Brothers Keith and Chad Thompson have been playing music together all their lives. Years ago and fresh out of college, Johnny Headband was born, and they haven’t looked back since.
Michigan born and bred (they were raised in Durand), the duo known as Johnny Headband released its first album, Happiness is Underrated, in 2006. Phase 3 EP followed in 2009, and the band’s most recent album, Who Cooks For You, was released in spring of 2012.
Their sound can be described as experimental space pop, according to Keith, and while they originally set out to create dance music, Johnny Headband has experimented with all different kinds of music.
Not only has the sound evolved, but the scenery in which they create it has as well. For their latest album, the duo rented a cabin in Grayling for a week and recorded in the woods, immersing themselves in the process.
“We’ve found that disconnecting from our realities can help us in our creative process,” Keith said. “That was the second time we approached recording that way.”
Hauling their recording gear and musical instruments into the woods up north was beneficial both mentally and musically.
“It’s also a method that works well to achieve an overall sound for the record. The sound of the environment we recorded in was important to how the record ultimately turned out,” Keith said.
Not knowing how a song or album is going to end up is Keith’s favorite aspect of being a musician. The outcome of a musical experience is not always determined, and he said he finds the uncertainty exciting.
That excitement comes from the band’s inspirations as well, which come in the form of everything from cartoons to furniture to short films. Even the simplest of surroundings can spark an idea in Keith—the band’s song “Water Damage” evolved from a leaky pipe in his home.
“While I was recording parts for it in my basement, I started to hear running water. I thought it was in my head. I thought it was somehow my imagination hearing water pouring with the music,” Keith said. “Turned out there was a major leak in my basement and water was pouring into the house. That’s when I named the song.”
Johnny Headband has a vast following, leading the band to tour everywhere from the Midwest to the East Coast to Canada to Europe. While they are not currently touring, Keith said they hope to add U.S. tour dates soon.
As for the future of Johnny Headband, Keith says that in five years time, the band will still be making music and videos and choreographing stage moves for live shows.
“We will always be artists,” Keith said. “And we will never stop creating.”