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"I’m better at working towards a common goal when sharing ideas with others, regardless of their experience." - Buck Johnson

Posted: March 8, 2024
Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and music producer Buck Johnson is the keyboardist and backing vocalist for the legendary rock band Aerosmith, The Hollywood Vampires (Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, and Joe Perry), and The Joe Perry Project.

Photo provided by: Katerina Benzova

If you are intrigued by something, especially something strange, it interests you and you want to know more about it. I would be intrigued to hear others' views.

If you have been performing or building a creative brand for many years, how often are you willing to accept input from others? Especially, when you have built your brand around your own collective reason, experience, and knowledge. Often, it requires humility to step back, and to collaborate and accept someone else’s opinion or insight.

Imagine, being a successful artist, and accepting criticism from someone that has less experience than you do. Does this affect your ability to create? Does it have you doubting your own abilities? Are you inclined to move forward with a project set on your own standards of quality?

These are intriguing questions. As we interview today’s guest, we are going to focus on this topic. Our guest today is Buck Johnson.

ABOUT BUCK JOHNSON

Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and music producer Buck Johnson is the keyboardist and backing vocalist for the legendary rock band Aerosmith, The Hollywood Vampires (Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, and Joe Perry), and The Joe Perry Project. Buck hails from the backroads of Shady Grove, Alabama, just outside Birmingham, where he grew up singing gospel throughout the South with his musical family. Since beginning his career, the soulful rock artist has amplified his musical talent by performing in churches, bars, festivals, and concert halls globally alongside icons like Aerosmith, Johnny, Depp, and Alice Cooper.

As a songwriter, Buck co-wrote the international hit single for Carlos Santana, "Just Feel Better," for his 2005 album All That I Am, featuring Steven Tyler. After moving to Nashville in 2006, Buck joined the country rock band Whiskey Falls, releasing their self-titled album in 2007 and earning two Country Top 40 hit singles, "Last Train Running" and "Falling Into You." Buck credits his Alabama roots and his many years of living in California for his soulful rock Cala-Bama sound.

Buck has also had numerous songs featured on television and in films as a composer, producer, and performer, including the song "You Came Along" featuring Billy Ray Cyrus on vocals for the Lifetime movie Flying By, “Working Man” by Whiskey Falls for the ABC TV show Extreme Makeover-Home Edition, and "Fast Talking Lover" by Whiskey Falls for the ABC TV show Nashville.

Continuing to expand his songwriting and musicianship, Buck produced and co-wrote Kaitlyn Kohler’s single "I’m Not Crying," which recently went No. 1 at Texas Country radio.

Buck has also recorded and/or toured with such notable acts as The Doobie Brothers (“Rockin’ Down The Highway” live album), Tal Bachman (hit single “She’s So High”), Jon McLaughlan (hit single “Beautiful Disaster”), John Waite, Chris Stills, Timothy B. Schmit (The Eagles), and more. He has also worked as a songwriting collaborator, session vocalist, and musician with songwriters and producers Jamie Houston (High School Musical, Carlos Santana), Charlie Midnight (The Doobie Brothers), and Bob Rock (Tal Bachman).

INTERVIEW WITH BUCK JOHNSON AND GUITAR THRILLS MAGAZINE

Guitar Thrills: Hi Buck. Thank you for taking a moment to chat with us today. I believe this is the first time that we interviewed you, so it will be a pleasure getting to know you.

Guitar Thrills: Regarding the topic of being intrigued to know other people’s views. How often does that come into practice when you are creating music?

Buck: All the time for me. I consider myself a collaborator when it comes to songwriting, production, and performance. I’m better at working towards a common goal when sharing ideas with others, regardless of their experience. It’s serving the song or music and what works best for it. And I’m always wanting to learn more and grow. Great ideas and insight can come from people I work with who are mentors and also from young artists with fresh ideas and perspectives.

Guitar Thrills: What are the chances that you will accept someone else’s input? If you are intrigued, does it depend upon the number of years, or experience they have? 

Buck: I’m always open to someone else’s input. Experience isn’t necessarily what makes someone’s input intriguing to me. Experience is a valuable resource to tap into, while someone with less experience may have a fresh perspective and new ideas.

Guitar Thrills: Can you relay to us a specific incident that someone wanted to provide input, while you were writing, or creating a song? What were the results? 

Buck: There are too many to nail down a specific one. Almost all of my songwriting collaborations are give-and-take with input. And I believe that it usually yields success. But that doesn’t mean every collaboration became a great or hit-sounding song.

Guitar Thrills: You have a history of working with some talented artists. How much did they rely upon your abilities and knowledge regarding a recording or release?

Buck: Every situation is a bit different for me. In some cases, as with the Hollywood Vampires, I contributed backing vocals and keyboards to the album. The producer, Tommy Henricksen, gave me the freedom to try whatever I heard, and that trust meant a lot.

With an album I did with artist Brett Hellings (with Richard Fortus on guitar, Kenny Aronoff on drums, Billy Sheehan on bass, and Tommy Henricksen on guitar), I brought in songs as well as backing vocals and keyboard skills and co-produced the vocals with Tommy Henricksen. Experience with production in the studio can help things progress quicker and with more success. And those album sessions had a lot of experience besides mine to pull from.

Guitar Thrills: Not everyone can accept criticism. Even if it is constructive in nature. Do you question their motives, or accept it, if there is honesty to it?

Buck: If it is honest and not self-serving or stubborn, then yes. The music industry is full of rejection, so you must accept knowledgeable and honest criticism to grow. It can also help motivate you to work harder and be better.

Guitar Thrills: Excellent insight into one of the elements of creativity. I mentioned that you have worked with a host of talented artists. Was there one artist that just left you with a feeling of “awe”?

Buck: I’ve been blessed to work with some rock legends like Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, and Alice Cooper that I’ve been in “awe” of. 

Guitar Thrills: I can’t imagine that every artist is easy to work with. Is there someone that you felt that was extremely difficult, and why?

Buck: I would never point anyone out, but I do think the pressures that come with being a successful artist can make a musical celebrity have some trying moments. The important thing is for me to do my job, be excellent, be early, be prepared, stay in my lane, and don’t let negative situations affect my being positive.

Guitar Thrills: I am sure, there is a level of confidentiality with those that you work with. You can choose to keep names out of your answer. However, have you bumped heads with an artist, even when you knew you were in the right? Please explain.

Buck: Not really. Maybe when I was younger, in my twenties, and in a band. But I think that’s normal. And there have been situations that just didn’t work, so all parties must move on. At my age now, I’m fortunate to collaborate with people that I click with and admire, but there’s no ego. There are times we do disagree and will fight for the idea we like better, but it all turns out to be the best idea in the end, whether it’s mine, there’s, or more likely, something different. If I’m hired to do a job, then the artist who hired me is the boss, and I’ll go with what they want.

Guitar Thrills: Thinking back on your previous or current releases, do you contribute your success to anyone in particular? Or are you the creative genius behind your work?

Buck: I do have amazing mentors, collaborators, and those who’ve encouraged and supported me that I always want to acknowledge and am thankful for. I come from a musical family that brought me up performing music, so they’re the cornerstone of my musical development. The faith and support from my wife, Kym, gave me the encouragement to move to LA and then to Nashville to pursue my career. And Charlie Midnight, a legendary songwriter and producer (James Brown, Joe Cocker, Doobie Brothers, Joni Mitchell), is one who I’ve learned a great deal from and have written many songs with over the years.

Guitar Thrills: If there is a particular selling point, on why any music lover should listen to your music, what would that be?

Buck: If you like honest, soulful rock-n-roll with good lyrics, then take a listen.

Guitar Thrills: Awesome feedback. Thank you for your insight and honesty. We look forward to chatting with you again. Please let us know if there is something that you would like to promote, or would like your audience to keep in mind.

Buck: My current single “Just Feel Better” is out now on all streaming platforms, as well as the video for it on YouTube. More singles to follow with the album out in September 2024. I’d also love to connect with friends and fans on social media (IG: @buckjohnson_official, Facebook: Buck Johnson Music) and at www.buckjohnson.com, where you can get the latest news and visit the merchandise store.   

Guitar Thrills: Thank you for your time, and we look forward to talking to you again soon.




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