HOBO JOHNSON – Interview

Im letzten Jahr tauchte der US-Amerikaner Frank Lopes Jr. alias Hobo Johnson auf einmal auf unserem Radar auf, als er mit seiner mitreißenden Spoken Word-Performance bei NPRs Tiny Desk uns im Sturm eroberte! Und nun gibt es für uns, sowie alle andere Fans von Hobo Johnson noch mehr Grund zur Freude, ist doch gerade das zweite Album des Alternative-Hip-Hop Künstlers mit The Fall Of Hobo Johnson erschienen. Über dieses sagt er selbst: “The new album is a mix of songs and poems I’ve had floating around in my head for the last few years. I’m really proud of it and hope that it makes everyone feel a little less alone and a little more like they want to stay alive.” Um dem noch mehr auf den Grund zu gehen, haben wir Hobo mit Fragen gelöchert: Hobo Johnson in unserem Interview!

What is your first memory of a contact with music? When did you then start to play music and write your own songs then?
When I was 15 I found myself playing video games and not doing much when home from school. My cousin showed me how to make beats a few years prior so decided to give it a shot and sold my Ps3 and bought a computer. After that I continued to keep making songs.

When you grew up who were your musical heroes? Which records did influence your later works?
Growing up my parents would buy us CDs and I would have one or two and listen to them over and over again. The first one I can think of is D12 world by D12. Also some Outkast and Red Hot Chili Peppers. After listening to mostly hip hop, I started getting into bands like the Front Bottoms and Bright Eyes.

In which situation did you come up with the name Hobo Johnson and why did you decide to go for a stage name?
I got kicked out of my house and I thought I would be fun or at least redeeming if I made an album in my car. It proved quite difficult because I would have to charge my laptop at a library or at work. I decided to have a “stage name” because frank lopes jr doesn’t have much of a ring to it.

When you were kicked out by your father and lived for some time in your Toyota Corolla, how did you come back on your feet and looking back, do you feel this was the right impulse for you to start of your career?
I found the cheapest place to rent I could find in Sacramento. My rent was $300. I think it was the perfect way to start a new life doing what I wanted.

How did you then make your way from the car the have a record label contract with a major label, what were the important steps to where you are now?
Important steps to me were finding friends who also enjoyed playing music, who believed in the music I was making. I met my friend and guitarist Derek and we just continued to play together. We started playing local shows and got better at playing live. Finally we recorded a live performance in his backyard and it all took off from there.

After your second album was called The Rise Of Hobo Johnson, you’ve now announced your new album The Fall of Hobo Johnson – what can we expect from the record and does the future look dark for Hobo Johnson?
I really tried to make the record as different as I could (from a production standpoint). Every song has a different flavor and im really proud of that. I don’t necessarily think the future looks dark, but I do think that everything thats happened In the past year or two has brought more questions that I have to ask myself internally.

Could you tell us a bit about the production process of the record? When and how was the record done, which was the best, which the worst moment of the time and which is the most told anecdote of it?
I’ve been writing the record for two or so years, all at different times. Every few months another poem gets written. There was no bad moments id say. It got to be quite the grind after a while because at some point you stop focusing so much on creating the lyrics or production, and focus more on what problems are going on with the song. The little details. Usually I don’t care about those too much, but with this album I wanted to.

What stories, situations and feelings push you to write your lyrics and in which surroundings do you write best?
I either write when I’m extremely happy or extremely sad. Not much in-between. As I’m getting older I’m finding myself a bit more in the middle, so it gets a bit tough sometimes.

You also sing & rap about political issues like in You & The Cockroach, where you also criticize the American president. Do you feel that it is important for a young American artist to cover politics and how do your fellow Americans react on you criticizing the president?
I think there’s two sides of it. On one side, I don’t know nearly as much on politics and policies as some people do. That makes me feel like I should just keep my mouth shut when it comes to that. On the other side, it could be viewed as a responsibility to call out bull shit when one sees it. I lean towards the first. My opinion doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme, id say.

There was a German tour planned at the beginning of this year but was canceled after – will you be coming on tour now that you release a new record?
Yup. We will be there later this year. We haven’t announced dates, but will shortly I believe.

What are you doing when you’re not doing music?
We’ve been really busy doing a bunch of other things. I find myself waking up everyday with a big list of stuff to do. I’d say general tasks.

What did you learn in 2018?
I learned to have thicker skin. 

Which song makes you dance every time?
If I aint got you by Alicia Keys

Hobo Johnson Tour:
04.12. Privatclub, Berlin
05.12. Uebel 6 Gefährlich, Hamburg
08.12. MTC, Köln


Bedroomdisco-Gründer, Redaktions-Chef, Hans in allen Gassen, Golden Leaves Festival Booker, Sammler, Fanboy, Exil-Darmstädter Wahl-Hamburger & happy kid, stuck with the heart of a sad punk - spreading love for great music since '08!

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