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ISSUE 118 VOL 17 PUBLISHED 4/22/2005

Matt Johnson Band releases album

By Jake Erickson
Contributing Writers


Friday, April 22, 2005

“When we started out, I felt like this project was mine, but it isn't anymore. It is definitely our project. This is St. Olaf's project,” Matt Johnson ’05 said, referring to his upcoming album, Horizon Line.

This indie album, described as a fusion of Dave Matthews Band, Jack Johnson, Maroon 5 and John Mayer, breaks new ground in being written, orchestrated, recorded, engineered and produced almost entirely by college students. Johnson will release the album this Friday at 8:30 p.m. in the Pause with a concert featuring the 40-plus students involved in the project. Johnson will also open for Nickel Creek at this year’s Lutefest and anticipates a summer 2005 tour.

Johnson, a music major, is accompanied the “Matt Johnson Band,” a team consisting of Joey Kantor ’07 on keyboards, Chris Bakken on bass, Jeremy Anderson ‘05 on drums and Bobby Klein ’04 on guitar and by his manager, Matt Olson ’06.

“I thought I was an okay guitar player before I met these guys, but I realized that first practice that I had a lot of work to do to catch up to them,” Johnson said. “They are unbelievable.”

The album has been a work two years in the making. With the help of producer/engineer Paul Marino, son of Professor of Philosophy and Curator of the Kirkegaard Library Gordon Marino, a demo of Johnson’s singing and songwriting commenced in April 2003. Paul Marino’s Xeojax Production Studios served as the hub for the Matt Johnson Band’s creative juices and potential. It was there that the demo grew into the full-length album that will be released on Friday.

“It will be exciting to see where Paul Marino and Xeojax Production Studios go from here,” Olson said. “Paul is, without a doubt, one of the young rising stars in the music production business.”

Matt Johnson and the Band’s album, Horizon Line, expresses the talent of the broader St. Olaf Community as well. Instructor in Music Keith McCutchen and Artist in Residence in Music Dave Hagedorn add their skills at piano and drums respectively to the album. Mike Smith '05 adds his talents on saxophone. These men’s experience in jazz music contributed greatly to the unique sound of the album.

“Their proficiency in many styles has allowed me to explore places in my [song] writing that I have never been,” Johnson said.

Johnson, acting on his interests in composition and film scoring, also decided to orchestrate four tracks of the album for a studio symphony orchestra. In January 2005, Johnson pulled together an orchestra of 25 members (all St. Olaf students) and proceeded to record at Pachyderm Studios of Minnesota with Dark Horse Studio engineer Joseph Logsden.

The orchestra further contributes to the album’s unique indie sound. Horizon Line has already gained attention for its unique qualities. Grammy winning mastering engineer Gary Hedden noticed the project and placed the finishing touches on the album. Hedden, of Nashville, Tenn., is known for his previous work with such artists as Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead and Gloria Estefan.

A labor of love for Matt Johnson, the Band and the broader St. Olaf community, Horizon Line holds immeasurable potential and captures the remarkable talent of a phenomenal band, 40-plus students and the care of St. Olaf faculty. “From funky guitar riffs with wailing sax solos to ballads featuring a symphony orchestra, I think this album will reach out to a variety of listeners,” Olson said.





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