Big Sugar frontman finds new life with Grady

gradyAustin, Texas blues rockers Grady are currently traversing Canada, promoting their newest record Good As Dead and are hitting Moncton and Fredericton clubs with the hopes of blowing out your eardrums.

The band has rightfully earned their stripes with leader Gordie Johnson’s powerful mastery of the electric guitar being front and centre. For a trio, these guys (and girl) make a whole lotta noise.

Canadian fans will recall Johnson as the guitarist-singer from Canadian band Big Sugar. After their demise approximately seven years ago, Johnson relocated to Austin with the hopes of inspiration striking him.

“I wasn’t running away from Canada by any means. I was moving towards new inspiration and a culture and way of life that seemed a little more familiar to me for whatever reason. I felt more at home in those surroundings,” Johnson says.

The benefit of relocation offered Johnson the chance to pursue creative opportunities that might not have come his way had he stayed in Canada.

“Austin offers much in the way of creative opportunities,” he affirms. “The business side, not so much,” he laughs.

“And it was the exact opposite in Canada; business opportunities were ripe while the creative ones weren’t so much so. At the end of the day, it is hard to separate the two worlds though.”

In addition to his own work as a musician, Johnson has been filling his schedule with a slate of production work for bands and artists including Joel Plaskett, The Respectables and The Trews, among many others.

“In a big way, I feel like the recording studio is one big instrument. I see production work as a natural extension of what I do otherwise.”

Johnson oversaw the recording and production aspects of Grady’s new record, which was recorded at Willie Nelson’s Pedernales Studio in Austin. Johnson actually elects to record many of the bands he works with there. And there’s a simple reason for it:

“The studio is tucked into the hill, in the country away from everything. The only distraction to be had is that of the great American music has walked through the place,” Johnson says. “Willie’s platinum records hang on the walls there and when bands realize that they are walking in the shadow of Willie Nelson, they tend to step up their game.

“I swear the studio is inspirationally haunted though,” he says. “People come in and if they can’t quite find the right part or whatever for their song, they’ll find it in that place … I saw Warren Haynes disappear into the dark reaches of the studio and come back with a book full of songs. It’s really something to be a part of.”

Grady will be playing Nicky Zee’s in Fredericton on Thursday November 12 and at the Manhattan in Moncton on Friday November 13.

Bring your earplugs. You’ve been warned.

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