Johnny Lima has been a big RockUnited favourite from the start (at least mine), and now he's about to release his third album. It was time to put him to the hot seat again and ask a few questions...
1. Okay, Mr. Lima...how's life in Califronia now that The Terminator has taken over?
Oh, It's fantastic. It's like a bad sci-fi movie.
2. Was your life affected by the fires out there?
Not at all. That was in Southern California. I'm in Northern California. The San Francisco Bay Area to be exact. Less traffic and less smog. Less smoke too. =)
3. Let's talk about the new album...I have some questions about each and every song on it! Well, almost.
- "Made In California"...are you really allowed to rhyme "I gotta warn ya'" with "I'm californian"? :)
It's doesn't say "I'm Californian". C'mon Kimmo, read the lyrics! Or did you get a bootleg CDR with no insert? HAHAHAHA!! The lyrics are " I gotta warn ya, I can't afford ya, cause I'm saving up for a girl who's made in California". So to answer your question, yes, I'm allowed to rhyme "I gotta warn ya" with "California". I'm still trying to find a rhyme for "Orange" though. So if you or any of your readers have any ideas, please let me know.
- Damn, this was Urban's question...I think we both have promo copies, no info on writers, lyrics etc. Let's see...orange...does it rhyme with "binge"? Readers, anyone?
- "Best Night Of My Life"...if this was a Kiss or a Mötley Crüe song this would be about a night spent with a dozen groupies, whipped cream and handcuffs, but since you're a nice family man, it probably isn't...or is it? :)
Just because I'm a family man, doesn't mean I don't like using whipped cream or handcuffs, or spending the night with a dozen groupies. The only difference is, I'm only allowed to let it happen in my head (at least the groupie part). Anywhere else and I'm sure the wife will cut the family jewels off. OUCH!!!
- "The Chosen One"...a bit of a heavier one. What's this about?
This was the last song written and recorded for the album. It's about a self proclaimed messiah. All my songs can't be about girls, falling in love (or out of love), and having a good time. Ted Poley wrote the majority of the lyrics on this one. I asked him to help out on this song because I was burnt out on writing and I needed a little break. I gave hime the concept, and he took it from there. Ted came through like a champ. Had the lyrics done in a week.
- "Go On, Go Away"...I think you have other songs about sending someone out of your life, like "Too Late"...is the inspiration behind this song the same person?
Good question. Maybe subconsciously I'm writing about someone. I just can't think of her name. And even if I remembered, I wouldn't tell anyone cause then she might come after me for songwriting credits. "Too Late" was about infidelity. Not sending someone away. Is your copy of "Shine On" a bootleg CDR too?
- You should know, you sent it to me! :) It's a Shockpop CD-R with no inserts...I might have thought of another song...
- "We've Got Tonight"...have you ever tried to do this one as an uptempo track? I was listening to this on my walkman while cycling home one day, and started thinking that it might be totally cool as an uptempo rocker...ballads don't work while you're cycling!
What the hell are you doing riding a bike in Finland when it's the middle of November?!!! You people are crazy up there. I love it!! I think the lyrics to this song are a little to sweet to be backed up by some uptempo music. But if I'm bored and I have some time maybe I'll experiment with it and let you know how it came out. Don't count on it though! HAHAH!
- I've told another Californian that a few weeks over here in the Winterland would make men out of you beach boys! :) Seriously though, who says that an uptempo song can't have "sweet" lyrics? Jovi's "Born To Be My Baby" is as sweet as they come! But let's move on...
- "Another Girl"...a killer track, a bit in the "nu-breed" vein and something that would work on mainstream rock radio. Can we expect more like this in the future?
Yeah, I'm sure you'll hear more modern stuff coming out of me. I'm a bit tired of the 80's hard rock sound. Been there done that. I would've liked to make an album with all modern sounding songs, but I'd hate to alienate my fan base. So I'm making the transition a little smoother. That way I don't have to read too much hate mail.
- "Help"...RockUnited co-editor Urban writes: "congrats to one of the best recorded covers of "Help" ever. However, this is also one of the worst Beatles tune ever... Why did you decide to record this particular B-tune... instead of others, much better ones. (I'm still having nightmares due to Bananarama's crappy version)."
Tell Urban I said THANK YOU!! I totally agree with him. It's funny, some reviewers hated this cover and some love it. I covered the song because I needed one more song, and I wasn't about to write another original one. So since "Help" is one of my favorite Beatles songs, I decided to do that one. Never heard of Bananarama's version.
-"Love Ain't Enough"...a great song but I can't think of anything to ask about it. Is there something you'd like to share with us?
Ummm... Umm.... Um... I guess not.
- "Something About You"...sounds like a hit to me. Would you choose this as the single & video if such things were suggested to you (and a budget given)?
This seems to be the favorite for most people who have heard the album. I'm not the record company, so I wouldn't be picking any singles. But this would definitely be the one that I'd pick. I'm going to try to pitch this song to other artists or movie producers. Maybe this will be the song that will put my son through college. Wouldn't that be nice?
-"Where Are You Now"...a good song too, but damn, hasn't that title been used a few too many times?
Nowhere in my CD Collection. At least not that I remember. Well, next time I'll run the song titles by you before anything gets released, since it seems like it's bothering you that I wrote a song with a title that has been used too many times. Kimmo, lighten up. It's ok. It's just a title!!! The song kicks ass, so who cares what it's called.
- YES! I REALLY should control all releases to see that no songtitle is used too many times...."HOLD IT...this is the sixth "It's My Life" within the last five years...no way!". My title would be the Authorized Songtitle Supervisor...or maybe not... My ultimate favourite title is "Hold On", it has to be on at least 30 AOR/Hard Rock albums! Okay, back to the business...
-"Welcome To My Paradise"...probably my fave track. I'd say that it has a bit unusual melody and a slightly more complicated structure than on your other songs. The keys are vintage late eighties stuff though, I'm thinking obscure bands like Prophet, Message, Drive She Said...what says Johnny?
It's funny that you say it's your favorite. I didn't want this song on the album. I thought it would be a Jap bonus track. Mark Ashton insisted that this song makes the album. So I'm glad I listened to Mark for once. This song has gotten a lot of great responses within the melodic rock community.
3. Evil Urban wanted me to ask this... are you a bit of a control freak, since you handle all vocals, guitars, bass, keys, and drum programming yourself?
HAHAHA! No, not a control freak, just a cheap bastard. I spent the entire advance and then some on my recording equipment. I didn't go out and buy a little cheap Cubase system. I bought a Pro Tools system (the industry standard digital audio workstation), top of the line Microphones, Pre-amps, etc. I didn't have any money to pay for musicians. So since I write ALL the parts to my songs, why would I spend money paying for someone else to play them.
4. Ever thought of hiring a real drummer for instance?
Since when was programming a drum machine a bad thing. I'm sure if I came up with a fictitious name for a drummer, very few people would've guessed that the drums were programmed. I say that because what you hear is not a drum machine. It's REAL drum samples and I'm actually playing the cymbals and hi-hat live using REAL cymbals and a REAL hi-hat. I can guarantee you that most albums you hear have drum samples mixed in with the real drums. Unless you're recording in a multi-million dollar recording studio, you'll rarely get a good drum sound without adding samples to it. So yes, I've thought about hiring a real drummer. Then I thought about how much it would cost in musician's fees and studio time, and to me it's not worth it. It doesn't make the song any better, and at the end of the day, the song is what matters. Take the first three Ten albums for example. They used real drums, and it sounded like shit. But how much did they sell in Japan? Something like 50000 copies. It's because the songs were great! Not because a real drummer played on them.
- Urban's question, he's a drummer himself...not that he was looking for a job though, it's just his pet peeve, like mine are over-used songtitles! :)
5. Another co-writer from the site, Petri, came up with this all- important question: "Your last name means "slime" in Finnish. Do you think that this has ruined your chances of breaking into the HUGE finnish market?"
HAHAHAHAHAH!!! That's hilarious. I've been called worse. If it's ruined my chances in Finland, then I guess I'll have to live without the extra 55 copies I would've sold if my last name meant something "nice".
6. The Cd's going to be released soon...ant live dates in the works, or other activities?
None in the works right now. But if someone is willing to pay me to play, then I'll be more than happy to. I'm done with playing for free. No more charity work for me. Unless it's for a good cause and not someone's pocket. I've been taken advantage of for too long by this industry. I'm much smarter now and I'm not disillusioned like so many bands in this industry. It's a screw or be screwed business, and from now on I plan on doing all the screwing.
7. What's going on stateside, are you releasing the CD on your own label again?
Now and Then have the rights to the U.S. So who knows what their plans are.
8. The last time we interviewed you, you mentioned that your dream tour would be with Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Shania Twain. Are they still hot? :)
Are you sure we were talking about a tour and not an orgy? HAHA
9. In Finland, the Idols (the same format as your American Idol) is a much-talked about TV show. What do you think about this route to stardom?
I think it's a great show and it's a great opportunity for singers. But saying that, I also think it's going to have a negative impact on the winners. I'm sure they don't have any control of the career whatsoever. And to me that's more important than a hit record. Anyone can have a hit record if they're being backed up with a shitload of money. If I had a couple of million dollars to promote "Made In California" I'm sure it would make the top ten here. It's all about the Benjamins!
10. Last but not least, is there a question you've been waiting to be asked, and what would be your answer to it?
No, I think we've covered everything. Thanks Kimmo!
by Kimmo Toivonen,
RockUnited's (edited) reviews of Johnny's albums:
This guy is totally unknown to me, but I think he might gain himself at least a cult following soon. I haven't read a single review of this album yet, but I think that I won't be the only one to say that this sounds a lot like a certain band from New Jersey. If someone had given me this tape and claimed that it's Bon Jovi's lost album circa 1986 I would have probably believed! What we have here is a dozen good songs, from the rockers with huge hooks like "Reckless Heart" (one of those songs with a healthy dose of "WHOA!'s"!) to ballads like "Fly Angel". There's even a song that wouldn't sound out of place on a glam album, "Rock'n Roll River", it reminds me of Pretty Boy Floyd. So, if you're into, say, Danger Danger, Blue Tears and early Bon Jovi, you might do yourself a favour and try to locate this album.
Here is the follow up to Johnny's excellent first album, and I am happy to say that this is another great piece of melodic rock. "Leavin'In The Morning" starts the show, a Danger Danger-like party rock number with a tongue-in-cheek lyrics (I hope?!). A good song, but pales in comparison to the next track. "My Country 'Tis Of Thee" is simply an awesome uptempo track, very much in the early Bon Jovi mould, but that hardly is a crime! The next three numbers are a bit more mellow, "Touch Of Love" and "Memory Lane" being midtempo AOR tracks, while "Star" is a great power ballad that reminds me of Blue Tears. "Wild, Young, Crazy In Love" is a sing-along pop rocker, with some glam overtones, a bit like "Rock 'n Roll River" on Johnny's first album. The anthem of the album is "Shout It Out", a song with a pro-rock message that I can fully endorse! "Too Late" is a cool song with some interesting effects and a great orchestration. It's a bit different to the rest of the album, and so is "Sweet Sixteen". When I first heard it, I thought it was a cover of some sixties' song, like "Leader Of The Back"! Anyway, it's a good song, again a bit "glammy", and the sixties' feel is quite authentic... The album is rounded up with"Only The Strong Survive", another anthemic song. And there you have it, a very good album without a single song that I would call a filler! "Shine On" is sure to find its way to the collections of most melodic rock lovers! The Japanese version contains also "In Someone Else's Arms", a big ballad (The Bon Jovi comparison raises its head there again) and a pop rocker "Girl Next Door".
I guess it's an understatement to say that this album has been long-awaited, as Mr. Lima started working on this one way back in 2000. It was almost starting to turn into one of those albums that never seem to be finished (Guns'n Roses anyone?). Well, I've got the finished promo copy in my hands, and unless something goes terribly wrong, the third Johnny Lima album will be available in good record stores on December 1st! "Made In California" is a natural successor to the previous two Johnny Lima albums. The style is still a cool combination of those big 80'ies acts like Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and Poison, with the emphasis on strong choruses. Just to keep things exciting, Johnny flirts with the nu-breed sounds a bit, and does it very well - just listen to the catchy and tongue-in-cheek pop-punk-glam-rocker "Another Girl" and the brilliant cover of The Beatles' "Help". There's no shortage of traditional melodic rock/AOR tracks here either, as virtually all of the other tracks fall into that category. Highlights for me are "Go On, Go Away", "Love Ain't Enough", "Something About You", "Where Are You Now" and my favourite track "Welcome To My Paradise", which has terrific keys and a great, original chorus. Surely one of the top ten tracks of 2003! It might have taken a while, but "Made In California" is well worth the wait. Johnny's becoming one of the most reliable artists of the genre, with 3 great albums under his belt now!
(all reviews by Kimmo Toivonen)