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Digital film and television professor has punk-rock music ties

April 15, 2015

UW-River Falls has many intelligent faculty and staff members located all around campus, many of them have hobbies that they’re passionate about and digital film and television Assistant Professor Erik Johnson is one of them.

Johnson is a professor by day but by night he is a punk-rock musician. Johnson plays the drums for two punk-rock bands: Narco States and The Violent Shifters. He has been part of The Violent Shifters for years and recently joined Narco States back in November to fill in for their drummer who has temporarily left the band. Johnson is the founding member of The Violent Shifters, which was created back in 2008 when he was in graduate school.

For Johnson, music has always been part of his life and has continued to grow. Johnson played the violin in first grade, then played piano in second grade, until he found the drums in fourth grade. His father was a music educator and band director. When Johnson was caught vandalizing his father punished him by forcing him to attend summer school with him.

“After being busted for a vandalism spree with my friend on the last day of fourth grade, my punishment was to attend summer school with my dad and practice rudimentary snare drum all day, every day in a sound-proof room,” Johnson said. “Which, at the time, was torture, but proved to serve me well as when I returned to start playing in concert band with my peers the next fall, I was so far ahead and remained first chair eventually playing in jazz band, marching band, solo and ensembles and community band.”

Rock music has always interested Johnson but more specifically offensive music.

“I always had an affinity with more offensive music: KISS around second grade, AC/DC in third, and later punk and hardcore, which became a part of my identity and has been with me ever since,” Johnson said.

The punk and hardcore music helped lead to the music he plays with his two bands today.

Johnson got into punk rock due in large part because of skateboarding as punk and hardcore were directly connected with skateboarding when Johnson was younger. Punk rock helped complement Johnson’s other interest: art.

Punk rock helped fuel his artistic expression which led to a skateboarding and music television series called “Scene TV.” The television series allowed Johnson to combine his multiple passions and to interview some of his favorite bands.

That allowed me to interview some of my favorite bands like Flogging Molly, DRI, The Hunns, Dropkick Murphys, The Briefs and many more,” Johnson said.

The social aspect of being a musician is Johnson’s favorite part of being a musician.

“Playing with friends in bands for fun as well as the gratifying aspect of performing on stage for audiences that appreciate the music and experience of the live show,” Johnson said.

Music and Johnson’s career have crossed paths many times before but he would prefer being a musician to just remain being his hobby. Johnson said music is meant to be a source of joy and happiness for him, not work. Johnson is just one of many faculty and staff members on campus who has a unique hobby.