So, I was just listening to Screaming for Vengeance again by Judas Priest, and it’s just brought so many memories back when I was 12 or 13 years old. I really can say that music is a big part of my life . It was like a best friend, and just listening to that song again Screaming for Vengeance, powerful, powerful, Rob Halford’s lyrics, his vocals, his vocal range is just insane.
It just brought back a lot of childhood, a lot of good feelings, a lot of warm, cozy feelings, being brought up in a middle class family, you know, I was protected. It was a small town and there weren’t any gangs or violence.
And I used to just listen to hard rock with my headphones on, looking out the big windows of our house. We lived up on a hill and we could look down at the Puget Sound which was a waterway that went into Seattle.
I used to love the tugboats and the freighters, and I listened to my Judas Priest and my Ozzy watching the tugboats and the freighters go by. Really exciting times, really just a whole world of music awaited me. I had no idea how much music I would listen to you, probably at least 40,000 hours, along with my autistic rocking. You know, they went hand in hand, and then I discovered alcohol when I was 17, and so I started drinking and rocking and listening to music.
But, I remember when I was 12 years old, I was driving home with my mom, she picked me up from school and we were driving home and Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast came on the radio, and it just blew me away. I had never heard music like that before.
Before that I was listening to my sister’s music like Duran Duran and the Outfield and the Go Go’s, but when I heard Iron Maiden on the radio it blew me, I had no idea what I was listening to. I was excited and I looked at my mom. I was like this is amazing. This is oh my gosh I gotta find out what it is and discovered it was Iron Maiden. Number of the Beast.
I then bought the album and started listening to it. Run to the Hills was a really good song also. I started to fantasize Eddie, which is kind of like Iron Maiden’s mascot. I used to collect all the pins and I put the pins on my jean jacket and wear to school, the cool kids wore those Iron Maiden pins and Ozzy pins, Judas Priest pins.
And I used to draw Eddie, and I used to be excited and talk to my mom about Eddie and all his different transformations because on every new album that came out, Eddie was different on the cover. I used to just be mystified, you know, what’s Eddie going to look like on the next album, and I just, I was so excited.
When I was 12 years old I bought a drum set, because I was just tapping all the time, you know people with Asperger’s they stim – they do a lot of self soothing stuff and tapping was one of those things and finally my mom and I just bought me a drum set.
But I didn’t have any cymbals for a year. So I used to just play it and I would tap on the rims for the cymbals and then I had to wait like six more months to get my very first cymbal, and it just opened up all these doors. I was like wow, you know I can finally do a drum beat and then have a crash at the end of it, really exciting stuff.
I then got turned on to Judas Priest, like I said, Screaming for Vengeance just blew me away. Also, Breaking the Law. I just remember having a simple life, going to school but really looking forward to just listening to music when I got home, Judas Priest a couple hours a night. Then a little bit later on I discovered Ozzy’s Bark at the Moon was phenomenal. Jake E. Lee the guitarist did some incredible guitar work. I’ve never heard anything like it. Then the Ultimate Sin came out.
I really loved electronics, I loved the way that they smelled. I loved the way that they looked, starting with cassette players and then it went to Walkmans, and then boom blasters. I remember looking at the woofer in the center of my boom blaster, and I can literally smell the speaker, as it worked hard. I could smell it. It was like electronic exhaust.
I used to just love watching the speakers tremble, and then the woofer go in and out and I would turn up the volume to watch it go in and out even more. So I used to have big boom boxes and the smell of vinyl records I had as a record player and I used to listen to Gary Newman’s Cars, over and over.
I could play the same song over and over and over, especially if I had a crush on a girl, I would have some kind of song that would represent her. For instance, I was obsessed with this girl who was two years younger than me, and I found out that she listened to Nina Cherry’s Buffalo Stance which is like completely ridiculous top 40 music back then.
But, I would listen to that song, over and over and I would just stare at her picture from the school yearbook. I cut it out, actually, and I’d play buffalo stance all day long, and just stared at her photo. Even though it wasn’t the type of music I listened to, I did that just to kind of like conjure her.
I used to just close my eyes and listen to hard rock and picture being like a pterodactyl flying over and scaring the bullies and destroying them, and then getting the girl, you know, because back then I never had a girlfriend. I was just quiet, I was weird. My only friends were the musicians and these bands, Ozzy, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and later on, it was a little darker music like Slayer, King Diamond.
I remember Slayer’s Reign in Blood when I was 12 years old. Absolutely incredible, you know, Dave Lambardo’s double bass drum techniques were incredible, doing these 16th notes with two feet going like faster than a machine gun, just couldn’t believe that someone could do that with a drum set.
When I was 17, I dropped out of high school, I just wanted to be a rock and roll drummer. I got kicked out so it was actually 18, I got kicked out of my house, my dad was done with me, I dropped out of high school, I was doing drugs and he was just done with me.
He kicked me out, so I was sleeping on friends floors, experimenting with LSD and I worked as a dishwasher, and I remember walking into, it was a hot August summer night. It was early evening and I walked into a pizza place, and blaring on their stereo was Jane’s addiction’s Stop, which is on the ritual de lo habitual album. Phenomenal album still today is just genius work and Stop was like the song for that summer.
I was expanding my horizons with psychedelics. We used to stay up all night, and we’d go to the beach in the morning after staying up all night and watch the sunrise. I remember that I knew that I had a whole life ahead of me of excitement, of wonders, of mysteries, and Jane’s Addiction was wild, they were different.
Some of the members were bisexual, and they kissed on a video one time, and that opened up a whole new experience for me, because I was already experimenting with stuff like that so it made me kind of do that more, knowing that it was okay.
When I was 25, I discovered Korn and Limp Bizkit. This was when I was getting more self destructive. I started drinking a lot, I was getting wasted every night blacked out, people always had to tell me what I did the morning after, and I was doing some crazy stuff, yelling up at the sky, pounding the floor with my hands – and don’t even remember it.
But Korn was dark and it matched my feeling of the time and Limp Bizkit was defiant. A lot of people hated Fred Durst but I loved him because it didn’t matter what he rapped, because I was basically listening to Wes Borland’s very powerful crunchy riffs, power chords, doing some really crazy stuff.
I was hanging out with these people next door to me. They were on SSI, social security disability. I called them the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest type of people because they were crazy, and they were fun and I was a writer and I wanted to document their crazy life.
So I went over and watched them and I started drinking with them. Then it got to the point where I was “out drinking” them and then I was scaring them, even though they were supposedly the ones that were crazy; And Korn, it was starting to get dark. . .
Notice, all these periods of music – I can remember memories associated with the times because music as I said is a friend and my whole life was around music, especially people with Asperger’s, they love music it’s almost like a best friend. It was a best friend from my whole life.
I started getting bigger stereos, I loved stereos, I got these huge PA speakers, each speaker had 2 15” inch woofers and I used to see those things just vibrating – blowing out 400 watts per speaker of Korn and Limp Bizkit, and all my other collections of music: Stained and Deftones.
Deftones – I absolutely loved them because they were abstract, they were always recreating themselves with every new album, you’d have to wait four years to get a new album, but it was like Art Nouveau every single time they just defied the genre by creating these new sounds, and Chino Marino and I forgot the singer’s name, but he would just belt out these notes so high just almost like Rob Alford’s notes, just super high up there, crazy stuff.
I spent $2,000 on some more speakers called legacy audio speakers that had like six speakers per cabinet and I got a Krell Class A amplifier to power them. Krell made these huge tank-like amplifiers that weighed 80 pounds and they had these cooling fins on each side to let the heat extinguish and fans. I love the little lights on all the stereo components. I loved little lights as a kid watching train sets, and then tugboats that went by our house.
When I was 36, I finally got sober after nearly dying, and I switched to trance music, and another genre called drone music. I listened to Steve Roach, one of his best songs is called Darkest before Dawn, and that still gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. There’s no singing, it’s just electronica, very dark stuff. They call it dark ambient music as well. So check out drone or dark ambient music on YouTube, but that’s basically it.
I could talk all day long about music, but I mainly want to hear you guys on what music you liked, growing up with your Asperger’s. How did music make you feel? Did you rock while listening to music? Which music albums?
When I was 18, when I was still experimenting with drugs, I forgot, I didn’t add this because it wasn’t hard rock but I also got into Led Zeppelin, and Led Zeppelin three was my favorite album of all time.
So, leave a comment, guys. Thank you for watching this video, and I just I just love music so much that you know I was listening to screaming for vengeance earlier. And I just had to do this video, kind of giving you a biography of my music, my love for music, music has a friend, especially for people with Asperger’s, so check it out, we’ll talk to you soon.
Erik C Johnson