INTERVIEW BY STEVE OLSON
INTRODUCTION BY STEVE OLSON
Worthy, gifted, and beyond. Beyond the norm, with passion. With passion, comes the process. From the process, comes the product. With the product, comes the answers, for some. For the sake of all that’s necessary.to one. For all others, to get, to listen, and process.Then to make out of it, the answer. Then give all back, to All. Hear what one’s saying!!!“At first, there’s that attraction when you know you love music. You feel that you are born with a gift, and it feeds itself. You’re listening to stuff and it makes you happy. It’s the happiest thing in the world.”
I am here sitting with Alain Johannes from Chile. He continues to type and text and look at his computer. It’s becoming very weird, so I shall smoke this cigarette. Test. Test. Kaboom!
[Laughs] Okay, Alain, where do you come from?
I was born in Santiago de Chile, in 1962 to bohemian musicians. We traveled the world until we got to the States in 1974. I’ve lived in Zurich, Panama and Mexico, being driven by the rock n’ roll dream of getting to L.A. [Laughs]
What do you mean by bohemian musicians?
Well, it was my mom, my uncles Peter and Alex, and my dad. They were teenage rock stars and the first wave was called the Nueva Ola, the new wave. That was in the early ’60s and late ’50s. There were a bunch of them. My uncle Peter, to this day, is still a huge, huge star and my dad, too.
In what part of the world?
In South America, he can walk down the street and everyone recognizes him.
They were doing rock n’ roll?
They were doing rock n’ roll old school, original style. Of course, he’s done a bunch of stuff since then, and some traditional stuff. He basically took the sound that was coming from America and appropriated it in Spanish and English, so they were accessible. He was very much like Elvis. He has a lot of great presence on stage and great moves.
It was hip-shaking, rock n’ roll thrusts, jumping crazy, sexy moves. [Laughs] He had sexy moves, contextually speaking, at the time.
It was provocative, indeed. Then they moved to Europe for a while and started to do more of a revue, so it was all standards. My uncle Peter is a multi-instrumentalist. He plays the trumpet, guitar, flute and drums. My uncle Alex has a really sweet voice and so they would do impressions too. They would do Sammy Davis, Jr., Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and stuff like that. They ended up hooking up with a big band called Hazy Osterwald’s Big Band in Germany. They were in the performance part of that ensemble for years. In the ’70s, they got into coming to L.A. and starting a rock band. It was a band called Brothers of the World. BOW. It was kind of like Earth, Wind and Fire, War, Chicago and that kind of stuff.
So it’s safe to say that it’s in the genes, because you’re a multi-instrumentalist?
Yeah. Well, it was just exposure to always having music around the house. They would rehearse at my mom’s place and there were always instruments, so I’d mess around with different things. I played guitar since I was like four or five.
Right, just because it was there?
Yeah, and I really loved it. I started out learning Beatles songs. That was the first big one, The Beatles.
Wait a minute. Your mom is a vocalist as well?
Did she play instruments?
She played a little guitar, and did vocals. In Mexico, she was very popular too.
Did your parents meet because of music?
Yeah. My dad and mom would tour and play together and stuff, so that’s how it started and then it didn’t work out because they were both young musicians. It was a big secret in the family for a long time. I just met him just now.
You just met your dad?
I just met him last week. It was beautiful. We finally hooked up and it was a long time coming. I’ve been aware of him since my mid-twenties, but for some reason it just didn’t happen until now.
As a little kid you were just around and they were playing and jamming.
Yeah, they were going to shows. My step dad, who I thought was my dad, raised me. He was like my father. He is my sister’s dad. He’s an impresario.
Explain what an impresario is?
An impresario in Mexico would be like a manager that also books the tours and gets the tours going, and organizes everything. It’s like many different functions in one person. He would bring the Carnival people from Brazil and fill up the Teatro Ferrocarilero. That’s the name of the big theatre down there. Secos y Mojados was this really cool band that did KISS make-up before KISS by many years.
Yeah, they played that kind of pop pre new wave Brazilian style. They would stay at the house and there was always stuff going on everyday. People were always hanging, eating and drinking at all hours.
And playing music?
And playing music and I was just around that and sometimes I would have to escape it as well. That was a big part of my development as a musician, my need to escape the party in my room with the headphones on listening to endless hours of all kinds of music.