American Bang vocalist and guitarist Jaren Johnston spoke with me recently about the band’s newest self-titled release. This is rock and roll the way it was intended to be played; gritty and unpretentious. American Bang integrates terrific songwriting with incredible musicianship and a exceptional production. It is the stuff rockers everywhere delight in. This self-titled disc offers up nothing more than a good time. All of the songs on this disc contain catchy hooks, big choruses and enough swagger to satisfy even the most discriminate listener. From the very first riff a groove seeps into your soul becoming so infectious, you cannot help but move to it. Most definitely, tunes to be played on a hot summer night cranked to eleven with the windows rolled down. Here is what Johnston had to say.

How are you Jaren?
Jaren: I am doing well. We are in Columbia, Missouri today.

Must be hotter than Hades out there huh?
Jaren: Well is is not too bad here today. It was hot as hell yesterday though. There is not too much to do here in Columbia.

Are you on a day off or do you have a show tonight?
Jaren: We are actually playing with the Crash Kings here in Columbia tonight.

How is the tour going so far?
Jaren: The tour has been great so far. We have been doing a lot of radio show spot dates so we have not necessarily been playing with the same band every night. There have been different crowds and different radio crowds so it has been great. A few nights ago we opened for Weezer and that was insane. The crowds are starting to like the music and they know the words to the single on the radio so it is real cool.

Now that your new self-titled disc is complete. How do you feel about it and are you satisfied with the outcome?
Jaren: We spent about four years writing and recording it and we are excited and stoked to see it get out there into peoples hands. We cant wait to hear the peoples reactions to it.

What was the writing process like for the disc? Did you guys all write together?
Jaren: I did most of the writing for the disc. Our drummer writes some as well and so do some of our friends. Nashville is kind of like that kind of place where everybody sits down and drinks a little whiskey and hashes out a good story.

Famed producer Bob Rock was at the helm for this one. How did you get in touch with him and what was it like working with him?
Jaren: Actually our A&R guy sent him a disc and he reacted to it. He called me the next morning and we kind of hit it off on the phone about bands that we both listened to and the kind of record we wanted to make. He was looking to work on a real rock and roll record with an up and coming band that was based more on songs than on bullshit. We met and hung out with him for a few hours and everything went really well and within a month we were working on the record together.

Did he push you guys in directions you had not foreseen?
Jaren: No if anything he just made it all make a little more sense. When you are dealing with four years of writing there is a lot of material. We went into the studio together and made 25 songs at first. Then we maybe knocked that down to 11 that really all worked together and so I think he made a really great record with us.

When you began putting this record together were you concerned at all about commercial success?
Jaren: I think any artist or band has that someplace in the back of their mind but really we just wanted to make a record that we could be really proud of. The cool thing about having Bob on board was that we got to have a little more creative control than we would ave had if we used somebody else. We basically just waned to make a record that had the songs we wanted to be on it. We did not want any bullshit on it. We just wanted it to be the record that we have been working on for the last four years. So I think everyone does worry about commercial success but really we just wanted to make a good record. It would be nice to have both of these though.

By gaining a major label record deal at such an early point in your career it is clear that the record company executives see a lot of potential in your ability. How do you not let that sort of pressure get to you when writing and recording?
Jaren: We are all born and raised in Nashville and I grew up around the songwriting process. I just really wanted to write the best songs possible. A lot of times with a label there are people puling you in all sorts of directions and I think I jut got to the point where I just said Fuck It, I am going to write what I like to write and if they like it they like it and if they don’t well, Fuck It. You get to a point where you cant please everybody so I am just gonna please myself.

Are there any songs on the disc that are personal favorite or that have good stories behind them?
Jaren: I really dig “The Wild, The Young, The Single”. If you ever get to meet us we are all pretty normal drinky guys that know how to have a good time and that song really explains us to a T. We are just a bunch of guys that don’t want to grow up. I think in its entirety this is a good story record.

You guys are getting ready to head out on the Lollapolooza Tour this summer correct?
Jaren: Yeah we will be out all summer. I don’t think we get to home at all. We are just gonna be out there hoofing it trying to take this bad boy to the top.

Do you enjoy being out there on the road?
Jaren: Yeah we do. When we drink as hard as we drink it gets a little tough in the morning sometimes. Other than that it is a blast. We all grew up together and we are like four brothers on the tour with us so it is exciting.

Any closing words?
Jaren: Jean Claude Van Dam Rules!  [ END ]