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Meet Apocalyptica’s tour vocalist, Tipe Johnson

Published on 22.2.2012 8:07

My name is Richard (Tipe) Johnson. I grew up for the most part in Finland, but I also lived in America when I was younger. I have always loved singing. As a twelve year old I started my first band. Because my second home language is English (my mother tongue being Swedish) it was left to me to handle the vocals. I never set out to become a professional singer – I just sort of drifted into it. I have a degree in marketing, but I can’t see myself doing anything in that field.

I met Apocalyptica’s Mikko Sirén for the first time in March of 2009 when we were both part of an AC/DC tribute gig. My first Apocalyptica show was in Moscow on April 12th, 2009 and I’ve been touring with them ever since. When I’m not touring with Apocalyptica I keep myself busy with different projects. I’m in several bands. I was the lead singer for a semi-known cult band called The Leningrad Cowboys for 12 years, but left in 2010 because of overlapping schedules. I do some writing and work with Finnish bands who sing in English as a “language-police” helping the singers with the grammar and enunciation. Actually, my first encounter with the Apocalyptica guys goes way back to 1999 when Mr. Toppinen, Mr.Lötjönen and Mr. Lilja approached me with some original lyrics. Fortunately, the boys decided against using any of it, but believe me, it was a most interesting read. What really bothers me is that I didn’t save any of the lyrics because I’m talking serious blackmail material here.

For me, there is no definite highlight moment on stage. Maybe Paavo’s “Are You Ready” in The Hall of the Mountain King. I also enjoy the classical bit a lot. What Eicca is going to belt out into his microphone is something I’m always looking forward to hearing. With Perttu we mouth obscenities in Finnish to one another during the show. Paavo throws his tantrums every now and then and moves like a man possessed and… Mikko! Mikko is just plain awesomeness.

I’m still waiting for the ultimate Apocalyptica gig. Don’t get me wrong. There have been several great shows in many memorable places, but I’m still waiting for the One. For now, the Leningrad Cowboys show with the Russian Red Army Choir at the Senate square in Helsinki is the one I treasure the most.

I really like the songs we’re playing live with Apocalyptica. I remember hearing “I’m not Jesus” for the first time on the radio. I was in my car and already parked at home, but I had to stay in the car just so I would know whose this great song was. To my surprise, I learned it was Apocalyptica. The song caused me some trouble in the beginning because every pre-chorus and coming out from the chorus is different. At a festival show in Belgium our sound guy wondered if I could try to learn it properly. After that I’ve remembered the structure of the song – except for in Atlanta, where the writer of the song happened to be listening. It must have been nerves or something. As a whole, I enjoy singing songs that are originally sung by different singers. It gives me a chance to alter between different styles.

I couldn’t have seen myself singing a song like “Bring Them To Light” before. I have a lot of fun singing it, even if don’t like (understand) that genre of singing. I wouldn’t want to touch the songs “Bitter Sweet” or “Nothing else Matters”. There is something very magical about the moment when the audience sings those songs.