We were about to write an update about all the stuff Will is doing over the next few months but Austin Powell from the Austin Chronicle wrote one for us!
Off the Record
BY AUSTIN POWELL
Some Kind of Monster
Will Johnson is the Swiss Army knife of indie rock. During rare downtime between his bands Centro-matic and South San Gabriel, the prolific local songwriter is taking a backseat to the Monsters of Folk – Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis, M. Ward, and Jim James of My Morning Jacket – on a national and European tour, following the release of the quartet’s eponymous debut Tuesday. “I play [drums] as much as I’m allowed on recordings, but it’s been a little while since I’ve played live,” says Johnson, who last gigged behind the kit with Jandek in July 2007. His return coincides with the November release of Jason Molina & Will Johnson (Secretly Canadian), his debut collaboration with the Magnolia Electric Co. frontman, which Johnson describes as “a pretty subdued listen.” Here’s the real bombshell, though. Alongside Jim James and Anders Parker, Johnson is also taking part in Jay Farrar’s version of Mermaid Avenue, recording original music based on unpublished Woody Guthrie lyrics at the behest of his daughter, Nora Guthrie. While no details have been confirmed as far as a release date or label, the album, which was recorded in New York in March, is currently in the mixing stage. “Jay sent me a priority mail package full of the lyrics, and I opened it at 4:30 in the afternoon,” Johnson recalls. “Within 17 minutes, I had already documented this one called ‘Chorine My Sheba Queen’ to the recording machine. That speaks far more about the song than anything I did. The lyrics struck me in a way that the music sounded automatic. It made such sense to my soul and my spirit. It’s got an empty and regretful tone but in a very beautiful way. I just latched onto it.”