Whether as a solo artist, an accompanist for Mark Lanegan, a bassist for Dinosaur Jr., or a sought-after mixer, the talented Mike Johnson has always been an active part of the indie rock scene.
Starting in 1985 with the melodic punk-influenced combo Snakepit, he sang and played the guitar with that group for six years. In that time they managed to release material locally in Eugene, OR, but around 1990 Johnson was tired of the group and they broke up. Johnson met up with J Mascis in this time, and eventually found his way into Dinosaur Jr. as a bassist during their 1990/1991 tour. He remained for the following album, 1993's Where You Been, and eventually outlasted original drummer Murph and became the only other member left besides Mascis. On top of that, he also began playing with Mark Lanegan, becoming the instrumental force behind his solo albums while doing occasional gigs with him. Johnson moved on to projects with Juned in his spare time, and finally released a solo album (Where Am I?) in 1994. His material echoed the stark acoustic work he had done with Lanegan, and showcased his folky songwriting skills. The Dinosaur Jr. album Without a Sound came out at the same time, and Johnson's time was mostly taken up by his work with Mascis. But 1995/1996 was a busy time for the musician, as he released Year of Mondays, toured, and did another album with Juned. When Dinosaur Jr. came back together for their last record, Johnson was barely involved and was not surprised to see the band fall apart in 1998. He turned his attention to his solo effort I Feel Alright and some work with Lanegan, but surprisingly took an invitation from Caustic Resin to work on their new album. Their collaboration, Trick Question, appeared in 1999, but Johnson wasn't strongly involved at that point. After more work with Lanegan, he spent the next few years playing live gigs with his various collaborators and putting together his new album, 2002's What Would You Do, an effort inspired by the tragic passing of friend and founder of the Up label Chris Takino. After four years of relative inactivity, Johnson returned with his rawest, most guitar-driven album to date, 2006's powerful Gone Out of Your Mind. ~ Bradley Torreano, Rovi