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
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.