Old Man Johnson
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Old Man Johnson

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


"Salt Lake City Weekly"

"Off-kilter alt-rock loaded with humor and tasty guitars that crackle and bounce like Jennifer Love Hewitt in a tub of Rice Krispies." - Bill Frost


"Red Magazine"

"Witty lyrics that laugh in the face of normalcy." - coulmnist


"TheSalt.com"

"[Old Man Johnson] will have you rockin' whether you want to or not. This is high energy music, with great musicianship." - columnist


"Salt Lake City Weekly"

“Irony and cheekiness in the surge-and-relax guitars.”
.:read the whole story below:. - Randy Harward


"Freedom Rock"

Old Man Johnson is crazy. The four-headed bastard is passing out music for free.

Hello—this is 2003. While the Recording Industry Association of American, desperate to maintain its grip on the music business, goes hunting for illegal downloaders, OldManJohnson.com is encouraging fans to download and burn copies of eight new songs (known collectively as Unreleased Super Hits) without so much as demanding an e-mail address by which to spam them with show dates/minor accomplishments. They just want the music out there, to be enjoyed by whomever. They must be insane.

At any rate, it’s better than sitting on the songs while singer-guitarist—and sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserves—Jordan Olsen is stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, rockin’ on active duty.

“We were in the pre-production phase of a new record when I was activated,” Olsen explains. “I thought it’d be a shame if those songs weren’t released. Also, I wanted to create a way to keep people interested in OMJ while we were gone.” That, he says, and Old Man Johnson’s (not a dick joke; they’re named for Olsen’s former boss) sound tends to mutate on impulse.

When Olsen and bassist Danny “Wood” Carver formed OMJ in the fall of 1999, it was “a hippie alt-country rock thing,” mining twang and Tenacious D tendencies and indulging a proclivity for waxing personal, upbeat and quirky (à la Weezer and Barenaked Ladies).

But, Olsen says, “we got bored and our rock tendencies got the best of us.” The scope then expanded, along with the band; drummer Mike Lomax enlisted and brought big drums sound, guitarist Wim Becker packed a loud guitar. Hence, OMJ became a “rock” band, albeit with tendencies to stray from recipe.

Unreleased Super Hits, then, is a snapshot of OMJ’s existence that Olsen and his bandmates don’t want to yellow and crack from neglect. And sensing another boredom-induced transmutation upon Olsen’s return, OMJ released them as a stopgap forget-’em-not. They’re free, says Olsen, because OMJ doesn’t want to charge people “only to burn the disc themselves. Plus, I’m not Web-savvy enough to know how to charge people.”

But free stuff that is any good usually involves a catch: in exchange, you pony up a phone number/e-mail address/two short hours of your time/firstborn child. That said, let’s address the quality of Old Man Johnson’s amazing free offer.

Unreleased Super Hits is mostly good stuff. “Chinese Star” is one of the best weezer geek-rock tributes ever attempted, all irony and cheekiness in the surge-and-relax guitars. The best songs (“Bathtub,” the sardonic anthem “Tan Lines and Taping”) are wholly weezer-esque, but not so much it’s a liability. And a few tunes hint at jazz, blues and funk influence (the standout being “Evil vs. Semi-Evil,” a cool, loungy instro meant as a score to an animated, good-’n’-evil clash); possible foreshadowing of OMJ to come.

There are a couple of dogs, though. “All By Myself” is an excruciating, too-long, too-dumb attempt at depth. And “Called to Serve” is a kinda cool, completely creepy retread of a Latter-day Saints hymn OMJ had earmarked for the soundtrack to the Mo-Cinema cheese-flick sweeps entry, The R.M. In a batch of humor-laden rockers, they just don’t work. But what’s that, two turds in the bunch? Still a pretty sweet deal.

Olsen posted Unreleased Super Hits this month and says only those on OMJ’s mailing list have heard it. It’s up to them to implant them in the music-consuming public; Old Man Johnson will see whether they were crazy or savvy when Olsen returns in August or September. But one presumes the only outcome of any importance is that Olsen returns and Old Man Johnson get back to making music.

“Being away from music and a regular life has shown me how much it all means to me,” Olsen says. “I’m more ready to make this my career than ever before.” - Salt Lake City Weekly - Randy Harward


"Alt-trash band back in action"

The Teleboinger is back.

Also back is the Slack-o-caster, as well as the "Star Wars" lightsaber theramin -- not to mention the purveyors of this goofy musical madness, Old Man Johnson.

The Davis County-based band Old Man Johnson returns to performing this weekend after a 17-month hiatus. The group will play a concert Saturday evening at Weber State University as part of its Return to Rock Show, an event that will feature fellow Davis County bands Superhero, The Brobecks and How Bout Tuesday.

Old Man Johnson had its beginnings in late 1999 when high school friends Jordan Olsen and Danny "Wood" Carver began getting together to conduct strange musical experiments.

"We thought we'd invent a new musical style," said Olsen, of Sunset. "We called it 'alternative trash.' "

It involved using ordinary household items like pots and pans to create music. Although the pots, pans and other trappings of the alternative trash genre didn't last long, the two friends did manage to write a few songs they liked. They even played a couple of gigs early on, but stopped short of calling themselves a band.

"We didn't want to form a band, because we'd both been in bands before, and they're hard," Olsen said. "And we didn't really want a drummer at first, but it was boring without one."

About that time, Olsen and Carver met drummer Mike Lomax.

Lomax had been playing with another band, but he liked what he heard in Olsen and Carver.

"They gave me a demo, and the thing I was impressed with was that they could sing," said Lomax, who lives in Kaysville. "They had great harmonies, and the lyrics were fun, so I joined."

Carver, from Clinton, says an interesting musical blend emerged.

"The stuff Jordan and I were playing was sort of acoustic, wannabe bluegrass," Carver said. "The band Mike was with was heavy metal."

From the outset, the three musicians began playing around with odd time signatures and different tempos. Although they started out as an acoustic trio, they slowly began adding electricity to the instruments.

"As we were moving forward, we got bored with the whole acoustic thing," Olsen said.

Old Man Johnson was beginning to gel, but the band still "needed something," in the words of its members.

Enter guitarist Wim Becker of Ogden. Becker had been playing with the popular Davis County band Hoo Ray Who?, and the 28-year-old could play the electric guitar like nobody's business.

Olsen, Carver and Lomax invited Becker to join the band, and since Hoo Ray Who? was breaking up, he promptly accepted their invitation.

Now complete, Old Man Johnson began practicing in the basement of Olsen's parents' home in Fruit Heights.

To date, the four 20-something musicians have released three albums, "A Conversation With Tom Foolery" (2001), "Life Saving Apparatus" (2002) and "Unreleased Super Hits" (2003). A fourth album is due out the first half of next year.

That nasty breakup

Saturday's concert will mark the first public performance of Old Man Johnson in nearly a year and a half. After more than three years of making music together, the group temporarily dispersed in February 2003 when Olsen, an Army Reservist, was called up in support of the war in Iraq.

Olsen ended up serving his tour of duty at Fort Carson, Colo., while the other members busied themselves with side projects. All agree it turned out to be a nice break for the band.

Olsen returned home late last year, and within a few months, Old Man Johnson had begun writing songs and preparing for a triumphant return.

"Since I've been back, it's been nice to try new things," Olsen said. "We ditched a lot of the old stuff and wrote new stuff, sort of reinvented ourselves. Because we don't want to be that infamous Ogden band that plays Ogden for the next 10 years and doesn't go anywhere."

It's probably just as well that the members of Old Man Johnson have been working on new material, since Carver says they'd all pretty much forgotten how the old songs go anyway.

"It was, like, we only kind of remembered how some of the songs went," he said.

And they all say their time away from the band made them realize how unique this combination of four personalities really is.

Olsen says his military duty also pushed him to examine his priorities.

"Life's short," he said. "Time's short."

Not that any of this has made them take life more seriously. Because for Old Man Johnson, it's all about the fun.

They describe their alt-rock music as "upbeat" and "eccentric," with plenty of quirky songs about life. Their Web site, www.oldmanjohnson.com, includes a number of wacky video shorts they've put together over the years. They've been known for crazy stage antics -- wearing white painter coveralls, booties, goggles and the like.

They once offered a "Farmer Night" at one of their concerts, in which audience members who dressed up like farmers received free beef jerky.

Musical inventions

And perhaps as a remnant of their early experimentation with their "alternative trash" genre, Old Man Johnson loves messing around with sound and inventing new instruments.

"Like, I invented the Teleboinger," Becker says proudly. "It's a Telecaster guitar body, without the neck or strings, that's got a bunch of gadgets on it."

"Circuitry," Carver corrects. "That's what we call it, circuitry."

Gadgetry, circuitry, whatever. Among the options on the Teleboinger are a Zippo lighter and a Nerf dart.

"Those don't do anything," Becker admitted.

But what does do something on the Teleboinger is a spring located over the electric guitar's pickup. When you flick the spring, it makes a strange boinging sound.

The boys have also invented a guitar-like instrument they call the Slack-o-caster.

"We had a craft night one night, me and Wim, and we decided to put a bunch of stuff together," Carver said.

The Slack-o-caster is an old Stratocaster with rewired pickups, a delay pedal and various other "circuitry/gadgetry" attached to it.

Why the name Slack-o-caster?

"Because you can't really tune the strings right," Carver explains.

Old Man Johnson also employs a "lightsaber theremin." A theremin is an electronic musical instrument from the 1920s in which pitch and volume are controlled by moving the hands at varying distances from the instrument's antenna. At many of their concerts, Becker does a wicked solo with that one.

Serious about humor

The band's quirky sense of humor also shines through on the songs they write, like "Couch's Crack," a song about finding a dime in the cushions of grandmother's couch and likening its decreasing value to the elderly.

"If I had to find one encompassing trait about our music, I'd have to say it's our sense of humor," Olsen said. "But at the same time, we don't want people to think we're not serious about our music."

They just don't write serious songs.

"For some reason, when we try to be serious, it sounds dorky," Carver said. "We've tried writing songs for our wives for Valentine's Day, and it just sounds cheesy."

"Yeah," Olsen agreed. "There's enough sappy love songs on the radio that there's nothing more to be said."

Olsen, Carver, Lomax and Becker describe their band as Weezer meets the Presidents of the United States, with a little Neil Young, Foo Fighters, Primus and even Van Halen thrown in for good measure.

They believe their broad approach to music helps them attract fans from all walks of life.

"With a lot of bands, people get into this culture of seeing certain local bands over and over," Becker said. "I see this clique out there of who will go to see who. But our strength is that anyone can enjoy our music." - Standard Examiner - Mark Saal


"Standard Examiner"

"For Old Man Johnson, it's all about the fun... the band's quirky sense of humor shines through on the songs they write."
.:read the whole story below:. - Mark Saal


"The Signpost"

"Old Man Johnson creates a unique and entertaining stage show..."
.:read the whole story below:. - Colleen Batchelor


"Old Man Johnson to Rock The Campus!"

On Saturday, Sept. 4, Weber State University will host the stage return of local band Old Man Johnson in The Lair, comprised of WSU alumni Jordan Olsen (lead vocalist and guitar), Mike Lomax (drums), Wim Becker (guitar) and Wood Carver (bass). The band has not performed in 18 months due to Olsen’s military deployment.

Olsen and his Army Reserve unit were stationed in Colorado, awaiting an Iraq deployment which, fortunately for him and his unit, never came.

“It’s real good to be back,” Olsen said. “It makes you appreciate life a lot more, makes you appreciate what you got.”

The band, formed in 1999, has released three discs: A Conversation with Tom Foolery (2001), Life Saving Apparatus (2002) and Unreleased Superhits (2003), a downloadable only disc. They hope to get a new disc available by late winter or early spring and start touring outside of Utah.
“We’ve been doing this for so long, and we are at a point where something’s got to happen,” Olsen said. “We need to make it happen.”

Caused somewhat by the success of local band. The Used, Old Man Johnson, along with many other local bands, are seeing a new interest in the Salt Lake City music scene. They hope to capitalize on this interest.

“If we can find someone who is willing to invest in our music, hopefully we can get to a point where we can do this for a living,” Lomax said.

Olsen has noticed more of a trend toward professionalism with local music.

“I’ve noticed a better quality of music production,” Olsen said. “If you go back even five years into the late 90s, it sounded terrible. I don’t think people were putting in a lot of time or energy, they were just trying to get something out, thinking people were just going to buy it because it’s here.”

Olsen contributed some of the improvement to the advancement of home-recording technology, but he also thinks local musicians see breaking out of Utah as more obtainable than they did before. Bandmate Lomax agreed.

“I think people see it as a possibility now and seem more excited, more willing to have a go at it,” Lomax said. “I don’t know that people know any better how to do it, but I think more people are excited because the band next door is big and popular, and so they say ‘if they can do it, we can do it.’”

Old Man Johnson creates a unique and entertaining stage show with the usage of homemade instruments, which they named Teleboinger and Slack-o-caster, created by attaching, taping or wiring various household items like springs, a lighter or a dart to old electric guitar basses.

“We had a craft night one time, me and Wim, and we just put a couple things together,” Carver said.

Another feature of their show includes a light saber and a Theremin. The stage antics and affinity toward whimsical lyrics keep the alternative rock band non-formulaic.

“I don’t believe there is a formula,” Olsen said. “I think formulas in the industry go so fast that if you are on the tail-end of a formula, you’re trying to do what someone else has, you’re already too late.”

Opening for Old Man Johnson in the Shepherd Union Building Lair are local bands Superhero, The Brobecks and How Bout Tuesday. Tickets are $5, or $4 with a WSU Wildcard at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m. - The Sign Post - Colleen Batchlor


Discography

Unreleased Super Hits (2003)
Life Saving Apparatus (2002)
A Conversation With Tom Foolery (2001)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

In a time when world events have the American public on the edge of their seat, it's nice to be able to lose oneself, and where better than in the upbeat, eccentric music of Old Man Johnson. Since 1999 this seasoned rock band has been entertaining audiences with their own unique tongue-in-cheek approach to writing music.

"We just try to describe the funny details in life that often go unnoticed," said guitarist and co-vocalist Jordan Olsen. "Life isn't as serious as we sometimes think it is or should be. Sometimes people just need to relax and have a good time. We try to write music that conveys that message."

Old Man Johnson pulls from their influences to create big, loud rock music that manages to be both rocking and witty. "We don't shy away from our influences," said Wood Carver, the band's bassist and co-vocalist." Lyrically, we connect with bands like The Presidents of the United States, Ben Folds Five, and The Barenaked Ladies."

"We all grew up during the 90's alternative rock explosion," said drummer Mike Lomax. "We're influenced by the straight-forward rockingness of bands like Weezer and The Foo Fighters, but also the experimental attitude of bands like Phish and Wilco. Bands with substance, that actually have something to say."

Old Man Johnson spent the first three years of the millennium making records and performing to audiences until February 2003 when Olsen was called up for military duty to support the US lead Iraq effort in Operation Enduring Freedom. The band spent over a year on hiatus until his return, a break that allowed them to analyze and renovate their approach to their music.

"Being away from each other really showed us how much we appreciated each other and our art," Olsen said. "Before I left we had been performing for so long that it was easy to take each other for granted. We often fell into a rut and forgot why we were even doing this. We've got a whole new appreciation for each other and our music. I'm really excited for what's next."

The band is currently planning a lengthy fall tour, and has already commenced work on a new record, due sometime in spring 2005.