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Fall 1999 Q&A with Damon Johnson

Brother Cane lead singer Damon Johnson has been kind enough to answer your questions exclusively for Pure Cane on all kinds of subjects concerning him, Brother Cane and the other band members.  Enjoy!

- Is Brother Cane still a collective musical unit? If so, what's going on? If not, what happened?
No, Brother Cane is at the moment not a collective unit. We have not been unified in our direction for quite some time, and after Virgin Records dropped the band it was obviously time to do some other things. I would very much like to do another Brother Cane album in the future, but it would probably not be comprised of the same four members that did Seeds and Wishpool.

- What is Dragonfly? What other musicians are involved? Will the music be available to the public soon?
Dragonfly is my new band. It is basicly a solo project, but I'm using it to specifically showcase my songs that are in a more pop direction and I didn't want to call it "Damon Johnson". I am shopping for a deal at the moment and based on initial reaction, I could be in the studio as early as spring of 2000. At the moment, Roman is playing bass, Leif Bonderenko on drums, and Bruce Castleberry from Vallejo has been rehearsing with us (and no, he is not leaving Vallejo for Dragonfly....he's simply "on loan" for a while).

- Have you heard the music of Dragmatic/Big Candy? What do you think of it?
Yes, I have heard it and I think it's great.

- What happened with Virgin Records that resulted in Brother Cane'sseparation from the label?
We were not selling enough records to justify Virgin continuing to spend money on promoting the band.

Has there been any other label interest expressed since then?
Yes, there are several labels interested in putting out a Brother Cane album.

- Will we ever see an album of live cuts or b-sides from Brother Cane?
This is something that I would love to see come to fruition. There are some great songs that were written that never made any of the three Virgin albums, and there are studio recordings of at least a dozen or more of them. There are several live recordings that would have to be sorted through and some time invested to choose the best stuff.

- Do you ever miss the big stadium type shows that you got to play with the likes of Van Halen?
I don't neccesssarily miss it, but I very much love playing big rooms to big crowds. Anyone that says they don't is full of shit!

- Does picture taking bother you during shows?

- Can you describe the song writing process for yourself? Do you handle lyrics or music first?
Always music and melody first and then the lyrics.

- Do you still have any contact with Glenn Maxey? What's he been up to?
Glenn is not in music anymore, but is still in Huntsville with his family and doing very well.

- The songs which were on the Chyld demo, were they ever released? Is there any thought of re-recording them?
The Chyld stuff was never officially released. No plans at the moment to put it out.

- What other 90's bands are making meaningful, influential music in your opinion?
Radiohead, Beastie Boys, Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine,
Beck, Stone Temple Pilots, Fiona Apple, Sheryl Crow, Counting Crows

- Would you or Brother Cane work with Kelly Gray again and what do you think of his involvement with Queensryche?
I think Kelly Gray is fucking amazing and would love to work with him again. The new Queensryche album with Kelly on guitar is my favorite since Operation Mindcrime.

- Is a Thin Lizzy tribute album still in the works - the one you mentioned Brother Cane, Noel Gallagher and others being involved with?
Looks like that whole thing is a bust, and I'm very disappointed about it. There was a lot of work done and some great tracks laid down. Made some great friends during those sessions.

- Do you think the current state of the music and radio industries are detrimental to artists?
It depends on what your goals are as an artist. I've always wanted to hear my songs on the radio and sell records. Nothing is different now than it's ever been: if you don't write and put out music that connects with enough people to make the labels money, then you will find yourself without a label.

What benefits do you see in a band being signed to a major label?
A national staff to promote your songs and proper distribution availability.

- If you could collaborate with any prominent musician or group right now, who would it be?
Sting or Peter Gabriel. Also, would love to make a punk recording with Stewart Copeland on drums!

- What is your favorite song that you've written?
It changes often, but this week it's "Release (Hard Rain Comin'), a song from the Dragonfly stuff.

- What is your most memorable live performance so far?
Our last performance at Red Rocks in Denver was pretty magical.

- As a music fan, what is the most memorable concert you've ever been to?
Van Halen in Birmingham, AL, 1979