How many people do you know who proclaimed to be "down for life" but drifted out of the scene a few years later? Richard Johnson is not one of them. Headbanger. Punk rocker. Journalist. Musician. All-around cool dude. Johnson is all of these and there's no end in sight.
Johnson is the guitarist and vocalist for Virginia HC/grinders Drugs of Faith. He is best known as the guitarist from Enemy Soil and one of the three vocalists in Agoraphobic Nosebleed.
Politics isn't new territory for Johnson. His 90s grind band Enemy Soil had highly political lyrics but didn't forget how to rock. How did Johnson mix politics and grind seamlessly?
He said, "Lots of bands concentrate too much on their lyrics. In this kind of music, you can't tell what the hell the band is saying without a lyric sheet anyway. To me, the lyrics accompany the music, not go before them, so the arrangement of the lyrics on the music is very important.
"You can tell that too much importance is put on lyrics by reading band interviews. It's really boring to read interviews about a band's lyrics when there's nothing to talk about musically, or when the interviewer doesn't understand music or doesn't have the vocabulary to discuss it. You see that a lot in music reviews in mainstream magazines and on the radio. They don't know what to say about the music, so the spend most of their time talking about the lyrics.""
With that said, what did Enemy Soil hope to accomplish during its existence?
"It’s a cliché, but we just wanted to do a demo," Johnson said. "We had aspirations of 'educating the masses,'' but that was a very early pipe dream by a bunch of stupid, white middle-class kids that were in desperate need of a reality check. When we got over that and tried to kick out some furious grindcore, while not straying away from the subject matter, it got a lot better.
"Honestly, I'm happy when someone simply tells me that they enjoy/enjoyed listening to Enemy Soil. I want whatever I do to be successful, but to hear that it makes someone else happy really makes my day. I've heard, over the years, from people who told me Enemy Soil was their favorite hardcore band or, less often, was an influence on their band. It's a huge compliment."
Speaking of which, the band's album "Casualties of Progress" was recently reissued through Relapse Records. What are all the new-jacks in the Houston area missing?
Johnson said, "Basically, it's good for people who missed out on it the first time around. It's also a trip back in time to 1994. It's a primitive record, but it's got that youthful balls-to-the-wall attitude that might be a fun listen for some people. Also, for those who bought the original, it's remastered and has a fistful of bonus tracks, so it's a good package. For those who can't deal with vinyl [huh? - Ed.] it's on CD. There's a lot going for it, I think."