Brett and Trent Johnson have been on stage since they were kids. The grandsons of Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame member Elmer Tippe and nephews to multi-award winner Rick Tippe, the pair have melody in their genes.
“Growing up around music, it was hard not to get into it,” says Brett Johnson who began playing country bars with his younger brother at age 15.
By the time, the pair hit 20, they had played every country bar in the Fraser Valley, creating an energetic and popular live show that features songs by legends like Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings as well as contemporary artists like Toby Keith, Brad Paisley and Keith Urban.
But playing tunes written by other people’s did little to satisfy their creative appetites.
In 2008, the Johnson Brothers began writing and recording their first album Burnin Diesel, an opus that features nine original songs and just one cover, but took almost three years to complete.
Their first single from the album, “Devil’s Highway” is already on rotation Country 107.1 in Abbotsford.
Brett says it’s a sound that’s isn’t usually heard on country radio.
“We wanted to write stuff that is a little bit different from what you hear on country radio right now.”
Recorded in their home studio, Burnin Diesel tips a hat to the siblings’ musical influences, which range far further than country.
“Everyone thinks because we are Elmer Tippe’s grandsons and Rick Tippe’s nephews all we listen to is country,” says Brett.
“But we’ve been influenced by a lot of rock bands.”
He counts AC/DC and Bon Jovi as inspirations.
Having their own space to record allowed the brothers time to perfect the album, it also allowed them to develop as a band, that includes their dad Ken on bass guitar and Jason Cooper on lead guitar.
“Using our own band, instead of studio musicians has allowed us as a band to create these songs together,” says Brent.
“What you hear on the album is going to be identical to what you hear on stage. We were able to create an album that we believe in, that will be right for us. Hopefully our audience will feel the same way.”
Burning Diesel will be released on Friday, April 1.The Johnson Brothers join their uncle Rick Tippe and his band The Kings of Cool on Saturday at the ACT. They will share the stage with Sandra Laratta, Todd Richard and Laura-Lee Blake. Their grandpa Elmer will also make an appearance. To purchase the album, visit thejohnsonbrothers.webs.com.
Tippe working behind the scenes to create stars
With more than 30 country music awards under his belt, Rick Tippe can be termed a musical success.
Now, he’s busy sharing his formula with others.
Ricky’s Music World is a project several years in the making that helps wannabe stars navigate the confusing business world of music.
The project features four portals – Make Me a Star City, Songwriters City, Centre Stage City and Song Demo City – that cover every aspect needed for success.
Todd Richard is one of first artists to sign on to Tippe’s Make Me a Star program.
He got back from Nashville two weeks ago where he recorded seven songs, with Tippe’s help, for his first CD.
“I told Todd that if he didn’t record these songs I would record them myself. I think we’ve written some very strong material,” says Tippe.
His nephews The Johnson Brothers are another band that’s tapped his expertise.
“What inspired me to do undertake this massive project were the numerous phone calls I received over the past decade from people that wanted to enjoy the same success I was having as a recording artist,” Tippe adds.
All the people who came to Tippe for advice were chasing a dream that literally became a nightmare for them. Some had spent anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000 on recording projects that had no chance of any commercial success due to the poor quality of the songs, production and even performance.
“I believed with the knowledge I had I could help to minimize their mistakes and maximize their successes,” says Tippe.
• To learn more about Ricky’s Music World, visit rickysmusicworld.com.