Hello Jonny And Thank You So Much For This Interview! First Off, How Do The Songs Come About Considering The Songwriting Process And What Inspires You?
The things that inspire me to write are my life experience & are usually pretty negatively based. I suffer from depression so, I tend to be a bit down here & there but I always look for the positive in the moments when I'm really low. Mostly because if I go negative, I go deep & it's hard to get back up. Things like relationship woes or moments in life where I felt loss or pain. I'll usually be out at a bar or with friends hanging somewhere & I'll think of a poetic way to spin a moment and I'll text it to myself. Sometimes I'll even be walking down the street or in the car and I'll hear a melody & I'll call myself & sing it to my answering machine and then go back to it later.
Then, the actual songwriting part starts at home on an acoustic guitar who I call “Honey”. She's an inexpensive, warm sunburst yamaha acoustic guitar that I wrote my entire first record on. I feel that if you can break a song down to its roots on an acoustic or a piano & one vocal & it still sounds good, then you've really got something strong. Then I'll record the idea on “Garage Band” which is a simple recording program on my mac. I just sing & play guitar & throw a simple drum loop behind it. After that, I'll burn it on CD or throw it on my ipod and drive around with it for a little while here in the Hills. I try not to spend too much time on developing a song. If it doesn't happen with in 20 or 40 mins, I walk away from it, and start fresh or play a few classics.
Any Songs You Have Written That Hold An Extra Place In Your Heart? And If So, Why?
All my songs mean something special to me, Just different moments. I wrote “To Live & Die” about a family friend who lost his battle with Aids & the song was directed to his partner. “It's time for you to let go” was for the surviving man. He had to let go & just trust that the love of his life was in a better place.
I wrote “Suffer” about when I found of my fiancé was cheating on me the whole time we were together and I was so frustrated and hurt and felt so stupid so I packed my bags & moved back to Los Angeles. The chorus “Around these parts we call this fun, with girls & drinking in the sun” was a little jab to myself to be like, hey.... You're in Los Angeles again.... Everyone here has a tale of woe & there's plenty of things here to help you get your mind off of her so, try & have some fun.
I wrote “Coffee & Cigarettes” about another girl who ripped my guts out. She was a little bit of a starlet... Bigger in her head than in real life but she had some fame to speak of. I was sober at the time so I drank a lot of Coffee & I remember one day after we had just split, I saw her on TV & she just seemed so sweet & I missed her but, I had to remember, “You're not the girl on TV, You're not anything to me” but then my heart took over & I couldn't sleep that night.... So I wrote the chorus, “so tell me why are you on my mind every day & night”......
What Are Your Thoughts On The Recording Sessions?
I love recording but I like to lock the door and spend days in there. I go back and forth on whether or not I like to record in a studio in the city where people can easily get access to me or if I like recording in the sticks far away from the rest of the world.... I've done both & had positive & negative outcomes. I really do enjoy sleeping where I record though. I get my best ideas at 3am.
What About The First Show You Played, Any Memories?
Wow.... Well, the FIRST show I ever played I was 11 I think.... Maybe 12. I first recorded at 9. First show was all covers with my first best friend whom I still hang with today, Kevin Ames. Our band was “Neutrality”. Kind of a dumb name but whatever.... So is KORN. It went well from what I remember. I went on to another band very quickly with the same drummer. This band was all originals..... That band was called DSR. A total metal band, hahaha..... I was 12 but I lied and said I was older.
So Far, What Has Been Your Best Live Experience?
Well, there have been a few memorable moments on stage for me. When my band in High School, NATT played with Pennywise in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in front of 2,000 screaming fans! We were so amped up, we invited the whole audience back to our hotel suite. Needless to say, the hotel staff was not pleased.... That was a funny night. Hahaha....
The second was also with NATT when we sold out our home town show. I was seeing this girl who later became my wife of 3 years. I saw she was impressed & I knew I was in. hahaha.... No, it was actually an amazing show. We had a whole stage show set up with a white sheet and lights behind is & did this whole silhouette things for a while then went into a killer set. Those guys were great.
Recently, with We Are The Riot, I've had some amazing moments on stage with the guys. A connection that I haven't shared since the NATT days so, It affirms good times are ahead.
I love Burgundy for a room color but Blue eyes kill me. I love wearing Black & I think girls in Yellow or teal look so sexy. I guess it depends on the surface area.
I'll take sushi any day of the week but I recently dated a girl who was very healthy & only ate fish so, I had to learn how to cook fish. That's been a lot of fun. I do miss steaks though..... Mmmmmm a nice filet mignon, medium rare. Now I'm hungry!! hahaha
Any Memories Of The First Concert You Attended?
New Kids On The Block with my best friend, Kevin Ames. We both liked them... not gonna lie BUT, halfway through the concert, we realized something interesting... The guys in the band kept saying, “OK ladies, you ready for this?” Or “I wanna hear all the fine ladies in the house scream!!” We both turned to each other & said “.... Oh....wait... I think this is for girls.... Lets go” True story.
Any Bands/Artists You Enjoy Listening To That People Might Find Surprising?
Tom Waits, Tom Jones, Rolling Stones are my favorite but Faith No More has been what's repeatedly influenced me.
What I love most though is my friends bands. I'm very blessed right now to be around a group of very talented artist who are making some great music. 9 Electric is one of my favorites to see live though.
Any Important Happenings That The Public May Not Be Aware Of Yet?
I paint and sculpt and have a series of my works hanging at my good friend, Justin Lewis Tattoo Parlor, DermagraphInk Tattoo
So What Else Do You Have Planned For This Year?
I'm planning on releasing more solo music. I'm currently in the studio with Johnny Whatt, A talented songwriter from Seattle. I then plan to perform this solo music with a band I'm currently putting together. Then, We Are The Riot will be releasing more music & videos & hopefully touring in the summer.
Aside from music, I'm writing a script with my friend Tom Payne who's a great actor on a show on HBO right now called LUCK & I'm looking to do more acting after the last film I did won a few awards, I also plan to do another series of painting/sculptures & do an art show sometime before summer hits
What Do You Want To Say To The Fans?
Thank you & please stay tuned to my website www.jonnysf.com or my facebook & twitter page for updates & if you ever seen me out n about here in Los Angeles, don't be afraid to say “hi”