Hey, Modern Drummer readers! My name is Luke Johnson, and I play drums in the band Lostprophets, from Wales, U.K. We’re currently touring our fifth studio album, Weapons, which was produced in L.A. by Ken Andrews. Ken was in the bands Failure and Year of the Rabbit, and has produced bands like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and A Perfect Circle.
Weapons was released here in the USA on June 19 through Fearless Records, and we’re going to be heading out on three weeks of Warped Tour followed by a week of our own West Coast shows this summer in support of the album.
I’ve played drums since the age of seven. Martin Gilks from the Wonder Stuff gave me my first pair of drumsticks when I was just five. I battered pots, pans, and couches until there we holes in them.
When I turned seven, my parents bought me a £50 drumkit from a junk shop, a 1970s Premier Club kit. It was white, with top heads only and no front kick drum head. The stands were about as thick as pencils and my kick drum pedal had a plastic foot plate. I thought it was the best starter kit ever. I didn’t get my first brand-new kit until I was twenty-five. I was playing in small bands, broke, skipping lockup rent, duct-taping sticks back together—the last thing I could do was spend new money on new gear.
Many local bands would refuse to lend me gear when we supported them because I was renowned for breaking stuff. My drum teacher at the time told me I was the most un-economical drummer he’d ever taught and that I should calm down. I supposedly had bad posture, moved around too much, showed bad technique…sticks would last maybe two minutes, heads were battered, cymbals cracked, foot plates snapped. Fact is, I just didn’t care. My father always told me, “Be different in any way you can, son. You’re gonna be staring at the arse of the guy that’s gonna sack you, so be irreplaceable!” I took that advice literally and decided to find the most aggressive way of playing drums. I wanted to be visual. I liked breaking stuff—it was kinda my goal!
I think I’ve calmed down a little in recent years. If anything, it’s because I respect my endorsers: Tama, Zildjian, Pro-Mark, Remo, and Porter and Davies. I have a solid team around me that take care of all my drumming needs now, and that’s something I most certainly won’t take for granted. But…the drums still get kicked over when I’m raging. I still break stuff. I’ll never change this. My drumming is unpredictable, always has been. I’ve never been the technical drummer guy. I hit hard, play solid, keep good time, and maintain energy. That is all that matters to me!
There’s been one other drummer to come from my hometown, Redditch. It’s a small town in the West Midlands of the U.K. You may have heard of this other guy, his name is John Bonham. He’s pretty important, and we were both born and raised in the same place. Yah! Cool story, bro!
There are a lot of other drummers that have had an influence on my style: Keith Moon of the Who, Jimmy Chamberlin of Smashing Pumpkins, Stewart Copeland of the Police, Dave Grohl of Nirvana, Topper Headon of the Clash, Jorma Vik of the Bronx, and Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction and Porno for Pyros.
My advice to anyone starting out drumming would be to ask yourself a question: Do you have the dedication and conviction to be who you want to be?
I feel like I display aspects of my personality through my drumming. It’s part of who I am! If you see me on the road or at a show, say what up. Cos, hey, I’m just like you! Thanks for reading.
For more on Luke Johnson and Lostprophets, go to lostprophets.com.