They both look relaxed and happy as they both sit in overstuffed chairs in the lounge of the local recording studio in West Babylon. It’s the last day of September, and Johnnie, along with his band Momoyo are in the recording studio working on new material for their sophomore record “As a Ghost”. While the rest of Johnnie and Devin’s bandmates are out in town, they just wanna kick back and chat.
Released in November of 2018, Like a Flower, Momoyo’s debut album sold over 700 records since its release. The band had just got off tour last month, playing shows and promoting their new EP “The Heroin Sessions” which came out this past July. Their new record, “As a Ghost”, is set to be released sometime in November.
HOW DID YOU HOOK UP WITH THE OTHER GUYS IN THE BAND?
Johnnie: Well, it started out in spring of last year. My old band had just dissolved and I was starting to become musically, I don’t know- I just knew I needed to make music. I called my friend Terry up and he was like, hey, I got these three guys in Wading River looking for a singer and you might be the right fit for them. I got their demo in the mail the next day on like a fuckin’- cassette tape, and after it took me an entire day to figure out how to record over it I ad-libbed the lyrics and had it ready by midnight. Sent it back to them and I was the vocalist of the band before the sun had time to set again.
WHAT WAS THE PROCESS OF YOUR FIRST TWO PROJECTS, ERIRI AND BLUE LIKE?
Johnnie: Eriri was the original demo tape I just talked about. It was also the original name of the band, so when we put it up on bandcamp we decided the name was more suitable than just “Demo Tape”. “Blue” was our first real, like, album I guess, although it wasn’t recorded in the traditional way. It was just live rehearsals of songs I wrote we mixed and mastered with the DAT’s.
Devin: We were originally gonna have more songs on “Blue” because we compiled the songs from two 4-track cassette recordings, but two of the songs corrupted completely and we couldn’t use them, so it just became a six track EP.
WHAT WERE THE TWO SONGS THAT COULDN’T BE RELEASED?
Devin: Ironically enough, they were both covers. One was “Still Remains” by Stone Temple Pilots and the other was “Bankrupt on Selling” from Modest Mouse.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR SELF TITLED EP?
Johnnie: Same thing as Blue. Just live rehearsals of three B-side songs that we knew weren’t gonna make it on the album. They were recorded during our pre-production sessions, actually.
WHAT WAS RELEASING LIKE A FLOWER LIKE? HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU GUYS TO PUT THAT RECORD TOGETHER?
Johnnie: We started working on songs for Like a Flower in May of last year, so really only six months. Releasing my first ever professional record was pretty crazy. We had songs actually played on the radio the night it was released.
Devin: Yeah, some local radio station found our stuff under the “just released” section on bandcamp and played “Maybe” on it. I remember everyone in the band freaking the fuck out once we found out, meanwhile Johnnie was on his phone the whole time. We all looked at him like, “isn’t this awesome, dude?” and even though he seemed super down he was actually texting his girlfriend in all caps about it. [Laughs]
CAN I ASK WHAT SOME OF THE SONGS ON LIKE A FLOWER ARE ABOUT?
Johnnie: Well, some of the most notable ones with stories would be “To Lose Control”, “Where I Belong”, and “Like a Flower”. “To Lose Control” was written about my friend Sean who passed away in a car accident a few years ago. “Where I Belong” is about my own acceptance of death at one point and the visualizations of not being able to, I don’t know- come back to life I guess. It’s kind of like, what my thoughts are before and after I die. “Like a Flower” is about my struggles with my past relationship which turned out to be extremely traumatizing.
SO I TAKE IT THAT ALL OF YOUR SONGS ARE SINCERE AND AREN’T JUST STORIES?
Johnnie: Yes, I don’t like the idea of making up a character and writing as them for the sake of writing a song. I like to write about my own experiences; experiences and feelings I’ve had that have an impact on me still to this day. I’m a very, uh, emotional and affectionate person. It’s easy for me to hurt, and I still carry it within these songs.
IS THERE ANYTHING ON THE ALBUM YOU WISH YOU COULD REDO?
Devin: We both regret changing some last minute things due to overthinking, like the riff on “Wake” and just some stuff in mixing we could’ve done better.
Johnnie: The riff in Wake is definitely one. There’s also some songs I wish we would’ve swapped out for other ones, but, what’s done is done, you know?
WHAT WAS TOURING THIS PAST SUMMER LIKE?
Devin: It was awesome, to be honest. Playing my first outdoor shows with hundreds of people in the crowd is something I won’t ever forget.
Johnnie: Yeah, I loved it, even though they drove me fuckin’ insane the whole time. But I loved playing shows with people like Jimmy from Vasoline Trip and Aaron from Decrep(itude). I think my favorite part of the whole tour was covering Dead & Bloated with VT and being able to sing that intro through a damn megaphone.
YOUR LATEST RELEASE, THE HEROIN SESSIONS WAS VERY DARK AND VISCERAL IN NATURE. WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND IT?
Johnnie: Well, I’ve been going through a lot of fucked up shit lately. Fucked up enough I’ve gotten myself in bouts of drug abuse and whatnot, totally not cool by the way. I wrote those three songs at probably the highest and lowest points of my life, which I had hit in maybe days of each other. I told the boys, I was like “I need to get these songs recorded.” We rehearsed them, but it sounded too light and clean for what they actually meant. So, I unleashed my inner Varg Vikernes and dug up old equipment like a broken wired Beta58a and soundboard, along with a bunch of old interfaces so everything just sounded fucked up and heavy. I got myself high and recorded those songs on whatever shit I had at the time just so I could get the same intensity.
Devin: Not the whole story, by the way. He also got naked and carved his wrists up with pieces of a glass bottle he broke in the booth before recording them. He made a fuckin’ mess, it was brutal.
CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE SACRAMENTO INCIDENT?
Johnnie: [Laughs], yeah we can talk about that. We flew out to help support our friends in Maliciously Unstable. I was in a really bad state of mind to begin with, and Sacramento is a place I was dreading of going to for reasons I can’t say. After the show, someone in our circle who’s like a fuckin’ fiend came up to me and was like, “Hey, you wanna do speedball?” and I said “fuck yeah”. I was in the hospital being treated for a cocaine, heroin and morphine overdose about six hours later. Bad stuff, man.
WHAT ARE THE CURRENT PLANS FOR THE BAND NOW?
Devin: Really to just get this fucking album out on time. I will say though, we are ahead of schedule and doing a great job so far.
Johnnie: We’re gonna get this album done, play the promo show somewhere hopefully nearby, mix and master it and hopefully have it done in time for the release next month. After that, oh, who fuckin’ knows?
WHO WERE SOME OF YOUR INFLUENCES GROWING UP?
Devin: For me, personally, Joey Jordison is my biggest idol. He always has been since I was little.
Johnnie: This is kind of a sad list, but Chester Bennington, Scott Weiland, Mitch Lucker, Chris Cornell, Fenriz and Corey Taylor would have to be my main ones. I grew up idolizing all of them; they’re all someone I wish I could be when I’m older. Chester will always be my number 1 though. Always has been.
HOW DO THE COMPARISONS TO HIM MAKE YOU FEEL?
Johnnie: I honestly don’t know. It’s probably the best compliment I could get, but at the same time, it makes it seem like I go out of my way to sound like him.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT ON YOUR NEXT RECORD COMING UP?
Johnnie: If Like a Flower made you sad, this next album will fuck you up, man. I didn’t hold back at all. Some of the songs on this record could’ve killed me if they wanted to.
ANY CHANCE I COULD HEAR ANYTHING BEFORE IT’S RELEASED?
Devin: Well, the three songs on the Heroin Sessions are gonna be on this next record, and our studio deadline is the 11th of November. I’m sure we’ll get you something early.
I wanna thank both Devin and Johnnie for taking their time out of their day to talk with me about their music. I can’t wait to hear their new album and what it beholds, and I wish them the best! Let me know who you want to interview next by e-mailing me or sending me a direct message.