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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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6/23: Michael Johns interview, new album Hold Back My Heart out today

I spoke with former Buckhead man and season 7 finalist Michael Johns last month in advance of his soulful first album “Hold Back My Heart,” out today. Listen to it at AOL here.

Since I last spoke with him last December at Gwinnett Arena for a charity tennis tourney, he’s been too busy to come back to Atlanta.

And that’s a good thing. He’s gotten to work with David Foster. He got to perform for Muhammad Ali. He’s gotten to share the stage with Josh Grobin, Bon Jovi and Sam Moore. “It’s been a great run,” he said.

The experience, post “Idol,” he said, “is surreal. I just find if you’re willing to work hard, there are so many doors that open, platforms you could be on. If you keep your nose to the grindstone, work, work, work, you can really get a career.”

Did he watch season eight? “You want to stay in touch with what’s going on but I was working so much,” he said. “I didn’t get to sink my teeth into it like I used to do. What I saw, I enjoyed.” He got to attend the finale and popped up on camera a few times.

“It was funny,” he said. “I was walking into the Nokia Theatre. A lady pulled me over and said, ‘I’m Kris’ mom. No way you were voted off because of me. Every week, I just looped up the phone!’ We took a photo together. I didn’t expect that.”

She asked him, “What do you think of Kris’ chances?”

I said, “I think he’s going to win.”

Johns said he’s now two for two because David Cook’s mom asked him the same question last year before the finale.

He said it took some time but he found a label in Downtown Records. Gnarls Barkley (which includes Atlanta’s Cee-lo) and Mos Def are among the artists on the label. They did a 50/50 licensing split. As a result, he’ll get $2 to $3 per record, as opposed to 10 cents if he were on a traditional record label. One of the execs at Downtown used to work at Maverick, the first label he worked with (but never had an album released.).

He said the album evokes a bit of old-school Otis Redding and Joe Cocker. He said they did it in “live” fashion without a lot of over-processing. They left some mistakes on purpose. “Those mishaps make it more personal,” he said. His producer David Cobb is from Atlanta and a former member of the band Tender Idols Cobb told him to leave the imperfections in.

Johns said he feels his vocals are in top form. “I was doing things in the studio I had never been able to do before, stylistically, notewise, range. The music we were doing was the most natural I ever felt.”

I did ask him about how life has been with his wife Stacey. “Obviously this is the first year out. It’s never easy. We’ve had good times and bad times. It’s kind of weird. I was home 20 odd days last year. It’s never easy. She’s my girl. I’m her man.” She’s an interior designer and has a big spread in InStyle magazine next month for Kristen Bell’s home. “She’s pretty busy herself.” Check her interior design work here at www.staceyvudurisdesign.com.

He has been doing a radio tour, trying to drum up support for his lovely first single “Heart On My Sleeve.” Last week, the song was spun 128 times on adult contemporary stations nationwide, ranking #27. “It’s a midtempo song,” he noted. “Not many songs like that on top 40. So we’re building it on AC.”

Johns still has plans to move to Atlanta at some point. “That is 100%,” he said. “Even the misses wants to move there, too. She loves it.” But he feels he has to keep L.A. as his home base while he builds his career.

He re-told his story about how he wears boxers given to him by Ellen DeGeneres and has been caught a couple of times wearing them in public. So last time he was on her show, he brought her Michael Johns underwear. Here he is performing “Heart On My Sleeve” on her show:

Are you a big fan? Check out a great fan site, michaeljohnsonline.com.

50 comments Add your comment

linny ,,,=^..^=,,,

June 23rd, 2009
10:36 am

Love this one, Rodney!!! So nice to see Michael is doing well, working hard, and I’m looking forward to this CD!

harriett

June 23rd, 2009
10:41 am

Thank you, Rodney. Michael looks great. Not sure I love the song, but I’d like to hear what else is on the cd. I really hope he does well.

JTesla

June 23rd, 2009
10:50 am

Thanks for the interview Rodney. Like always Michael Johns is a class act. Oh and thanks for including a picture, we have to keep the ladies happy too

Lara

June 23rd, 2009
11:01 am

Great interview Rodney!
I think I might have to stop by best buy later today to pick up a copy.

harriett

June 23rd, 2009
11:16 am

@#%@&*@#% pacman!!!!!

harriett

June 23rd, 2009
11:17 am

I am gonna try again. Lost the last post to pacman.

harriett

June 23rd, 2009
11:24 am

And that one is lost now, too. WTF???

linny ,,,=^..^=,,,

June 23rd, 2009
11:36 am

LOL harriett {{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}} patience — pacman tends to spit them back out sooner or later!!!

Neg = Neg

June 23rd, 2009
12:02 pm

Michael Johns may be the coolest finalist Idol’s ever had. Can’t help but like him and root for his success.

Deirdre

June 23rd, 2009
12:08 pm

:-) I LOVE his voice…but then, y’all knew that already, didn’t you?

Thanks for the interview, Rodney AND the video AND the AOL sample of his album!!!!!

harriett…there might be something in the post that pacman doesn’t like…it’s weird. Try rephrasing.

Deirdre

June 23rd, 2009
12:09 pm

AW Neg! At last we agree! :-)

KBR

June 23rd, 2009
12:39 pm

Thanks for the fantastic interview Rodney! I love Michael Johns and his new album. It’s so soulful and his voice sounds incredible. I didn’t notice the imperfections, but maybe that’s all part of the charm of his album! You can download it now on ITunes, Amazon, it’s also available in many stores today.

Nana

June 23rd, 2009
1:03 pm

Appreciate the interview and the video Rodney. I wished that Michael had gone further than what he did. However, having said that, it doesn’t look like his career will suffer any. Liked him then and like him now.

Harm: Gosh darn it…..Jillian kept Wes! She should have let him and Tanner go and kept Jake. I’m beginning not to like her choices. I would have loved to been on that train trip they all took. I think two things that were done while on the trip was very tacky: (1) leaving Reid on there by himself and (2) letting Robbie off in the middle of nowhere. Tacky, tacky, tacky.

[...] you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting! Source I spoke with former Buckhead man and season 7 finalist Michael Johns last month in advance of his [...]

harriett

June 23rd, 2009
1:31 pm

D, all I did was give a review of each song on MJ’s new cd. I had gone to Amazon to listen. Two separate posts didn’t make it. ?????

harriett

June 23rd, 2009
1:33 pm

Meant to say AOL.

Mercedes S.

June 23rd, 2009
1:36 pm

Great interview, Rodney, with another favorite Idol who was voted off too early. Can’t say the song grabbed me, but I’d like to support a sort-of local boy and buy the album.

Harm

June 23rd, 2009
1:48 pm

JT, if we have to suffer through this heat and melt, then I think that since you are a member of this blog family that you should suffer and melt as well! I’m about to change races again, I tan very well without trying, I’ll go back to my original race sometime this winter.

Nana, at least Jake is going to tattle on Wes next week, I hope Jillian listens to him. I could live with anyone that she picked except for jerk Wes.

Superstars and AGT tonight! Yay, no reruns!

Good for Michael Johns!!!

harriett

June 23rd, 2009
1:49 pm

At the risk of losing another post, I would like to say I especially liked Fire, This is Goodbye, It’s Too Late, and Heart is Weak on the cd. To Love Somebody was ok, but not as good as these others, IMO.

Deirdre

June 23rd, 2009
1:56 pm

harriett…that happened to me a couple of months ago….I was trying to post something and no matter what I did or how I rephrased it, it wouldn’t post. I could post anything else but not what I wanted to post. Never did figure it out.

harriett

June 23rd, 2009
2:09 pm

Well, I guess I won’t either. I liked Mountains also. I think it is an all-around good cd.

JTesla

June 23rd, 2009
2:53 pm

Harm, lather on the sun-block!

Harriett, that always happens to me. Usually it’s because I use the endearing term of wh0re. I lost a lot of good posts when the Archuleta’s dad thing came to light.

linny ,,,=^..^=,,,

June 23rd, 2009
3:10 pm

On B’ette — wes is the one that just came on for a music career exposure, right? i haven’t been watching, but i’ve seen snippets — what a jerk! i saw right at the end last night, that one guy seemed awful bummed out, the last one to go? “nice guys finish last” … that one. if the jerk is going to be told on next week, it might be worth watching, lol. i’d love to see him get his come-uppance! and i don’t even care about the show!!!

harriett

June 23rd, 2009
3:14 pm

JT, I will just chalk it up to experience! I did not use any questionable language, but both posts were similar and neither made it through, so I offended some gods or something. :) Oh, I wish I had seen your Archiedad posts!

I just saw on MSNBC’s site where Kara is getting married in two weeks. Did not read the details.

harriett

June 23rd, 2009
4:24 pm

Got a stray student coming in, so I will sign off for the day and head home after she’s gone. Hope AGT is good tonight. Bye for now.

Terry

June 23rd, 2009
7:56 pm

Great interview..love Michael Johns..off to buy his CD now!!

Mercedes S.

June 23rd, 2009
10:13 pm

Decided to check out AGT for the first time. A guy turns his feet backwards and walks – that’s a talent? It was so freakish-looking I turned to yesterday’s “Closer” instead. Checked back with AGT, and now a man was shoving a hook up his nose and made it come out through his mouth… eeeew! Don’t think I’ll be back.

Judy

June 23rd, 2009
11:53 pm

Mercedes, I am glad to read that your son(s) are okay. Is he still home with you?
Harriett, things keep getting stranger and stranger. Now they are saying he was not on the AT, but here in the ATL. It is really good that he is okay and this kind of lightens the mood with so many bad things going on lately. this is like a stress reliever to everyone except the people from the great state of SC.

wreckedpizza

June 24th, 2009
1:59 am

Greetings, blogland. Checking back in after a few nights away from the computer. I know, sacrilege but what can I do?

Anyway, a belated thanks to Nana for the welcome to blogland. Don’t know if I can be a “regular” as I am on a different blog schedule but I am (almost) always lurking around enjoying the posts; even hours after the fact…

Also, thanks to Deidre and Mike S. for clearing up the “pyscho bunny” thing for me. Great stuff!

As for today’s (yesterday’s???) blog I say good for Michael Johns. Hope he does well and has a long career. Song may grow on me over time. Just have to wait and see.

Nana

June 24th, 2009
6:14 am

Good Morning. It’s HUMP DAY!!!!!

Today’s Quote: “Embrace the new day, rejoice and be happy in it. Yesterday was the past, tomorrow is the future and today is the present, so enjoy the gift of today.”

linny – You are correct about Wes on the B’ette. I can’t wait until Jake comes back and spills the beans about Wes. He is a total jerk.

off in a few minutes to the hospital to have some tests made. I won’t post anymore till I get to the office around lunch time. When I get back on I expect to read some jokes b/c I need some laughter right now.

Later……….. :)

Deirdre

June 24th, 2009
7:24 am

Morning!

That was easily the strangest AGT I’ve ever seen. The guy with the big fish hook in his nose….yuck…the guy with the eyelid trick….double yuck. Since when did they name the show America’s Got Gross-Out Talent? I haven’t seen it all yet and not sure I want to.

Nana…we’ll be thinking about you, Hon!

harriett

June 24th, 2009
7:49 am

Morning all! Nana, you are in my thoughts as well–sending good vibes your way. Thanks, as always, for your morning greeting. And, D!! You are absolutely right about AGT. I sincerely hope they get this out of their system, but of course, we know they won’t until Vegas week. Too many people love to tune in to see the train wrecks called acts. And, besides “cute,” I didn’t see much that grabbed me. Probably the three sisters at the end were the very best, and they were good.

To Judy: I am glad my governor provided you with stress and comic relief. He is a joke on a national scale, but one which we in SC would rather not have had at our expense. Folks already think we are something to laugh at, and we don’t need this. Enough said by me.

Woodpappy

June 24th, 2009
8:44 am

Harriett, he said he left to “clear his head”. Glad he didn’t take a gun with him as well ! Strange goings on …..But I don’t think the governor reflects on the good people of your State, just himself!

harriett

June 24th, 2009
8:47 am

Thanks, Woodpappy.

Deirdre

June 24th, 2009
9:34 am

Anybody seen any good movies lately? :-)

Saw Angels and Demons last week. It was better than The DaVinci Code but still not as good as Ron Howard can usually be. Tom Hanks’ character is dull…not really much you can do to make a symbologist interesting, I guess…but Ewan McGregor was his usual wonderful self.

I want to see The Proposal but I can’t see hubby wanting to so…..

I hear the new Transformer flick got awful reviews.

harriett

June 24th, 2009
9:45 am

D, I have been doing Netflix lately, so my viewing is a bit behind what is currently playing in theatres. I have Gran Torino next up. Did you see that one?

linny ,,,=^..^=,,,

June 24th, 2009
9:57 am

Mercedes — give it more of a chance, once the *ahem* “novelty” acts are over in the auditions, the REAL talent can be amazing. Just ask Harriett about Donald Braswell from last year !!! Seriously, the junk acts are comic relief. ANd even the novelty acts that get put through the first round are rarely through the second and into the finals. I mean, there were two groups of siblings (trios) singing who were both very very good; there was a dance crew from Chicago that was very very entertaining. and a couple of others that stood out nicely. I had to literally close my eyes during the hook in the nose thing, i will admit, and wait until the judges were “reviewing” the act so i could look at the tv again, and i didn’t watch the eyelid guy either. just could NOT watch. ECH!

American Idol Headlines for 06/24/09

June 24th, 2009
10:24 am

[...] AJC.com [...]

Nana

June 24th, 2009
10:46 am

Thanks D and harriett. At the office now and will have to worry till next week.

AGT was a total train wreck last night. I agree that the trios were very good. It will get better once the crazies have been eliminated. However, tonight we have SYTYCD!!!! :)

Deirdre

June 24th, 2009
10:53 am

harriett…Gran Torino is very good. You’ll like it. We have Netflix, too but mostly we’ve been watching old episodes of Gunsmoke….no…really! :-(

Mercedes S.

June 24th, 2009
11:12 am

Nana, good luck on tests. The wait for the results is often the worst part.

As for good movies, “The Proposal” is so predictable, but also so very entertaining. Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds have what you rarely see in rom-coms today: chemistry. A perfect movie for everybody, including manly husbands.

“Food, Inc.” is a must. You see it and you WILL change your eating habits. Saddest part of movie is a Mexican family longingly looking at fresh produce which they can’t afford. So they buy cheap fast food, and get sick.

Loved “The Hurt Locker”. Iraq movie, starring people you’ve never heard of, but it will make a star out of Jeremy Renner. He was in “The Unusuals”, great new show its network didn’t believe in, so it was killed last week.

Each time Clint Eastwood makes a new movie it’s better than the previous one. Don’t know how he does it. “Gran Torino” is outstanding.

As for the bad, yes, the new Transformer movie is an unwatchable mess. 2,5 hrs of explosion, people running, good bots clashing into bad bots, and you can’t tell the difference between them.

Deirdre

June 24th, 2009
11:24 am

Mercedes…if any of those movies were playing here in East Nowhere, I’d be happy to go see them.

For me, Unforgiven is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Clint Eastwood is a genius. Mystic River was also brilliant. I liked Gran Torino a lot but found it a little “obvious”. Then again, sometimes it takes obvious to get a point across.

Jeremy Renner has been around for quite some time. I happy that he’s finally getting the recognition he deserves.

Nana

June 24th, 2009
11:26 am

Thanks Mercedes S. I know the waiting is the worst part, but right now I think the pain is the worst. It’s hard to handle and the pain meds, I can’t take at work.

The last movie I went to see
was Charlie Wilson’s War with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. A movie that I enjoyed. Hubby is not a movie watcher unless it deals with cowboys. He is a western fan all the way.

Deirdre

June 24th, 2009
11:40 am

Nana…maybe we can get your husband and mine together so that they can watch horse operas while we go see something fun! :-)

Lara

June 24th, 2009
11:53 am

Good morning blogland!
Nana – I hope you get an ‘A’ on all your tests today!!!
I am listening to the Michael Johns cd and I really like it. I would say it is pretty bluesy and low key (def AC). His cover of Love Sombody is really good – probably my fav song on the cd so far.

Hmmm, joke Wednesday…..
Why are so many guitarists jokes one liners ?
So the rest of the band can understand them!

JTesla

June 24th, 2009
12:01 pm

Mercedes sorry, but your missing something when you say: “As for the bad, yes, the new Transformer movie is an unwatchable mess. 2,5 hrs of explosion, people running, good bots clashing into bad bots, and you can’t tell the difference between them”

I would add – ‘Megan Fox running, Megan Fox screaming, with giant transforming robots… best movie EVERRRRR!’

Deirdre

June 24th, 2009
12:17 pm

That’s how my sons feel about the movie, too, JT! :-)

Rodney Ho

June 24th, 2009
12:19 pm

New blog entry up with plenty of Archie news. And Sanjaya, too…

[...] AJC.com [...]

Jane/Cakelulu

June 28th, 2009
5:01 pm

Thanks for the great interview Rodney!! I got to hear Michael perform live in NYC on his release day!! He is not only the most talented singer around, he is awesome to his fans!
I love the album!!! My faves so far are Mountains, This is Goodbye, Feeling Alright and Turn To You as well as Heart On My Sleeve and ya…also To Love Somebody! (hard to pick..lol)
The album is outstanding and has something for everyone!!
I preordered my copy from Amazon but it won’t be avail in store in Canada until July 14th…that’s when I am downloading it from itunes..I need it on my ipod!
I give it a 5/5!! Awesome!