Punk Globe: Thank you for taking time to do this
interview,you're quite amazing, I must say.
Your music is very folksy,who are your influences?
Johnny Lilac: Thank you
for giving me the chance to do this interview. I thank you for
listening to my music. I would have to say my biggest musical
influences are old timers such as Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and Bob
Dylan; but there is one band that I look up to a lot and go to their
shows as often as I can and that would be Two Gallants. They are a very
hard folk (ha if that's even a genre). Their music helps me
tremendously when stuck on a song.
Punk Globe: If you could, which old time musician would
you want to get advice from?
Johnny Lilac: Oh, if I
could go back in time, I would definitely go talk to Pete Seeger.
Seeger to me is like Woody to Bob Dylan. I listen to his music every
single day. His lyrics are so simple yet elegant. I would love to
question him on song writing.
Punk Globe: Are you political at all?
Johnny Lilac: I would
say that I am very political. Politics play a role in almost every song
that I write. This is where the Seeger and Dylan come out in me. My
lyrics talk about the ongoing war and our current government. This
election has stirred up some new songs as well. I will be hitting the
studio for those very soon. I think that politics are a very important
issue in our world today and I don't believe enough young people are
involved or care about what's going on. I hope that with my songs, they
will ingrain the message in them that this is our world to change and
we need to step up and make that change happen.
Punk Globe: How important was the election to you this
Johnny Lilac: The
election was very important. As I just mentioned, it inspired a few new
songs, but these songs will have a bit of a different feel to them.
Some of my past political songs have been very angry. Just full of
angst and frustration. These new ones have a happier, brighter feel.
You can tell that they are full of hope. This is the first election
that I have been able to vote in, so I don't have much ground to stand
on, but from history books I have read, I believe this is one of the
most important elections in the history of the United States of
Punk Globe: Whats the biggest challenge in the music
business for you?
Johnny Lilac: The
biggest challenge, I think for any young musician out there, is
exposure. I live in North Orange County (roughly 30 miles from
Hollywood), so there are a lot of musicians. I mean on one hand it has
been a blessing being born and raised in the Mecca of entertainment,
but on the other hand, there is so much competition out there that is
extremely difficult to stand out.
Punk Globe: Do you believe in prayer or rituals before a
Johnny Lilac: I don't
do anything in particular before shows, no. Usually before I go on
stage, I watch the other band(s) that are on before I am and just
enjoy. I try to keep my mind off of the audience behind me and just
keep my mind on the music. It's like a fog rolls over me and all I can
see, think, and hear is music.
Punk Globe: Most amazing fan story?
Johnny Lilac: Ha, I was
playing the Blue Cafe in Huntington Beach, which is a bar. As my set
wore on, I could see this guy in the crowd just into the music. I could
also see drink after drink go down. As he got more and more drunk, he
got louder and louder and he started singing my lyrics. By the last
song in my set, he was against the stage singing along with me so
loudly that I could hardly hear the back monitors. It was awesome.
Punk Globe: Best compliment you've been given?
Johnny Lilac: I
would say that the best compliment I have ever been given was by a
homeless man in San Fransisco. I wish I knew his name, but he
disappeared so quickly I couldn't ask him. Anyways, I was playing with
a group of people in Golden Gate Park. We were all just jamming. Making
everything up on spot. This homeless guy came and sat right next to me
and just got lost in the music. He was dancing and singing and overall
just having a great time. After a while, he came to, leaned over to me,
and said, "I haven't felt this good since my acid trip at Woodstock.
Thanks for keeping the music alive, brother."
Punk Globe: Do you think your music will make a huge
mark for more than just a few decades?
Johnny Lilac: I would
like to think that my music helps change things forever. As I've said
before, a lot of my music promotes change in this world. If people take
from my music the message that I am trying to spread and apply it to
their everyday life, the world will be a better place.
Punk Globe: Who are your personal legends?
Johnny Lilac: Definitely
Seeger, Guthrie and Dylan. I would have to say Jim Morrison, Roger
Waters, Syd Barrett, and John Lennon, too, though. In listening to
lyrics and music, they have so much to say. Such amazing talent.
Punk Globe: Worst fear?
Johnny Lilac: In the
days leading up to a show, I have this recurring dream that as I'm
playing my set on stage, I puke on everyone in the audience. Come the
night of the show its still running through my head. Its not until I
start watching the other musicians that I forget about it.
Punk Globe: Most embarrassing moment?
Johnny Lilac: It was
one of my first gigs ever. I was playing a backyard party and in the
middle of my set, everything in my head went blank. I couldn't think of
what chords I was supposed to play. I even forgot the lyrics. I had to
end my set in the middle of a song and like three songs early. I
thought I was going to throw up.
Punk Globe: If you were a rock star in a past life,who
would you be?
Johnny Lilac: I think I
relate most to John Lennon. Especially post-Beatles Lennon. So many of
his songs relay the message of peace and change throughout our world.
Punk Globe: Whats the most important message you want to
relay through your songs?
Johnny Lilac: Change.
Change with our government, change within wars, change for the hungry.
I want to raise awareness to issues such as these within our world and
promote change. If we all work together, this world would be a more
beautiful place to live.
Punk Globe: Just how personal are your lyrics?
Johnny Lilac: My lyrics
are me. Everything that I write about are direct reflection of my
feelings inside. I am not here to write songs that are just for making
money. I write what I feel. If I had to compare my lyrics to anything,
I would say they are excerpts from my diary. It doesn't get anymore
personal than that.
Punk Globe: Whats the best concert you've been to in
Johnny Lilac: Damien
Rice. I saw him about a year and a half ago at the Greek Theatre in
His performance was amazingly beautiful. There were times that I
wanted to cry because of the emotions that were stirred up by watching
Punk Globe: Has that inspired your stage presence?
Johnny Lilac: Oh, most
definitely. Every show that I've played since, I picture him in my
head. Because it was such an amazing performance, I try to take as many
aspects from it that I can to beautify my performance.
Punk Globe: How long have you know this is what you want
to do with your life?
Johnny Lilac: Well,
I've always loved music. I got my first guitar for my fifth birthday
from my father, but it didn't really enter my head that I would love to
do this for a living up until about two and a half years ago. I was
reading a biography on Bob Dylan and fell in love with the idea. He
started from nothing and look at him now. It gave me the hope that I
can actually do whatever I please to do with my life.
Punk Globe: What was the first concert you've ever been
Johnny Lilac: The first
that I remember was a reggae festival in Long Beach, commemorating the
life of Bob Marley. I was probably four or five, and went with my mom
and her friend. I remember being enthralled by the lights and big
sounds. Also, all of the people dancing and the energy running through
the crowd grasped me. It took me to a higher level of consciousness
that I have never forgotten.
Punk Globe: What band or artist do you find under rated
or over rated?
Johnny Lilac: I think
the bands Two Gallants and The Mountain Goats are very underrated. Both
of them have tremendous talent, but far too few people have even heard
of them. They definitely deserve more attention.
Punk Globe: You mention Hitler and Charles Manson as
influences, care to explain?
Johnny Lilac: Both of
these figures have such a big part in our history. Obviously though,
they are not admirable people. As I said earlier, a lot of my lyrics
are full of angst and frustration. These two figures release these
emotions in me. When I think of the acts of either of these men, it
reminds me of the black marks on our society and helps funnel my
thoughts into a song. This is why both of these men influence me.
Punk Globe: Your vocals are very Dylan and Guthrie, How
much did Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie truly inspire you?
Johnny Lilac: I'm not
sure a day goes by in which I do not listen to Dylan, Guthrie (Arlo or
Woody), or Seeger. Their music and thoughts contain so much that I
can't help pick up a guitar after listening to them. I think every song
that I have written has been after listening to one, if not all three,
of them. They help me think straight, even if my emotions are crooked.
Punk Globe: Any message to me or our Punk Globe readers?
Johnny Lilac: This
world is ours. Let's not let other people tell us how it should be run.
Get up, use your voice, and make a change. Even if you just make people
smile everyday, this world will be more beautiful. Do what you want.
Don't let anybody slow you down. Life is short, experience it well.
"The core of every man's existence is defined through experiences."
Punk Globe: Well that's it for now.Thanks so much for
interview by Kim Acrylic from Punk Globe magazine 2008