Born in Lubbock, Texas, Johnny Chops moved around some with stops in North Carolina and Corpus Christi growing up. Calling Austin home since 2002, his love of making music, writing songs and telling stories fits right into its growing music scene. Art and creativity are what really drives him to continue creating music. Check out his latest single “Taking A Chance On Me,” that just dropped earlier this month, embedded below.
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Chris Remmers: One of our objectives at SCP is to encourage people to go out and explore this miracle of a planet we call “home”. We will discuss the places you have been, the things you have seen along your journeys, and how that has influenced your career. Start by telling us a little bit about where you are from.
Johnny Chops: I grew up in Texas for most of my life, spending the last 15 years or so in the Austin area. I’ve also spent just a few years in North Carolina. The Austin area is really cool though. When they have South by Southwest you can shoot down there every once in a while and catch like 10-bands in one night.
© Dave Wilson
CR: I love South by Southwest. I could go on for days about it. What was your first real exposure to music? How did you become inspired to start creating your own?
JC: I really grew up with it all my life. My dad is a choir teacher, and he was always heavily involved with the church. I would say that was most likely my first exposure to it when I was a kid. I think it was a pretty natural way to find it. On my own, I was always really driven to the “arts”. I’m a big reader and I love film, so really anything creative. When I was in college I wanted to go into directing, either theater or film, but something about it just didn’t take with me. I always played music for fun, and was in a couple bad punk-rock bands in high school. That’s where I fell in love with bass. There was a lot of people playing the guitar at the time, so I decided I was going to go with the bass and the rest is kind of history. This has been my main source of income since around 2006. I’m very lucky and thankful to be able to do this every day.
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CR: Growing up as kids we all had our favorite bands or artists we wanted to emulate. Did you have any of these kinds of inspirations as a kid? Did anyone specifically inspire you to get into bass aside from going against the grain?
JC: There were a couple back in the day, that’s a tough one. I’ll definitely say that Rancid was a huge influence. I believe the bass player’s name is Matt Freeman. He was always an amazing punk-rock-bass player, and though I’m not a huge fan of lead-bass playing, I like it as a rhythm instrument. I also have been a big fan of songwriting-bass players. That has always been something that has stood out to me and what I’ve been drawn too.
CR: Fast forwarding, you just had your latest track “Taking A Chance On Me” come out a few weeks ago. Describe your excitement for the release.
JC: Yes, we’re very excited for this release. We shot the music video last week. The fans have sent us positive feedback. That’s always the best feeling when you put out new material and you receive an outcry of love. It’s one of the best feelings in the world to know your music touched someone in a big or small way.
CR: I enjoyed it! Most people in music careers are constantly on the go, traveling, exploring and seeing new cultures. What kind of impact do you think that has had in terms of your inspiration and motivation to do the music you love?
JC: This is a good one. I think you get different experiences out on the road, than being home with your friends and family. You definitely get different experiences with different kinds of people, and that bleeds over into my inspiration with music. You hear so many different songs and genres, and these things can be picked up just by talking to different people. The challenge is to write some of these things down when they come to you, so you can refer to it later and try and draw that energy back. Being somewhere different, and seeing new things, always helps with your imagination in my opinion.
CR: That’s really cool to hear. Has there been any venues or places you’ve traveled to thus far that’s left a lasting impression with you?
JC: I have to say that I absolutely love Seattle, and most of the west coast is just great. Seattle is kind of this place where you have a mix of a city, rainforest and ocean all in one place. Luckily, I have been there in the summer a few times when it was not rainy and depressing. They have a great history of rock bands coming out of there and it’s just so remote. I think getting there is part of the attraction. It’s just so different from where I grew up in Texas. It was a nice change. I recently took a trip through Northern California with my wife. It was brief, I wish we had longer to stay there, but it was awesome as a creative person to just get to sit and look out, surrounded by all this beauty, to clear your mind.
CR: How do you feel music and travel fit best together in your life at this point?
JC: Mostly I think they have to fit together. You have to travel, nowadays, to be successful in the music industry. You learn to be comfortable on the road, and in different situations, almost everyday. So, I would say they go hand-in-hand.
CR: To Segway more into a travel sense, when you are looking to get away from it all, are you looking for a relaxing spot on the beach? A hike in the mountains? Or, roaming around a new city? Maybe something different all together?
JC: I would say the mountains or the beach for sure. My wife is generally more of a beach goer. I enjoy hiking and swimming, so we’re both definitely more outdoors oriented. We’ll occasionally get out to go see a concert by an artist we both enjoy, or actually just anything that comes to mind really.
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CR: When you touch down in a new location what are some of the first things you like to do?
JC: I always like to pick up a local paper and thumb through it to see if there is a band playing I want to check out. Or, just to get a feel for what’s going on in the local area. I normally always ask someone at the hotel or a restaurant, and get some local knowledge on places most people out of town wouldn’t know about.
CR: Lastly, most people have a bucket list of places that would like to visit at some point. Do you have a few places that come to mind?
JC: Of course! I’e always wanted to go to Australia. I’ve heard, particularly, that Melbourne is a great city to visit. There are actually a few tattoo artists from there that I would love to get a tattoo from someday too. I’ve been to Italy once, but I would really like to be able to spend some more time there. I didn’t get a chance to visit Rome, and that’s somewhere I really want to go, along with a few other places in the Northern Italy. Lastly, I think I would like to go to South America. It just seems like a wild adventure, and it strikes me as being so much different from a lot of other places in the world to visit. So, that’s definitely on the top of my list.
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For more on Johnny Chops and The Razors visit their website:
Photos of Johnny Chops © Brandon Aguilar & Cameron Gott