Will Johns is recognised as one of the most distinctive and exciting British Blues performers on the scene today. A spellbinding live act, he brings his mix of Blues standards and original music to Komedia on Wednesday 9th June, with his album tour 'Bluesdaddy'.
Citing Eric Clapton and George Harrision as his uncles, was a life in music always on the cards or did his mother have other plans for him. Craig Maplesden catches up with Will to chat about his career, childhood memories and being picked up from school in a Ferrari Testarossa.
How much are you looking forward to getting back out there and doing what you do best, after the pandemic?
Very muchly indeed! I think we have ALL had enough of this whole thing and I know my wife has definitely had enough of me!
I miss performing The Music of Cream with Kofi Baker, so much of it is improvisation and we have such a natural musical mind connection that borders on telepathy. Also I cannot wait to get back on the bus, it is such a perfect bubble of excitement and fun, especially waking up to somewhere new everyday and of course the adrenaline of walking on stage at the start of a show.
How did you spend your time in lockdown, and is there anything you’ve found out about yourself?
Well when this all started I was at the very beginning of a 50 date tour across the United States with Kofi Baker and The Music of Cream. it was completely heartbreaking really as a tour of that magnitude takes so much planning and investment. Everything shut down so quickly and of course we had no idea the pandemic was gonna go on and on. I had to catch the first plane home and leave my guitars behind. I honestly thought it might be a few weeks or a couple of months tops. After I arrived home we went into lockdown almost immediately and then things got a bit heavy...
I caught pneumonia and nearly died twice. I had to rehab my voice and lungs... I found out that actually, I am not invincible. I also gave up tobacco, which has to be one of my greatest achievements!
On a more positive note, I did manage to get in the studio during a break in restrictions to record my new album ‘Bluesdaddy’, which is out now! It was the perfect opportunity to create an album of my favourite Blues songs. I recorded live at Brighton Electric Studios with Paul Win Stanley during a period of eased restrictions and then had some special guests send in their parts remotely. I also found my voice had definitely improved by not smoking!!
You grew up in a musical household, was there any pressure to become a musician or pursue a career in music?
Ha!! Quite the opposite for me. I was raised by my Mother in a basement flat in London. She constantly warned me off a career in music. She had been over exposed to the wild side of Rock by having a sister married to a Beatle (George Harrison) and later to Eric Clapton and another sister married to Mick Fleetwood. I think she wanted to protect me from a lifetime of late nights, no money and disappointment !!!
You’ve achieved a lot of success in your career, both individually and with the band, what has been your proudest moment to date?
I think completeing 43 shows with The Music of Cream in the United States last year (2018) was quite an amazing accomplishment.
Not just the grueling schedule but also surviving living with a bunch of guys in a steel rectangle traveling at 60 miles per hour round the country is no mean feat!
"I was raised by my Mother in a basement flat in London. She constantly warned me off a career in music. She had been over exposed to the wild side of Rock by having a sister married to a Beatle (George Harrison) and later to Eric Clapton and another sister married to Mick Fleetwood."
If you hadn’t gone into music, what career do you think you would have chosen?
I would probably have been a Marine Biologist or worked on boats in the fishing industry.
What was life like growing up with such famous relatives?
Well for me it wasn't an everyday thing. As I mentioned, I was raised by my Mum in a flat in London so it was only occasionally that I would go and spend weekends or Holidays with the Rock Stars! What was cool was being picked up in a Ferrari Testarossa at the end of term and watching my school chums faces.
With such a musical family, you get the impression that there was always a jam going on. Was this really how life was?
No! Not for me anyway. Life was hard and often there wasn't enough money for food.
Are there any particular memories that stand out from your childhood that made you think a life in music was for you?
Ha ha, probably driving away from school in a Ferrari!
Did your love of Blues music come from your family’s influence or did you just relate more to the sound/lyrics?
Yes, Directly from Eric. It was always apparent to me what was "Real Music" and then there was everything else... When he turned me on to Ry Cooder and his "Get Rhythm" Album I knew what made my big toe shoot up into my boot.
What music did you listen to growing up?
Firstly my Mum's Cassette tapes, Tango in the Night - Fleetwood Mac, Private Dancer - Tina Turner, that kind of thing. Then I went thru Jimi Hendrix, Taj Mahal and Stevie Ray. As I got a little older, I was into anything funky like Jamiroquai. Now, its all about BB King for me. Occaisonally
i listen to Johnny Guitar Watson and Snoop Dogg!
What music are you currently listening to?
Every morning I put on BB King , the Man just sets my heart on fire.
As we start to get back to some kind of normality, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for you?
First of all, I’ll be doing some gigs to support the new album - there’s the one on June 9th at Komedia Bath and I believe the one after that is a solo show in Dorset at the Crown Inn in Bridport.
I’m making plans for some European tour dates later in the year too, but there are obviously still some question marks over travel so we’ll have to see what happens there!
I’ve also been back in the studio starting working on some new original material. Think high octane, ‘Psychedelic Space Blues’ with a serious emphasis on groove and world rhythms. I feel there is going to be one hell of a party coming and I am not sure it is ever going to stop!!
I am also a keen fisherman and boat owner, so I imagine I’ll be spending much of the summer at sea on my boat hunting Bass and Squid and waiting for the world to sort itself out a bit...
All info, links and updates can be found at my website www.willjohns.com
WILL JOHNS: BLUESDADDY TOUR
DATE: Wed 9 June
PRICE: £ 12.00 each