I started playing drums at a very young age. My father Mike Johnston is a drummer as well, so he was my first instructor. He put me on the kit for the first time when I was 3 or 4 years old. We would work out of books, watch videos, and do play-a-longs until I was in my mid-teens. I started taking lessons at a local drum shop in my home town of Sheboygan, Wisconsin for a few years before moving to Minneapolis in to study percussion performance at McNally Smith College of Music.
I studied at McNally Smith College of Music with an amazing staff of talented musicians, e.g., David Stanoch, Gordy Knudtson, Dave Hanzel, Marv Dahlgren, Paul Stueber, Jess Wheeler, Mark Rio, and Mark O’Day. After I finished school I immediately started teaching drums privately. I am currently teaching through Schmitt Music five days a week and have been balancing 40-50 students there weekly.
Currently my main music project is a three piece melodic math rock/post-rock band with vocals called Self-Evident. To date we have 7 full length albums and two EPs. “We Built a Fortress on Short Notice.” This album was released by two different record labels. On CD and Vinyl by Doubleplusgood Records here in the US and an extended version on CD through Stiff Slack. Self-Evident continues to actively tour. We toured in Japan to help support the Stiff Slack release and have toured the US extensively over the years and did a nine country European tour. If you want to learn more about self-evident go to www.self-evident.net. The other active band that I currently play with is psychedelic folk rock band called Lovely Dark and most recently released a record called “Into The Roil." For more information on Lovely Dark go to www.lovelydark.com.
There are other musical projects that I have been involved in since finishing music school. I was in a post-hardcore band called Clair de Lune. We put out two albums on Deep Elm Records out of Charlotte North Carolina. To learn more about Clair de Lune go to www.deepelm.com. I also organized and self-released a project called Twin Cities Breaks. It is a collection of drum loops and samples from 12 different local (Twin Cities) drummers. We had each drummer bring their kit into the studio and sampled each of their drums and then recorded them doing drum loops and breaks in a variety of styles. Besides myself there were other McNally alums who participated in the Twin Cities Break project; Pete Hennig, Chris Hepola, and Brian Heitzman. The other drummers who appear on the project are JT Bates, Martin Dosh (DOSH), Ian Prince, Zach Barocas, Joey Van Phillips, Joe Gaskill, Adrian Suarez, and Jeff Marcovis. If you are interested in checking it out, the data CD and vinyl are both available exclusively through Cheapo records in uptown Minneapolis or in St. Paul. You can also order it directly from me by requesting a copy via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.