- Terry Wigmore
I'm not certain when I stumbled upon the bold and audacious sounds of Johns (aka soundboard tinkerers). It was like stumbling into a door. A wallop! What the heck was that? If you're like me, after being stunned from the musical assault, you may need to sit down and examine what it was that hit you. Only when you get to that point can you begin to understand that Johns is really a sound-tinkerer, literally, with no fear of taking stuff apart and reconstructing the pieces of sound anyway that he feels like in that moment when inspiration strikes.
From screaming guitar work to banging beats, all layered multi-effects, Johns' fantastic sense of mixing and production (which he does from home - somewhere in the outback on the south west corner of Australia), is one part screaming madness, and a dollop of musical crocodile Dundee: bold, self-assured and slightly off-kilter in a fun (“don't take myself too seriously”) sort of way.
How does all of this sound in a song? Well, I'd point to some of the songs that caught my ears, Allthtime, Lotz Don't Wanna Know, this time – if she could, and Making Profit From Love of Talking. These are really representative of the bold approach to musical experimentation that Johns tinkers with. Fearless social commentary set to music that is equally bold. Don't get me wrong, Johns, isn't all raging madness...just most of the time. And that is the real attraction of soundboard tinkerers' music. It's not boxed in. Ever! He pushes ideas and mixes in any direction he chooses whenever the creative moment comes upon him.
Raised in rural Australia, Johns has had music around him throughout his formative years (he enjoyed piano lessons as a “whipper snipper”). He has learned to play a lot of the instruments he uses in his music: drums, bass, saxophone, keyboards, acoustic and electric guitars, and any sort of implement that can make a sound. That “tinkerer” idea is how he came up with his artist name: soundboard tinkerers.
Soundboard Tinkerers grew up listening to country rock - in particular Neil Young and also pop rock - radio rock. His music followed into Alt Rock or, as he likes to say, “from there (to) art rock, experimental rock, rock fusion, post punk rock, heavy rock, country rock et cetra.” He has a whimsical approach to playing instruments, tending to tinker on one instrument for a time then moving onto another. In John's words, “I would attach to different instruments for a period of time at a whim.” Most of the time, these days, he has stayed with the electric guitar, and that has led him to his grand experiments in sound tinkering, and the big powerful musical eruptions that are his hallmark.
Johns approaches his vocal recording in an almost improvisational way. He may actually be satisfied with his first take, but more often it is his third take in front of the microphone that will find its way into the mix. He enjoys the mixing, polishing and producing his music. Though I find his mixes quite good, I will defer to John's self assessment of his skills: “[producing]which he does very nicely/extremely well/not a bad job at all by any means/which he is getting better at all the time/other.”
The internet has been a boon to many home-musicians/recording artists. He has remained with SoundCloud, and uploads his music there, “. . . surfing those wobbly times but I appreciate SoundCloud's continuing development of the platform and the ease of the ride so far.” Johns believes that his own music has improved as a result of listening to SoundCloud musicians for the past 3 years. He has also found a kindred musical spirit in Finland, where he discovered Petri Tuonenlehto (who goes by Lapin ihmeellinen luonto (The Wonderful Nature of Lapland) on SC). Together, they have developed some amazingly progressive guitar-based recordings, from jazz-infused arrangements to heavy metal/alt rock compositions.
What makes Johns' music a joy to explore is his unbridled enthusiasm for music and his embrace of sounds of all sorts. His vocals are dominant in his recordings which makes it easy to capture his lyrical wonderings. Johns does not come in a box. He is about as “out-of-the-box” as any artist I have encountered. Soundboard tinkerers is refreshingly free-spirited music!
Soundboard Tinkerers' music can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/soundboard-tinkerers