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Band: VAN JOHNSON
Genres: Punk / Rock / Noise Rock / Math Rock / Grind / Emo / Shoegaze / Instrumental/ Post-Hardcore / Metalcore / Screamo
Related artists: Big Dick and MASS.
Country: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Years Active: 2002-2005
Song: "A Dance"
Album: "Ladies and Gentlemen"
For fans of: Funeral Diner, Ed Burns, Raein, Kaospilot, Gospel, City Of Caterpillar, Yage, (old) Life At These Speeds, Yaphet Kotto, Birthday Boyz, Snoras, Kodan Armada, and MNWA aka PROPER Screamo.
I got into VAN JOHNSON when I bought their split with Kaospilot, back before you could hear mp3s and stream albums, so almost a decade ago. It was on Level Plane Records, so goddammit, I just bought it without ever hearing it. Good fucking move.
Is there any argument that VAN JOHNSON is not the best Canadian screamo band of all time? No. Well maybe some, but they might just argue the "screamo" title.
Hmmmm...sound descripton. Twinkly Funeral Diner/City Of Caterpillar parts that slam headfirst into driving, post-hardcore with no chugging. Most of the riffs are higher up and rarely do the breakdowns even break this formula. It's still refreshing after almost a decade. The vocals are quite distinct, also. They feature constant screaming with little variation but it fits the mood and style seamlessly. Think Snoras, Kaospilot, Loma Prieta and Beau Navire.
"A Dance" is phenomenal.
"Spagator" is quintessential VJ, and I have included the original version from their Kaospilot split, as Dave (drums) explains in his interview with OPENmind/SATURATEDbrain below that this was his favourite song. I certainly would argue with him - this song destroys. If you search around this post, there is a hidden live video of this song.
Both songs are embedded below, but make sure you download the complete mp3 discography here. I've never seen this up, so snag it now. (if the link ever goes down, just send me an email - email@example.com)
Here is the interview with Dave, the VAN JOHNSON drummer who is now 50% of Big Dick (who are an amazing bass/drum duo that you should check out here, and will appease fans of Death From Above 1979) and was nice enough to rack his brains for decade-old memories.
(2004) VAN JOHNSON - "A Dance" (from 'Ladies and Gentlemen' 7")
Why was the band called VAN JOHNSON?
The band was named after the aviator sunglasses/inside joke.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when VAN JOHNSON is mentioned?
How I have a lot of lifelong awesome friends because of that band.
Who were the band’s biggest influences?
Everyone liked different stuff. Beach Boys, Sonic Youth, City of Caterpillar, Jawbreaker & Hayden were probably the five bands we listened to the most in the van.
Do you still listen to screamo?
I still listen to a lot of hardcore and screamy stuff like Self-Made Maps. I’ve recently been getting back into song of zarathustra and I've also been listening to a lot of ink & dagger lately.
What’s the best VJ tour story?
Way too many stories. We had a lot of fun on the road and I think we may have even gotten a bit of a reputation from partying and being hilarious. I feel like we were in the USA all the time, like every month we'd skip school and go down for a week, and people started getting used to having us around.
What was your favourite VJ song? Release?
I like “Spagator” because it's fast. I wish we hadn't put hand claps on the final version. We smashed up our van and got stuck in Toronto for a few days and were playing scrabble and Steve tried to put it down as a word. Spagator is a good name for a song.
(2004) VAN JOHNSON - "Spagator" (from 'Kaospilot' split)
What is your fondest memory of VJ?
I don't know. I have a ton of good memories. Even the bad ones are good memories now that it's been like 10 years since we broke up.
Why did the band dissolve?
We were getting sick of touring and needed the space. Breaking up is probably the best thing we ever did as a band, we might have ended up hating each other if we had stuck it out.
Is there anything that you regret from your days with VJ?
I don't think so? I wish we had cancelled our last four shows. I wish nyc had been our final show, because that show was super super fucking fun. Everyone got to crowd surf at ABC No Rio. We would have ended on a really high note. But I mean that's hindsight for you. No regrets.
Can you write a short summary on the sound of VJ?
I have no idea what the sound of VJ is like. Hardcore? I have no idea. Mid-tempo hardcore with songs that are all way too long with too many parts in them and way too much clapping.
How did VJ influence Big Dick?
VJ didn't influence Big Bick at all. I don't think it's influenced MASS either. The bands I listen to influence the bands I'm in, mostly.
How would you compare yourself as a person and as a musician to the person you were during your VJ tenure?
Same person, just slightly less stupid. i was a lot more hyper and invincible when i was 20, as most people are when they're that age. i get into a lot less trouble now.
(2005) VAN JOHNSON - "Strum-And-Drang" (from 'Van Johnson' cd)
Click )==>here<==( to download the band's complete discography in mp3 form.
2004 - Ladies and Gentlemen 7"EP
2004 - Kaospilot Split 7" (contributed "Spagator" demo)
2005 - Van Johnson cd/12"LP
VAN JOHNSON out-of-print discography mp3 download