Keith: “The basis of it is…that we are brothers and we play music together and there’s a name for it that we made up…and we’ll always do that.”
Chad Thompson / Keith Thompson / RGS / Pan!c
Johnny Headband return to the Detroit stage...7/25
The sibling duo who wield a flavorful, multi-angled electro-pop, shimmered, shimmyed, crooned and rawked their way into many hearts through 2006 and 2007 (with allied drummer RGS). They were the total package – as aurally engaging (with propulsive rhythms, sleek synth shines and bulging bass grooves) as they were visual (with matching bright white outfits, that were often halved to shirtless stomps that explored the stage and swelled with the sweat of an ever-giving performance.) They self-released the Happiness Is Underrated LP and toured the states twice before Keith’s bassmanship was enlisted for the industrious touring and recording necessities of the Electric Six two years ago.
When it comes to the (er, local scene, or, the) Detroit stage, we in the audience seem to often focus just on what’s framed between the pulled curtains, and disregard what’s happening in the wings. We see and register bands that are out, around Detroit, Hamtramck and all the other more unconventional venues between and get bimonthly updates of what their show is like, and what kind of tweaks, tricks and tracks they may be experimenting with at their recording spaces.
It’s been eleven months since Johnny Headband graced our eyes and ears (at the Crofoot, during 08’s Tastefest), but some bands don’t need constant weather reports to detail their creative jet streams – for Chad and Keith, the wind never stops blowing.
Johnny Headband - The Deep Cutz Interview:
Over the winter and spring, Keith and Chad have been developing new songs for a forthcoming EP (out this fall).
But say, on some random weekend night in the middle of another show, you shout at your friend at the bar that Johnny Headband “…are back” and playing a show next week and the common response is “OH!??...what have those guys been up to?” Or, depending on the volume of the nearby amps, “… ...WHAT?”
Don’t underestimate what an Electric Six tenure can do to a man’s yearly routine. In Keith’s case, though his heart (and so much more) is always with Headband, E6 has recently hit a stride of recording a new album just about every year, on top of two and often three touring stints up to 3 months, often to Europe and beyond.
But the Thompson duo simply never stops. They “farm things out” to each other constantly. While Keith is on the road, Chad sends him any and all of his own musical dabblings, video ideas, song ideas, lyric ideas, and garage-band trouble shooting ideas, via email, phone, or through any kind of potentially perceived telepathic brother mindwave send out. Vice versa for Keith, who is always spawning and storming through song ideas on the road, then writing and recording like a man possessed during his brief windows of downtime from the road with E6.
“We take time off from rehearsing with each other,” says Chad, noting the obvious gap that Keith’s obligations create, “but we don’t take time off from making stuff up.”
Frankly, they can’t help it. “It really doesn’t matter what medium it’s in,” said Chad, noting video, show posters, on stage performance or on record. "If you can run photoshop, protools, an editing program, (if) you can run a camera, you can use a paintbrush, you can use a guitar, it’s all an outlet for creativity.”
The boy’s background (in both education, and freelancing/day-jobbing) is in film production and editing – a love they found before they both could drive. They’ve both been playing music most of their lives, but at age 13 and 15 respectively, when they discovered video, they found it brought them the same satisfaction and happiness…and excitement, as music. When the band started in 2004, they knew they’d eventually be making music videos – that was just a given.
Through high school and college, when presented with the avenue of drama class, or performing in plays, reading Shakespeare and all that, they turned away and reverted to similar antics they’d done as teens (for example, taking soundtracks to musicals like Fiddler on the Roof and making up their own version). “We just wanted to make our own stuff,” said Keith.
In fact, it’s a struggle to keep it manageable, because the pair want to do it all, to be firing on all cylinders, creatively speaking, from all angles. This, vitally, includes the strong (and engaging) live show they became known for around Detroit through 2007. One often didn’t know if he/she had fallen into some long lost Neptunian disco/aerobic sugar-high blend of action, sincerity, heartbreak and seduction.
“One thing that won’t change is our goal to be entertaining,” said Keith. “We want to get that across in all mediums. How we get there may have changed, because you get sick of doing what you’ve been doing, the way you did it…”
Indeed, the new show, the new songs, will be considerably different. Outlooks, approaches, ideas naturally mature. Chiefly amongst the updates is the addition of multi-instrumentalist Pan!c (from Pas/Cal), freshening the soundscape with his own dynamics, (along with RGS on drums/guitar).
“If you’re going to perform in front of people, you want them to feel apart of something that’s beyond maybe what they walked in feeling,” said Keith. “And, the way to get there is to break down walls and that’s a big thing…”
Another big thing is there brother-ness. It subconsciously pours out on the stage as another visceral effect – It once got a dude at the bar a bit misty and proclaiming he was going to call up his bro's right then and there after seeing Headband.
“You know who your allies are in life,” said Keith. “That doesn’t really change, you hope it doesn’t. And, you know who you’re related to,” he looks over at Chad, “that can’t change. So, we’re going to keep…being related…and keep making music.”
Ah, brotherly love.
Johnny Headband play Small’s on 7/25, an all ages show with Office, The Pop Project and DJ Proxy.
More info: myspace.com/johnnyheadband