• Big Sugar

A CONVERSATION WITH GORDIE JOHNSON - FYI Music

"I have a DJ night every week in Austin where I spin obscure soul records. My fave spins are always weird cover versions, like Little Milton singing Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors" or Billy Preston doing "Blackbird" by the Beatles…" - Reggae-rock band Big Sugar frontman Gordie Johnson


You are on a long trip and the person next to you asks what you do. How do you respond?


I usually play the “record producer” card [which is also a true answer]. It tends to lead to a more normal conversation. People get too impressed with ‘I’m in a famous band,’ which always sounds like bullshit anyway.


How does your public persona differ from your private life?


Little!  It isn’t like a costume that I’m putting on; I do walk around the house in my pajamas holding a double neck guitar though.


Happiness for you is what?


Lying in my hammock between two oak trees on my hilltop in Texas.


Your greatest sadness in life?


I don’t have a ranking system for such things. 


Who are your heroes or mentors?


My wife’s father was a great influence. Problems are solvable when you slow everything down, take an unemotional arms-length view of the situation and ask yourself, ‘How much will all of this matter 100 years from now?’. He never actually said this out loud, he just lived it. 


What is your most treasured possession?


I’m not too hyped on possessions, but I’m pretty proud of my 1970 Dodge Charger.


What creature comforts or keepsakes do you like to have with you on the road?


I never leave home without my poncho.


What is the most comical, outrageous or crazy thing that has happened to you on the road?


The ‘road’ is not some kind of ‘spring break’ or ‘dude road trip’. It is our normal. Luckily, comical describes the overwhelming majority of the time.


Who are your favourite authors and musicians? 


Musically, Billy Gibbons still blows my mind. A cat named Billy Jones really enlightened me to the mysteries of the steel guitar. As far as authors, Chuck Klosterman is good for a giggle; Haile Selassie for inspiration.


What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?


Having three kids exceeds any other goal or achievement in terms of difficulty and satisfaction. Learning to play the steel guitar runs a close second for difficulty.


How do you listen to music (CD, downloads, radio) and who is on your playlist now?


Vinyl, baby!!! I have a DJ night every week in Austin where I spin obscure soul records. My fave spins are always weird cover versions, like Little Milton singing Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors” or Billy Preston doing “Blackbird” by the Beatles. I do listen to a lot of stuff on the computer but it is mostly stuff that we are mixing in the studio. YouTube is my “go to” for great versions of classic jazz stuff. Nat King Cole singing “Here’s That Rainy Day” can reduce me to tears.


Big Sugar’s most recent album, Yardstyle, was released by eOne Music Canada on May 15.


Read more at FYI Music News

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