PTL 10th Anniversary: Ian Johnsen

Ian Johnsen of the Must Destroy label was, and is, a major figure in the life of The Darkness. A man busier than you can possibly imagine, he managed to find a few minutes to answer one or two questions:

OI: At what point did you become aware of The Darkness?

Ian: March 2001. a show at the Barfly.

OI: How did you get involved in working with them?

Ian: They approached us when they heard that Alan and I had started a label. I believe it was at a Datsuns show at the Garage when first moves were made… maybe around eight months after that initial Barfly sighting. Although, we had previously put them on at a night we were doing at Notting Hill Arts Club at the time, so there was prior contact before talk of releasing anything.

OI: Was their potential immediately obvious to you?

Ian: They appealed to us. That was what mattered.

OI: What made you want to work with them?

Ian: They were / are a good music band.

OI: What made them want to work with you?

Ian: Kindred spirits? No other options?

OI: Was PTL under way before or after you got involved?

Ian: Not at the time, no. They had the three ‘Love’ songs recorded… ‘…On The Rocks’, ‘…Is Only A Feeling’ and ‘I Believe In A Thing Called…’.

OI:How knowledgeable about the music business were they, back then?

Ian: Probably more than we were.

OI:What impact did the album have on you, both in a business and personal sense?

Ian: Its an album I still listen to and enjoy. Business-wise, the whole experience opened some doors, introduced us to some people that would influence our lives greatly, and allowed us to do what we did as a job.

OI: What are your favourite tracks, and why?

Ian: ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’ – instantly recognisable as a killer pop song from the opening line. ‘Planning Permission’ (is a B-side allowed?) – lyrically perfect.

OI: Has that changed over the years?

Ian: Not really.

OI: From inside the music business, what impact can you say The Darkness had in 2003, and have you seen any lasting effects?

Ian: They made a mockery of the media’s notions of ‘cool’ and made bands that take themselves too seriously look a bit stupid. Lasting effects? Well, in media-land, not really… perceived ‘cool’ is back on top as the most important thing, regardless of whether the artist has anything approaching even one decent song in them or not. Luckily, there’s not much of a media left that anyone takes any notice of.

OI: Was there alternative artwork for the cover? What was that like?

Ian: No.. there was never time for an alternate cover! It was super last minute as it is… Bruce hardly slept during the time he was finishing it off.

OI: What is it that gives both the band and PTL their special something?

Ian: An incredible sense of melody. A lack of fear of the word ‘pop’. A sense of humour. Not giving a fuck what anyone says about them, good or bad.


Thanks to Ian for his time.

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