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Johnny Richter celebrating 4/20 at the Crofoot

Johnny Richter's FreeKING Out
Johnny Richter's FreeKING Out
Suburban Noize Records

Everyone will be celebrating the Easter holiday tomorrow but it also marks the 4/20 holiday for cannabis enthusiasts and in honor of the holiday, The Crofoot will be featuring one of the bigger local rap shows of the year as Twiztid brings their Bootleg Banner Tour to Pontiac.

AJAX, Smokehouse Junkiez, Origix & D.C., Johnny Richter, The R.O.C., ABK and Blaze Ya Dead Homie will also be taking the stage.

After the show there will be a afterparty upstairs at the Pike Room featuring a collaborative set from The R.O.C., Blaze, ABK and Twiztid.

I spoke to Johnny Richter on Thursday where he was enjoying the warm spring weather at home in California.

Richter, who spent almost two decades in the rock/rap group Kottonmouth Kings, shocked everyone when he left the group last year to pursue a solo career and a lot of negative things were said about him after his departure.

Rather than spend his time refuting the claims, he let his music speak for itself with his EP release FreeKING Out.

Now Richter is concentrating on moving forward and enjoying being back on stage.

Q: What can people expect from your set for the 4/20 show?

Johnny: Madness, mayhem. I'm just trying to work it out. I'm bringing my drummer with me and just found out today that they don't have a drum set for some reason right now so I'm scrambling to get a drum set. I'll find it. I've got a couple of friends in Michigan so I'll find somebody to rent one off. I'll figure it out but I mean I'm just going out there to have fun and put it down. Just bringing it back to the good, fun old days of just crowd participation and some chants and some songs. It's just a party. It's 4/20 dammit!

Q: Yeah and there's a pretty good lineup on this one.

Johnny: Yeah it's gonna be a killer event with all of us together.

Q: Have you been seeing a positive reaction to the new music?

Johnny: Yeah I've gotten nothing but a lot of positive reactions. Everybody's been stoked on it. Of course you're always going to have a couple of haters but the fans that are positive just out weigh that so much that I don't even pay to attention to it. I've just gotten a great response. Fans seem to really like it. I really like it. I play almost all of the songs when I play live depending on the set time but if I get a full show then I will usually play all of it. I play a couple of new songs as well and a bunch of ones off of Laughing (his debut solo album). I do a Kingspade track and I do a couple of verses off some old Kottonmouth Kings songs.

Q: So you have some new music ready to go?

Johnny: I have some new music recorded. I want to get back into the studio and record more because I haven't been in the studio for a minute but I've been writing. A couple of weeks ago I just did this new track with this band called Kali Connect that they're actually going to release on 4/20 called "All I Need". I do the verse on that and then I'm working on a track with Madchild too right now.

Q: Obviously the FreeKING Out EP was your way of getting out some of your frustrations that stemmed from leaving KMK. What do you feel has been the most difficult part of stepping out on your own and what has been the best part?

Johnny: Difficult? I can't think of anything. Everything's just been positive. It's just so much easier. Obviously shows aren't hard to get; I've been doing a lot of shows and I've got a bunch booked for the summer. I mean I can't think of anything negative about it. I'm just so happy to have all that weight and all that stress off my shoulders and out of my life that I'm not finding anything negative about it. It's just all positive and I'm glad because it's fun. It's just fun getting out and playing music again and being myself and seeing all the fans again. Just having fun. Just getting back to having fun with all of it. It's not so much a job anymore. Now it's back to what it was supposed to be.

Q: Is that how you originally started all of this, just playing to have fun?

Johnny: Yeah. It turned into a job but started out as a lifestyle. Your job can't be a lifestyle. That doesn't make sense. Now it's back to being my lifestyle so now it's back to being fun. I'm stoked!

Q: So what is your biggest goal moving forward?

Johnny: My biggest goal moving forward is just to continue what I'm doing. Just playing music and doing shows, that's it. I'd love to get on some big summer concert tours. You know, getting on the Warped Tour or something would be cool but they book those like a year or so in advance. I do already have shows booked in May, like a five-pack in places like Chicago, Nebraska and Iowa. I have a show booked for June out here in Riverside. I'm doing Vegas May 1st., Santa Ana May 2nd and San Diego May 3rd. September 6 I'm playing out here in Riverside again at some event. I'm playing the Gathering of the Juggalos this year in July and I'm trying to set up a couple of shows around that. I'm shooting a video actually on 4/21 in Michigan while I'm out there for the song "FreeKING Out". So just staying busy is what my plan is.

Q: Where is your favorite place to play?

Johnny: I mean everywhere. I just love grabbing the mic. I just love being on stage and just playing. It's just fun, especially now because it's just me up there doing my material that means the most to me and there's just nobody else in the way. It's good to play the music that I love anywhere. I do want to go back to Australia. That's what I want to do right now. I've been there a couple of times and my short/long term goal right now is to get back to Australia.

Q: It's appropriate that you are playing such a big show on 4/20. You have long been an advocate for legalizing marijuana. Now that the mainstream viewpoint on the issue is finally shifting, what are your thoughts and are you surprised that it has taken this long?

Johnny: I don't know if I'm surprised because in the grand scheme of things it really hasn't taken that long. In the grand scheme of the big world I mean but it's a very instant-gratification society and people need things now. Patience is not a term so greatly used today because people don't seem to have much of it. I remember when we started Kottonmouth back in '95 weed was illegal in California. Then in '97 I think we got the 215 (proposal allowing medical marijuana). I mean I remember touring the country and just having dirt weed everywhere and as the years passed almost every city has weed now with over twenty medical center states where you can go to dispensaries and Colorado and Washington are fully legal so I think it's pretty good for what it's been in the fifteen or sixteen years since California passed medical. It's going. It's happening. It's amazing. I think it's the passing of the guard once Congress and the House of Reps and all those people are out, you know once all the white hairs are out and the next generation takes over. I think in another twenty years a lot of states are going to be like Colorado and Washington.

Q: So what is your favorite thing to be doing these days when you are not on stage?

Johnny: These days I've been helping a lot of buddies with their grow houses and that's fun as hell just learning more now that I have the time. I didn't really have time to do it that much before and now I have more free time so I've been engulfing myself in just learning about different nutrients and cycles and strains and lights and different mediums. I'm just enjoying that. I want to get back into blowing glass. I did a little bit of it last year. I'm actually trying to get into it tonight to go make some pieces for the 4/20 show. I'm actually going to build a little station in my garage so I can just make it here. I just finally got back on the golf course last week and that was amazing. I went and tried wakeboarding on Monday. I went and got drug around a boat. I got up but I didn't go far but I didn't really grow up doing that but we had fun. I went out to a local lake around here called Canyon Lake and my buddies were with me too. My drummer actually has friends who live on the water and we went out with them. That was fun and I think we're going to go again when I get back next week.

Q: I think Kottonmouth Kings have always drawn a diverse audience and through different tours you've done you've picked up other fan bases like the Juggalo crowd. Now that you are out on your own you continue to draw those people out to your shows. How do you feel about that and what do you enjoy most about your one-on-one interaction with the fans?

Johnny: I'm so stoked on it because that's how it all started back in the day when we first started out. We used to always go out and hang out and I enjoyed going to the bar and having a beer with the fans and partying and having fun. It's nice to get back to the roots of where it all started. I'm just stoked to get out and meet everybody again and hang out inside the clubs and chill with people. That's what it is. It's fun and I look forward to doing it. My buddy has actually called me twice now because he's supposed to be coming over in a little bit because we have a rehearsal. He's going to bang on the drums and I'm going to scream on the mic for a little bit and just get ready for the show.

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