Published on June 9th, 2017 | by Denise Borders


Interview: The Tortured (San Fransisco punk)

header photo by William Wayland

PunkWorldViews founder Denise talked to the vocalist of San Francisco punk band The Tortured, Johnny Lawrie,  to learn a little more about them. You can check out their Bandcamp to give ’em a listen!

PWV: Is this the first band you’ve been in?

Johnny: No, this is the third band I’ve been in. I was in the Johnny Lawrie Band, which my drummer, Sam Gearing and I were in. Sam and I were also in Elegant Trash, another Berkeley Punk band. Both of these bands were around in 2012 and 2013. In Elegant Trash, I played Lead Guitar and Back up vocals.

PWV: What got you into punk? Do you remember the first punk album you owned?

Johnny: Blink 182 got me into punk when I was nine years old. The first album I got was Enema of the State in December 1999. My dad got me it for Christmas. After that, I got into Green Day. When I was 10 I started skateboarding. Between that, and playing the video game, “Tony Hawk’s Prokskater,” I got into; Rancid, Swingin’ Utters, Descendents, Adolescents, NOFX, etc.

PWV: If you could build your dream tour to be on, what bands would be on it?

Johnny: This is a hard question because I have so many different influences. I would have to say that my dream tour would consist of; Rancid, Get Dead, Social Distortion, Radiohead, NOFX, and Alkaline Trio.

PWV: You have a phone number on the band’s Facebook. Who do you want to call you?

Johnny:  I would like a renowned record label to call me. Our dream is to be signed by somebody like Epitaph or Fat Wreck Chords. All I want to do is quit my day job, and make what I love more than anything in this world into my living. I’ve sacrificed so much for my passion. In 2013, I left San Francisco, unable to find a job. I took a backpack full of clothes and a guitar and set my sights on Highway 1. I spent June 2013 to January 2014 hitchhiking up and down the coast. I went all the way to Canada down to San Diego. In January 2014, I was homeless in LA. I spent my days working at McDonald’s and nights playing open mics and shows. By March, a good friend said I could crash on his couch in San Francisco until I got back on my feet. Now, I’m in a much better place in my life. I have security.

PWV: Your track “Kill Them All” seems to be referring to all people. Is that true?

Johnny:  No, this song on my album is me yelling at the upper class of our society. People like Dick Cheney, Donald Trump, etc. It’s a song about them exploiting the working class people of our country to do their bidding. It’s a song about them choosing to instill fear in the masses. It’s about them not caring about who they have to sacrifice in order to make a profit off of weapon manufacturers, oil companies, etc.

PWV: What would you like to tell people about your band? Pitch to us why you deserve a listen!

Johnny: We deserve to be listened to because we have a lot to offer. We are a band that writes about topical issues. We write about love, loss, sacrifice, war, chaos, peace, the ocean, beauty and ugliness in the world, change, etc. We want to make a change for the better and we wish to shed light in the shadows of darkness that have fallen on our planet.


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About the Author

Denise Borders

33, Los Angeles. Denise founded PWV in 2008 and remains the primary manager and photographer/videographer. She thinks the world would be a better place if there were more John Joseph's walking around.

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