JOHNNY DEATHSHADOW sound like the name of a back street super hero. Thanfully they are more than that. Answers from Johnny. Anders Ekdahl ©2017
A band sets the tone for the band. With the right name you don’t really need any sort of declaration of intent. Was it hard to come up with a name? What does the name mean to you?
-It wasn’t hard as we had a clear idea. When we started out we were playing essentially horrorrock versions of pop hits so I thought we should have a pop star like name, so the idea was that a Horrorpunk pop star could be named Johnny Deathshadow. I think it’s fun and still sounds cool and now that we’ve spent years under the Johnny Deathshadow banner it’s important to us as we worked so hard to get the band to where it is today.
Who would say are the founding stones of the kind of sound you have? Who are your house Gods and how have they coloured your music?
-We come from different backgrounds and brought a lot of influences into our sound and decided to open our style to all of them so there is Hardcore, Punkrock, Industrial and even some Hip Hop influences in there. Of course there are some artists that have been important to us as examples in our own scene as well, for example Die Krupps, Combichrist or Nine Inch Nails.
When you play slow do you have to think differently arranging the music than if you play faster and vice versa?
-For us we write however the music comes to us, so if its a slower song it doesn’t make that much of a difference in the process. Basically we decided to write, arrange and play our music how we like it and not to limit ourselves.
Playing live is a totally different beast to studio work. How does your music work in a live environment?
-We are a live band first and I think playing live will always be the most important part of this for us. It’s cool to be in control of every sound and note in the studio but nothing beats the pure raw energy of a rock band playing live. I always try to play every show with all the energy I got and drain myself with it, in the studio this wouldn’t work as there’s takes to do after it and you don’t want movement and spontaneity to interfere with the records quality.
How important is having a label to back you up today when you can just release your music on any sort of platform online? Are there any negative consequences to music being too readily available to fans?
-We decided to go the old fashioned way with a label, a publisher and a distribution network working for us. This cuts into our profits but I think this system still has some valid uses as it gives the band more manpower, multiplicators and lets us focus more on the music and live show. The saturation with new music coming out basically every hour has definitely damaged the worth of music and the sustainability of writing and performing it. Still the internet gives musicians nowadays a lot of possibilties that I wouldn’t want to miss.
I get the feeling that fans that are true to a band, is a lost thing with the easy access to music these days. Do you feel that this is a bad thing or are there any positive aspects of it at all?
-There are still hardcore fans that stick to bands but the big variety of course makes it easier for them to find something ‘better’ next week. This might be a good thing though as I think quality will prevail eventually.
What to you is a great front cover? What should a cover have to make it great?
-A great front cover should not only catch your eye but enable an instant connection to the design, to make you feel something immediately. It shouldn’t need explanation but give you an understanding of the artists aesthetics right away.
Do you feel that you are part of a national scene? What is the climate for metal in your country?
-Our music which is essentially some kind of hybrid of gothic and metal styles puts us right between those scenes, I do think however that both are open to us and we ‘work’ really well in both scenes. In Germany we have a large scene with big festivals and a lot opportunities so we’re lucky. We do also love to tour the UK though as the metal scene there also seems to be really welcoming to us.
I use Spotify and Deezer but only as compliment to buying CDS (it’s easier to just have your phone or pad when you’re out) but I fear that soon music as we know it will be dead and buried. What are your worries as a band?
-I do think physical formats will eventually only exist in smaller editions as collectors pieces but humans always make and consume art and have an engrained need for it so good music will survive.
What lies in the future?
-We will play three of the biggest festivals in germany (Wacken, Mera Luna and WGT) which we’re really looking forward to, then there will be more touring and we have started to write for our second album, so we got a lot of stuff ahead of us for 2017 and 2018.