Johnny Wilson collects and houses relatable stories before sharing them through his music.
The singer-songwriter’s band, True Story House, has been gradually constructing a solid catalog. With a mix of folk, blues and soft rock, the songs provide listeners with a sense of solace.
The writing process itself has also been comforting for Johnny Wilson through the years.
“It’s almost like a cliché that people talk about how art is transformative, and people mock that, but it’s utterly true,” Johnny Wilson said. “That process functions in very useful ways.”
Music has always been a part of Johnny Wilson’s life. Born and raised in Washington state, the musician had rock ingrained into his character, experiencing the influential scene of counterculture and grunge music. Yet, for Johnny Wilson, the anxiety of exposing his emotions in front of an audience was a hindrance.
“I didn’t pick up the guitar and get serious until I was 23,” he said.
With inspiration in hand and his roots ready to come undone, he hit the road. He left Seattle and started traveling, eventually finding a home in New Mexico. He wrote his first song while working construction in Santa Fe.
“I just started singing the lines that were written in my journal,” he said. “I can’t remember many times that I was happier about life, but in that moment, it was really, really great.”
It was a release for Johnny Wilson, challenging the doubt in his own mind and overcoming his demons. He said he “fell in love with the process of writing.”
That process didn’t begin for Johnny Wilson until he was in his late-40s. Though he didn’t play in bands when he was younger, like the route taken by most traditional rockers, he eventually embraced performing and writing as a release instead of a fear.
What once gave him anxiety, ended up being a cure. He began playing in bands and building a network in New Mexico, and then formed True Story House in 2018 after fellow musician Jeff Wilson suggested he start recording his own material. More local talent joined in on the project, and soon the EP “Subversive Stories” was produced that year, followed by “Brave Like Us” in 2021.
Currently, guitarist Paul Wright pairs with Johnny Wilson while they put the finishing touches on True Story House’s first full-length album set to be released this fall. Jeff Wilson continues to offer support, and Matthew Tobias, producer and owner of Empty House Studio, is mixing the album and serving as drummer.
“It’s an ever-evolving thing,” Johnny Wilson said about the band’s journey.
Johnny Wilson attributes his songwriting to the classically trained instrumentalists and expert theorists who have helped him create. He said a huge element for him in music is that it has brought him “unbelievable gifts of collaboration with really good people, really good musicians.”
He added, “That kind of collaboration just thrills me … just watching people be amazing. It’s really great.”
Johnny Wilson’s lyrics are inspired from a blend of his own personal experiences and those of others, and he said he rarely writes off the top of his head. From observations of people and society, he shares his ideology through catchy lines, but in a non-intrusive way, allowing listeners to strengthen their own opinions.
True Story House’s upcoming album is powered by the early releases of “Today The Grey” and “This Loss Reminds Me.” Johnny Wilson builds a connection with listeners through his writing, a process he considers healing.
He said, “I’m very into the lyrics. I very much like writing. I like the accidents of ideas that come together.”
Not every artist follows the same path or timeline, but experience is relative. Johnny Wilson has collected plenty of stories that reside in his mind. The tales have been released with intention to provide a relation, and True Story House offers exactly such for its listeners.