Many MPLS + STPL music scenesters know the past music of Johnny Solomon from his previous band Friends Like These and the popular first album from his follow-up pop-rock project Communist Daughter. But the past few years have been intensely transformational for Solomon and his music: After going through rehab and managing mental illness, the musician—along with bandmate and now wife Molly Solomon and other top notch hometown talent—have released a truly great new album The Cracks That Built The Wall.
Communist Daughter is just getting back from a national tour for the album, and play a triumphant homecoming show at First Avenue’s Mainroom this Friday with similarly beloved local openers Alpha Consumer, up-and-comers Fraea, and pop-punks Catbath. We sent some Quick Questions to Solomon to hear more about the new record and upcoming show.
Secrets of the City: We’ve read a lot about the personal element of The Cracks That Built The Wall, which obviously can come through lyrically. But how has that also come through in sound development and song composition?
Johnny Solomon: I think I’m always trying to capture the sound of my own thoughts, I’m always trying to add the layer that isn’t really music, it’s more the feeling that the song needs in certain places. Its the 3rd part of the song. Its a hard process to describe, its like trying to unfocus your eyes so you can see one of those hidden picture things they sell at malls . . . I try to unfocus my ears and head, and I just try to find the sound in all of that noise inside me.
There’s a great polish on the songs on The Cracks That Built The Wall—how much of an impact did Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes, Benjamin Booker) and Heba Kadry (Future Islands, The Mars Volta) have on the recording?
The biggest impact on the polish actually came from Kevin Bowe, he really worked with us to produce a much more refined sound. Then when we had it pristine we took it to Andrija to sand off some of those smooth edges and put it through that vintage filter of a sound. He has a great ear for adding the grit back. Heba just took it all and made it clear. It was a lot of cooks in the kitchen and Heba was able to make it sound like we planned it that way.
MPLS + STPL music fans are familiar with Communist Daughter, does that familiarity impact your music writing process at all?
I’m definitely aware of the fact that people want to hear our music now, whether good or bad I’m aware of it. I think the biggest thing was that I knew that I wouldn’t have a song like “Not The Kid” on this record. This record was less about the single, and more about the whole package.
How exciting is it to have a big First Avenue Mainroom show for the album?
There is a list of things that I wanted to do as a musician that I have been crossing off my whole life. Headline our own show at First Ave was right at the top. Success isn’t about money or even attention, its just a feeling that comes with being grateful for what you have. No matter what ever happens after this, I get to say I was one of those bands that headlined First Ave and that will feel like some kind of success . . .