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Embracing Eclecticism & Rejecting Computer Trickery
GENRE: Experimental Chill-Rock
HOMETOWN: Philadelphia, PA
ARTISTIC APPROACH: Recording with old equipment and an older mindset
There are several words that are completely applicable when it comes to describing Ape School’s Michael Johnson. He is disarmingly self-aware, impressively superfluous, and painfully honest. Or, at least when it comes to song titles, that is. His all-or-nothing LP Junior Violence mixes abstract concepts with dangerous diction – yet he insists that it is all in good fun.
“I’m kind of a jackass,” he remarks with a tinge of laughter. “Actually, that’s not entirely true – but the song titles are kind of smart ass. And in a way, so is the whole record.” He goes on to elaborate on this sentiment. “The whole [album] refers to youth and death, that is, being stupid and dying. But I’m trying to do it with a wink. By no means is it a goth record.” In fact, Junior Violence is far too complex to have one underlying theme or emotion.
At times, it revels in its own ironic shine as displayed on lead single “Marijuana’s On The Phone.” Johnson understands and embraces the record’s inherent eclectic nature. “This was not constructed as a pop record. ‘Marijuana’s On The Phone’ was chosen as the first single because everyone agreed on it; the label was into it. It just seemed very logical.” Seconds later, that aforementioned honesty inevitably rears its head. “This record doesn’t have an in-your-face single. I could have picked anything [as the first single] and it would have been strange.”
Indeed, Junior Violence isn’t something to listen to unless you possess full-fledged auditory openness as well as an appreciation for sheer authenticity.
“I’m a bit excessive without modernist tools – there’s not a lot of computer trickery on the album,” Johnson explains.
“I get in the studio with the things I have at my disposal, so it’s done with older equipment and an older mindset.” But like any other record, the power of it is wholly contingent upon the generosity of the listener. “I’m not too concerned with fitting into the general trend,” Johnson confesses. “I tend to just run things up the flagpole and see who salutes.”
photo by Darshana Borah