Johnny Falstaff is a good time lovin’, honky tonkin’, guitar slinging daddy. Usually decked out in suits reminiscent of classic country stars from long ago and a solid bodied telecaster strapped around him. Falstaff knows how to put on a show with his deep, crooning voice and licks so fast it’s impossible not to feel the heat. He made a name for himself in Houston with his own brand of classic country and rockabilly with a splash of B grade horror.
Though he’s been out of the loop and living in Germany for the past three years, Falstaff is ready to make his way back home and use his native tongue. “I’m back and mixing the new record which I’m really excited about. Really fired up about that. I always like to book a few shows, meet up some of my old friends, meet some new ones, make some music and have a good time.”
Falstaff was born in the small town of Alice, Texas and was greatly influenced by his parent’s collection of country records. “I remember well the big entertainment center, the record player television, and stereo all in one big piece of furniture and their little country record collection.”
The Falstaff family later relocated to Alvin where Johnny and his friends were switching gears. “As you are a kid, you listen naturally to what your parents listen to and then as a teenager that stuff is not cool anymore so we headed into the hard rock stage of our lives.” Falstaff remembers, “We had our high school band and played AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and all that stuff, which I still absolutely love, but things tend to come full circle as you get older. So I came back into the country world and been at it since then.”
While serving in the army after high school, Falstaff found himself scanning the bulletin board in a New York guitar shop and on a whim answered an ad looking for a traditional country singer. “Ended up joining that band, moving to Nashville, and how do I find a pleasant way to say this, it didn’t work out. Nashville was not my kind of scene at all. At the time Dwight Yoakam and Marty Stuart had just come out and I thought 'yeah country music is on the rebound again it’ll be awesome!', but it seems like those were the only two dudes doing that.” Being too rock and roll for country and too country for rock and roll is a reoccurring theme for Falstaff.
After being burned out in Nashville Johnny found himself back in Houston and this time with some like-minded local musicians. “It was fantastic! There were so many cool clubs to play and awesome people to hang out with.” Falstaff made his way through the Houston scene playing with bands in and out of Texas and eventually branching out on his own.
He created his own record label, Death Western Productions, and made his own videos featuring his unique penchant for horror, humor and dash of sexiness. Falstaff admits he was drawn to horror movies as a child watching television late at night, “They would show the old black and white horror movies on TV and they were so awful and awesome at the same time. I guess that’s kind of where I’m rooted.” he chuckles.
His video for “One Hand Tied”, filmed in his current home of Dresden, gives a preview of his on-stage jackhammer energy and contagious smile. The song is a short and boastful track about being able to please a lover with one hand tied
In 2011, Falstaff teamed up with locals Hank Schyma (Southern Backtones) and John Evans to create and release Honky Tonk Blood, a film noir about the music business featuring plenty of the Houston music scene. “We did that movie and for us it was gold. It was awesome and had a really good reaction from the public there in Houston.” The trio has been working on a follow up movie The Hunchback of Mexico but it is still a work in progress and they continue to hope for the right investors. “It’s a labor of love that’s for sure. I spent a lot of time writing it and trying to get the screenplay together and hopefully someday we can get that thing done.”
Falstaff moved to Dresden after falling in love and marrying a native German. “I am fat and happy! It’s a culture shock you have to move away from Tex-Mex and into schnitzel land. Both are fantastic.” Falstaff continues, “Being a history freak and loving history this is like the gold mine to live in.”
American country singers have a history of doing well overseas and Germans have a large part of Texas history so the combination of Johnny Falstaff and Germany is fitting. “I’ll tell them about the Hill Country and a lot of them are surprised that we have that culture there.” Even in another continent Falstaff still is hard to pigeonhole, “There’s a huge line dance movement going on here and my music doesn’t really fit so well into that. I’m really not the 'Achy Breaky Heart' kinda guy.” Falstaff says with a chuckle, “There’s a little bit of that but there’s still a lot of people that really enjoy real country music and listening to it. Occasionally there’s even a two stepper out there!”
Falstaff recorded most of his newest album in Bavaria but had the help of friends in the music business all over the map. “With technology these days it opens up a whole new avenue and approach of the way you can do things.” Falstaff ended up with steel guitar from his San Antonio buddy Tommy Detamore, fiddle from Switzerland courtesy of Aaron Till and Houston’s own Rajiv Grover on the drums for some “hometown flavor”. “So I’ve got some really cool super stars on my record and I didn’t even have to buy them lunch!” laughs Falstaff.
Though his eighth solo album is still untitled, Falstaff is clear about the direction of the album, “I would say it leans more towards the traditional country than a lot of my other records.” His newest album and videos for songs from the album will be out this fall and will surely bring Falstaff back on the road across Germany, Texas and beyond. Catch Johnny Falstaff at one of his shows this month and he will be sure to sample some of his newest work along with tried and true hits from past albums.
March 15, D&W Lounge, 911 Milby, doors at 8 p.m. Free
March 30, Cottonwood, 3422 N. Shepard, doors at 8 p.m. Free
March 31, SXDE at Dan Electro's Guitar Bar, 1031 East 24th, starts at 4 p.m. Free