Mike Johnson has been a familiar face in so many important bands in the goth Industrial scene over the last few decades. For his big 60 I thought it would be nice to talk about his career and what he has meant to music for so many people. Drummers are such a rare and glorious treasure but even more so those who can play along to electronic music. Mike has used that to get snatched up by anyone with a synthesizer and a tour to travel the world bringing energy and precision to music fans everywhere. The list of bands he has been a part of is long and storied. Today lets celebrate his amazing contributions.
Ego Likeness – I got to see Mike tour with the Industrial Passion Rock band Ego Likeness a few years back. The husband and wife duo of Steven and Donna Archer play an intense and immersive stage show. This requires A lot of moving parts and a focused rhythm section.
Rick Furr added “As an artist and a person He’s a good cuddler in the bed”
Donna ““In addition to being an excellent drummer, Mike is the only one who will talk to me when I’m on my 17th straight hour of driving, just to make sure I’m not delirious. We should all thank him for that.”
Spider Lilies– The beautiful phantasmal electronic dream weavers off Jim Semonik’s distortion productions. I love the swirling cyclone blend of hard hitting industrial beats and Stacey Campbell’s ethereal lilting vocals. They have a sound that puts me in mind of Sunshine Blind and Switchblade Symphony in the 90’s. Lots of layers and complexity held together with Stacey’s clear ringing vocal melodies. If I ever find myself in a magical garden full of dangerous plants this is the soundtrack I hope to hear. They have a new track out on the Electronic Saviors compilation called “Witness” that is a must hear.
I ask Stacey what it was like to work with Mike:
“I feel very lucky to have Mike as a part of Spider Lilies, but he’s also a great friend. As a band mate, his positive outlook and dependable work ethic helps everything go so smoothly. You have to admit, he looks really cool wearing his sunglasses on stage! When touring, you can be sure he’s always got an emergency jar of peanut butter, just in case, which is smart. When things get tough, he’s someone you can talk to openly and he’s never one to judge. He’s a great hugger and shoulder to cry on, if needed, and then he can usually summon up some quality dad jokes to lift the mood.” -Stacey-
Stoneburner – One of the most frequently reviewed bands here at Sounds and Shadows, but for good reason. Steven Archer is creating some of the most dynamic and exciting new music in the Industrial genre. This band pushes the boundaries of artistic expression using electronic elements and percussion which often includes a need for a extra drummer.
Red Lokust – Pittsburgh Industrial mainstays Red Lokust have had Mike tour with them for live performances. This is high energy smash the war drums and stomp the concrete until the foundations shatters old school industrial. Often socially political and consciously aware. This band shatters rooms with it’s intensity and needs a fierce intensity from it’s percussion. It’s led by Jim Semonik who also does the Electronic Savior’s compilation
FIRES – Mike has also done live drums for the electronic sonic explosion that is FIRES. Aedra is a fiery force of nature unleashing stabbing intensity and lifting beauty. Organic guitar riffs and pounding snare snaps drive her energy in her expressive live show. I have a complete review of the album on Sounds and Shadows.
We all look forward to hearing new recordings from LINDA his new rock band in the near future. Watch for them here:
A lot of focus and credit goes to the singers, guitar players, bass players, of the world. I think anyone who has been in a band can tell you, having the right drummer is truly the glue and the heart of making music happen. Mike has had a career that has crossed so many paths in this scene and made a difference. Happy Birthday to a vampire I honestly cannot believe is 60. He makes 38 year old me look like shit.
Some other quotes from important musicians in the scene:
Neska Lapicki : “you are super epic awesome, i was gonna make joke about you farting in the van, but then i thought it was probably rick. happy birthday!!!”
Erik Gustafson (Adoration Destroyed/Grendel) :
“I’ve been on three national tours, that Mike was playing drums for the headliner.
Mike is just so full of positive energy, and is always smiling and happy to be there.
As you know, touring life isn’t for everyone, and it’s not all fun and games. It can be very stressful. Mike is just the picture of calm and content,
and was a pleasure to travel with. The only thing I don’t like about him…is that he doesn’t share with the rest of us, his magic youth potion!”
Laura Bienz (Lorelei Dreaming) :
Every time our paths cross when touring and playing cons, it is immediately a dance party. We became instant friends and the dance party continues
Here’s to many more years!”