Paint, Barrie Examiner, September 17, 2014

A Dose of Social Activism With Your Music:
Paint plays the Clarkson Pub this Saturday

by Susan Doolan
September 17, 2014

What do social activism, politics and music have in common?

Robb Johannes and Paint.

The frontman of the band Paint has been building a following for catchy pop-rock songs since it began in Vancouver in 2008.

After relocating to Toronto and adding a new lineup of musicians, Paint has taken off.

"I moved to Toronto with the blessing of my original band mates," said Johannes, who plays Barrie this weekend. "(In Vancouver), you are either be on tour all the time or you have to move. It's geographically isolated. You have to block off a lot of time whereas Toronto, you can play 200 shows a year, sleep in your own bed, have relationships and pets."

Earlier music focused more on social activism. Johannes writes all the lyrics and the band collaborates on the music. By day he works in the social services sector at a housing facility in Toronto.

It is also what prompted Johannes' foray into politics. He is running for mayor of Toronto.

"I've worked on the other side, building relationships to advance program development, funding and health research and I felt that voting was not enough this time," said Johannes, who thinks that career politicians are out of touch and that more needs to be done. "If all it does is get more people out to vote, I'm perfectly happy with that."

Music has been the one constant in his life although he was also interested in painting and drawing. He went to college for film and visual arts, but switched to criminology and women's studies. He liked music better than film because it's more immediate.

"It was always about doing original music. There was a great all-ages punk scene (in Vancouver) where if you didn't fit in anywhere else," said Johannes, who ended up joining those bands and going on road with them. "My music degree as I call it was touring."

As he grew and developed on stage, he also trained with a vocal coach to learn how to take care of his voice. Many shows later, he has refocused on the business side of the music industry, primarily because he has seen what happens to those who neglect it.

He started Paint as a coffee-house project in Vancouver with a desire to make his own music, create a unapologetic sound that was larger than life.

"Rock and pop has always been the heart for me, the core," he said. "That punk rock influence, the attitude, do-it-yourself work ethic, I'm grateful for that because it was a foreshadowing of what the industry is about. We do it all."

In celebration of the fifth anniversary of the Paint's first album, a deluxe edition of Can You Hear? Me has been reissued. It was recorded just before Johannes moved to Toronto.

A compilation DVD of 14 music videos called Capsulated was released last year. Paint is working on a multi-media, black-and-white film called 11:11 and soundtrack. It is a creative interpretation of a relationship that didn't work out. Nov. 11 was the date he was married.

"It's based on four songs, four seasons, four years. A time-period journey," said Johannes. "It's a very Canadian kind of 360 experience."

Along with a shift to more personal topics -- love and relationships -- there is more storytelling. He enjoys writing in character.

"Survival is a big topic we write about: survival, adversity and how much hope the human will has to come out on top and still be beautiful," he said.

When it came to finding musicians for the Toronto group, Johannes looked to the bands he liked and says he chose the best: drummer Devin Jannetta and guitarist Jordan Shepherdson, who went to Barrie North Collegiate. For a time, Paint operated without a bass player, "borrowing" one as needed until they ran an ad and Keiko Gutierrez responded.

"She was great," said Johannes, adding that she will be performing with Paint in Barrie.

Paint plays the Clarkson Pub, 130 Dunlop St. E., on Saturday, Sept. 20.

The original text of this article can be found at The Barrie Examiner.