INTERVIEW: Blues & Rock artist HM Johnsen

Hi HM, welcome to VENTS! How have you been? 

Hi! I’ve been great! Preparing for recording next week for my upcoming album. Other than that, Summer just hit Norway and the sun is shining. I do prefer the rain, but it’s been raining here in Bergen for 3 months now. So a little bit of sun can’t do any harm. Great feedback on my two latest singles including my latest Walk This Road so that’s made me happy! 

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Walk This Road»? 

Walk This Road for me, is me ‘walking the road’ for an old friend of mine. We grew up together as best friends, but we’ve been going different ways ever since. The last couple of years has been hard, when I’ve sometimes had to be part of his problems, or help him out of unnecessary situations. He has had some tough couple of years, and I try to help. At some point you get tired, it was at this point I wrote the song. I really hope that some day, he’ll maybe understand why I can’t keep being with him all the time. Maybe he will hear the song, and know that I support him and pray for him to have a better life. The song starts with: «Why walk this road for you my friend? I know» For me it means that no matter how much my friend has disappointed me, I still know that he will one day land with both of his feet on the ground. I hope that he will thank me one day for being there for him.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I was at a birthday party at a friend’s house. Often in social gatherings, I tend to spend the whole evening in my own head just absorbing other people and make melodies and ideas in my head. The people around started to talk about the last time they met my friend (witch my latest single is about), how they were glad that he wasn’t at the party. I felt really sorry for him, but at the same time I understood why they thought so of him. I just nodded, and this melody came up in my head. Why walk this road…. nanana…. for you my friend…. I recorded the idea on my phone in bathroom at my friend’s house, and left an hour later. I rushed home so I could continue writing. 

Any plans to release a video for the single? 

Not for this one, but I’ll do a music video to one of the songs on my forthcoming released EP which is about how we in modern society are addicted to screens and social media. We are no longer afraid to die, we are frightened of boredom and quietness. 

How was the recording and writing process? 

This one was very quick, I tried to make the melody as simple and short as possible and at the same time get all the elements I wanted into the song. I wrote the song in one night, and brought the idea to rehearsal with the band.  I came with the melody and lyrics, and they played some great easy fills on the song. I booked us in at my friend’s studio, Havnelageret Studio in Bergen, where we recorded the song in one day. Daniel Birkeland helped a lot to make the song as smooth and comfortable as possible. My old Martin Acoustic guitar did most of the job.

How has Eric Clapton and Joe Bonamassa influenced your writing? 

I would say that neither Bonamassa or Clapton has had an impact on my writing. My first album was very inspired by both of them. I was an 19 Year old blues/guitar addict and tried to play and sound as good as them. After touring, traveling and after exploring more music, books and people I tend to write very different from the way that blues musicians often write. One of my favourite writers is Roger Waters. I love his political «no limit» way of writing. He puts things the way they are, and a little extra to make people understand the importance of his topics. I really like other writers such as Eminem, John Lennon, Sir Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel and David Bowie. 

As a metal lover – how do you try to toss in some winks into the mix on your music? 

Well, not so much in this one. But in my other stuff, and on my soon to be released EP I usually put the Marshall stack on 11 on the choruses. And I tend to make choruses with high pitched vocals where my throat almost gives up. And of course I try to have some fast and angry guitar solos ones in a while. But not as much as I did before. It can actually be ‘too much’ guitar sometimes. (I’m addicted to guitars, and yes I just said that.)

Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along? 

Oh Yes! I just spent a month in Berlin with my fiancé only to write new music. I rented a small studio outside the city centre and I finished writing the songs for my new EP. I am going in the studio with the band next week. I have never felt this confident about any of my work before, and I have never spent so much time writing, composing and rehearsing only for one EP before. 

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

The title of the new EP is «SERENE» 

What aspect of love and relationships will you get to explore on this record? 

On this song Walk This Road I write about a relationship between two friends, based on the fact that one is trying to save the other one from going in the wrong path. I also write about friends and family being more important then everything in life. You can climb the ladder of success and career all you want, but if you don’t spend time with your friends and family, there will be no one to catch you when you fall.

If you’re asking about the upcoming EP: You will get to explore my vision on love. One of the first songs on the EP is about how my life has changed after I met my fiancé. Before I met her, I was a man packed with stress and I was never able to relax or sit still. I have never been as satisfied and calm as I am now, I have a completely different view on life than when I was younger. I ran my own company from Monday-Friday, I was touring from Friday to Sunday. Every day for a year I kept on with this. I made a lot of money, I had these gold cards, access to the Airline Companies exclusive lounges and so on. I started to get more customers and more jobs, and I continued to work, and work. I can’t believe that my fiancé stayed with me…. At one point I got a job offer that would force me to choose between a safe and wealthy life and to chase my music dream. It was at this point I asked myself: “What the F… am I doing» I shut down my company, quit overworking. And I started to really focus on doing what I love.

The lyrics on the EP is about that life, and how I saw so many people working their ass off just so they could buy themselves a new car, or a boat. I was with these kind of people all the time. I also started to realize how many people were addicted to  their screens, be productive on XL, Word, Mail, Facebook…. rather than just sit at the train and look out the window and maybe take time to think for themselves, and take time to explore and see something bigger than that XL Worksheet on your computer. Life is short and hectic for those who forget the past, neglect the present and fear the future.

Any plans to hit the road?

Hitting the road in October. We have a small Norway Tour, with 8 Shows. The shows are for promoting the new EP. And more to come in 2020. 

What else is happening next in HM Johnsen’s world?

Well, privately I’m getting married next year. In the booking process for 2020, there will be a lot of shows! (Hopefully). If it all goes after plan, I will release a small Live EP, and also a couple of singles next year. Other than that, I’m looking forward to taking some time off and have some trips in the woods with a tent and a fishing pole. I am mainly working on my new music. I’m in a phase where I need to write my own music, and to not play the same genre I’ve played before. I have had a tough 2018, with a terrible management, had to cancel a US Tour, and I had to start all over on my own. So I’m just glad that I can decide things for myself now, and just focus on writing better and better music.

 Listen here:

RJ Frometa
Author: RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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