Interview: Get Schooled – An Interview With Johnny Richter

September 2016 Vandala Magazine Johnny Richter Interview
Johnny Richter’s solo career has proven Mr. Richter is still a beast on the mic and great success will always keep following him wherever he may go. His brand new release “School’s Out (Still Laughing) is a strong effort and keeps authentic hip-hop alive! Fans all over the world are more than proud of Johnny for soldiering on by himself without the Kottonmouth Kings and still continuing to follow his hip-hop dreams with a microphone tightly gripped within his hands, while conquering venues around the globe!

Interview by Chad Thomas Carsten
From September 2016 Vandala Magazine 

What inspired the album title for “School’s Out”?

Johnny: It seemed like there was just a bunch of drama; like it seemed like I was in a high school environment. There was a lot of back talking and just people being two-faced with the he said-she said and people trying to say, “you can’t wear that or talk to that person.” and it was just like f*cking high school, like “What the hell, dude?!” Just knowing the truth about a lot of things behind the scenes, I couldn’t believe it. So that’s what the title means; “School’s Out” is me being done with that high school shit. People need to live in the real world, not some made up fantasy drama world. I was going to just call it “Still Laughing”, but “School’s Out” just came to me one day and I just stuck with it. But I kept the “Still Laughing” inside because it’s still me, I’m still the same guy people know from back in the day reaching for those positive vibes. But this is the new shit tho! School’s out and I’ve moved on! I don’t spend my days trying to be negative about shit. Don’t have the time for it. {Laughs}

I did the record in four sections, actually. When I was staying in San Diego and was hanging out with a friend, we met this dude that had a studio, because I had to record a verse for this Reel Wolf Underworld 2 track that I’m on (it has Kool G Rap,Vinnie Paz, Slaine, Chino XL, Swifty McVay, a ton of rappers!) and a friend of a friend knew this dude that had a recording studio in his own spot. He just had it. But anyways I was just hanging out in San Diego just relaxing and chilling, just living life and I finally just started getting the feeling to start writing again. I hit up Josh like, “Send me beats, if you can” and he sent me a bunch of beats and I just listened through and like chose six of them or something and literally started on a Thursday night. And by that coming Monday I had the first five or six songs done! I was writing a song a day and just kept getting pumped on the songs and would just put on another beat after a song was written and do it all over again the next day. So it was my place, Humbolt, San Diego, and then back to my place. Life inspires me to write shit. I don’t sit around with a pad everyday and write, write, write. But it starts off with a beat usually and then the life experiences pour out.

johnny richterWho did the album art?

Johnny: My buddy Andy, one of his friends did. I couldn’t even tell you the dude’s name, honestly. All I know is Andy said he had a friend that could do it and I had two different ideas. It was getting close to having to have a release date and the label called to see if I had any of the artwork and I told them, “No, but I am in the final mixing stages and I haven’t thought about the artwork yet.” And they replied with “Well, we need to get it going!” and well, they showed me one thing and it had nothing to do with the concept of “School’s Out”. It was all weed related and it definitely was not where I was trying to go with the record. There is only one pot song on there. Like with my first record “Puff, Pass” is the only weed smoking song. I don’t want it to be a Kottonmouth Kings record, minus the other guys. I’ve gone through 20 years of material with the Kings about smoking weed. Life is a lot more than just smoking weed. And then I finally saw the album art from Andy’s friend and immediately dug it!

It’s awesome that you decided to only focus the album on just you and not have a ton of guest features. What sparked that decision?

Johnny: I did that on purpose! I could’ve made phone calls and I was going to, but I decided, “Nope! I’m doing it myself!” and I didn’t want to rely on a ton of features to sell my record after dealing with all that turmoil and going solo. It would look like I couldn’t do it by myself, when I can! So the two features are not the biggest names, but they’re my friends and we made some dope shit! But I’m not saying in the future I won’t have more features, it’s just this is the first one out the gate after all that high school like drama. “School’s Out” is just me, check it out! I can carry a whole f*cking record myself.

Let’s dive into the creation of the song “Keep On Keepin On” and your state of mind when you wrote the lyrics. Any details you’d like to share?

Johnny: Honestly, I was just at my house and I had buddy over and I was cooking breakfast. It was probably around noon or one p.m. and I was just going to cook some eggs and just started f*cking around. I was talking about getting loud and getting Bud Lights or something -Starts singing the lyrics- I was just laughing and playfully talking shit, joking around, ya know. And then the groove of the lyrics just came on through. So I was making breakfast and just started writing it and that’s how that came out. The chorus part I was just writing and it just turned into that. The chorus was originally part of the first verse. I started the first part at my place and then went to Humboldt (Where Potluck stays.) and wrote the last two verses.


What was it like recording with Potluck again for “Burb Words”?

Johnny: It was fun! I just had my verse and the hook on there and Potluck’s verses were complete surprises! They did it while I was up there visiting. I thought it came out really dope! I’m just super pumped on it because they are on it! I went up there for probably about seven or eight days to work with Potluck in the studio to finish up the record. I had about 95 percent of the record finished by that point.

Where were you exactly when you first wrote “Mad Cow”?

Johnny: I still keep a notebook around sometimes and this time it was for “Mad Cow”. I was going over to my buddy’s house when I was down in San Diego and he was staying at his Grandma’s. And his Grandma needed some yard work done and I decided to help him pull out weeds. He came and swooped me up, but before he got there, I was listening to some beats and one of them instantly hit me with an idea for that hook! I started writing that hook and my buddy showed up and I told him, “Give me like ten minutes or so really quick, I want to finish this hook!” and he said, “No Problem” and I finished the hook while he waited. We got in the truck and I had my pad with me still and I just started writing the first verse and then we were removing the weeds from the lawn in his Grandma’s back yard (You can see the ocean.) and I kept writing every time we stopped to get a cigarette break. I would grab the pad and write down two more verses every time we took a break and then go back to another forty-five minutes of pulling weeds and then go back and work on a couple more bars, really quick. That’s how I wrote the first part of “Mad Cow”.

Any stories behind “High On Life”?

Johnny: For “High On Life”, I wrote the first verse while talking on the phone to the girl the song was inspired by. She had just left my house and called to see what I was doing. And I replied with, “I’m writing your song.” I honestly came up with the lyrics and wrote it while I stayed on the phone with her. It blew her mind!

How did you and Brawdcast end up meeting?

Johnny: I went to school with his older brother and he actually went to school with my younger brother. Two different schools that were located in the same city. I was actually playing golf with his brother and his brother gave me his “Suburban Spokesperson” CD. I was listening to it and I was actually tripped out by it! Like “What the hell, no way!” It was dope! I started checking out his little scene and all that and I was like, “Let’s do a track together!” He caught flack from his whole crew about it because they’re more of the pure hip-hop type heads. And his response was “So what! F*ck it! Let’s do a track!” We made a P-Town track and then we made another song together called “Freedom” for his record. And then did another track produced by C-4 called “For The Fans” and then I was making “School’s Out“ I invited him on it. We were hanging out a lot before that, drinking and spitting/free styling bars at each other, just off the top. His verse is ridiculous on “School’s Out”! When Brawdcast came over to do his verse, I just left the room. I didn’t want to get in his head (If I would’ve. I don’t if I would’ve or not.)or put any energy behind it that my have influenced him. I just told him to do his thing and left him a lone for a bit. And of course it turned out dope! {Raps Brawdcast’s verse}

You’ve recorded with Insane Clown Posse a lot in the past. It was just recently announced that the Insane Clown Posse are preparing a march with Juggalos in Washington D.C .to stand up against the FBI labeling their fan-base a gang. What are your true thoughts about this and will you join the march?

Johnny: Shut up! That’s insane! I know about the FBI thing, because KMK was there when they announced the gang label at a seminar during a past Gathering. But I didn’t know about the march. If ICP called me up and wanted to bring me out to participate, yes! I’m sure they already have a file on me, so I’m not worried about it. {Laughs} I wouldn’t shy away for any reason. I could see why someone would. But they shouldn’t be on a gang list! It’s stupid! They’re building a database of fans of a band and that shit is ridiculous. There are so many things wrong with that! The collection of data that they do and they way they treat the individuals with random stop and seizures because of a sticker that features a certain record label logo is absurd! I mean come on, there are so many bigger issues the FBI needs to worry about/the government needs to take care of right now than Juggalos. At the end of the day Juggalos are really good people. The one’s I’ve met showed me nothing but love. They’re always helping people out. It’s a community, not a gang!

Why should someone attend a Johnny Richter show that never has before and what do you want to accomplish that you’ve never done?

Johnny: Come out to a show if you want to just have a good time! If you don’t want to have a good time, I guess don’t come! (Laughs) Most people tend to want to have a good time. If you’re a fan and you want to come meet me I usually am hanging out at the venue. You’ll probably catch me at the bar or hanging out at the merch booth. I get sick of hanging out at the hotel or stuck on the bus, so I’m always happy to meet fans and catch a good vibe. I like hanging out. If you want to see just bars after bars after bars, I spit everything I say. I even spit them in different ways sometimes. So if you want to come out and have a good time by listening to some real shit and party to escape; that’s what music at the end of the day is all about; to be able to escape from the everyday grind. You’re never really in the present when you’re in a song. I’ve done a lot my friend. My goal is just to sustain my career and continue to be able to make music.

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