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10 Questions With Johnny Falstaff - Feb 28, 2020

 You grew up in Alice, TX, and were influenced by '60s honkytonk classics by the likes of Buck Owens, Ray Price and Merle Haggard.  Tell us about the development of the persona, Johnny Falstaff. Was Johnny born when you went solo? Is Johnny a lover, barroom provocateur, guitar hero, or all of the above?


JF: I was born in Alice, but actually grew up in Alvin, a small town just outside of Houston.


If I had to pinpoint a birthday, I guess it would be around 1991. I moved to Nashville in 1990 with a wife, a suitcase full of songs, and empty pockets. I left Nashville a year later in exactly the same state -- minus a wife. When I came back home to Texas, I was in and out of a few bands until I started a group called The Sundowners. Back then, I would have definitely said all of the above, but now that I'm older and hopefully a little wiser, I'd just say that I love to lover, and lover again!


We are always a fan of smart songwriting with insightful lyrics and wry undertones. What moves you to start writing a song? Is writing intensely personal to you? Is it cathartic? Is it simply creating something that wasn't there a few minutes earlier? What things do you really relish writing about?


JF:  I jot down lines and ideas all the time, but it's hard to say what moves me to start actually writing the song. I'm not a disciplined writer that blocks out time everyday to write, but neither am I the guy that waits for inspiration to fall out of the sky. I'd say that I'm more of an opportunist. When the house is quiet, I turn off the phone, disconnect from the computer, and think.  


Sometimes I draw from the past, sometimes I write about what may lie in the future, but it's all very personal, and a lot of it biographical. I tend to write about stuff that I'm familiar with ... loving, losing, loving again. I tried to write a prison song once, but since I never graduated past the city jail, it was a little pretentious.


 You split time between Europe and the US. Why did you move from Texas to Dresden, Germany? Knowing Johnny Falstaff's facility for romance, was there a woman involved? What's the honkytonk scene like in Germany? Are there advantages in Germany for you artistically?


JF:  You nailed it! I was touring in Europe in 2006 and met a wonderful gal. After carrying on with a long distance relationship for a while, we decided to get hitched, and I moved to Germany.


There is a really cool roots music subculture all over Europe. Some folks dig really deep into the history of it and can tell me more than I thought I knew. While rockabilly is still a bit more popular than honky tonk music, we are getting more traction with the Ameripolitan movement.


Advantages, I would venture to say yes. Any time you are dropped into unfamiliar territory, the brain is stimulated creatively. I may never have written "Move a Mountain" if we weren't touring through Switzerland. We don't have too many snow capped peaks in Texas.


 What inspired you to make Lost in the City Lights? Why this album, now? Who is this album for?


JF:  It was time to put out a new record, and as I was going through songs and ideas, it just kind of came together - a life cycle of young passion to old age contentment, and the ups and downs in between ... a concept record, of sorts.


Who is this album for? What a great question! An honest answer -- me.  I think that if you aren't creating to satisfy some kind of artistic hunger, then your piece will lack some integrity ... but that's just my opinion. I wanted to share these experiences and thoughts, and I think most people can relate to them. It's life.


We love the new single, "Lost In The City Lights" (video), which carries the same name as the album. With its liqueur-glow musical textures and the understated arc of its pedal steel, it's so smooth and listenable. Was there a particular night that inspired this song or a lifetime of nights? 


JF:   I'd been wanting to write this one for a long time. Like most young people, we loved to throw ourselves headfirst into the nightlife. We'd put on the western finery and go carousing around Houston. The city was hopping with so many cool juke joints with so much good trouble to get into. It was all about the girls, girls, girls! I'm sure the song would ring true with the younger folks. They still get gussied up and go out looking for yum yum.


 Another standout on the new album is "Move a Mountain." In this song, you compare being in a relationship with moving a mountain one chip at a time.  You write about love a lot, yet you seem able to look at it with fresh eyes each time. When you are writing love songs, how hard is it come up with comparisons that aren't worn out?


JF:  I think it's all about the treatment. You can't be too cliche or predictable with it, but you can take something like "your eyes are blue and I love you," put a unique spin on it with melody and arrangement, and come up with something fresh. I don't really spend a lot of time trying to come up something that hasn't been done before ... just take it, try it, and twist it.


 If the song, "Lost in the City Lights," relishes a consequence-free approach to love with the "tomorrow is just a sin a way," mentality,  "Learn Brother Learn" reflects a more mature viewpoint that knows "it is so good to love, so good to love again today."  Does this album reflect all that you have personally learned about love and relationships in your past?


JF:  It does indeed, and I'm still learning. I'm glad that I'm not the wise old guru guy that lives on top of a mountain and knows everything. That doesn't sound like any fun at all!


You've acted in several movie horror projects including Honky Tonk Blood. Talk about your interest in B-Movie horror, and how you connected it to country music. 


JF:  I loved horror flicks as a kid; there was something special about staying up late after the folks went to sleep and watching it on TV. We had a program called Boo Theater, or something like that, absolute awesomeness. I dug everything from the black and white creature features to Hammer films. I took an interest in film making at an early age -- silly stuff with a Super 8. When that camera was no longer available, things got put on the back burner for a couple of decades.


Later on into my music career, I thought it would be fun to write a country horror song, so I wrote "Honky Tonk Blood" and made a cheesy video for it. That was so much fun that I wrote a whole album called, Death Western.


Soon after that, my amigo Hank Schyma came up with a feature length thriller script, and we filmed it here in Houston, guerilla film making at its finest. The title "Honky Tonk Blood" fit the film, and the rest is history.


A couple of songs off the soundtrack for Honky Tonk Blood, "Shine," and "Wanting You," really showcase your voice and songwriting, and both are brilliant. "Shine" is a beautiful love song that reflects the best that can happen when two people really care for each other. "Wanting You " (video) features a David Lynch sensual intensity.  Tell us about these two songs. How did they make it on the movie soundtrack? Both were on earlier albums correct?  


JF:  They were both on earlier albums. "Shine" was first released on a self-titled EP, then later on Honky Tonkin' Daddy. I wrote that song years ago for a girlfriend I had at the time. She was feeling down and I wanted to cheer her up in my own goofy way. I might have scored more points if I threw a box of chocolates into the mix. 


"Wanting You" was released on the Honky Tonkin' Daddy record. This song is a little more naughty and straight to the point. Country music used to be like that. 


It's been awhile since I've seen the movie, I don't remember which scene we used "Shine" in, but I remember using "Wanting You" as a vehicle to show just how warped my character was.


What's next for Johnny Falstaff. Where do you plan to tour in support of your album? Are there any other projects that you would like to let us know about?


JF:  We were in Memphis for the Ameripolitan Music Awards at the end of February, I was blessed to be nominated in the Honky Tonk Male Artist category. That was a great way to get things rolling. We have several shows around Texas in March, and I'm planning some spring/summer shows in Europe.


Once the smoke clears, I have a couple of new scripts that I'm working on, and a slew of new songs, as well. 


The honky tonk blood is pumping.



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The People Behind The Pictures

(Above) Johnny Fallstaff's ripping guitar solos at  the  Circuit Playhouse in Memphis got our honkytonk blood pumping.


If there was one act at February's Ameripolitan Awards in Memphis that we never heard before but really caught our eye and musical attention, it was Johnny Falstaff. 


Johnny's a great showman and equally adept at insightful, heartfelt love songs, frenetic, guitar-driven rockabilly songs, and honkytonk songs fit for the well-shuffled paths of the great Texas dancehalls.


The city lights are calling,

Time to play the game again,

The sun is going down,

Sometimes you lose, sometimes you win,

Here we go again.


Lost in the city lights again,

Tonight might be my lucky day,

Lost in the city lights again,

Tomorrow is just a sin away.


Palace of wine and song,

Feel like I belong again,

Put your best perfume on,

It's mostly make-believe pretend,

Yeah, you've always been,


Lost in the city lights again,

Tonight might be my lucky day,

Lost in the city lights again,

Tomorrow is just a sin away.


Johnny Falstaff,  Lost in the City Lights  (video)


Johnny's new album, Lost in the City Lights, was released February 28 on Spotify, iTunes, and  https://www.johnnyfalstaff.com/ .