Lead singer/songwriter Jaren Johnston of rock band American Bang is Nashville royalty. He grew up in the Grand Ole Opry watching his dad, one of the main drummers, perform.
"I would go (to the Opry) on Friday and Saturday nights because we didn't have a babysitter," he recalls. "I would just sit, hang out and watch. That's what I came up in, which is pretty cool. I guess not many kids can say that."
Jaren too started out as a drummer, and opted to pursue music rather than stay in college. "My dad would always say, 'What the hell are you going to do?' and I would say, 'Well, I hope music, because I'm damn sure not good at anything else.'" Jaren played in a number of bands. "I was kind of like a drummer-for-hire. I saw so many damn rock and roll bands make so many bad decisions."
So he decided to take his destiny in his own hands and "be upfront and in charge" rather than behind the scenes. "I'm one of those characters who wants to be upfront. I'm usually the loudest guy in the room; that's how I like it."
He also took his father's advice and started to write songs. Nashville is a songwriters' town, so the stakes are high. "That's why it took us so long to make the record," Jaren says. "It's all about the song."
The best way to describe American Bang's sound is dirty rock with a whole lot of southern swagger, a mix of the Kings of Leon and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Warner Reprise Records picked up the band in 2006, released the EP "Move to the Music" in 2007 and is now readying the full-length, self-titled debut for this summer.
American Bang has already garnered a slew of big-name fans including ZZ Top, whom they opened for, and famed producer Bob Rock (Aerosmith, Bon Jovi), who signed on to produce their debut album.
Though Jaren says he loves to be on the road, his heart is at home in Nashville, "Everything moves a lot slower here, and I don't think it's as much of a competition. People just want to be happy and do their thing, and they like to see their friends succeed."
The band will be on the road this summer, with concerts including Lollapalooza 2010.
Printed from Oprah.com on Thursday, December 12, 2013