MASK: The Trilogy Is Completed

January 30th, 2016 |

The third in the trilogy of short films I’ve been scoring has just been released. I’m extremely pleased with how it turned out.

MASK Part 3

If you’d like to watch all three films back to back, here is the link for that.

MASK: The Trilogy

New Music – Mask 2 Soundtrack

June 18th, 2015 |

My latest music project was just released today as a video on YouTube.

Here is the link.

Mask 2

This is the second film in a trilogy of films by my friend Jeff Koziatek. He contacted me around a year and a half or two years ago and asked if I would do the soundtrack to all three films. I very happily said yes.

Here is the link to the first film if you haven’t seen it.

Mask 1

Both of these soundtracks are very different from each other and they are both very different from anything I’ve ever done before.

Mask 2 is far and away the most challenging project I’ve ever worked on.

– It has just under a hundred tracks
– Almost all of the music is electronic music
– A significant percentage of my soundtrack is ambient and not actually music at all
– It has some sound design elements
– It has numerous cues that have to be emphasized by the music
– Each cue needs to be musical and sound effortless and not like it took me five weeks to make it sound natural even though it probably did

I really got into the music of Aphex Twin when I was working on this. This sounds absolutely nothing like Aphex Twin but he was definitely a big inspiration. If you haven’t checked out his music I highly recommend it.

Hope you like it.

Fall Fights – remixed

March 28th, 2015 |

Fifteen years ago this month The Drew Johnson Band began tracking our album Invention of the Wheel. To celebrate that event, I have remixed the song Fall Fights.

On one hand I am very proud of what we as a band accomplished. On the other hand I am very embarrassed about how I failed as an audio engineer.

Of all the songs on that album I think that Fall Fights is particularly bad as far as the engineering/mixing goes. I could go on and on about how many problems there are with that mix.

I decided to dig out the original tracks to Fall Fights and start a new mix from scratch. I have been seriously studying mix engineering for the past few years and doing a lot of it. I know a lot of tricks and techniques now that I didn’t know back then.

This new mix is how I was hoping it would end up sounding when we were tracking it. Hopefully I have redeemed myself to some extent.

Fall Fights (2015) wav mp3

Here is the original version in case you’ve forgotten how it sounds.

New Music Available

May 29th, 2012 |

It’s been almost two years since I’ve posted anything. That seems hard to believe. Well, to catch you up, the past twenty-one months have been the most grueling that I have ever experienced. If I told you everything that has happened you wouldn’t believe me. So I won’t.

Some of the new music I have is not actually new at all. I went into the studio to start working on three of these songs back in March of 2009. For about two years after that I worked on them off and on, recording in the studio and here at the house then finally mixing and mastering them here. After that they have just been sitting on my computer collecting dust.

At first I thought I would eventually get a whole album’s worth of material together and release it on iTunes but that never really came about. So instead of just continuing to keep these songs to myself I thought I’d just give them away here.

The first song is “Written for You”

Drums: Joe Meyer
Bass: Eric Grossman
All other noises: Me
Produced by Drew Johnson and Jacob Detering

Written for You wav file
Written for You mp3 file

Next is “Wait Child Wait”

Drums: Joe Meyer
Bass: Bruce Crask
Piano: Jeff Lehman
Misc: Me
Produced by Drew Johnson and Jacob Detering

Wait Child Wait wav file
Wait Child Wait mp3 file

This last one is my Magnum Opus of sorts. You may not think it’s very good but at least it’s really huge. It’s called “The Groom and the Bride.”

Drums: Joe Meyer
Bass: Eric Grossman
Ad Nauseam: Me
Produced by Drew Johnson and Jacob Detering

The Groom and the Bride wav file
The Groom and the Bride mp3 file

The next two are relatively recent. I have over the past couple of years become very interested in traditional hymn writing and wanted to see if I could do it. I wrote a hymn called “Could I Recount My Great Transgressions.” I recorded a short demo for the folks in our church choir and that’s what this is.

There is a phrase in the refrain that is in Latin. On the demo I sing “Sola Christe.” After I recorded it I was told that the correct phrase for this context should be “Solus Christus.” I didn’t bother with changing it in the demo so you’ll just have to use your imagination.

Could I Recount My Great Transgressions mp3 file

This last one is pretty interesting I think. I’m pretty fond of it. It is written loosely in the style of the Genevan Psalter where the words of the Psalms were put to music. The music from the Genevan Psalter is an acquired taste to say the least. Here is my attempt.

By the way, I wish that I had left the organ out of this mix. It just kinds of bugs me but my studio computer is on the blink so I can’t go back and re-mix it at this time.

Psalm 38 demo mp3 file

I hope you like ’em.

My Approach to Playing Live

June 15th, 2010 |

My brother Taylor sent me an email today. He said he had recently learned that The White Stripes don’t plan out their set lists. They do a different, off-the-cuff show every night. He asked me about how we used to approach our shows. Here was my response.

(This is copied and pasted from an email between brothers. This is not well-planned blogging)

I think The White Stripes’ style of music and band persona lend themselves well to a devil may care type of approach to doing a show. When you have throngs of screaming fans who’ve been waiting all their lives to see this show you can get away with murder. They could go up their and tell knock knock jokes all night and their fans would eat it up. <— hyperbole


When you’re just some local schmuck band and you go up on stage just winging it, that usually doesn’t work so well. You don’t have the benefit of the crowd knowing all of your songs. They may not know any of them. So I think you’d better go in with a plan. When are we going to play the slow song? Do we come out blazing with the first song? Or do we get their attention with a good first song and then knock them dead with an awesome second song? Are we going to play any covers? How many? Which ones? Where in the set?


I’ve played a lot of shows and I can honestly say that the vast majority of them left me wondering why I was striving so hard to make this my career when I was so often disappointed afterwards.Sometimes we had a big, very responsive crowd but if I didn’t really play that great I was so distracted by the mistakes that it ruined the show for me. Then sometimes we would play an awesome show but there was no one there to hear it so that ruined it for me. Then there’s always the issue of dealing with club owners who so often see the band as their opponent instead of their partner for the evening. Dealing with the club personnel was probably the worst aspect of the whole experience for me.


My approach to every show was to put on a very high-energy, well-played, well-paced show that kicked you in the teeth at the beginning and kicked you in the pants at the end.


We played a handful of shows over the years that made me very happy. Huge crowd. Huge response. Killer playing. Killer energy. I’ll never forget those. I’ll also never forget the shows that left me depressed for one reason or another. Those far outweigh the good…in my mind…not in reality.


Drew

I’m not dead yet.

June 1st, 2010 |

Here’s what you’ve missed over the past few months.

– All of the tracking for the new songs is finished.

– These are the best songs I’ve ever written.

– I’m addicted to video games again. It’s being treated.

– I have sleep apnea. It’s being treated.

– I have extremely high cholesterol. It’s being treated.

– I’m kinda fat now. It’s being treated.

I am waiting to get all of the tracks for the new songs from Jacob so I can begin mixing. The plan was always to have him do the mixing but Johnson household budget cut-backs have prevented that dream from being realized. It’ll still sound good. I promise.

Hoarse

January 27th, 2010 |

I’ve been recording a bunch of vocals lately and have completely shredded my vocal chords. I’m going to take a break for a few days and see if things improve.

I’ve been doing a lot of vocal exercises the past few months and have made huge improvements in my range and control but when the red record light comes on I seem to sink back into the same old habits of singing as hard as I can. I know I don’t have to sing hard to sing high but it’s just a habit. I gotta quit that.

Man vs Wild

January 6th, 2010 |

Tonight I watched Bear Grylls catch a reindeer, shove a knife into its brain, slit its throat, drink its blood and then he cut out its heart and immediately began to eat it. I can only imagine how horrified Santa was.

I think it is inevitable that he will soon do an episode where he will be forced to kill and eat his cameraman. Now that is must see T.V.

New Organ mp3

December 19th, 2009 |

It seems like a lot of the musical software I buy does far less than live up to my expectations. The Native Instruments B4 organ software is definitely not one of them. This stuff sounds phenomenal.

I’ve been working on an organ part for a song called “Written for You” and I am really knocked out by the results. Check out this mp3. This is just the Wurlitzer piano, bari sax, tenor sax and the organ. The organ is pushed way out front so you can hear what’s going on.

The clip starts at the pre-chorus and goes into the final two choruses. Listen how the organ starts out clean and with a slow rotation in the leslie. As it builds into the chorus I crank up the leslie and the speaker distortion. Very cool. Very convincing.

Deadpan Boxfan

December 12th, 2009 |

I’ve started transferring some of my old four-track recordings into the computer so I thought I’d let you hear a little bit of them. The majority of these recordings are way too embarrassing for me to make publicly available but some of them are at least tolerable.

All of the songs from this era (1994-ish) were recorded on a Tascam 4-track cassette recorder. I didn’t have a drum kit at the time so I had to piece together the drum parts in a rather unorthodox way.

For the bass drum I used an old stereo speaker and hit it near the speaker cone with a mallet. For the snare drum I used a small Igloo cooler and smacked it with a drum stick. For the cymbals I used a trashy ride cymbal I had that had a huge chunk missing from it. I had to do each drum separately and then bounce them to a single track.

This first one is a song called Deadpan Boxfan. I wrote this song about my inability to sleep without a fan, really riveting stuff I know. In the intro you’ll hear my mom playing the accordion. All of the other noises are me. I particularly like the guitar work in this song.

Click here to download Deadpan Boxfan.

This next thing is the bridge to a song called Ichabod’s Farewell. The rest of this song is pretty strange but the bridge is really nice. I was completely fascinated with The Sundays’ album “Blind” at the time. I think this was my attempt at writing something similar to what they did on that record.

Click here to download the mp3.