WAYNE W. JOHNSON INTERVIEW WITH WEST SIDE DAVE-FULTON, NY–10/22/2003
Check out the actual interview HERE
Wayne W. Johnson is lead vocalist/guitarist/main man for CAROLINE BLUE, a Hard Rockin` 3-piece out of Syracuse, NY. Anyone who knows Wayne, or as seen him perform, can attest to the fact that he is one of THE hardest working musicians in the Central New York Music scene! I recently got the chance to throw a few questions his way, and luckily got some great answers thrown right back!;)
WEST SIDE DAVE– OK, first up; tell us the story behind the band`s name!
WAYNE-I came up with the name back in the mid 90s. I used to work at Kmart and they had codewords for certain situations that were labelled “Carolines.” They would have different colors which would signify different things. Caroline Blue was code for a medical emergency. That’s only part of the reason-I used the name cause I liked the sound of it and, at least to me, it doesn’t pigeon-hole you automatically into one style of music. CAROLINE BLUE’s music is mainly in the Hard Rock vein a la KISS, but there are songs that go a little lighter and songs that go a little heavier. It’s kinda hard to do a ballad with a name like Cannibal Corpse….
WEST SIDE DAVE– A brief history; when was CAROLINE BLUE formed?
WAYNE-CAROLINE BLUE basically formed in February 2000. I was over at Randy Gray’s house cause we had discussed putting together both a cover band and an original band. When I got to his place, I started to put a tape in with the covers on it and Randy told me not to bother-just put in the tape with the originals. I did and Randy liked them so much he joined on the spot! Very shortly after we jammed with Dave Victory and that’s the 1st version of CAROLINE BLUE.
WEST SIDE DAVE– Alright, now tell us about “The Spotlight”?
WAYNE-That’s actually move #369 in the Paul Stanley Kata (HA!)…..”The Spotlight” was the name of a little “move” I did during CAROLINE BLUE’s 1st promo for UMTV. I was at UMTV studios changing into my stage clothes and I kept thinking that I had to do something a little different than what everyone else was doing. So, 5 minutes before we started taping, I remembered a pose Paul Stanley (KISS) had done and I said to myself, “Why not?” Didn’t think much of it. The cameras rolled, I did it, and that was that. Then it aired and, for awhile, wherever I went, people would come up to me and do that pose in front of me-usually taking me by surprise! I never had a name for it. The person who came up with the name is Monster Mike Merrifield-drummer for Dogs on Mars; He told me he envisioned me holding 2 spotlight lamps in my hands to illuminate my “Ego” (HA!)
WEST SIDE DAVE-When did you start playing guitar, and who influenced you in the early days?
WAYNE-I started playing guitar when I was 18. Through out my childhood, I dabbled a little here and there with music. Never lasted too long though. Then on my 18th birthday I got my 1st guitar-a Gilbert Les Paul Copy. Yes-a Gilbert, not a Gibson. Wonderful high action on that thing. 6 months later I got a Gorilla practice amp. About 2 years later I really got serious about it. KISS was and still is the major influence for me with music and with many other things.. I have a very diverse range when it comes to music. In the early days it was the power in the music of bands like Judas Priest, Metallica, Motley Crue, Ozzy-specifically the Randy Rhoads Era, Dokken, Yngwie,…. I’m also a big fan of melody-especially in vocals…..the list just keeps growing and growing. I mean, usually if there’s something that I like, I try to incorporate it into my being-and that’s about everything-not just music.
WEST SIDE DAVE– KISS is obviously more than a passing influence on the band. What are your favorite KISS albums? LEAST favorite?
WAYNE-My favorite KISS album is actually Paul Stanley’s Solo Album (1978). But a close 2nd is my very 1st KISS album “Creatures of the Night.” I also like “Revenge” a lot. I’m more a fan of individual songs than whole albums. If you had to list my favorite bands, it would be based on how many of the individual songs I liked-just so happens that the most songs I like are done by KISS. ; `course, the fact that they have so many albums could be a factor!:) My least favorite?…Probably “You Wanted The Best,You Got The Best.” 4 live songs from the 70s with an interview w/ Jay Leno. Listened to it once and it’s been on the shelf since. Personally, I think they should’ve recorded some live stuff during the 96 reunion tour and released it as Alive IV. KISS was the hottest tour in 96-97 and having a recording from that would’ve been the ultimate souvenir from the show. People would pick it up `cause they could say “I was there.” And this was before the merchandising went into overload again so they might`ve had a #1 CD with it. But they didn’t….oh well….
WEST SIDE DAVE– Now, who are you favorite [AND least favorite] members of Kiss? [from ANY era]
WAYNE-I think it’s pretty obvious that my favorite member of KISS is Paul Stanley. I specifically remember thinking that here was a guy who could do many things (sing/write/move around while performing/play guitar (rhythm & lead)/produce) and do them well. That was very appealing to me. I wanted to be able to do that. Plus I wanted to have the ability to attract hot women like he could! (HA!) My least favorite? Probably Mark St. John-does nothing for me really.
WEST SIDE DAVE– In your opinion, what kind of shape is the Central New York music scene in?
WAYNE-The best shape the music scene could be in is the shape of a beautiful woman. 😉
WEST SIDE DAVE– What are some of your favorite places to play in Upstate NY?
WAYNE-Most of them are closed now. I loved playing at The Lost Horizon in Syracuse and The Brickhouse in Fulton. Good sized places and stages. Gatherings By Design in Phoenix is pretty good. We haven’t played Bleachers (yet) in Syracuse, but that looks to be a lot of fun. Check us out there on Halloween-10/31/2003….We’re gonna do a set of KISS tunes wearing KISS makeup (Shameless Promo-HA!).
WEST SIDE DAVE– What is your approach to songwriting?
WAYNE-Use old songs from past bands (HA!)…..Actually, when I write I usually come up with a vocal melody 1st. Once that’s set, then I write lyrics to it that match the melody so that it flows evenly. Then comes the music around that. The last part is the guitar solo-if the song needs one. I usually just humm a line and base the solo on that.
WEST SIDE DAVE– The ever-popular file sharing controversy is making headlines of late. Any thoughts on this?
WAYNE-I think Monster Mike said it best on his interview cause I basically agree with everything he says there. http://community-2.webtv.net/WestSideDave/MonsterMike/
WEST SIDE DAVE– Does CAROLINE BLUE play strictly originals, or do you throw in a few covers now and then?
WAYNE-At the moment, we still have some covers in the set list. Usually something by KISS, but not always. We are going towards an all-original format, but at the moment, we’re only about 70-80% cover free. We will, eventually be, 100% cover free.
WEST SIDE DAVE– Any CD`s available?
WAYNE-Not at the moment. We have been working on one, but it’s been put on the back burner for numerous reasons. I would say that, once our Halloween gig is over, we’re gonna start concentrating on tying up this loose end-as well as the others-and getting the CD done and released.
WEST SIDE DAVE– If you could jam with ANYONE, living OR dead, who would you choose?
WAYNE-Paul Stanley would be cool to jam with-maybe even do a little writing. That would be really cool! It would be great to jam with Randy Rhoads-but I’d probably just stand there with saliva dribbling from my mouth while he played (HA!). Eric Carr would be awesome as well. There’s probably a lot more-but these are the 3 that immediately come to mind…..
WEST SIDE DAVE– What can one expect at a “typical” CAROLINE BLUE gig?
WAYNE-That there will be a different lineup on the stage! (HA!). Actually, with every show, we try to give 100% of what we can and put everything we have into it. We’re musicians but we’re also entertainers as well and we try to make a show out of it. I think that question would be better directed at someone who comes to a lot of our shows. I can tell ya one thing-you’ll never just see us standing still on stage staring at our boots!….Oh, and you’ll probably always see my hair splattered all over my face making me look like someone stapled seaweed to it but…..;)
WEST SIDE DAVE– Final comments???
WAYNE-I just want to 1st thank you very much West Side Dave for this interview and having a kick ass site-all built with webtv! They should’ve had you promoting webtv when it 1st came out! [WSD sez: “That`s not a bad idea!”] I also want to thank all the wonderful people who have come out to the shows, posted on our site, and/or supported what we do. It is very much appreciated. Keep looking out for us cause we have a lot more left to give!
WEST SIDE DAVE-Well thank YOU, Wayne, for the GREAT interview AND the free publicity!!:) Lookin` forward to the next CAROLINE BLUE gig!