Even if his name isn’t instantly familiar to you, Will Johnson has probably been a part of at least one musical project you’re a fan of. After moving to Denton, Texas, in the early ’90s for college, Johnson formed Centro-matic, which has released numerous records since 1996. In 2002, Johnson, his Centro-matic bandmates and guest musicians started issuing more introspective records under the South San Gabriel moniker; the same year, Johnson released his first solo LP. Since, Johnson has played drums with Monsters Of Folk, toured with the Undertow Orchestra (featuring David Bazan, Mark Eitzel and Vic Chesnutt) and started work on a Woody Guthrie project (with Jay Farrar, Jim James and Anders Parker) in the vein of the Wilco/Billy Bragg Mermaid Avenue albums. Johnson’s latest release is the self-titled debut by Molina And Johnson (on Secretly Canadian), his duo with Jason Molina (Songs: Ohia, Magnolia Electric Co.). As if he wasn’t busy enough already, the Austin-based Johnson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our Q&A with him.
Johnson: This was a conversation overheard while loading out of a Centro-matic show in Phoenix. All was relatively quiet and routine, and the crowd had cleared out. We were toiling away in the nighttime heat, running our usual shifts from van to stage after a weeknight show at Modified. We noticed the two visibly sauced but calm middle-aged men sitting just outside the venue door. Just about the time we were ready to leave, this exchange was overheard:
Drunk Guy #1: “What time does the beer store close?”
Drunk Guy #2: “At 12, man.”
Drunk Guy #1: “Well, what time is it now?”
Drunk Guy #2: “It’s … 10 after 12, man.”
Drunk Guy #1: [downtrodden, straight faced, without missing a beat] “We’ll never make it.”