Monday, June 22, 2009

Michael Johns Interview - New Album, New Single, New Management

Former American Idol Finalist Michael Johns Discusses Hold Back My Heart

At one of the absolute busiest times in his life, Michael Johns took the time to sit down and answer some questions for BC Magazine about his upcoming tour and new album. 

The American Idol Season 7 Finalist is just one day away from releasing his debut album, Hold Back My Heart (Downtown Records); it drops Tuesday, June 23rd.

Michael's first single "Heart On My Sleeve" from that album, was the #1 most requested song at AOL Radio when they launched a Tweet Request only radio station, and is currently climbing Billboard's AC charts. Because the Tweet Request channel was only meant to stay live for a week, AOL Radio added the single to their Pop Idol and New Music First stations.

Although Michael is fairly active in the social media scene, finding time to keep up with him would take anyone to task. He's recently been spending most of his time traveling coast to coast doing radio tours and promotional concerts. He'll be touring the country with Brooke White (another American Idol Season 7 Finalist) beginning in August, then he's been asked to join David Foster and Friends on Tour in October.

How he made time for an interview, I'll never know, but I'm so thankful he cared enough to share the following answers with us.

How was putting this album together different from assembling your own (unreleased) records previously?

The most natural thing I've ever done. I mean it was seriously effortless to write and record. Great players and the songs came from the sky.

Is the songwriting process something you can describe?

Some people can but I can't. I just get in the room and let it flow. I try not to think about it too much for fear that the tap may stop running.

Do you have particular writing habits or rituals?

No, I just try to get in the mood of the song. I sometimes go months on end without writing a tune. I don't press writing I just let it come to me.

How did the opportunity to tour with Brooke White present itself? What are the advantages (or disadvantages) of touring with someone else rather than going solo?

We just really like each other and our sound has similar fans. She is one of my favorite singers around. I think people will hopefully enjoy what we do.

When you go on tour with David Foster and Friends in October, will you be doing the same songs you did on the CD (of the same name), or will you still be able to perform some of your solo music in support of your Hold Back My Heart album?

Some the same and also my own tunes. David has been such a support and really wants to see me succeed. He's the man and it was an honor to be asked, glad we could clear the schedule.

How important do you feel album art or shelf appearance is in drawing attention and sales to the album?

It's not my bag, but I love the artists that put it together, it really is amazing.

As you may know, I've written several pieces before about your work with Rye Randa and Jeff Foxworth for the soundtrack Don't Look Down, as well as your solo efforts. I recently noticed on your MySpace player that the record label is now Fontana South. Is there any truth to the news I recently got from a friend that you're no longer with TRP, and if so, who is now your management team?

TRP is no longer a label.

Just to confirm, TRP is still your management then?

No they are not. Michael Goldberg and Sanctuary are.

Can you tell us what caused the change in management and label?

Shit happens.

I've heard that your song "Dangerous" (not on this album) is going to be used in a film. Can you tell us which one?

Really hadn't heard…you tell me. (laugh)

There's a distinctly different flavor in music from each of the groups you've worked with in the past when compared to the new album. How would you describe the progression from when you first started in the music business until now?

I finally found me! It really is a dream come true as a singer to find your real voice.

Who wrote the storyline for your upcoming "Heart On My Sleeve" video, and why does it fit the song so well? (When can we see it, if you know?)

Nothing has been written in stone. I have a concept I think is cool but the director may have a way better idea.

Can you tell us about any behind-the-scenes projects your fans aren't aware of? (Like working with Air Supply for "Hold On", co-writing a song for Brooke's album, appearing on Hannah Montana, guest hosting The Today Show, etc.)

It's funny so many things get told to me in any given week. I try not to get my hopes up. It is nice, however, that different shows or clients keep wanting me to do things. Some work out, some fall through, but I'm having a great time right now.

We've seen your "Old School" and Christmas video "Please Don't Bomb Nobody This Holiday" with The Dan Band. Do you have future projects with The Dan Band you can tell us about?

Dan is a genius! I love him so much and whenever he calls to include me in his next hilarious project... I'm in.

What other artists or producers would you most like to work with in the future?

Dave Cobb, Dave Cobb, Dave Cobb.

To what or whom do you attribute your sense of humor, or are you just naturally gifted with wit?

Probably God. I mean doesn't everyone thank him? Kidding, look most Aussie's have a good wit; we are a relaxed people.

What guilty pleasure would most surprise your fans if they knew?

I love to watch horrible movies on my days off. I mean anything I know that will be terrible like Glitter or Ernest does something. (laughs)

Your name is associated to an extent with certain products (i.e. Papa Johns Pizza, Patron Tequila, Garnier Fructis, Chick-fil-A, etc.) even if those associations were unintentional. If you could choose any product on Earth that you would officially endorse (or to have sponsor your tour), what would it be and why?

Michael Johns' Chick-fil-A tour has a nice ring to it…so does set sail with Captain Morgan and Michael Johns.

When you were on American Idol, most of us weren't aware that in addition to being a fabulous singer, you're also an accomplished song writer and musician. Not that it matters now that you've made a successful solo career for yourself, but do you feel playing guitar or piano on American Idol would've made a difference? What made you decide not to play an instrument on the show?

Well. thank you. Look, I just never found the song I thought would work. I wanted to play INXS - "Never Tear Us Apart" acoustic, but I was told the song wasn't allowed. I think that song is as sexy as it gets to sing.

Having spent a number of years in the music business and suffering some unfortunate luck with a few previous labels going belly up or restructuring, I'm sure you've seen a lot of unscrupulous behavior, up to and including what I would personally consider outright thievery.

Now you've graced what most would consider is the world's largest music stage by achieving Finalist status on American Idol. That experience gives you a most unique platform from which to speak about the music industry in general. Any comment?

Look, Idol is so huge because the music industry has failed in the last eight years. People still love music as much as ever, but the industry thinks looks and age are more important than talent. Idol put an end to that. Introduced us to great singers we'd otherwise never know.

Quite honestly, I trimmed my list of questions down from over six pages of things I'd like to know about him, but I figured playing 20 questions with Michael Johns would be enough for now. After all, he's got a new album and tour to see about and I wouldn't want to keep him another second from doing that.

Between doing concerts, and promotional tours, and appearances on radio and television, Michael somehow finds the time to be both a music star and a husband. His wife of two years, Stacey Vuduris, is a star in her own right.

Well known as and interior designer, Stacey's design for Kristen Bell's home is currently being featured in a layout for the July issue of InStyle Magazine. You can find out more about her and see some of her work at her new website Stacey Vuduris Interior Design. I'd like to offer her my personal thanks for sharing some precious hubby time for BC Magazine.

Michael Johns can be found in the social media on Twitter, MySpace Music, and Facebook. He's done video chats on Stickam with over 6000 fans in attendance, all throwing questions at him at once. (Poor guy. No guarantees on how often he'll be doing that one.) He sends out telephone messages through Jamship, a service to which you can subscribe and receive weekly phone calls. For those of you who are into social media, be sure to go there and add him.

You can find his new album Hold Back My Heart on, iTunes, and stores everywhere starting June 23rd. His first single "Heart On My Sleeve" can be downloaded and heard on the radio now. You'll find links to most all of his music below this article.

You'll find him touring in August with Brooke White, and in October with David Foster and Friends. Hopefully, he'll come to a city near you. What you will not be able to find is somebody else standing on line in front of me to purchase his new album. Just listening to samples of all 12 songs, I already know, I must have this entire album to add to my Michael Johns collection of genius.

My sincere thanks to Michael for sharing his news and taking the time to do an interview. From the very first time I heard him say "It Can Happen" on American Idol, I somehow knew that it would. 

Congratulations, Mate! It's happening now. Cheers, and my heartfelt best wishes for many more years of future success.

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