You will undoubtedly know Johnny Q. Public from the major buzz and excitement the band generated with the release of its very first album, Extra*Ordinary, in 1995 on Gotee Records. Having been a band for only a year when Extra*Ordinary released, Johnny Q. Public was immediately catapulted into the spotlight when the album’s very first single, “Body Be,” was picked up by MTV to air on the music television network’s popular alternative rock program, “120 Minutes.” This was a groundbreaking feat for a rock band marketed primarily within the Christian music industry. The album eventually went on to sell nearly 50,000 copies. Five years later, Johnny Q. Public founding members Dan Fritz (lead vocals) and Shawn Turner (guitar) have added new drummer Nathan McCorkle and guitarist Brad Barnerd, and are launching the group’s follow-up effort, Welcome To Earth, releasing to the mainstream market on Roadrunner Records and to the Christian market on the Gotee label. The new album is a welcome release of the creative energy that’s been brewing through a roller coaster of ups and downs Johnny Q. Public has lived out over the past five years. “Being so young added so much to what we had as a band,” Dan recalls. “We weren’t a group full of jaded, tired, worn-out musicians. We were still learning how to be good musicians and learning how to handle all the surprises that came with the new album… all at the same time. There was a lot of energy birthed in us because of that.” But quick success brought with it new and unexpected pressures for a young band whose members found themselves sucked into a whirlwind of attention and expectations. For the first time, the band found it had to work hard to remain focused on its main goals, and on the creative process that had brought them this far. “Sometimes that experience feels like both the best thing and the worst thing that could have ever happened to us,” Dan says. “It put so much pressure on us. All of a sudden, all eyes were on us and everybody was watching to see what our next move was going to be. All kinds of opportunities popped up - things that had never even been options before. There were so many things to process. We had to grow up so fast that we could hardly keep up.” For nearly three years, the band toured constantly all over the USA, Europe and the UK, performing concerts with everyone from dc Talk and Audio Adrenaline, to Sixpence None the Richer, Jars of Clay, Fleming & John, Grammatrain, and Petra, among others. That period of time brought changes in band personnel, and also a realization that so much effort had been put into touring that very little new musical material had been developed.
Shawn explains, “We were young, desperate and really trying to make this thing happen. We were at a place where we felt we had to do something different, and it took the course of five years for us to build this back up to where we wanted it to be. Those times are when you learn the most about yourself. I think it really taught us that even though you have to go through those times - and they’re really tough - you can still turn it around and make something beautiful out of it.” “It’s definitely been the best thing for us, as we lead up to this new record,” Dan adds. “We picked this whole thing up out of the ditch and started writing and putting together demos. We hadn’t been able to do that for so long, and now we finally had some good songs coming out of it. That’s when our creativity is the best - when there’s a lot of tension and anxiety, and you’ve got something to fight for. Sometimes those moments give birth to the best poetry or creativity.” The addition of new band members Nathan and Brad brought with it not only a fresh musical collaboration, but a powerful friendship as well. Shawn says, “If we had come out with the new record any time before now, it wouldn’t have been as good because we wouldn’t have had the power we all have in each other because of the friendship and the strength that we give each other.” Fans of Extra*Ordinary are sure to latch on quickly to the return of Johnny Q. Public with Welcome To Earth. The new album delivers the same aggressive rock and roll sound, with solid drums, bass and guitars. For the most part, the entire album was recorded live as a whole band in the studio, yielding a much more energetic, aggressive feel. Welcome To Earth features new songs like “Beautiful Face,” “Today,” “Sliver” and “Already Gone,” as well as band favorites, “Hey Johnny,” “Welcome To Earth” and a hidden track called “Feeling Good Feels Good.” Former Johnny Q. Public fans will recognize the old favorites, “Preacher’s Kid” and a remixed version of “Body Be.” As co-writers on Welcome To Earth, Dan and Shawn had more than just a handful of shared experiences from which to draw. “We like to dissect everything that’s going on in our lives,” Dan shares, “in hopes that somebody will relate to the same type of situation. We can tell that we’re dealing with something in our hearts and souls. The songs are really coming out, and we’re actually enjoying it, maybe for one of the very first times.” Shawn adds, “Getting this band through the past five years is so much like life. It’s such a proud thing for us. No matter what happens, it’s still a victory. I think this band is about giving, more than anything. It’s about us giving our lives to other people and showing them what we’ve been through, and how we can relate to what they’re going through. It’s not about being famous or having money, and it’s not even about music as much as it’s about giving. The fact that we believe in God is a big part of what we have to give, and we want to be honest about who we are and what we do. We’re at a place now where we can make an impact and give to people in a productive way, and that’s the most rewarding thing of all.”