Johnny Headband
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Johnny Headband

Detroit, Michigan, United States

Detroit, Michigan, United States
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If cute is the new black, Johnny Headband are ninjas. The electroshlock combo is a powerhouse with their expanded membership, as they proved during the party's finale in the Magic Stick — Headband have become not just a band, but a weird kind of force. Really, they make running in place for 40 minutes to the pulse of a Roland keyboard feel like the most natural thing in the world. - Detroit Metrotimes - March 8, 2006


Not to brag or anything, but back in March this column was the first place in print to write about the now unstoppable local phenoms you love to love: Johnny Headband. The crazy electro-rock-clash-rock-The-Clash-with-a-drum-machine-and-extra-funk duo of brothers Chad and Keith Thompson have had quite a year. Last week I saw them debut their new backing band The Headbandits. You might recognize some of the new kids from other bands around town: Carey Gustafon on keys, Gregory Mcintosh on guitar and Robert George Saunders on drums. - Real Detroit Weekly - - Dec 27, 2005


Listeners beware. Johnny Headband has even Detroit's most reluctant wallflowers succumbing to the call of the dance floor. Brothers Chad and Keith Thompson blend synthesized electro-thrashing and raw rock distortion to create their big sound, delivering shtick and charm alongside long-cultivated musical skills and choreographed dance moves. The group, based out of Detroit, has only been on the scene a short time, but it's already popping up on some prestigious local bills, sharing the stage with acts such as PAS/CAL, Staurday Looks Good To Me, Electric 6, Esquire, Outrageous Cherry, and She Wants Revenge.

Sound: Chad Thompson, 26, a former Michigan State University marching band drummer, pre-records the rhythms and plays the synths. Keith Thompson, 28, who also plays with the Beggars, learned guitar under his father's direction and now uses an extra helping of distortion and effects on bass and guitar.

But why only two members? Keith Thompson says, "With only two people in the band, we can be a lot louder, plus when you have five people in a band, you can lose track of our type of chemistry."

Live shows: Picture two fit guys clad in white duds and salmon-colored ties. Energy and irony on max. Rock fuzz on high. Hilarity hitting the ceiling. - Detroit Free Press - June 24, 2005


Leaping around the stage shirtless and sweaty, brothers Keith and Chad Thompson show their audience what it means to have fun. The creators of quirky, keyboard-driven rock music are collectively known as Johnny Headband.

The name Johnny Headband has been around for less than a year, but the Thompson brothers have been playing music together since they were kids growing up in Swartz Creek, MI just outside of Flint.
   
Johnny Headband, which is made up of Chad on keyboards, drum machine and vocals and Keith on guitar and bass, debuted in August at the Belmont in Hamtramck. Since then, the group has been captivating local music fans with their mirthful, tongue-in-cheek rock 'n' roll.
   
"The response has been good," Chad says. "We definitely cater to people who don't take themselves too seriously. We want integrity in our music, but we're definitely crossing into breaking down the barrier of what's cool and what's not."
- Detroit News - March 11, 2005


Growing up, the brothers imagined many rock star antics, amateur stage effects, and generally had lots of opportunities to run around, dance and act crazy. The teen moxie and boundless energy still saturates Johnny Headband’s live shows.

Before the band entered its current incarnation, Chad (now 26) and Keith (29) drifted apart a bit. “I developed a strong background in rudimentary snare playing,” Chad says. “I was in the MSU drum line.” Meanwhile, Keith found himself deeply entrenched in the Detroit rock n’ roll scene.

In the fall of 2005, the brothers decided the band had established its sound to the point where they were comfortable adding three new members: Carey Gustafon on keys, Gregory Mcintosh on guitar and Robert George Saunders on drums. “We decided we could maintain our consistency while adding a little punch to the live show,” Keith says. “We do a lot of genre hopping but there is a quality and consistency to the inconsistency we try to maintain,” Chad adds.

Chad Thompson knows there is mounting pressure for the band to finally release an album. “We’ve tried to shut down for a bit to record several times now but we keep getting these show offers that we can’t refuse,” he says. Friday’s show might be Lansing’s last chance to catch the sweeping phenomena known as Johnny Headband, for a few months at least. “Our only goal right now is to get in and record that album,” Chad says. “We won’t know where we’re going until we see how that turns out. We’ll take as much time as is necessary for it to come out right.” - Lansing City Pulse - March 8, 2006


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Before their band existed, brothers Chad and Keith Thompson grew up playing music together. As children, every morning they woke up from their dream filled slumber and ate breakfast, cleaned their rooms, dusted the furniture, went to school, went to various after school activities, and then came home and played music for hours. They were very resourceful young children. Pots and pans were made into full-fledged drum sets, and bedrooms became training grounds for proper air guitaring.

It was no coincidence that their father’s guitar managed to make its way into Keith’s hands. He picked it up and was taught basic chords, along with blues scales on the bass. In Chad’s case, the family band needed a drummer so he became a drummer. Keith’s affinity for death metal, the Cure, and the Clash rubbed off on Chad eventually, but he never wanted to be exactly like his older brother Keithy. So, he taught himself piano, drummed, and listened to depressing classical music.

10-year-old Chad discovered songwriting and multi-tracking on the same day. He was reading a book about impressionist painter, Pierre Renoir. “Pierre was born in Limoges on February 25th”, Chad read. He thought to himself, “say!!!, those are some goddamned good lyrics”. So he decided to use a newly bought 4-track recorder and sing harmonies with himself. His voice sweetly encased in swirling reverb from a broken Peavey P.A. head, Chad played simple piano chords while singing Renoir’s biography. It was his first original song. It was a good song. Not only did the brothers enjoy playing music, they enjoyed recording and writing music as well. In fact, they enjoyed everything about music, except liner notes.

One blindingly sunny morning in the summer of 2004, Chad decided that he wanted a conduit for all of the songs he had amassed. As well as an outlet for the visions of performing he and his brother had always carried with them. After many years of assuming they would always play music together in some structured form, they finally formed Johnny Headband.

Electronically tinged rock music, instrument switching, multiple keyboards, guitars, and sweat. Once described as “a car wreck where no one is hurt and everyone is smiling”, their live show was a springboard to explore boundaries of performance for the beautiful duo. In the fall of 2005, Johnny Headband added a backup band appropriately named the Headbandits. Options increased for the band. Great Lakes Gregory McIntosh (guitar, backup vocals), Carey Gustafson (keyboard, backup vocals), and Robert George Saunders (drums) breathed life into music that was previously coming from a laptop. In Late 2006, Johnny Headband will release their debut LP presently entitled “We Have No Good Title For Our Album Yet”.