Interview Robbie Morris...
I don't know if you know www.roadtojacksonville.com but as its name indicates we are first of all great fans of southern rock music, and that's why we are very happy to ask you some questions in order to give news from you to all the regular readers of our site!
First, I'd like to tell you that many of us remember the young guy "with
the long hair coloured yellow" behind Johnny Van Zant Band's drum kit,
but the more recent generations don't probably know this time,
so can you tell us how you began and how you rose as a drummer?
To make a long story short, I was twelve years old. Johnny had a set of drums, and I'd just got a brand new bike. Johnny borrowed my bike and fell breaking his arm. I borrowed his drums and never returned them :-) Ronnie Van Zant bought bought Johnny a PA system because he wanted Johnny to sing anyway. We put an ad in a music store and got guitar players. Ronnie introduced us to Eric Lundgren. I started playing clubs around thirteen years old, and Johnny and I had to go outside during breaks because we were too young to be in a club in the first place. We had to get permits, signed by our parents, to play in clubs.
RTJ: What are your main musical influences?
Bohnam of Led Zepplin, Atimus Pyle (former drummer Lynyrd Skynyrd), etc. Eagles,
Zepplin, Pure Prarie League, Jackson Browne, Lynyrd Skynyrd, 38 Special (Donnie,
Johnny and Ronnie Van Zant are my uncles).
My mom's (Joanne) younger brothers.
RTJ: Can you tell us how was like a musician's life in the Johnny Van Zant Band ?
Awesome. Being a young kid, and making records (at 18) is every kid's dream. Being on MTV etc, and being on the road with some of the biggest bands..who are still huge today.
RTJ: Can you tell us your best memories with the JVZB ?
Making videos, touring, playing in front of packed stadiums, and hearing our songs on the radio.
I have some videos like the Orlando TV Show or the New York The Ritz 90, does-it
JVZB shows in video, where you were playing drums?
VIdeos: "Brickyard road" (can be seen on VH1), "Hearts are
Gonna Roll", "Who's Right or Wrong",
"I'm a fighter", "It's You", etc.
RTJ: Who in the band brought those soul/rhythm'n blues influences that we can feel in your recordings?
No one really... Just our own "style".
RTJ: Why did the band stop after the album "Brickyard Road" ?
Johnny went on to "Lynyrd Skynyrd" fulltime. (He started part time with Lynyrd Skynyrd back in '88.)
RTJ: Do you regret something from this period?
Yes, the band breaking up! It was a difficult thing to do.
For all this super period's fans, can you relate ( in the aggregate! ) what
we ought to remember
in our heads about this music and its state of mind?
That's hard to answer, as what music brings to someone (audience) is very personal.
RTJ: JVZB's fans were surprised not to see you anymore behind a southern rock's drum kit, we did'nt hear much from you, and we thought that you hang up your drumsticks. Can you explain all that stuff?
am still playing in different bands and giving drum lessons to kids (which
gives me more satisfaction
than anything else.)
The Van Zant family is probably the most representative in the southern rock.
You know very well your uncles ( I suppose... ). How do you appreciate their fame?
am very proud of them. And, if it weren't for Ronnie Van Zant none of us would
have had our own bands.
I don't think there would have been a 38 Special or Johnny Van Zant Band. Ronnie was the major influence.
RTJ: After all, in Europe we called this music "Southern Rock" in order to be able to identify it through other musical families ( Classic Rock, Blues Rock... ). From your point of view, is it a good appellation ?
tried to stay out of the southern rock category. Actually, I would call it
closer to "British"--
except for the first album, which was southern and produced by Al Cooper.
RTJ: Except Skynyrd or Allman, that seem to be still blockbusters, how do you consider the southern rock today? Is it viable, and should it advance like Warren Haynes tries to do with it ( I don't speak about his last reggae album!) ?
a shame, but I think "Southern Rock" is dead as there seems to be
much more alternative rock out there.
(I don't mean past southern rock). I think if you tried to be strictly "southern rock" today, it would be a waste of time, unless you called it "country"--then you'd have a chance.
RTJ: Are you close from Jimmy, and does you play sometimes with him?
we are family but we don't play together. My little brother "Little Ronnie"
(Who was named after our
Uncle Ronnie) toured with him as lead guitar several years ago.
15/From whitch band would you have dreamed to become the drummer?
band with a record on the charts! Ted Nugent offered me a job that I had to
of my contractual obligations.
RTJ: What are today your activities? Do you play regularly?
I play regularly. 46 yrs old and still kickin'.
Last question: if tomorrow, you should end your life on a desert island taking
only 5 CD's with you,
whitch one would you take?
Journey, Led Zepplin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, 38 Specials, Beatles, Eagles, Rolling Stones
Thanks Robbie !
( Discography Johnny Van Zant Band in Road To Jacksonville website )