Posted On 03 Jul 2019
Johnny Stranger have released their newest single “P is for Pompeii” after a 10-year hiatus. Check out the track here- https://soundcloud.com/whoisjohnnystranger/p-is-for-pompeii/s-IUc8j
Fiery and electric, “P Is For Pompeii” is a lightning bolt that strikes the listener with menacing energy and progressive musicianship. The song is quintessential Johnny Stranger, who sparked their underground following in their hometown of Olympia, WA in the mid-2000’s. Following the band’s breakup and a long struggle with depression, Singer/Songwriter Peter Anthony reignited the band and immediately began recording. “The song’s lyrics were inspired by the vicious relationship between mother and daughter in Stephen King’s “Carrie”,” says Anthony. “Whereas the verses sing from the point-of-view of the mother (representing depression), the chorus is about overcoming that darkness: ‘I’ve got a soul, but who can tell. Got a hole in my heart which you can’t fill and I need to get myself away.’” The journey of creating “P Is For Pompeii” was wild and twisted, but it has resulted in Johnny Stranger’s latest album, “Valkyrie” (their 5th album, of a planned 12).
Connect With JOHNNY STRANGER Here:
Learn more about Johnny Stranger in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! We’re getting ready to play a show downtown (LA) and getting started on the next album, which will be our 6th. In the meantime, music from ‘Valkyrie’ (our 5th album) is out there and getting a great response.
Now that we are into the 6th month of the year, how would you say that 2019 is treating the band so far?
It has been amazing. Many years of recording, writing, and practicing went into this year’s relaunch of the band. We’ve played some great shows, we’ve released new music for the first time in 10 years, and we’ve done a lot of work for the future as well. I couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come.
What have been some goals this group has had this year? How close are you to reaching them?
Getting a project like Johnny Stranger going again is a huge undertaking. Hours of practice and lots of hours recording/producing new music. I’m super thankful I have such an amazing team around me who are working their butts off to bring this to life.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could agree on? Has anything surprised you about this musical journey so far?
Well, the history of the band is that I’ve always been the idea guy. I’ve written all the songs, done all the production/recording, and have generally been the visionary for the band. During those years when we were on hiatus, I always intended to bring it back. But it wasn’t until Madelynn Elyse – who I also write/perform with as Polaris Rose – offered to join that Johnny Stranger really kicked back into high gear. With her help we have been able to reform the lineup and really be aggressive with the business-side of JS. Having your manager be your bass player, vocalist, and best friend has some serious perks.
How do you think your hometowns have influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group? If not, what do you think does influence this group?
I grew up and started Johnny Stranger in WA state. It absolutely laid the foundations for our sound. It’s hard to describe, but I grew up in a space where there was no music industry. Just music and our love for it. The result is what Johnny Stranger is.
I always like to ask bands if you all hang out socially apart from the music? In other words, when you aren’t working on music, do you guys enjoy hanging out for fun?
Absolutely. We go to a lot of shows together or hover around taco trucks until late in the evening.
Let’s about your newest song, “P is for Pompeii.” What was the inspiration for this track? How would you say that it compares to your previous songs?
‘P is for Pompeii’ is a new/old song. I wrote it back in 2006 in Australia, while I was writing for what would become Johnny Stranger’s 2nd album, “Lucid”. I remember it came during the same week that I wrote one of our better-known songs: “Funk Dagger.” Very different songs, but they both sprang into being in the same notebook at the same time.
What was it like getting back into the studio to work on this track after a 10-year hiatus? How had your songwriting and styles changed over that time away? How did you all stay busy during those 10 years?
During the 10 years when I wasn’t actively recording Johnny Stranger songs, I was still very busy recording music for a variety of projects. So I was constantly improving my production chops. And I was still writing songs the entire time. Now I’ve got multiple records written and ready to be recorded. By the time I’m done, Johnny Stranger will have a total of 12 records.
How does “P is for Pompeii” prepare listeners for your forthcoming 5th album, “Valkyrie”? When do you plan on releasing this new collection?
It’s written to be a very aggressive and impactful record. I was inspired by a lot of my favorite bands’ first records. The songs are all very singular in their sound. It’s not as diverse as some of our later records will be. It’s meant to be more of a rock punch in the gut.
Generally, how do you go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately?
The songwriting is all me. I am constantly writing… but the best songs are oftentimes the ones that just jump into existence out of thin air. All of a sudden the melody, the lyrics, the entire arrangement just exist in your head and the songwriting is mostly just unlocking all the song’s secrets.
How has your sound grown or changed over the years? What has remained the same?
I think of the first four Johnny Stranger albums (the ones recorded before the hiatus) as the development of the sound. The band’s sound now – with these newer records – is more sure of itself. We know the range of musical ideas that JS explores.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
Both bring their own unique type of happiness. The studio is where we are at our most creative but live shows have that essential sharing element. One without the other is just not satisfying.
Where can fans see you perform next?
We are playing an intimate show at the Redwood Bar in downtown LA. We’ve been doing a few of those lately. We have bigger shows coming up this fall though, which you can hear about on any of our socials.
What do you think makes for an ideal show for this group? What has been a favorite show of yours in the past?
We had some great shows back when we were based in WA and some amazing times in Boston… but my favorite show that we’ve played recently was our ‘reformation’ show at the Satellite in LA. Great crowd and we stepped up our production value to include a lot of video work. It’s something we’ll be doing a lot more of in the future.
How has social media impacted this band? How often are you all on your different sites interacting with fans?
When JS first started, MySpace was our primary way of connecting to the WA community. Since then, we take a sort of relaxed attitude towards social media. We don’t care much about how many likes or followers we have. We care more about engagement. And we treat it like an art project… so it’s got our graphic style laced between platforms.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?
I am fascinated by politics and consume a lot of news about it. We don’t use music as an escape… but we do try to get to the very human center and the world around us. Our album ‘Valkyrie’ is about power and breaking free of the forces that try to suppress us. Although it’s not about specific news stories, it is about what drives the political engine. Both good and bad. But mostly bad haha.
What musicians would you love to work with in the future? What artists have really been inspiring this group and your music since day 1?
I would never want to work with my idols necessarily… but we are very inspired by the music of The Smashing Pumpkins, Failure, the Deftones, Steely Dan, the Mars Volta… so many it’d be impossible to name them all. But yea. Lots of great epic rock bands who are known for making great albums.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
Our songs oftentimes take up the point-of-view of ‘the villain’. It’s a Steely Dan method I incorporated into my songwriting. They will sing a song from the POV of a rather unsavory character. Many of our songs are like this. I want people to think from different perspectives and recognize the forces that drive us. And really I want our listeners to see the entire vision we’re trying to share via our 12-album collection.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about this group?
Follow us online for updates on new tracks and new shows. All coming soon.