B.A. Johnston performs for his first time in Owen Sound this Saturday, November 21st at the Coach Inn (click here for tickets). He granted Mudtown an interview in anticipation of his performance, which will include a donut eating contest, an all-Ween tribute band, and many, many snot-rockets.
Mudtown: Thanks for agreeing to the interview BA. Your longlisting for the 2015 Polaris Prize sparked some controversy with people coming out vocally for and against your nomination, including an active campaign to get you on the shortlist, complete with its own hashtag #shorlistBA and a Downfall / Hitler Reacts video – what would you have spent the $50K on if you had won?
BA: Dunno. I guess I would have invested heavily into Dollarama and A&W stocks, and spent the rest on Savage Swords of Conan. I may have bought a van made in this century.
It’s not unusual for you to end up performing to an audience in a bathroom stall at the end of the night, cramming in as many crowd members as possible. Do you have a preferred kind of bathroom to perform in, or any particular venue’s bathroom that is ideal for the crapper concert?
I can’t really get away from the bathroom encore. The audience seems to want it and they give me trouble if i don’t do it. That being said I prefer a good sized girls bathroom. Sometimes there is poupourri in there.
You’re known as a son of Steel Town (Hamilton, Ont) and a devoted Ticats’ fan. What do feel are the political-economic ramifications for Hamilton with respect to American Steel’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy application in the United States, and how will this – if at all – influence your songwriting?
Well it won’t really reflect much in my songwriting, but i think US steel are a bunch of crooks. And Hamilton will be left out to dry again, as we as a city tend to vote NDP, so no one gives a shit what happens there.
McDonald’s, or Harvey’s?
Harveys for burgs and shakes. McDonalds for everything else.
On a typical show you switch through playing guitar, playing a keyboard, and singing to backing tracks on a portable CD player – what determines your performance method, and have you considered doing all three at once?
Due to lack of skill and ability i am forced to do them all separate. May be for the best.
The minivan seems to be the preferred BA mode of transport and has been featured in your songs – what do you think of the demise of the minivan and rise of the crossover SUV? Would you ever consider driving a Tesla?
Man, the mini van ain’t going nowhere. You know how hard it is to find a used Dodge Grand Caravan? People can’t get enough of these things. People will always need a big slow dumb thing to drive their kids and crap around in. I would drive a Tesla if i can get a good used one for 2500 and it can haul all my crud.
You’ve been able to capture the Canadian spirit in song unlike any other singer-songwriter of our day, like a fusion of Stomping Tom and the Trailer Park Boys – to what do you credit your originality? And, where does BA Johnston go from here?
Well,l you got to write about what you know. And, all I do is drive around canada and eat. I guess most people don’t write songs about eating or Regina. Nowhere to go but up from here.
Finally,do you have any words for the people of Owen Sound?
Come on down to the show. Good seats still available.
B.A. Johnston’s latest album “Shit Sucks” was longlisted for the 2015 Polaris Prize. It is available via iTunes, and record stores across Canada.