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June 2008 - FIVE HORSE JOHNSON

Since the band's foundation in 1995 FIVE HORSE JOHNSON rejoice my heart with their powerful blues-ridden heavy rock. They have internalized the spirit of blues giants like John Lee Hooker or Howlin' Wolf, and merged it together with classic rock and the blues appreciation of Captain Beefheart or ZZ Top. The harmonica is in almost the same manner as the guitar, while the charismatic rough vocals of Eric Oblander add a dirty and dusty vibe to this timeless sort of rock. Maybe their latest album 'The Mystery Spot' is their best, but almost every release owns a lot of highlights. Once again, Gideon Smith (thank you so much!)was the man who did this interview with Eric Oblander and now it's up to you to check out the latest news about FHJ.

 

Hey brother, FHJ has been together now for over a thirteen years, forming in 1995. From the early days to the present, what do you feel stands out as the highlights from your formation to this day?   

To see the most of Europe from stem to stern. That never gets old. Standing on the top of the Rock of Gibraltar, staring at Africa on one day, and watching the sun slide over our heads at 12 AM in Norway two days later was something we will value forever. 

In your songwriting process, do Brad and yourself approach it in a traditional way of words and music like Jagger/Richards, sitting together with acoustics and writing the songs and then bring them to the electric versions with a bassist and drummer?

No. 

FHJ has released many albums, looking back which are your favorites or name some of  your all time favorite songs?  

Each album is a different point in our lives. They are usually reflective of what was going down in our lives at that time, so to pick a fave is tough. "No. 6" was exciting because we felt a roll coming on, we were just on the front edge of touring for several years. "Blues For Henry" was kick ass because we just we just wanted to get our voice out there. "Double D "was a stab in the dark, asking one of our heros (Greg from Raging Slab) to produce. That was scary because we were sure he would say no, and that it would cost more than we had, but it didn't, it worked and still sticks for us years later. Doing "The Mystery Spot" was a breeze, we wrote it in 6 days, but "Last men" was a two year ball buster. And "Pussycat" was the most natural of all. So they are all pretty important to us.

Some of the more blues and southern oriented bands have gotten absorbed into the 'stoner rock' following, do you feel Five Horse is part of that or do you have any identification with it as a trend or style? 

When we started we were just a loud, drunk rock blues band and some stoner people started to dig our thing.  We were  shocked at first that we had found a new base of fans, but later it made sense, as most rockers drink from the same well, weather its ZZ Top, Sabbath, Zep ect .

Blues influences in bands are often lumped in 'blues', while people who know about the music learn to see blues in different subtle ways due to it's location and then it's sound, like Delta Blues, Chicago Blues, etc. How do you feel about FHJ as a blues rock hard rock?

It changes from song to song.  We usually follow a Hendrix-ish sort of route and just follow the song.  Some of our songs are a bat to the head Chicago vibe, while others are just sleezy Mississippi bbq.

What are some of your all time favorite albums you wear out on a regular basis?

We have always rocked "In a jungle groove" by James Brown.

What's in store for FHJ fans for the next year, tours or new cds?

Working on a new album. Taking our time.  Phil has input on this one which is exciting for us. Having another voice to hear is fresh. The record is shaping up nicely, its from a different place. A bit older and wiser. But who knows whats to come.

What was it like playing with Iggy Pop, didnt you play on one of his records, is that correct? That must have been really cool.

It was great to open for Iggy. Chicago at the Metro. He was insane and awesome, he freaked out and knocked over the entire 12 ft. PA stack.  And NO I did not play on any of his albums.  But I am available.

What's it been like since you've been jamming with Phil Durr in the band?

Phil was a natural addition. He has played on most of our albums so it was a simple idea, it just took us 10 years to make it. Brad and Phil sound great together its nice and full and it gives us  dynamics. And as stated above he is a great addition to the writing team.

Tell me about your lyrics, do you tend to improvise or write them out, do you write alot of lyrics all the time or save up ideas?

Iusually write, then re-write.  Then do it again until I have ruined them. 

Five Horse has been going strong for so long, I want ya to know your music is well loved and appreciated all around. 

Well Mr. Smith its words like that that make it all possible.  Thanks man, you are welcome my friend. 

(Gideon Smith)

www.fivehorsejohnson.com

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