People with Passion: Adam Johnson of Loyal Divide

People with Passion

Adam Johnson from Loyal Divide

Interview January 20, 2011

We played a show on the Lower East Side, and BBGun – we’re friends with one of the guys – came out. They had heard the song already, and approached us to do the video. We had no budget, but that didn’t seem to deter them, because with a lot of their video work they didn’t have much creative control. I think they saw an opportunity to make something that they wanted to make. Conceptually we didn’t collaborate that much. It was mostly them. We went to the store and bought the black sweat suits and the white tape, and we sat in their loft for 16 hours and shot that video, but they called all the shots and did everything.

That’s you guys dressed in black?

Yes, yes, that’s us. There’s no outside computer manipulation apart from the editing. That’s us acting – a loose definition of the term – in black sweat pants and white tape.

We were enthusiastic about the idea, and I think it turned out great. I still don’t feel comfortable showing it to the women in my family. I would never show it to my grandma. But at the same time, I think it does a great job of visualizing the music. For me, it brings out what’s good in the music that I didn’t even really recognize before. It achieves the ultimate aim of a music video, in that it makes the music better. I really didn’t feel I had the right to voice any concern over the content and the direction they were going. We just kind of gave ourselves over to them, and I think they did a great job.

Are the themes expressed in the video – I’ve only listened to a little bit of your music – but are themes of generational violence and ugliness under suburbia and that unknown gang coming to get you and the wave of change – is that stuff that’s in your music?

No, I don’t think so. I think really it’s their reaction. I think the music itself for that song is violent, especially the chorus – it’s me screaming through distortion, and pretty intense electronic sounds layered on top of that – so I think the music itself is violent. It’s not so lyrically violent, lyrically it doesn’t really relate to the content of the video, but I think with pop music that’s irrelevant. I think it does a good job of expressing the violence within the music.

So would you categorize Loyal Divide as being pop music?

Sure. I mean, the songs have 4/4 beats, and verses and choruses. It’s certainly a form of pop music.

I think pop music is defined by its form. Anything that has a verse, a chorus, a verse, a chorus format, with a bridge, with lyrics, and a hummable melody is pop music. I’m not sure how else to define it. I’m not sure if it’s defined by how bubbly it is. I think it’s a difficult thing to go down that path and start categorizing pop music so narrowly.

I’m just asking you. It stood out to me that you mentioned that.

Yeah, I think it’s dictated by the form. Certainly a lot falls under that umbrella.

When I was composing music for the album, I was listening to a lot of rap, and house, and things that are heavily gridded. When I bemoan the fact that I wasn’t able to get into a studio and have it feel looser, that’s just more of a development in what I like to listen to now.

We release our first album some time in March or April. It keeps on getting pushed back. We’ll be touring heavily behind it. So the year is completely open in the sense that a lot of the plans will be determined by the response to the album. If people listen to it, if people review it, or if people ignore it. That’s what we have to look forward to.

Catch Loyal Divide at The Mid on Friday, January 28.

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