Bleary-eyed on a Saturday morning, I squint across the table at Gary Johnson, Mike Young and Jim Ross, the singer, bassist and drummer, respectively, of local rock band Ressurection Mary. (Missing are the band's new guitarists, Roger and Mike.) Breakfast finished, we move outside to sit under the trees and talk about what's happening for these guys on the heels of their recent CD release, Feed the Story.
My first question had to be about the unique spelling of the band's name. Gary clarifies: "I did that because I didn't want it to look like a Catholic band, and it's not a Catholic band, so that's why. I just didn't want to spell 'resurrection' like in the biblical sense, because I don't want to try and pretend I'm some warrior who's gonna save the world, you know, that's not what I'm about because I'm a mess... I write about my problems and hopefully they're going to help people but that's about it, so that's why I changed the spelling."
What about the Christian imagery in the lyrics? Gary hesitates, then explains, "I am a Christian, but I'm just not doing so good right now in life, so I'm not going to go out and preach to people and stuff like that. That's not my gig. My gig is to write songs and hopefully that they come across and help people when they listen to them." So who writes the songs? Gary continued, "I write the songs and then I bring them to these guys and then they make them cool."
What makes Ressurection Mary different from other bands? Mike offers his views: "I think the big thing is that when we play, people listen. You know, you go to a bar, and you see a lot of bands play, there'll be people talking at tables, glancing up at the stage now and then. But I can't say that we've ever played a show where the entire bar wasn't focused on us." So what's going on there? Jim interrupts: "Just amazement." [Much laughter.] Mike continues: "We pretty much pour everything we've got into our performances so it carries through into the audience. They have a good time and leave the show realizing they've witnessed something special and they're gonna come back next time, definitely."
It's a different experience for the band's leader: "I don't remember the entire show, I can't remember anything about it. I black right out, I totally lose it, the show. I mean, I just go up there and figure, okay, this is what I gotta do, and I totally am nervous before I go up. For the rest of my life I'll always be like that, no matter how big a show we're playing." Is that okay? "Oh no. It's pretty tough on the old body, I think. But, you know, the reality is, I just walk up there and black out, it's like I go right into the music, totally 100%. From start one to the finish, I'm gone."
What's important for them about the music they play? Gary comments, "I think the message that I portray in my songs, I think there's a lot of...like one of the magazines said we're like taking an emotional roller coaster, and that's what I do, that's why I write." He hesitates and adds, "There's people that have read my album and saw what people have gone through and they're going through the same things I've gone through and they know that they're not alone in the world and that's the scoop. That's the whole message behind the whole album and that's what Ressurection Mary is all about, that I'm definitely not perfect. I've gone through some pretty heavy shit in my life... hopefully, it's going to help people out."
Mike adds in, "People see that somebody else has had the same problems they've had and learned from them and carried on with their lives. Maybe they think it's possible for them, too. It's part of the healing process. It's a positive message. We don't by any means abstain from booze and other things, but we certainly don't let it control our lives. We do our best to keep it on an even keel and keep focused on what we're doing and try and to bring a positive message to anybody that might come and check out the band."
Having established the significance to them of their music, what's the best thing about being in a band? Mike provides a list: "Freedom to express yourself in any way you see fit, not having to play by anybody else's rules, it's only against the law if you get caught, the sky's the limit, enjoy life to its fullest." And the worst thing? "Until you make it you starve, you have to work at lousy, crappy, shitty jobs to pay your rent, not getting the recognition that maybe we feel we deserve. We don't want to sound egotistical or anything, but we know we rock and roll and that we're going to fucking totally kick the world's ass when we get out there. It's just a matter of time."
So what about that "recognition" thing? Gary clarifies: "The simple fact is that until you're out there, until you've actually made your mark in the world, then you don't get the recognition you deserve, and then once you get out there, then people are just going to cut the shit down on you anyway..."
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