Frequently Asked Questions
Johnny Feikert

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20 Questions (or so) with Johnny Feikert from August 25, 2004

(1): When and where did you start playing guitar?
I started seriously playing guitar around the age of 10.(1975). I started playing air guitar much earlier with a tennis racket, then a Jackson 5 plastic guitar.

(2) What guitarist influenced your playing early on? Later on? Now?
Johnny: My first guitar hero was Davey Johnstone from Elton John's early band. You know, when he rocked! Then Alex Lifeson, Eddie VanHalen, Randy Rhoades, and John Sykes (Whitesnake, Blue Murder, Thin Lizzy), but as I grew up I got into Clapton, Beck, Page, Alvin Lee, you know, the founders of rock guitar. I'm also a huge fan of Joe Satriani and Steve Vai to this day. I was also influenced by some great local players too. Of course Willie Hines, Steve Palermo, Jeff Turner, Robby Warren, the great Tommy Mclendan, Darrin Morris, Richie Rojas, Bill Stevens and many more I just can't think of right now.

(3) What bands did you play in before Jet Red?
Johnny: My first band was called Black Diamond. We played mostly Kiss covers. Go figure! Then a band called Tempest which morphed into a band called Agent with Brad Lang on bass for a short time. Then a popular local band called Zboy with a screaming singer named Harry Weese who was a big influence on me. We played as Eddie Money's backup band and opened for a million bands including City Kidd which became Tesla.

(4) How did you become part of Jet Red?
Johnny: I knew Brad from Lodi where we grew up. We played together for a short time in Agent. He gave me a Jet Red demo and asked me if I wanted to audition for the guitar spot. I knew how good Brad was, but as a guitarist I would kill to play with Willie. Marty Friedman played the solos on the demo and ripped! I was very intimidated to say the least, but I wanted the gig so bad I could taste it so I started practicing. I wasn't sleeping or eating. Just learning those solos and vocal parts. I don't know how many people heard that 5 song demo they recorded, but it kicked ass. I went for an audition in March 1988. As I'm walking in, there's this guy still jamming with the band named Josh (editor- Josh Ramos later of The Storm). He was riffin' hard and I thought I'd never get this gig. But I gave it everything and jumped on the mic and sang backups and it felt good. I sweated for a while after that and then got a call from Willie and Brad at like two in the morning (they were partying) and they said "you got the gig dude!" When I think of that call, it still gets me jazzed.

(5) What was your favorite show with Jet Red?
Johnny: This is a difficult question as every gig was a blast. I could probably narrow it down to 3 performances. Opening for Y&T at Oakwood Lake, opening for Satriani at the historic Wiltern theater, and our farewell show at the Shire Road Pub.

(6) What was your favorite venue to play?
Johnny: Probably the Shire Road Pub. I played one of my first gigs with the band there and our last.

(7) What Jet Red song was the most fun to play?
Johnny: Lonely was my favorite song to play live. We used to break it down and do this cool "Hey Jude" thing and then riff out to the end. Very sexy straight ahead tune. Nobody can write and sign a straight ahead rocker like Willie. I always needed a smoke after that song! Then again "Dance on the Line" was also chubby material.

(8)What Jet Red song was the hardest to play?
Johnny: The most difficult tune for me was an epic tune called "Getting Closer". Lots of vocals and intricate parts. We didn't play it much toward the end, but it was a great tune. Very socially relevant at the time. Willie got deep!

(9) Of all the drummers you have played with, who was the best on a technical level?
Johnny: Jet Red was always known for having great drummers. But I would have to say Steve Brown. I always felt like he was the complete package. Technical, creative, and a basher.

(10) Who are all the drummers who played in Jet Red? Keyboardists?
Johnny: I think the first drummer was Mike Frowein (Fro). Then Billy Carmassi, Mick McNight, then Stevie Brown. The original keyboardist was Russell Van Norman, Bill Cuomo was hired for the first album in addition to Russell, then for a short time we had a girl named Joyce Imbessi playing with us. She played the Satriani shows we did then left because she was part of the Zazu Pits orchestra or something. I don't exactly remember. She was cool and sang the high parts with Brad which sounded good. Then we hired Brant Harridine who played with us right to the end.
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(11) What is your impression of the first record?
Johnny: We put our very souls into that record. Of course, my impression of the record is that it was the greatest thing ever recorded and should have gone quadruple platinum, but all those songs were our babies. We all worked so hard during that time. Willie was running the equivalent of marathons in preparation. I would wake up in the middle of the night and record a solo I heard in my head on a little tape recorder I had at home. Brad was involved in every aspect of the recording. You know, asking all the right questions of the producer Brian Foraker and rallying us in the studio. Brad was always my coach when I recorded a solo. If I could make him scream I knew I was on to something. I was just disappointed in the final production. It was the one part we didn't have much say on. But the performances were incredible.

(12) What is your impression of the currently unreleased second Jet Red album?
Johnny: I'll be honest, I haven't heard the second album. The suspense is killing me! When we recorded our first release there was no digital anything really. It was all tape and analog and stuff. It will be interesting to hear things now. All I know is that if Willie and Brad are producing, it will slay.

(13) What is it like to play with Willie Hines?
Johnny: How can I put this without sounding too much like a kiss-ass. Imagine wanting to be a rock star at 16. There's this local band out of Modesto that just knocked Bob Segar off the charts locally with their single. You sneak out of your bedroom window to see one of their shows and get completely blown away by the singer/guitarist. You say "I wanna be that guy!". It's your first real experience seeing a professional band. Then you get a chance to play with that same guy 7 or 8 years later and be bubbas with him and share the magic and write songs together. It's why I wanted the gig so bad. He's become my big brother.

(14) What is it like to play with Brad Lang?
Johnny: Brad Lang. The anchor. Kept the peace when things got bad with the label. Always had something encouraging to say. I always felt Brad was the reason I got the gig. I was just a young punk from Lodi. Very immature and naive. He always had my back. I think you could ask anyone who knows Brad and they would tell you the same thing. He epitomizes the word "bubba". Oh yeah, and he's a great bass player and vocalist too!

(15) Jet Red used to play as Avion Rojo (pseudo acoustic). What is your favorite cover song to play?
Johnny: "I'm On Fire" was a cool Hines tune. Probably my favorite Avion Rojo tune.

(16) If you were trapped on a desert island, what 10 albums would you take with you?
Johnny: Top ten deserted island albums as of today - Beatles - Sgt. Pepper; Stone Temple Pilots - Tiny music from the Vatican gift shop; Carpenters - greatest hits; Joe Walsh - So What; Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road; Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers; Steven Curtis Chapman - Declaration; Beach Boys - Pet Sounds; Robin Trower - Bridge of Sighs; Rush - Permanant Waves. As of today!

(17) Who are you listening to today?
Johnny: Alot of Christian music. Steven Curtis Chapman, Derek Webb, Brent Bourgious. I also really dig Maroon 5, Velvet Revolver, Five for Fighting, and Jerry Cantrell to name a few.

(18) Are you still playing guitar and, if so, with whom?
Johnny: I am playing in a band called Shiloh 3. We are an edgy 3 - piece Christian band consisting of myself on guitar and vocals. Bruce Beck on bass and vocals. He went to high school with Brad Lang. Kind of a cool conection. Our drummer is mi primo Nick Mendoza. He's a cool Latin - style drummer who found out he really rocks! The three of us are very close musically and spiritually. We are in the studio in October and will be releasing our debut shortly after.

(19) If the second Jet Red release is well received, would you play a Jet Red reunion show?
Johnny: Would I? Of course. This afternoon if they ask me. My heart and soul was in that music and those guys will always be my brothers.

(20) What are you doing lately?
Johnny: I am a total family man. My wife of 10 years, Bernadette and my 5 year old son Noah are my life. I work for San Joaquin County as a laboratory technician. It's a cool gig that affords me time for music and family.

(21) If you could tell the fans anything, what would it be?
Johnny: I would like to tell the fans of Jet Red THANK YOU!!!! Some of you I know, some I don't but anyone who is a fan of this band knows how sincere we were and share in that with us. God bless you, Johnny. (my Lord, my way and I think it's time to show). Thanks Ken.

Thanks to Johnny for taking the time to do this.