Alain Johannes
Alain Johannes

Alain Johannes

About Alain Johannes

Guitarist, songwriter, producer, and engineer Alain Johannes has been a mainstay on the American rock and pop scene since issuing Walk the Moon in 1987 in collaboration with his songwriter, bassist, and multi-instrumentalist wife, Natasha Shneider. His work runs the gamut from blistering, riff-heavy hard rock to loopy, spacy acoustic pop akin to David Bowie's earliest albums. They went on to co-found hard rock power trio Eleven with drummer Jack Irons in 1990. The pair released half a dozen albums between 1991-2003, including a self-titled offering in 1993 and Avantgardedog in 2000. Johannes' vast resumé includes collaborative work with Queens of the Stone Age (he was even a member for a couple of years), Them Crooked Vultures, PJ Harvey, and Desert Sessions among hundreds of others. He has performed as guitarist, bassist, songwriter, producer, and engineer -- sometimes simultaneously. Johannes and Shneider co-wrote and co-produced Chris Cornell's solo debut, Euphoria Morning, in 1999. In 2004, he wrote, co-produced, and played on Mark Lanegan's Bubblegum, and he subsequently produced and played on recordings by Natalie Imbruglia, No Doubt, Spinnerette, and QOTSA. After Shneider's death in 2008, Johannes emerged from an extended grieving period with the solo offering Spark and toured it across the globe. He collaborated with French art rockers Hifiklub in 2012 on the album From Coast to Coast. A year later, he contributed two songs to the Dave Grohl's Sound City: Real to Reel documentary soundtrack. In 2014, he played on and was the subject of Hifiklub's documentary Plans Make Gods Laugh: A Drift About Alain Johannes. That same year, he privately issued his own Fragments and Wholes, Vol. 1, for which he performed all instruments and voices. Johannes made his video game debut in 2017, scoring Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands in collaboration with Steve Ouimette. He reprised that role with Alessandro Cortini and Norm Block on Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint in 2019.
Born in Chile in 1962, the nephew of nueva ola musician Peter Rock, Johannes and his family immigrated to Los Angeles during his adolescence. Playing guitar, bass, and writing songs since he was eight, he formed his first band, Anthym (later renamed What Is This?), while in high school. The group's lineup included future Red Hot Chili Peppers members Flea and Hillel Slovak. In 1987, Johannes teamed up with his new wife, Russian keyboardist/bassist Natasha Shneider, for the album Walk the Moon. Three years later, the pair recruited drummer Jack Irons to form the progressive hard rock trio Eleven. They released five studio albums over a 12-year period. During that time, Johannes contributed to dozens of records by various alternative/indie and grunge acts, playing guitar on Jason Falkner's Presents Author Unknown, producing Chris Cornell's solo debut, Euphoria Morning, and co-writing tracks for Danish rock outfit the Royal Highness. In 2005, he joined Queens of the Stone Age, where he played bass and guitar on Lullabies to Paralyze and follow-up Era Vulgaris before bowing out two years later. Johannes then joined the side project of the Distillers' Brody Dalle, Spinnerette, toured as a backing musician with supergroup Them Crooked Vultures, and co-penned Adam Lambert's 2012 soundtrack number "Time for Miracles" (2009).
In 2010, Johannes released his debut solo album, Spark, recorded as a tribute to Shneider, who had passed on two years earlier. The year 2012 saw his first collaboration as producer and guitarist with French art rock outfit Hifiklub on their European hit album From Coast to Coast. Johannes contributed two songs to Dave Grohl's 2013 Sound City: Real to Reel soundtrack: "Your Wife Is Calling, co-written with Pat Smear, featured a studio band that included Grohl, Lee Ving, and Taylor Hawkins; "Centipede" featured Grohl, Josh Homme, and Chris Goss, and was the set's first single. Johannes joined Grohl's Sound City Players for the support tour. He was the subject of a Hifiklub documentary entitled Plans Make Gods Laugh: A Drift About Alain Johannes in 2014 and produced its soundtrack as well. He also began working in the studio with PJ Harvey that year. In 2015, he produced the K's Choice album The Phantom Cowboy and Edith Crash's Partir.
Johannes played on Harvey's The Hope Six Demolition Project in 2016 and spent a couple of years on its support tour. That same year, during a tour break, he composed and performed the soundtrack for the Ubisoft game Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands with Steve Ouimette. He also privately issued his own Fragments and Wholes, Vol. 1, on which he performed all instruments and voices. A year later, Johannes performed in one of Jan Douwe Kroeske's final 2 Meter Sessions workshops, as the conductor died that year. He reprised scoring games with Alessandro Cortini and Norm Block on Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint in 2019. Late that year, Johannes was laid low with pneumonia and almost died. During his recovery, he wrote songs and stories. Using his acoustic guitar, he crafted a set of songs that reflected his feelings of loss over the deaths of his parents, Shneider, and Cornell. After a lengthy recovery, Johannes entered the studio and cut the songs in 12 days in early 2020. The set, titled Hum, was released by Ipecac Recordings at the end of July, just weeks after Jan Douwe Kroeske's 2 Meter Sessions #1696 finally appeared. ~ Jon O'Brien & Thom Jurek

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