Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Glasspack interview

Dirty Dave Johnson is a leader of Louisville's hard 'n' heavy music scene, and a busy guy. His band, The Glasspack, is currently planning live shows for this summer. Noise Pollution Records will soon release a split 7" with The Glasspack and Trophy Wives. Also, Johnson will be selling artwork and merchandise at the second annual South By South End Festival on April 22nd - 24th.

Where did you grow up? Is your family musical or artistic?
I was born in Louisville at St. Anthony's hospital, which was pretty much in the Highlands. I spent a couple early childhood years in West Virginia. I lived in the Appalachian Mountains, where my oldest sister was born. As a small child, I rode around in my dad's muscle car, watched 70's pro-wrestling and sported long hair. I grew up drawing Popeye and Woody Woodpecker cartoons and acting like a clown. My first encounters with music were my dad's old CCR records, among others. I grew up in Okolona and Iroquois, which is basically the south side and south end of Louisville as they were in the '80s. I spent a lot of time in Iroquois Park, where I still do to this day. Creativity was limited in my family but still apparent. My grandfather could draw very well, and my oldest sister can play all sorts of instruments much better than me. Other than that, I am unaware of any other creativity in my family, except that my mom was a master at the sewing machine. I would draw stencils for her. She passed away when I was about 20 years old.

What is your musical background / training?

No formal training here, my friend. I tried flute in the 3rd or 4th grade at school and gave it up a week or two later. My dad bought me a right-handed guitar when I was 13 because he couldn't afford the left-handed one. That is social tyranny at its best. I learned how to play guitar because I was grounded all the time. I sat in my room and read Guitar Player Magazine or Guitar World Magazine. I cannot remember which one it was, but those magazines have what is called music tabs underneath the actual sheet music. I would try and play those tabs along with the songs on my jam box. The tabs are sort of the cheap way around learning to read music so that you can still learn to play other people's songs while listening. I was quite annoyed with the material available in those magazines at the time. All they had in them was Whitesnake and Motley Crue. By that time, I had realized quite fast what kind of garbage '80's glam hair metal was. I liked Van Halen and AC/DC, which would pop up in the magazines sometimes, and occasionally there would be a Hendrix tune or an R.E.M. song. Other than that, I learned to play a lot of songs from hoodlum friends, mostly Metallica. Since my friends needed a bassist, I got a bass at age 15. I learned mostly to play bass by playing old Metallica. I can still play some of "Orion" from Master of Puppets. Soon after this period, I found Black Sabbath and punk rock. This is really when I started to learn the most about playing guitar and bass.

Who are your musical favorites/inspirations?
There is no question that probably the greatest influence on me and my music has been Black Sabbath. There would be nothing good without Black Sabbath. The first Black Sabbath album, Black Sabbath, is all that any rock album could hope to be. As a small child, as I already mentioned, my dad's CCR records wound me up. Into my early teen-age years, I fell in love with the music of Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix is still grand to me as well. After that, I found punk rock. Local bands I listened to and saw were Kinghorse, Bush League, and Cinderblock. The Cinderblock guys were all my buddies, I still love them all. The Dead Kennedys had a big impact on me, as well as a lot of the Seattle music such as Soundgarden and Mudhoney. As I got into my 20s though, I really picked up on the MC5 and The Stooges. Then I really started digging on some Captain Beefheart and His Magical Band.

What bands/projects are you currently involved with? How did you get involved with them?
Currently, I am doing stuff with The Glasspack full-time and occasionally Muddy Nasty River. The Glasspack, as most people around here know, has been me and various friends and/or local musicians over the years. I write most of the music, sing, and play guitar. The Glasspack started in 1999, but we are just now getting around to celebrating 10 years this year!
Muddy Nasty River is a part-time band, but I hope that it can exist in full-time mode soon. I started Muddy Nasty River with my childhood friend Mark Campbell. I also write the songs, sing, and play guitar in this garage/blues act. We both go to the University of Louisville, so our time is very limited. I am about to have a bachelor's degree in philosophy and Mark is a doctoral student in biology. I am also planning to attend law school or grad school immediately. We musicians are busy people.

What do you hope to achieve with music?

I can't say that I ever really thought about or sought out achieving anything by playing music except to express and please myself, as well as those who are involved. I do, however, hope that the music will relieve some of us from the stress of this fast capitalistic society. We were not put here to work and work and work so that 5% of the population can control 50% of the wealth. It's b------t, but if we can't change the system in our short time here, we can party and forget about it for at least a little bit. I hope The Glasspack is the soundtrack to that party.

c. 2010 Velocity Weekly

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