Interview: Alex Johnson; of the band These Kids Wear Crowns

"Break-break-break-break it up, shake-shake-shake-shake it up! We know, we know you all too well!" Sound familiar? You might recognize this very catchy line from a song called Break It Up by the Canadian band These Kids Wear Crowns. These Kids Wear Crowns were featured on MuchMusic's newest music show, DisBAND, back in March of 2010.

These Kids Wear Crowns is a band composed of six guys from Chilliwack, British Columbia. Five out of the six members sing some part of vocals along with the lead singer, Alex Johnson. And, these guys sure know how to write a catchy, stay-in-your-head song that you will be singing for weeks.

Definitely check them out on their Facebook page, as well as their Youtube Channel, right away. The guys will be kicking off on a small tour with big names such as The Latency, Jesse Labelle and Faber Drive very soon. So, expect to hear a lot more of These Kids Wear Crowns in the [near] future.

Be sure to stay informed about this phenomenal band by following these six young men. And, be sure to check out my interview with vocalist, Alex Johnson.

Amy Blackwell: Hey Alex. I am a huge fan and it is amazing to have the chance to interview you. How is it going.

Alex Johnson: Heyo Amy. I'm Alex Johnson and typically I am doing quite well. Like today, for example, I am doing fantastic. How about you?

Amy Blackwell: Haha, I am doing quite well as well. Shall we start?

Alex Johnson: Excellent idea.

Amy Blackwell: I was watching your Youtube videos and came across the one titled Get To Know Your Kids! Oh! and I noticed how when the question came up about the band name everyone said to…"ask Matt". On that note, do I dare ask, where did the name These Kids Wear Crowns come from?

Alex Johnson: It was a compilation of a bunch of words we were throwing around when we were trying to figure out our new name. It might sound strange, but so far that was the hardest part of this band. We say "ask Matt" because, well, he was the one who was driving home one night and thought it up. So, yeah, I guess officially the answer is still "ask Matt" because I don't know where that idea directly came from. I'm prophesying here.


Amy Blackwell: You stated on DisBAND that Alan and you started writing music in high school. How did everyone else in the band meet?

Alex Johnson: Alan and Matt and I (Alex) played for a few years together in a group called Goodnight Medic. Joe actually helped us tech everything at all our hometown event. As well, Alan and I also went to high school with Joe. When we started our new 'movement' into more dance orientated music, we lost our guitarist and drummer for personal reasons. We debated staying a three piece until Josh Mitchinson tried out for the band and blew us away with his enormous talent. Joe contacted us shortly after and became our guitarist without fail. This all happened in April to July of 2009. Then, after a tour in October to November of 2009,
we asked Josh Mitchinson to join us to complete our sound. He jumped in and the These Kids boat set sail.

Amy Blackwell: Hailing from Chilliwack, British Columbia was it hard to get noticed in the music industry or build up a fan base?

Alex Johnson: I think it's hard for everyone, everywhere. Everyone wants to do music they enjoy, at least at a local level, with the hopes that people around them will like it too. For us, it was easy to find a sound that we enjoyed and surprisingly enough people around us tend to dig it as well. We have always been outgoing and friendly in our community so to start a band with the people we know around town really helped our local event to be huge and successful. At first, people came cause they liked us as people. Now I think they come for the music and a little bit of us. We're still nice hombres.

Amy Blackwell: All members, except your drummer Josh, sing. Was there a collective decision from day one of the band that everyone would sing, or was it something that just developed over time among the band members?

Alex Johnson: We never thought we would have everyone singing as much as we do I don’t think. We definitely wanted to include more gang sing along parts in our tracks, so, naturally, we needed more microphones then the average band. But when you have abilities within the people you work with, you make sure that they don't go to waste, hence the five singers. Everyone can play their part and do it well, so it works out really well with what we want to do because we never are lacking that little bit extra. And, off the record, Josh Mitchinson can sing very well, we just have never added a microphone to his already full plate of keeping us wild boys in time.

Amy Blackwell: Who were some inspirational bands or artists to you growing up?

Alex Johnson: For myself, first and foremost, I'm a hip hopper, yes I am. I've always enjoyed older music and the 'wall of sound' type stuff. My biggest influences are probably The Doors (Jim Morrison), The Rolling Stones (Mick Jagger), Queen (Freddie Mercury) and The Used (Bert McCracken). Those four men are my biggest inspiration vocally and with their stage presence. I'm not sure who the other boys would say as their influences so I'll just leave this one with saying we are all from different walks of life; from metal, to techno, to emo, to acoustic sounds. We have a massive collection of inspiration that I think gives These Kids the sound that it has.

Amy Blackwell: I noticed through watching DisBAND and your Youtube videos that everyone seems to get along very well. Are there ever any practical jokes or pranks that get thrown around in the band?

Alex Johnson: When you are with these guys that I'm with for the amount of time we spend together sometimes things happen. I'll quote Josh on this one, he says, "there are six of us so someone is always doing something stupid". We don't really play practical jokes on each other as much as we probably should, but we do have and extensive band-dialect that really makes no sense to the outside world, but, we get it.

Amy Blackwell: One thing is very evident with These Kids Wear Crowns, your song writing abilities. You guys can sure create an incredibly written song. Every song you write is extremely catchy and makes you want to sing along.
Are there any tricks or inspiration that you use when writing new material?

Alex Johnson: We live by a few writing rules. My big one is 'keep it simple, keep it safe'. That's not to say try something new, but if it's not fitting, don't wear it. Keep what you like for something later on down the road. Never force anything to happen, unless of course you really need to. There is always an exception to every rule. When we write something new, we want it to be fun, a little dance mixed with a little vocal three part harmony, mixed with a little in your face guitar shredding. I'm not sure if that's how people will see us, but, that's how I like to think of us. The music just comes from what we like, our new tunes especially. I think there is a song that anyone in any group of friends will like. We definitely have a formula, but, it's a super easy one that allows for a lot of inspirational improvisation.

Amy Blackwell: I just have to bring this up, your dance moves on stage. They are really unique and quite honestly really cool. Was there any 'special training' that went into them, or are they purely, shall I say, 'Alex'?

Alex Johnson: Thanks. No, I just feel the groove yo. Feel it out and let it out. I've been dancing for years, at sock hops and school dances. I figure when I go to an event with music, like ours, I don't like to feel restrained from dancing because the stage is standing around. What we try to do is make sure everyone at our events know it's okay to cut loose and get into it any way you want to. I may not be the best dancer, but I definitely challenge anyone in the crowd to a full concert dance off.

Amy Blackwell: Any big tour plans or anything else we can expect to see from you guys in the near future?

Alex Johnson: We definitely have some rather large goals for us to accomplish this year. We plan on doing at least three tours before the end of the year, another across Canada and at least one into the United States. We have recently started working with a booking agency so after our newest album is mixed, mastered and pressed we can start to decide on what the best direction is to take off in.

Amy Blackwell: When I talked to Alan by email he said you guys just got back from recording your new album in Texas. That must have been a pretty cool experience. After experiencing it, did you learn anything that you will take away and perhaps use in the future?

Alex Johnson: Working with Geoff Rockwell was a huge step for us. What we learned from working with him is an uncountable amount of useful tricks and tips. The man is fantastic and really challenged us to be our best and not rely on the short cuts technology has provided us with.

Amy Blackwell: It was such an honour to have the chance to interview you. Thanks so much for your time, I appreciate it. All the best in the future. Take care Alex.

Alex Johnson: Thanks for the interest Amy. I'm glad you decided to do an interview on us. That makes my day. Hope you enjoy yours and so does everyone else who is reading this. These Kids FTW 2010! OH!

These Kids Wear Crowns Links:
Official Website
Facebook
Twitter
Youtube


Photo credit: Facebook

Picture 1: From left to right: Matt Vink (keyboard / backing vocals), Josh Mitchinson (drums), Alex Johnson (vocals), Joe Porter (guitar / backing vocals) & Alan Poettcker (bass / backing vocals)
Picture 2: Alex Johnson (vocals)
Picture 3: From left to right: Joe Porter (guitar / backing vocals), Matt Vink (keyboard / backing vocals), Josh McDaniel (guitar / backing vocals), Josh Mitchinson (drums), Alex Johnson (vocals) & Alan Poettcker (bass / backing vocals)

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