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QRD #33 - the Father's Day issue - June 2007
about this issue
Martin Bowes of Attrition
Benjy Johnson of Benjomatic
Sam Rosenthal of BTFABG
William Amundson
Josh Howard author of Dead@17
Peter Ulrich of Dead Can Dance
Aaron Molina of If Thousands
D.A. Sebasstian of KSK
Alan Sparhawk of Low
Shane Sauers
Rune Flaten of Origami Arktika
Tore Boe of Origami Republika
Chris Olley of Six by Seven
Timothy Renner of Stone Breath
Patrick Ogl of Thanatos
Mats Gustafsson of Broken Face
Jason Wallach of Unquiet Void
Chris Wade of The Wades
Nevada Hill of The Zanzibar Snails
Wayne Barnes
Dan Sostrom of Tonevendor
Colin Newman of Wire
Joe Kendrick of WNCW
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Interview with Benjy Johnson of Benjomatic
May 23, 2007

Benjy Johnson has took an alternate route to supporting his family than just trying to make it as a touring musician, his bread & butter is his Earth Tones recording studio.

Name: Benjy Johnson
Band: Benjomatic
Website: www.benjomatic.com

QRD – How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a professional musician?

Benjy – Well, I wanted to be a rock star when I was 14.  Rock star & professional musician are two totally different things!!!  I realized I could really make a living at it when I was about 26.

QRD – What are a few highlights of your musical career?

Benjy – I’ve played the House of Blues with a previous band & hung out with numerous famous people, but the highlight is probably writing & recording my first solo CD.  It’s something that I would always threaten to do, but never thought it would happen.  When it finally all came together, I was very proud.

QRD – At what age did you decide you wanted to become a father?

Benjy – I always knew I wanted to be father from the time I was a kid.  I have three older sisters who all have kids, so I’ve been an uncle since I was 12.  Being an uncle is a good pre-cursor to being a father.  You see all the real aspects of parenting... except changing diapers.  Wait, nix that.  I remember one particularly ripe diaper from my nephew.  I fed him too many spaghetti-o’s one night when my wife & I babysat him.  Whew.

QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your family has had on your career?

Benjy – I couldn’t do what I do without my family.  They inspire me to write songs.  They let me sleep that extra hour or two in the morning if it’s been a really late night.  They dance when I play.  I wouldn’t say there have been any negative impacts.  Anyone could always look back in hindsight & say, “If it wasn’t for my family, I’d have a job as a touring musician!!!”  But, hindsight is always 20/20.  I wouldn’t have the career I do if it wasn’t for them, so how can I think I’d be anywhere else without them?

QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your career has had on your family?

Benjy – I don’t work 9 to 5, so we spend about 30 minutes to an hour together at dinner time every night & then it’s out the door for dad.  I try to balance work & family to the best of my ability, but some days it’s tough.  When my kids cry as I’m leaving the house because they want to spend more time with dad, that sucks.  But, that also makes last-minute studio cancellations seem like a vacation instead of a bad thing!

QRD – Have your children effected the music you make &/or listen to?

Benjy – Yep.  I really pay attention to what I listen to & write more from a fatherly standpoint than I ever did.  Lyrics are a big thing.  I just can’t pop on a Slayer record in the car & expect my kids not to eventually start screaming, “infamous, butcher, angel of deeeeeaaaath!!!!”  Not a good thing for the principal to call home about.  They are tiny little sponges that soak up everything, so we try to give them only good stuff to soak up.  They’ll be adults one day & have to deal with all of life’s realities, why not filter out the junk & let them be kids while they are kids?  I try to also write lyrics that my kids can listen to without using profanity.  I’ll save that for my XXX bootleg record.

QRD – Have you had problems with the lack of steady money from a musical career providing the security you feel necessary in your household?

Benjy – Five words, THANK GOD FOR MY WIFE!!!!!  Seriously.

QRD – Given the limitations having a family has on being a touring musician, would you have toured more earlier in life if you’d known?

Benjy – Maybe, but see my previous answer about hindsight.  I actually toured with a corporate job.  Got to see plenty of the country for three years.  Then I decided that corporate America sucks & they will all eventually have heart attacks worrying about who’s house is the biggest & who has a better 401K plan.  Then... I quit.

QRD – Do you think being a father or a musician has a greater impact on your community?

Benjy – Father, no question.  If all the musicians disappeared tomorrow, I might not have a song to sing, but I could still tuck my kids in bed.

QRD – Would you rather see your child eventually become a musician or parent?

Benjy – Both.

QRD – Both family & music seem like things that will take up as much of your time as you’re willing to put in.  How do you end up dividing your time?

Benjy – Balance.  A fine balance.  And, a fine wife.

QRD – Do you have a split/secret life between being a parent & being a musician?

Benjy – Maybe when performing, but not like a “Sybil” split life.  When I get onstage I am a different person.  But my kids & wife know that guy too.  He’s the funny dad that likes to play jokes & laugh, not the strict disciplinarian that says, “Eat you broccoli or no ice cream”

QRD – What do your children think of your music?

Benjy – They like some of it, but they really like the songs I write about them the most.  I work so much between the band & studio that when I get home I don’t do a lot of music stuff, so they don’t get to hear my stuff as much as you might think.

QRD – Do you think you could ever do a musical project with your children?

Benjy – Oh yeah.  Someday soon.

QRD – Any words of advice to young people?

Benjy – Be young while you can.  Have a passion besides X-box or Playstation.  Create something.  Learn an instrument.  See the world.  Kiss your mom & dad... NOW!