Interview: Um, Gosh. Quickfire with Daniel Johnston.

Months ago the forever fantastic Daniel Johnston was meant to bluster through the Italian underground, playing shows in old, practically decrepit theatres before stereotypically shoddy organisation resulted in the tour being canceled. We got pretty disheartened by this, especially as with no more than €154 at the time, there was no way of getting back for the absolutely wondrous Matt Groening ATP taking place just days before the Italians ballsed up. So thanks to the lovely Dick Johnston, Daniel's loving brother (for evidence look no further than The Devil and Daniel Johnston, 2005) we finally got to fling a question or two at Daniel, as he loads up his fridge, plastic bags rustling in the dulcet background tones. With undying reverence for Mr. Johnston, it's a true privilege to be able to feature this snippet-sized interview and one day, maybe, just maybe, he'll return to British soil where he'll play High Horse and Freedom, songs that saved the tail end of last year...

Dots: Daniel, it's an absolute honour to have a quick catch-up for Dots & Dashes. In accordance with the name of your site, Hi, how are you?

Daniel Johnston: Hello there! I'm putting groceries away...

Dashes: How does it feel to be a bona fide cult icon in these days of musical change?

DJ: It's great- I'm just puttin' away my new groceries, in my new house, I live like a king. I'm partially famous, I freakin' love it, and I'm finally makin' a living from it.

Dots: As both artist and musician, your work stretches from scatty lo-fi genius to flourishes of vivid brilliance. Do you still view yourself first and foremost as a recording artist?

DJ: Yeah; the big thing now for me is that my dad has OK'd the idea to build my own studio in the backyard and then I can work on stuff whenever I want to, all the time. It's gonna be great. That was one of the problems when I started writing for Songs Of Pain; all I had was one of these little cassette players, that's just the way it was. So I was writin' songs for my friends, then just thought well I'll go ahead and make an album! In my mind, you know. So that's what just recently got released, and it's really cool to see the CD and album boxset. My brother put it out, my brother did it.

Dashes: Your latest record, Is And Always Was, sounds like a comic book jukebox from another era. Where does such divine inspiration come from these days?

DJ: Well, I guess right down to it, it's girls. I think about a girl and it's usually a love song, even though it's like a horror movie in retrospect. Girls are what I write about most I think...

Dots: Many musical institutions and organisations have really backed you, ATP for instance. Do you feel as though you've really been welcomed into the world of alternative culture with open arms?

DJ: Yeah, I mean I hope some day to be even more successful now with things goin' my way, and the critics seem to say "Yeah!", so I'm happy...

Dashes: The Devil and Daniel Johnston contained some of the most poignant scenes of independent cinema in recent times. Was the film at times a little troublesome to watch back?

DJ: Well, at first it was, especially with their title. There was another movie many, many years ago called The Devil and Daniel Webster so I wondered what it'd be like to have a title just like that but actually, the more I watched it the more humourous I thought it was. You've gotta have a sense of humour, y'know?

Dots: Coming across artists with such an incessant love for truly organic originality happens once in a blue moon. Or maybe once in a lifetime... Do you sometimes feel unappreciated for the ceaseless strive you've put into every second of your rather extensive, delightful discography?

DJ: Well when I do a show, and the crowds are yellin', and clappin', I'm happy. I'm happy about that. I've been touring the world with my brother, and I buy zillions of comic books.