Featured Artist: Chris Johnson

Posted on January 25, 2014


By Michelle Quina
Photography By Heather Horton and Regina Lucreziano

598732_156410494483835_1518077277_n270x405Every Thursday night at Celtic Crossing, Midtown’s popular Irish pub, you can catch live music performed by Chris Johnson and his band, American Fiction. With a voice that sounds similar to John Mayer’s, Chris Johnson’s alternative/rock sound is unique and versatile. When theGRIND sat down with Chris Johnson we found that Midtown’s rocker was soft-spoken and modest. His passion for music is obvious and he knows how to put on a show.

MQ: How did you become interested in music?

CJ: I believe the first time I became interested in music was when I was very young and my dad used to play his record collection. I loved hearing records from Thin Lizzy, Little Feat, Fleetwood Mac and so many other classics.

MQ: Can you tell me a little bit about your band?

CJ: We call ourselves “American Fiction”. The band consists of Landon Moore on guitar, Blake Rhea on bass, Zach Logan on drums and myself on vocals and guitars. Landon, Zach and I started working up demo’s a little over a year before we actually went and cut the record, more for fun and just pure enjoyment of writing. We eventually had a decent catalog and started picking and choosing what songs would represent us best for the particular project. Landon is a well known bass guitar player among multi-instrumentalist so I tossed out the idea of him actually playing guitar for the band to kind of switch things up and throw some people off. He was pretty hip to the idea so we decided on Blake Rhea who a long time friend of ours to come in and join the group for the bass duties as well as Pat Fusco on the keys.

MQ: What genre would you classify your music as?

Personally, I’d like to call it original because we really did work hard on song arrangements, lyrics, melodies and everything. If you listen from start to finish, you can tell where our influences come from of bands like Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and newer bands like Tonic, Foo Fighters and others.

MQ: Is there a particular song that never fails to move you?

CJ: Bruce Springsteen – Atlantic City

img_7486MQ: Who are your main musical influences?

CJ: I’ve been a huge fan of Dave Grohl for a while. Stevie Ray Vaughn was another huge influence. I could sit here and list tons of artists but I really enjoy the way he makes making music look effortless. That’s the way it is supposed to be done. I also think there is a great amount of Memphis talent, and Memphis has definitely been a huge inspiration and influence on my whole musical career, this is where it began and what was always around me.

MQ: Where would you like to find yourself in ten years?

CJ: In ten years from now I hope I can find my keys. But really, I hope I am able to release more music and be successful doing so, but most importantly be ten years better at the only thing I know how to do, make music.

MQ: Were you born in Memphis and if so why did you choose to stay here, if not how did you end up in Memphis?

CJ: I was actually born in Pine Bluff Arkansas, about 50 miles south of Little Rock but have lived in Memphis my whole life. I love watching midtown grow and look forward to the future of Memphis music.

MQ: Do you pride yourself on being a Memphis musician and if so, why?

CJ: I pride myself on the easy to gain knowledge from other Memphis musicians. There are so many crazy talented dudes (and chicks) that I feel like I’ll never stop learning from because all I have to do is head somewhere in Midtown, and someone amazing is jamming. That’s like a free lesson right there. I love to watch, learn and observe. I learned by listening and watching, not lessons. Not that lessons are bad, I just couldn’t afford them. So being able to go out, listen to some really one of a kind players, and then go home and try come up with something that came from their source of influence is just awesome.

MQ: What is it about the Memphis music scene that makes it special to you?

CJ: To be a Memphis musician, is to be a self-contractor. You have to be a go-getter and you have to get out there and put yourself in front of anyone you can. You never know who is watching, so I believe it is important to treat being a musician like any other job, with professionalism. There’s a time and a place for everything, but bottom line is, there’s no place like Memphis and there’s always another musician down the road spending hours of the day practicing. Stay sharp and humble and when it’s time to hit the stage, make sure you are in tune.

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Posted in: Music