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JOSH JOHNSTONE Magnetic feels

Perth singer-songwriter Josh Johnstone has just dropped his new EP Ghost Magnet and is celebrating with a launch show with his full band this Friday, October 13 at The Fly Trap in Fremantle. It’s one of just a handful of Australian gigs the Vida Cain lead singer is squeezing in amongst a frenetic international touring schedule that has featured a mass of dates across Europe this year. The EP follows the release of new single Just What It Is and his debut solo album Call in Whispers earlier this yearBRAYDEN EDWARDS spoke with Johnstone about the release, what it’s like to tour Eastern Europe and how “not to” record video clips on the road.

You’ve just returned from a massive tour of Europe with a heaps of shows in Baltic countries like Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. What brought you to that part of the world as opposed to the regular tour schedules that bands might take?

It was a chance meeting with an Estonian booking agent in a truck stop on a tour from Perth to Broome about eight years ago when I was in my previous band. It sounds like a crazy story, and it is. To be quite honest, back then I wasn’t very familiar with any of the countries in the Baltics, and nowadays, it is without question my second home.

What was the most unusual venue or event you played at in your travels and what was unique about the experience?

There was a hippie festival we played at in Lithuania where we didn’t realise we were meant to bring our own tents to camp in. None the less, they found us a pretty interesting place to stay, it will be hard to forget that night (laughs).

One other thing that was pretty amazing is this punk band we played with in Tyrol, Austria. The lead singer’s mum is this incredible woman who listens to heavy metal and teaches medieval history. She became like our mum over there, his whole family made us feel so welcome. We ended up spending every day with them hiking in the alps, learning about their village’s history and of course trying all of the incredible traditional food that she makes. So they are like our family now and we are trying to get them to come here but they are scared of the spiders and sharks they reckon.

Ghost Magnet
In the midst of such a hectic touring schedule, where and when did you get the chance to record this new EP Ghost Magnet?

Basically, I wrote and demoed around 35 songs for my first album Call in Whispers. The ten that made it on there are the ones that the producer felt worked best for that album. The five on Ghost Magnet are my favourites that didn’t go on the album. They get a really good response when we play live and people are always asking for recorded versions of them. I tracked them at various studios before I left for Europe and they were mixed by Andy Lawson and waiting for us when we got home which was a lovely homecoming gift!

And what were you hoping to do with this EP that was different from the music you released before?

Sell 10 million copies (laughs).

And can you put your finger on what you wanted to express lyrically on this EP? The first single and Just What It Is seems fairly contemplative but in an refreshingly upbeat kind of way.

One thing I really like about the songs on this EP is that they are all individual stories about pivotal people or moments that either forced or gently guided me to be in a better place. Even though some times were shitty, they generally made me move towards a brighter light and a better life.

Your video clip for the song was recorded during a seven hour road trip across outback Australia. Where were you heading and what gave you the idea for that? It’s a very efficient use of time I must say.

Thanks man! We were heading to Kalgoorlie. The idea stemmed from our keys player George Arnold. The four of us spend a lot of time together, in transit mostly, so we always have to think of new ways to pass time time. We were talking about one day filming a documentary, more so a “how to” video for indie bands like ourselves who want to know how to tour the world but don’t know where to start. Obviously this music video is more of a “how not to” but that’s how the idea came up anyway.

What’s on the agenda after you’ve released this EP? More touring and writing or are you due for some downtime?

With this EP there are some dates around Australia and one show in November in Bali, which is the official end of the tour and of course a great place to begin aforementioned downtime. But I’m happy to say the next EP has already been tracked, it’s like a ‘Part Two’ for Ghost Magnet. I’m not sure when that will get released, but will most likely coincide with next years European tour. I urge friends, family, fans, foes…whoever really, to please come to these shows as we won’t have any more in Australia until some time next year.


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