Eric 'Ripley' Johnson of psych/drone outfit Moon Duo on the benefits of losing your job
The Wooden Shjips guitarist now tours with his partner Sanae Yamada
This article is from 2011.
Fans of their droney psych-rock should probably thank the boss who, two years back, told Eric ‘Ripley’ Johnson his services were no longer required. ‘It was one of those things where I didn’t like my job, but didn’t have the courage to just quit,’ Johnson tells The List, from a car headed south, somewhere between San Francisco and LA.
‘Getting laid off forced me to reassess things. It made me decide to take that jump.’ So, Johnson, part-time guitarist with fuzzy, motorik rockers Wooden Shjips, suddenly minus a day-job, found time on his hands to dedicate to his other side-project – making beautifully spacey, rolling, krautrock rhythms with his girlfriend Sanae Yamada.
‘I don’t like to over-intellectualise what we do,’ Johnson says, ‘I mean, I think of us as a rock ‘n’ roll band. But I guess the music we make ties in with our Buddhist beliefs.’ Johnson, a soft-spoken Californian with a salt-and-pepper beard, recently relocated from San Francisco to a ‘very remote’ place in the Rockies, Colorado and meditates daily. ‘Meditation is about quieting your mind, and picking up on very subtle things. I guess that’s why I respond strongly to very minimal music, very slow, repetitive stuff – Terry Riley, Philip Glass, La Monte Young.’
With Wooden Shjips (who have a fan in director Jim Jarmusch; he asked them to play last year’s ATP festival in New York) due to release another album in Autumn, a European tour with Moon Duo, and plans to write another record with Yamada, Johnson gives redundancy a good name.
‘Things have sort of taken on a life of their own. Multiple times a day, even when bad stuff is happening on tour, and things are breaking, or getting lost or whatever – I think, there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing right now.’
Captains Rest, Glasgow, Sat 14 May. Mazes (Souterrain Transmissions) is out now.