High energy rockers put the ‘show’ in show business


In the business of rock ‘n’ roll, it’s almost taken for granted that you’re going to go out and get smashed after a show. But as drummer Dave Johnny points out, it is still a business, and this implies a sense of responsibility that goes against the stereotype.

“It’s rock ‘n’ roll, but I can’t let the bass player get too drunk cos then the bass player can’t lift their amp!”

The Johnnys are a self-described ‘high energy rock and roll’ band. Formed in 2003 in the town of Fort Smith in the Northwest Territories, the band is currently based in Toronto where founding members and real-life couple Dave and Veronica Johnny now live. Tim Bones on lead guitar and Oriana Barbato on bass and backup vocals complete the rock quartet.

For Dave and Veronica, core members of the punk rock ensemble, their music is more than just art, it’s also how they make a living, and they take the running of it as seriously as any business-minded person looking to succeed.

“It’s a lot of office work, the background work, booking gigs and all that stuff,” Veronica explained in an exclusive interview at Centennial College.

Veronica runs the administrative side of the band. She is the one who keeps track of things like sound equipment, the band’s finances, merchandise sales and arranging soundchecks at shows.

“We really have to work really, really hard,” she said. “[But] once you start getting recognition you can go, hey.”

Dave is the right brain to Veronica’s left. An artist in every sense of the word, in addition to being the band’s drummer, he is also a painter.

“Someone left some paints at my house a couple of years ago so I just started cos it seemed like a good idea.

He said that ideally, he would like for himself and Veronica to just spend more time being creative people. However, he acknowledged the importance of putting in work to make the band succeed as a viable career option. Compared with other bands they have played in before, Dave and Veronica said The Johnnys is distinctly different because of a stronger focus and commitment.

“We actually say we’re going to do something and then we do it,” Dave said.”Just having a game plan and going forward makes a difference.”

This approach seems to be paying off. The band has several well-attended shows under their belt, including a March 14 performance at the Hard Rock Cafe in Toronto during Canadian Music Week 2009, a show presented by Toronto Independent Music Awards at The Central in May, and an appearance at the June 21 Roots to Rock show at the Horseshoe Tavern. In addition, the band’s 2007 debut album ‘I Like it A Lot’ garnered The Johnnys three award nominations at the 2008 Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards, showing that the band is well on its way to making a difference on the Canadian music scene.

Upcoming shows for the band include an appearance at ‘Concert for a Cure’ on September 20 in Brantford, Ontario, as part of a day to create awareness and fundraise for the Canadian Cancer Society.