Exclusive: Crush 40’s Johnny Gioeli talks Sonic Movie, recording processes

This second interview with Johnny Gioeli provides insight on Crush 40 songs, Jim Carrey, and the live-action Sonic movie.

Johnny Gioeli is the lead vocalist for Crush 40, along with other notable bands such as Hardline and Alex Rudi Pell.

Good evening Mr. Gioeli! I hope you’re faring well in these complicated times. I’m glad I
have the opportunity to interview you once more for the Sonic news site, Tails’ Channel.

Hi Fernando! It’s a pleasure to speak with you! Thanks for the interview…..let’s begin…

Your 2009 compilation album with Crush 40, Super Sonic Songs, contains a hard-hitting cover of “Fire Woman” by The Cult. What circumstances led to this song being included in the compilation?

That’s a great question! Jun and I just always loved “The Cult” and I used to hang out with the singer, Ian Astbury, many moons ago in Hollywood. We both just love the vibe of that song and so….bam! There it is!

What’s the recording process like for Crush 40? Has the methodology changed throughout the years?

No, We’ve managed to keep the same process for years and years and years. If it ain’t broken……you know the rest… haha!

We usually begin with the “theme” of what we’re working on and Jun usually has a music riff idea to capture the feel…then I take over for lyrics and melody. We exchange files back and forth, and always discuss what we want to do. With the technology today, it can work. I will say though, that we LOVE being in the studio together and just work and accomplish. We’ve done this in the past too, but mostly Jun in Japan, and me in the United States.

Johnny Gioeli and Jun Senoue of Crush 40.

Regarding band composition, do you and Jun Senoue (Crush 40) record songs with session musicians or is there a consistent set of personnel performing on any given track?

More and more we are using the same guys – Takeshi Taneda on bass and Act. on drums. But it all depends on the situation, really. There are a ton of amazing musicians out there, but I let Jun handle this part of the process. He decides who he thinks is best for a particular song. Then we just roll with it. Hahaha!

A track that peaks my interest is “With Me” from the Sonic and the Black Knight soundtrack. Although the track is performed by Emma Gelotte & Tinna Karlsdotter from ALL ENDS (and featuring Marty Friedman as well), the song credits state that you wrote the lyrics for the song. How did the creation process of this track come about?

Yes, sometimes I am asked for my lyrical input such as this song. It’s a little weird because I usually write lyrics for my voice and my phrasing. But, in this case, it worked really well I think. I am a songwriter so to me it’s all “art” and if a song is for someone else and they love it, then I did my job.

There’s a song on Crush 40’s EP Rise Again called “Sonic Youth”. This track heavily references your previous Sonic songs. I’m interested to hear the history behind the making of this song.

Album art of Crush 40’s “Rise Again” EP

Well we wanted to write a few tunes that stemmed from our past heavy rock lives. This was one. Hahahaha!

I remember sitting in the studio reflecting on all the amazing Crush 40 songs and most importantly the incredible Crush 40 fans…and I sort of wanted to make a musical lyric collage of them. And the result was “Sonic Youth”. Sonic fans are fans for life not just for a month or year. It’s a family that never gets old. We are the SONIC YOUTH…and the song was born.

I’ve noted that you just recently watched the Sonic the Hedgehog film. What were your overall thoughts on the movie (and also the Crush 40 cameo in Robotnik’s playlist)?

The text “CRUSH 40” appears in one of Robotnik’s high-tech modules in the Sonic the Hedgehog movie. (Paramount Pictures)

I met Jim Carrey years ago, he’s a really cool guy and always funny. I was first thrilled for the fans that he was part of the film. I thought he was awesome. I was of course disappointed in the music as I felt that Crush 40 plays a massive part in the history and life of some very important Sonic games! I did love seeing the little cameo but it wasn’t enough… I am hopeful that we make something happen for Sonic 2. The fans are already rallying for this. I’m sure the movie studio peeps will reach out this time… If not, we’ll ban the movie! Hahaha… no, just kidding on that!

Lastly, how has the recent pandemic affected your workflow in terms of recording new material for your bands?

The pandemic sucks! It didn’t slow me down as far as recording because we musicians live pretty much isolated in a cave-like studio anyway! Hahaha!

It was the live touring that kicked my ass. Over 60 shows had to be moved into an already busy 2021 and 2022. That said, I just hope that people remain safe and diligent until we cure this viral beast. I think Sonic could kick this virus beast’s ass. Hahaha!

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my inquiries. I hope you stay well and keep on rocking!

It was a pleasure my bro. Thank you for the interview!

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