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Foot Hill Stomp is every inch an independent effort, Johnston forming his own company - FTRC Produkshuns - and overseeing everything from the recording and production to the CD artwork and distribution. "I’m very proud that as an independent I got distribution without signing a record contract," says Johnston, including placement in the music section of the nationwide Borders bookstore chain. "I did have to use a label, but they’re not my label, just a distribution agent.
We went through them to assure Borders that product would be delivered on time and that things would be done in a professional manner," says Johnston, "and now they’re fully aware that we do that."
Album Sales Are Encouraging
Of Foot Hill Stomp, Johnston says "I’m proud of this album because it’s just what a blues fan would have done, very simple - not as simple as the Alan Lomax albums, but still, by Johnny Lang standards, a very simple thing." Sales of his debut have been extraordinary. "The album has broken 10,000 in sales in less than a year, which is a hit by blues standards. Even some punk labels - Matador isn’t going to gear up to sell 10,000 units." Encouraged, Johnston adds "in lot of obscure areas of music, this is a good presence, and we expect to double or triple the sales with the next album."
Johnston has strong feelings about his place in the recording industry. "I tell people that rather than trying to be that one guy in a stable of artists with a major label, the one that they allow to make all the money, why not go out and work?
If you really like to play music, in five years time you can play to a couple hundred thousand people," says Johnston.
"Now that we have the Internet, we musicians are capable of being much more than a rock star or a blues guy. Most of your favorite blues guys, the ones that I can tell you about, were and are other things," says Johnston, "they don’t just reduce themselves to being one thing, or else they wouldn’t have a thing in common with the people they’re playing to." Johnston quickly adds, "that’s the beauty of the blues!" (Interviewed May 23, 2003)