"one store, two church, kinda town..."
dirt roads, bonfires, garage bands, & rock n' Roll
A strong passion and drive has fueled me from an early age to pursue my dreams. Although, what I have considered my dream, looked a lot different in reality.
Teenage angst had birthed a love for art, but country artist like Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Hank Williams bonded me to my Dad and the small town piney woods I ran barefooted through as a child. Keeping me out of trouble, and mostly a refuge from the hands of an abusive stepfather. Swimming in the leaf river, drinking from natural springs, hunting, fishing, and chasing snakes with my buddies in Ovett MS. are the best memories a southern boy could have. My Father, Son of a farmer William Thomas Johnson was a good man and no stranger to pain. He started drinking at age 14, and didn't put it down till he was 70 when he recommitted his life to Jesus. He was himself a tortured soul, but full of soft spoken wisdom, and patience. He knew the word of God well thanks to his upbringing, and it lifted him in times of darkness. I still don't know the history of the burden he carried, but it was a profound one. He raised me on Rock n' Roll and Outlaw Country. He would constantly sing around the house, and tell grand stories of his hell raising.
My dad's drinking became to much for my mom, and she took the five of us to live in a trailer with two bedrooms. I had never seen cable television, the previous tenets had left it on and I would watch cartoons, and when my family would fight, I would go outside and play with my toys. Sometimes all day without hardly someone saying my name. It was far different from the security of both parents, and a homestead to run on. A few years later, and several houses in-between and several schools in-between my mom found someone else. I don't remember meeting him until the day my mom said she was getting married. He had made no attempt at getting to know us. He didn't even say anything to me. They just left, and came back in a day or so married. It was so hard to take in as a young boy. I knew even then he wasn't good enough for my mother. My judge of character was spot on even for then. From that point on my Mothers in Ellisville MS. was completely terrifying. Mostly I was getting woke up at three in the morning by screams on school nights. Often my moms, as she was being abused by a violent man. Sometimes he wanted to get to me, and my brother. Most nights she was successful at keeping us protected on the other side of that door, others not so much. I began to walk the railroad tracks during the day with a walkman my brother scored. Skipping school, hiding in the woods, making forts, and just trying to escape with no money, and no one paying attention to anything, but our poverty or just the fact I was different. As painful as it was at home, I found school to be worse. It was the decade of Air Jordan's and Guess jeans. I was just poor white trash, and was dismissed by teachers, and bullied by peers. I was searching, and praying for something to bring me out of this life, and it would seem God would answer my prayer in the way of music. Bands like Poison were Un relatable. They sung about an unattainable lifestyle that just seemed to mock the real world. Little did I know that Seattle Washington's little Grunge scene was about to take over the world, and make the noise my heart was feeling. I picked up the guitar at age 14 after hearing the band Nirvana. I believed music could turn My abusive childhood into something positive by letting my experiences inspire my writing in the same way it inspired my heroes. Introducing me to the raw release of emotion you get from playing sweaty bars, clubs, and house parties, and pouring every ounce of energy and pain into your music. Years later after joining in with a group musicians with similar interest we began to carve out a name locally.
Relentless touring and self promotion granted me the honor of sharing the stage with alternative acts like 7 Mary Three, Dishwalla, Rehab and Classic rock greats like Molly Hatchet, 3 Dog Night, and Bad Company. Though shy as a teenager and reclusive off stage, on stage I felt at home. My bands passionate performances and ability to connect to our audience, made for some powerfully rewarding moments. Newspapers such as the Hattiesburg American and the Laurel Leader Call all began to write about our hard work in some way. This was an exciting time. Momentum grew so we began receiving airplay on stations ranging from 99 Rock in Fort Walton Beach, FL with 100% caller feedback for the track, "Meek" [a first in the stations history].
Rock 93.9 of Jackson, MS, 90.3 the Rock WUTK, Bulldog Radio Ferris State University, countless online stations, 103.7 the Fox in Hattiesburg, MS, and Rock 104.5 in laurel had all played us as we toured. The band's most memorable moment was catching the attention of nationally syndicated radio show, Listen In rock on purpose with Frank Jenks. The show salutes artists for there lyrical talent, while giving bands a national platform of listeners. We were featured on the program on January 20 through March 2007. Despite being "indie/underground," Frank Jenks, producer & host of the show, dedicated an entire segment to the band, playing three out of five songs from our band's first EP “Burning Satellites” this proved to be a major highlight in our history. Producers, talent scouts, and even labels begin pressing us about what our next artistic move would be. Just when things seemed to be taking off, the band parted ways. We just couldn't make music together anymore. I had grown apart from them, and needed my own creative outlet. Everyone outside the band suddenly wanted to craft success. I spent a long time rediscovering myself as I often do, and continued as a solo artist independently. I finished recording my first full length album titled Paul Johnson and The About Last Nights “Gameshow Rockstar” in 2009, with guitarist Michael Howell, drummer Zack Lewis, and recorded by long time engineer Mark Black @ Black Magic Studios in Moselle MS.
"Gameshow Rockstar is power pop, with the emphasis on the 'power. Although they hail from Forrest/Jones County, Mississippi, this isn't "southern rock," its high-energy power pop that draws from Cheap Trick and the Foo Fighters, among others. The title track could have been written by Dave Grohl. While "Ghost Radio" is classic 70s rock, with cowbells and major riffage. Elsewhere, "Money on the Mattress" recalls Weezer and Sloan in full-on rock mode. "Break Up" shows they've mastered the art of the power ballad. This album features great melodic choruses. No reinvention of the wheel here, just 10 rockin' tunes to blast with the car windows open."
Steve Ferra - Absolute Powerpop
"Potent AC/DC-ish riffage kept aloft by crisp Tom Petty-ish harmonies, a passel of radio-ready rock songs built to appeal to everyone from fans of Pyromania-era Def Leppard, the anthemic paces of Smashing Pumpkins as well as the music that erupts from Active Rock radio today."
— Mik Davis, T-Bones records
From the first playback of what would be Game Show Rock Star. I now realize was my love letter/break up with the idol known as self love Rock n' Roll. The era of reality show over night rock star 15 minute Celebrities had begun, and I had something to say about it. I was a Daddy now, my family was the most important thing to me. Suddenly Questioning my drive, and why I was doing what I was doing. I Realized I just wanted to make art. I got on the wrong road at some point, and began to ask myself How did I get here? I was flirting with a lifestyle I knew God had called me out of, and found myself engaged with the demons of my past.
My fathers poor health would have me move back to my hometown from Nashville TN to be with my Daddy in his last days. Never realizing My Grandfather was dying of cancer. When the Dr finally found it, it was too late. Less than two years apart, I lost the most important spiritual leaders in my life, but not before a few Sundays prior to My Grandfather's death, he would ask me to play in church. He would be there, through what I imagine to be unspeakable pain. At that time I picked up my guitar and sang for the first time in two years. When I came down from the Alter of our Lord, and Apaw put his arms around me with tears streaming down from his eyes. I immediately felt the passion come back into my life, and through much spiritual desertion, God lit my path once again. Not a path for the entitled, privileged or the perfect, but for someone that had been through what so many young people go through everyday. Someone Unworthy, someone like me, Lost, Broken, Scared, Empty, and in need of a Savior. I Praise only Jesus for giving my life meaning at a time when I wanted it to be over. I for too long carried the burden of a broken childhood. God gave me a love for art so I could heal, when I lost that, I felt I lost everything. I now see God would restore not only my passion for music, but overflow his blessings, and anointing on my life. I have a story to tell, but this time I understand I'm in God's hands. He has walked with me every step of the way. Whatever he wants out of my life, I am at his mercy, and living only by his Grace. I'm taking up my cross, putting my hands on the plow, and with his strength only, never looking back.