Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Los Angeles, California based Extreme Metal band, Second Shooter. Huge thanks to vocalist, Melanie Johnson, for taking part.

What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?

My name is Melanie Johnson and I’m the vocalist of extreme metal band Second Shooter (groove metal/hardcore/thrash). The band has a kind of weird history. The two remaining original members, long-time friends Travis Hildreth (guitar) and Jim Wilinski (drums), were part of a band called Salvage 67 in 2015, when their vocalist went to prison for killing his wife. So that brought the band to a screeching halt.

Now that they’ve had some distance from the situation, we do make jokes about how that’s a pretty metal story (and we call my microphone at the studio the “Murder Mic”), but of course it was absolutely devastating to everyone involved. It took the band a while to move on; sometimes they didn’t even have the heart to pick up their instruments at practice. And I don’t mean to discount the pain of the victim’s loved ones, who are suffering to this day. Sorry to start the interview with something so heavy!

Anyway, the band in its current iteration came together in 2018 when Wynn McElwee (guitar), Jeff Clark (bass) and I joined.

How did you come up with your band name?

Unrelated to the murder thing, I promise! I wasn’t there when it was conceived of, but I know part of its appeal is the ambiguity. It could refer to JFK conspiracy theories, or to hypothetical shootings; it’s a common term in photography; and people always come up with other possible interpretations.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

We’re in Los Angeles, California, and honestly the scene is great here. The local scene is large, excitingly diverse, and very mutually supportive. And all the big acts come through because we’re a huge city. Sure, it isn’t as big as some of the major European cities for metal, but still – no complaints!

What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

We just released this video for ‘1 in 6’ from our self-titled EP. It’s a super aggressive, super feminist song, and the video really captures that (thank you so much to TJ Grof, Rhys Green, and Sarah Doerner!):

Who have been your greatest influences?

For my vocals, I draw inspiration from all over the spectrum of heavy music, including some metal-adjacent genres like hardcore, post-hardcore, and even emo. For the band overall, some major influences are Pantera, Korn, Slipknot, classic death metal, early thrash metal… really all over the place. We like groovy, we like brutal, we like fast.

What first got you into music?

My mom is the coolest person I know and has introduced me to a large proportion of what I’ve listened to throughout my life. She also took me to lots of concerts as a teenager and she loved them as much as I did. She took me to my first show – Green Day – and some other great high school memories with her include seeing Opeth, Megadeth, Sabbath with Dio, Dream Theater, Machine Head… not to mention totally-not-metal bands like the White Stripes, the Shins, Death Cab for Cutie…

If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?

I haven’t really thought about that! In the abstract I’d like to feature a male vocalist for the contrast, but when I think about who I’d really love to work with and who would sound sick on our tracks, I think of like, Angela Gossow (ex-Arch Enemy), Tatiana Shmailyuk (Jinjer), Māra Lisenko (Māra)…

If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

I don’t know a lot about the international festivals, which I’m sure are the best, so I’ll keep it local-ish: I think it would be pretty sick to play Las Rageous.

What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

Ooh, none of those yet. Fan art would be weird but also fun.

If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?

Send me fan art ;). Just kidding. I’d say: make some art! Music, visual art, poetry… even if you don’t think you’d be good at it, if you have any inkling at all, you should definitely give it a shot. Having a creative outlet is great!

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

Chester Bennington’s suicide tore me apart. His music got so many people through rough times, gave people hope, literally saved lives… and it’s so tragic not only that he’s not here anymore but also that he couldn’t save himself.

What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?

Ahh I enjoy everything about being a musician! Seeing people rocking the fuck out at shows, hearing from people that our music really resonated with them, the satisfaction of a song coming together… everything! Well, I guess not the pay-to-play culture of the big venues in LA.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

The pay-to-play thing is lame. For people who aren’t familiar: P2P is when a venue says, “Here are X tickets, sell them at $Y each and give us that much money.” So, in theory you could break even or make a profit, but in practice that never really happens — we aren’t going to charge our friends or fans face value if they’re getting their tickets from us.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

“The Shape of Punk to Come” by Refused. Just so sick beginning to end.

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

Was never into vinyl. I bought a lot of CD’s for most of my life, but streaming has absolutely taken over. You have access to everything!

What’s the best gig that you have played to date?

All of our shows have been such a great time! It was super exciting and an honour to open for Jinjer in September of last year. Equally fun was a “Women Who Rock” show the next month, featuring local female-fronted bands ranging in heaviness from an acoustic set to… us. The crowd response was so great!

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?

Well, music is my hobby and my real job is as a software engineer. Without music, I’d be what I was a few years ago: a software engineer in desperate need of a creative outlet!

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Definitely some (extremely) high-ranking American politicians and some powerful people who have gotten away with assault, then I’d burn the place down. Sorry not sorry.

What’s next for the band?

We’re writing a bunch of stuff and I’m absolutely psyched about it all. We plan to release a full-length this year. We haven’t played in a few months because we’ve been focusing on new material, but we are itching to get back on stage!! Got some shows in the works.

What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?

www. secondshooter.bandcamp.com

And of course, we’re on all the streaming platforms.

Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?

I’m an American, I don’t understand Jaffa Cakes or the metric system!

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

This was fun! Thank you so much for Ever Metal for the opportunity and all the hard work you put into your site!

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