QUICKIE OF THE WEEK: A short interview with Johnny Icon (Lannon, Icon & The Black Roses)

written by Marko Jakob

Pix666: Hello Johnny. Thanks for taking the time for a little interview. Are you healthy and are you well?

Johnny: Greetings from London. All good here but still adjusting to this new world. Hope you are keeping well too.

Pix666: Thank you, everything is fine here too.

Pix666: The first time I became aware of your music was about 15 years ago when I held the great album of Icon & The Black Roses in my hands. The dark and melancholic sound in combination with your great and distinctive voice had me under its spell for many years. And now you are present again. The new album ‘Heaven’s Gate’ of your band Lannon was released in summer 2020. Tell us something about the album, the process of creation and the reactions of the fans so far.

Johnny: Really glad you like our first record. It was an epic journey to make it and we all learnt so much! On Lannon’s ‘Heaven’s Gate’, it was recorded over 4 years in various locations across Europe and features a cast of epic musicians. It features Vincent Velazco (Pendragon, Diamond Black), Daniel Cardoso (Anathema), Leonel Silva (Mindfeeder and Hourswill) and Antonio Agate (Icon and The Black Roses).

Whilst a lot of it was recorded in Miloco Studios London, Ultrasound Studios Lisbon and Alessandria in Italy, Lucien and I predominantely worked in our studio in central London. Lucien and I wrote the material and I engineered it and mixed it. A lot of people draw comparisons with Disturbed, to the point there is some wild theory out there that I am actually David Draiman, so maybe the best way to describe it is to say we are Disturbed’s uglier, darker cousin. The reception has been great. Every day we get more and more people listening to it. I particularly love it when they don’t know our other projects and they realise they got a tonne of new music to explore.

Pix666: Are there any other companions of Icon & The Black Roses in the band Lannon or in the team around?

Johnny: Yes. So, Lucien and Antonio are both from Icon. We also got David Morgan om backing vocals who sings the backing vocals in Icon’s ‘Thorns’.

Pix666: I have been on the road for many years as a fan or photographer in the gothic/goth rock scene. I wonder why I have never seen you live on stage in Germany. Do you have an explanation for this or was I just always in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Johnny: Although our first label was German, we never played live in Germany. We split up shortly after the first album was released and reformed in 2014. That means we were inactive for a long time.

Pix666: In which other bands have you sung in your career and at what age did you first go on stage? On which band is your current priority?

Johnny: My first band was a Doom Metal band called Delightful Solitude. I played the guitar there but we never got to play live together. I was kicked out for being a pain in the ass! Then the next serious project was Icon with which I first played live at the age of 24. I sang in an album (Monster) with a band called Ace of Hearts which was very much in the Love Metal genre. That is also how I met Antonio Agate who then joined Icon. I also have one record out with Digital Ghost. I also feature as a guest in Dark Wings Syndrome, Urban Tales and X-size. My main band is Lannon.

Pix666: I read that you don’t want to release full length albums in the future – so was ‘Heaven’s Gate’ the last album of Johnny Icon?

Johnny: Yes. I will not release another album.

Pix666: So, the future is singles and EP’s? What are the next plans – are some new releases to be expected in the near future? Does this also mean that in the future there won’t be less of Johnny Icon, but more often and in smaller portions?

Johnny: Absolutely. The reason for me to turn to this format is to allow me to release music more regularly. I will use a 3-song format for every release. I got one just coming with Digital Ghost.

Pix666: Let’s briefly return to the album release in summer. You’ve finished your ‚baby‘ and can’t show it to anyone live – how is the situation around Corona for you as a musician? There are no concerts and almost everywhere you are surrounded by rules that you have to follow.

Johnny: Luckily for me, my income does not come from music. This means I am fortunate not to suffer the impact of COVID-19 in the way other musicians are experiencing it. I am a bit frustrated as I was planning some limited live shows with Digital Ghost but the downtime allowed me to make more music.

Pix666: Despite the strange situation, do you already have some plans for gigs in 2021 in your head?

Johnny: Yes, with Digital Ghost towards the end of 2021. Lannon is harder as rehearsing with a full band would mean eating into the time we got to write new stuff.

Pix666: Which things from your career do you remember most, which were the most important milestones and which funny moments stay in your head forever?

Johnny: The best moments were in Berlin recording with Icon. Was incredibly intense but an amazing experience. Funniest moment was watching a producer setting up the guitar recording and checking the sound by sliding his hand up and down the guitar neck without actually playing it…needless to say the sound was terrible and we had to rerecord the whole thing…

Pix666: What else did you do besides the music during the contact restrictions? Do you have any interesting hobbies? Or is music simply everything in your life?

Johnny: I got an incredibly demanding job. I am a Director in a big construction consultancy (go figure that one out!). So, music is very much a hobby for me. I also spend my time between London and Lisbon (mostly in summer), which leaves me with little time for any other hobbies. I am a bit of a geek and enjoy the ps4.

Pix666: Do you have any other news about your bands and projects, that you would like to share with the fans?

So Digital Ghost is about to release 3 songs and I have decided to write 3 tracks for Icon. Though I am a bit rusty in that genre, I hope it can live up to the very very long wait!

Pix666: Thank you very much for the interesting answers – Stay healthy!!!


photo © Johnny Icon