A tourday with Kenney Dale Johnson

Tonight (European time) I talked to Kenney Dale Johnson for half an hour on the phone. Yes that’s right, Chris Isaaks drummer. I have seen them play this year in Tilburg the Netherlands. The show was very entertaining and I always lose myself in the music. Not knowing who I am or where I am anymore. Just music all around me and great entertainers on stage. You could say I’m a big fan.

When I called it was in the afternoon in California and Kenney had the time because he was at the carwash. He owns a Cadillac (ofcourse). He loves oldtimer cars, and he had a Camino, but he doesn’t like the inconvenience. You know, things always break, you have to get it fixed. So he’s driving a new one nowadays.

You have been touring through Europe and the US all year. How does a tourday look like?
We wake up in a hotel, have coffee and breakfast. Then we have time for tourism. I always go by myself. Americans go crazy for the historical things in Europe. I like to visit museums. In Amsterdam I’ve been to the Rijksmuseum, the Hermitage. I visited historical buildings in Milan, London. I love that. I feel blessed that I can do these kind of things because I came from a small town in Texas.

After that we go for a soundcheck, usually at 4.00. Then we get dressed, we have custom made suits, and get warmed up.

Warmed up? What do you do?
Well I take some chairs, arm chairs are great for this, and some towels. Then I play on them with my drumsticks. That’s how I warm up.

And what warming up rituals do you have for your voice?
Thanks for asking, but actually I do nothing to warm up my voice. We’ve been touring like crazy last year, and it’s been hard for my throat. Getting all tired and scratchy you know. So I don’t talk much during the day to preserve it. I always go for a walk on my own, so it’s easier not to talk.

I love Holland by the way. We’ve been everywhere. Even in Enschede. In 1989 we did a whole Holland tour. We’ve been to Arnhem, Geleen, Geldrop, Enschede. All the small towns. We sometimes arrived in a big empty hall (I don’t know how you call it in Dutch) in the middle of nowhere. Then I wondered, who will come here? They’ll never get it full. But it always turned out, people from the whole area would come and the place was packed!

We also played at Pinkpop in 1987, with Siouxy and the Bandshees, Iggy Pop etc. In Europe you do that, festivals with mixed bands. In America we don’t.

It’s a small country, so we put everything together to make it big. I was there at Pinkpop by the way.

Anyway… back to the tourday… after the gig, what do you do?

We hop on the tourbus. That’s the convenience of having a superdeluxe tourbus. You can sleep in it while being driven When we arrive at 6 or 7 we wake up, get into the hotel, and sleep further.

We really needed that last time because we had very long distances in Europe. We drove from Zurich to London and from Austria to Spain.

During a day drive we sleep, talk, enjoy the scenery and we have all kind of conveniences like wifi, iPads, iPods to entertain ourselves.

You are around eachother for 24/7. Do you ever get tired of anyone?

Well sure it can happen, but that’s why I’m giving everyone his space during the day. At night at the show, yeah we all hang out, but most of the time I’m by myself.

(then suddenly out of the blue)

You know what I really like in Holland?…. raw herring with onions. They sell it on the streets like hotdogs. And lemon spa with it. That is so… I really… I enjoy that very much. Here in the United States we don’t have that kind of thing. But I love raw herring!

I don’t know why we only played in Tilburg this year. Why we did only one gig in Holland. We didn’t go to Amsterdam or Utrecht.

(This man really loves my country! I love him for that!)

If I say rock and roll man or family man. Which one are you?
I have my wife and my dog. We have no kids, so… family… hmmm…

Kenney and Chris, Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images AsiaPac)

Your wife is your family right? And your dog too.
Yes of course. It’s kind of a dr. Jekyll and mr. Hyde situation. I enjoy California, the music and all the great things happening around it. I really feel priviledged to experience all that. But I’m happy to be at home too. Especially right now in September.

How about your blogs. Do you still do that?
I used to do that, but no. Not anymore. I’m just too lazy. I got in trouble with a lot of fans about that. They all wanted me to keep on blogging. But I just… I’m too lazy. I think fans all lived your life through your blogs. The things you experienced while touring, the celebrities you met and how honoured you always were. Your fans (like me) loved that. I guess that’s why a lot of them are upset. But I understand that you’ve been doing that for a long time and that you don’t feel like writing anymore.

If you could make three wishes, what would they be?
(Silent). Well, uhm… uhm… wow, that’s way too philosophical for me. I don’t know. I just want everyone to live healthy lives.
(I think that is a very important wish, everyone would appreciate that.)

How about holidays. Do you have time for that?

I used to go to Mexico all the time, until it got dangerous. But to be honest with you, I’m happy to be at home. We travel a lot with work you know. Although, last time we were in Spain the last two weeks. My wife flew in and enjoyed the vacation in Spain and Portugal.

But again, I’d love to go back to Amsterdam one day. I really feel sorry we didn’t go there this year. I don’t know why. The fans are always great over there. Very nice people. I hope I can come back.

Thanks Kenney for this interview. I always appreciate it that you have time for your fans, even on email and now with this interview. Thanks very much.