Interview by Elarhyse Welgemoed.
EW: Thank you for being a part of our newest band promotion page, dailymetalusa. First thing is first, how have you been doing since last tour?
JC: I actually love being home for a change. We’ve been hitting it so hard over the last few years that I never had time to develop a proper appreciation for stability or structure. It’s really awesome to spend time with my friends and family, get some rest, write, and focus on building myself back up.
EW: Can we expect an album from Prison soon?
JC: Yes! We are dropping a music video in about a month, and the record will soon follow. It’s all happening so fast.
EW: What would you say the hardest part about touring is for you?
JC: Probably the emotional and mental toll that it takes. A lot of people don’t recognize how tour is changing them psychologically until a few years in. There is a lot of bizarre situational stress and subtle emotional strain that comes with the territory, but it’s not easily recognizable in the moment.
EW: You’ve been extremely open about the mental illnesses you deal with on a day to day basis. What advice would you give someone living with a mental illness who may not have the courage to ask for help but wants it?
JC: Life is too short to pretend like you have it all figured out. And even if you do act that way, everyone knows that you don’t, because nobody does. Everyone wants to ask for help, but only the smart, driven, willing, passionate ones actually make the effort to speak up.
EW: Also regarding mental illness, how has that (if it has at all) affected you with music?
JC: My illnesses are inseparable from my art. Nearly everything Dark Sermon has ever written was inspired by them, and just about 100% of Prison’s lyrical content and imagery revolves around mental health and the battles that come with maintaining it. Music is my #1 outlet for dealing with what goes on inside of my mind.
EW: What has been your absolute favorite tour you’ve been a part of so far?
JC: This is so difficult to pinpoint. The last few years have been incredible for us. The Cattle Decapitation tour was beyond notable, and our run with Thy Art Is Murder blew my mind. We have been so, so fortunate. I think our headliner with Exalt was one that I’ll remember for a while as well, just because of how well we clicked with them on a personal level.
EW: Can we expect to see you on tour in the near future?
JC: Right now, both of my bands are doing that behind-the-scenes work that nobody every brings up. It’s not glorious, and it won’t get a bunch of social media attention, but it’s the stuff that has to happen so that the music gets to the people. But I can tell you that it will be well worth the relative silence.
EW: What is your favorite part about the arts?
JC: Art is the healthiest way to express yourself and process emotion. So many people try to cope with their issues through things that are dangerous or compromising to themselves or others, but if you leverage your talent correctly, you can use art to bring healing to yourself and everyone who comes into contact with it.
EW: If you could give any advice to someone young starting a band, what advice would you give them?
JC: So many things are outside of your control. Please don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t work out. Every band you know and love was built on a foundation of a hundred thousand failures that you’ll never know about. Just apply yourself, and use your passion as fuel. Don’t rely on anything external. Music is what brings you joy and fulfillment, not sales or tours. Never forget that.
EW: If you could go back ten years ago, what would you tell your past self that would potentially help you today?
JC: Take care of yourself, and never put your own mental or emotional well-being behind anything else. So many times, I put the band first at the expense of my personal health, and it was a dangerous move. Forget how noble it sounds or any of that, it was irresponsible. If you are happy and healthy, your career won’t determine your stability. And that’s where you want to be.
EW: What are some of your guilty pleasure bands/musicians?
JC: Motion City Soundtrack, Seether, Staind… The new album by Bethel Music has really gripped me as well. Actually, most of what I listen to would be termed a “guilty pleasure” by most, but I’ve learned to shelve the guilt. Some of the music I listened to while growing up still hits home for me.
EW: If you could create a dream tour consisting of five bands, which five would they be?
JC: I get this question a lot, and I typically try to keep my answers streamlined. Maybe Slipknot, Korn, System of a Down, Meshuggah, and Three Days Grace. But it’s so hard to choose 5 haha.
EW: When did you start playing music?
JC: I got my first guitar when I was 8, and started playing more consistently when I was 10 or 11. I started singing when I was 14 or so. And I’m 24 now, so it’s been a long time coming.
EW: Have you ever thought about writing a concept album or do you prefer to write from experience?
JC: I think it would be cool to write one, but typically, I have too much to say to stick with one topic. I make a conscious effort to put quality before quantity; one that pushes me to pare down songs and be more direct with what I put out into the world.
EW: For those who don’t know, could you possibly explain the story or meaning behind the Dark Sermon song, The Wraith?
JC: Oh, man. I will try to make this quick. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia in high school, and a majority of my symptoms were visual and auditory hallucinations. The song is about one of the figures that I would see and hear often, and how difficult it was to tell myself apart from what I was seeing. I wanted to kill the visions, but I realized that I would have to kill myself in order to do so, because they all stemmed from me. It was a very difficult period of my life, and it lasted for nearly a decade. I am so relieved to be out of that nightmare.
EW: Finally, if you had to choose between Slipknot or System of a Down, which would it be?
JC: Slipknot, although this is an unfair question because no one should ever have to make that choice haha.
Be sure to check out Johnny’s work in Dark Sermon and Prison. Prison will be releasing a new music video on May 3, 2017. You will not be disappointed.
Stay tuned for our next interview, featuring Dallas Toler-Wade of Narcotic Wasteland (ex Nile). Also be sure to check out our Facebook @DailyMetal .