?

Jarek: Was. I’ve had a sex change.

Ryan: Since you’re a member of the opposite sex…

Bobby: What would you do and why?

Jarek: I would definitely find me.

Ryan: “Who’s that hottie?” Take me out for a night.

Jarek: Because before I couldn’t really have sex with myself because I am myself. But once I have the opportunity…

Ryan: If I could be a woman and could see myself and have sex.

Bobby: Now, if you guys, as a band, were trapped on a desert island with no food and nothing to eat, which one of the band members would you eat to survive and why?

Jarek: Well, Brent’s the fattest…

*Random fan walks up*: Hey guys, sorry to bother you. My friend, he showed me you guys, like you guys are amazing.

Ryan: Awesome, high five! *high fives the fan*

Random fan: He’s not eighteen; he’s turning eighteen in like a month.

Ryan: He can’t come?

Random fan: No, he can’t come.

Jarek: What a rip-off.

Random fan: So I wanted to get him an autograph.

Ryan: *as he signs a poster for him* What’s the fake ID situation?

Random fan: I tried to.

Ryan: What’s his name bro?

Random fan: His name’s Mike.

Jarek: Yeah, it’s not good when you have to play an eighteen plus show.

Random fan: Yeah, we all knew about it, and then like a week ago he’s just like “it’s and eighteen plus show.” I just turned eighteen like a month ago.

Ryan: We really should be doing all ages, but that’s our problem. Our booking agent came up with this show, we’re kind of bummed out about it, but you know what I mean, it’s better if you don’t get worried about it. One eighteen plus show, fuck it. Sucks for your buddy though. Hopefully we’ll come back soon, maybe February.

Random fan: Yeah, definitely.

Ryan: So you ready for tonight?

Random fan: Oh yeah, I’m so fucking pumped.

Ryan: It’s gonna be insane, we’re wicked.

Random fan: I can’t wait.

Ryan: All modesty.

Jarek: All of this is being recorded, *laughs*

Random fan: *grabs the newly signed poster* Thanks a lot.

Ryan: No problem, have a great night dude. *Turning back to me* We would eat Brent because he’s a fat tub of shit.

Jarek: He would last for the rest of our lives.

Ryan: Exactly.

Jarek: As long as we could cure the meat. You know what I mean? Like if we had a refrigerator and Brent you would have an unlimited supply of food.

Ryan: So it doesn’t boil down to which one we’d eat, it’s a matter of whether or not we can store the meat.

Jarek: I think that’s the issue. You have to clear that up before we can answer the question.

Bobby: Well, we’ll say there is a fridge there so you can store the meat.

Ryan: If there’s a fridge there, then Brent.

Jarek: With Brent, we could eat for infinity and still party.

Ryan: The problem is that if there was no refrigerator you might want to eat someone else. You might want to save Brent for last because you’d know you’d have a nice fucking stack of meat there.

Jarek: We could have barbecues all fucking year long.

Ryan: Yeah man, let’s do this. Where’s the island?

Bobby: I don’t know, we’ll find one.

Jarek: And we don’t even like Brent.

Bobby: I guess that’s about it, thanks a lot. Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to add?

Ryan: We’re the best band in the world. Johnstones fucking, they’re gonna be huge. Watch. I guess we’re doing pretty good now, but this new album we’re gonna come out with is going to be bigger than Oasis.

Jarek: Bigger than Oasis, bigger than Rolling Stones, bigger than the Beatles, bigger than Elvis.

Ryan: Dare I say Jesus?