Though Johnny Dynamite has played in New York City bands his whole life—rocking out to anything from street punk to experimental electronic—Johnny Dynamite and The Bloodsuckers is his synth-driven baby.
His sophomore album Sleeveless will be out June 25 via Born Losers Records. The nine-track ensemble puts on a dark post-punk air but keeps things fresh with experimental synth melodies and emotionally relatable lyrics. Driven by the inspiration he gathered from his grandfather Peter Morisi (aka PAIII), a famous NYC comic book artist, Dynamite amasses all his superhero energy and puts it into his music. The result is a robust force of instrumentation that gives you catchy songs like “Trifilin’ Kids” and “Fucked Up Paradise.”
BTRtoday chatted with Dynamite about his latest single “Bats in the Woods” and the upcoming album Sleeveless, as well as his musical past, present, and future. Read the entire interview below and follow his upcoming sophomore album here.
Johnny Dynamite and the Bloodsuckers, “Fucked Up Paradise”
BTRtoday (BTR): Tell me more about this family comic book inspiration—how has it affected your musical persona?
Johnny Dynamite (JD): My Grandpa, Pete Morisi (aka PAIII), was a comic book artist during the Silver Age. He had a wife and three sons while living in the projects down in Gravesend, Brooklyn near Coney Island. At the time he was working a full-time job and wasn’t allowed to have another job; so he kept his artwork secret from everyone. He turned their walk-in closet into his art studio and would make sure to shut the curtain blocking it off whenever somebody rang the buzzer, in fear of people finding out about it and losing his job that paid the bills.
He came up with many characters, Kid Montana, Johnny Dynamite, and most notable Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt, who somewhat reflected himself. As a kid growing up, I saw images of these comics framed around my father’s house. Being the only Johnny in my family and an only child, the world [felt like it] revolved around me, so I assumed that I was Johnny Dynamite. A few years ago, I decided to take on the name to honor that lineage and pay homage to my roots in the same way my grandpa did, but through music.
BTR: Do you have other creative outlets other than music?
JD: Not really to be honest. I spent most of my life learning how to play most instruments. I was an only child, and my Dad had an 8-track recorder, so from the age of 14 I started recording myself every weekend that I spent with him. During the week I would write the parts at my mother’s house and the drum parts on my desk in school. [laughs] However, I do work in film, but my role is less creative and it revolves around carpentry and set dressing, but I love helping other peoples’ visions come alive, and there’s a very special reward in that too.
BTR: If your listeners could walk away with only one line from any of your songs stuck in their head, what line would you want that to be?
JD: This track hasn’t dropped yet, but the line would be, “can’t stop my love.” It’s like a mantra for when things are looking low, or people aren’t seeing things your way, to not let yourself feel any negativity from it, because nothing can stop your love if you really believe in yourself. Every time I’ve told myself this, I’ve noticed things change for me in a positive way.
Johnny Dynamite and the Bloodsuckers, “Trifilin’ Kids”
BTR: How was your creative flow during the pandemic?
JD: I’d say it ebbed and flowed as usual. I was mostly inspired when I ran out of money and unemployment wasn’t coming in. During this time I had to go stay with my dad in Staten Island. My dad has recently been getting into Jesus. A few songs on my new record are about that, my feelings surrounding it, and my support for his new passion.
BTR: What are you currently working on/what should we be keeping an eye out for in the future of your music?
JD: I have a new record called Sleeveless coming out June 25 on Born Losers Records. Right now I’m just shooting music videos and promo shots, because half of being a musician is being a multimedia artist, and I’ve come to accept that as long as I can have fun with it. Other than that, I’m producing some new music for the band Whiner that I play drums in as well as my electronic side project with Cammy Baby, Baby & Dynamite.
BTR: Let me know anything else you’d like the world to know about you!
JD: I’ll be playing a show on May 22 at FirstLive in Brooklyn hosted by BandsDoBk. This is to celebrate my final single from this album cycle, “Bats in the Woods,” which will be dropping May 21 along with a music video directed by Max R. Holland