B.A. Johnston, who is allegedly named after his mother’s favourite artist, Bryan Adams, refuses to reveal his age for fear of losing his youth market.
This reporter argued that his age didn’t matter.
“But the young people do care,” says Johnston, who is somewhere between the age of 21 and 46. “They don’t want to watch old people on stage.”
The Hamilton, Ont. musician started playing shows while at university in North Bay. His “humble beginnings” consisted of playing shows for free booze.
“I guess I started playing shows because everyone I knew was in bands,” he says. “It’s great, you get these tickets at the shows you play at and you hand them in to get free beer.”
Hi Dudes! is Johnston’s first full-length album to be released through the Mammoth Cave Recording Company. Before that, his albums were released under labels such as Dead Bum and Just Friends.
“Every label that I’ve been with has just been made by friends of mine,” he says. “I do all the work. They just put their logo on the record.”
Johnston will be playing shows all across Canada to celebrate the release of Hi Dudes!, including stops in Calgary and Regina.
Johnston’s live shows are notoriously high energy and full of surprises, but even he admits to playing some bad shows in the past.
“I played a place called the Wash n’ Slosh in Saskatoon. It was probably the worst show,” he says. “The owner was drunk, there was no PA and we almost didn’t get paid. We stayed at the bar until 4 a.m. to get money. The best part was when the owner fell down the stairs.”
Video recordings of Johnston’s shows can be found on his 2007 DVD, This is What 100% Smells Like.
Along with the DVD are instructions to a drinking game created in Johnston’s honour. The game consists of mandatory drinking every time Johnston plays a waltz, plays a song about a live animal, mentions his own loneliness, spills beer, references pop culture and many others.
Needless to say, it’s a not a game for the easily sloshed.
“I tried to do the drinking game at shows where I handed out the rules to the audience before hand,” he says. “I stopped doing it because people were getting too drunk.”
Published in Volume 66, Number 22 of The Uniter (March 7, 2012)