Govball 2019 Preview Series: Lead man Chadwick Johnson of Hundredth discusses making music for over 10 years

With the Governors Ball Music Festival less than a month away, set to take place in New York City from May 31 to June 2, we’re continuing to spotlight some of the best up-and-coming musicians playing the fest this year.

One aspect of Govball that sets it apart from other festivals of a similar scope and magnitude is the incredible amount of diversity the festival delivers to concertgoers in terms of genres, artists and performance types. From rap legends to country superstars to alternative bands to electronic DJs, the 2019 Govball lineup includes them all.

This unique mixture of genres and popularity is why Hundredth, a rock band originally based in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, fits into the 2019 lineup so well. The band, composed of Chadwick Johnson on vocals and guitar; Alex Blackwell on guitar; and Andrew Minervini on bass, has been around for 10 years and refuses to conform to one genre or scene, instead taking the risk to play with their sound in order to create the best music possible.

Johnson recalls being drawn to a wide variety of musical artists since a young age. “My dad would play Marvin Gaye and Tony! Toni! Toné!, and there were records and stuff on the radio that I thought were cool and made me feel good,” he explained in regards to when he first became interested in music. Johnson continues to be influenced by a mix of musicians, from classic bands like The Cure and The Smiths to those he described as “more chill-out music” such as The Bee Gees and Dire Straits.

It wasn’t until Johnson was about 13 or 14, however, that he began to think about creating his own music.

“One of my friends got a guitar, and he told me to get a bass. [During this time] I was skateboarding a lot, and getting more into bands that weren’t as popular. I think that fueled me to think about writing my own songs, or even just playing other people’s songs,” he said.

Johnson, Blackwell and Minervini grew up in Myrtle Beach together and began playing together after other bands they were in fell through. Although none of the members live in Myrtle Beach today, with Johnson living in Los Angeles, and Blackwell and Minervini living in North Carolina and South Carolina, respectively, their hometown did influence their early drive to create music.

“[Myrtle Beach] motivated us to dive deeper and try to make songs that we could tour around the world. That’s not a diss to the town, but I think for us we wanted to see more and play at bigger places,” Johnson said. “We had a tight-knit, close scene of bands and people going to shows, but it was nowhere near the scenes that bigger cities had. So I think for us, we were coming out of this small town with a little bit of a chip on our shoulder.”

The sound of Hundredth’s earlier music could be described as very aggressive, abrasive rock: think heavy guitar riffs, howling vocals and frantic energy. However, the release of their album “RARE” in 2017 saw a divergence from this sound, and instead brought a more laid-back energy to the rock genre.

“The record we put out in 2017 saw us diving into some of our other influences, bands like The Smiths, The Cure, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine; bands with guitars that were making noise but it wasn’t so abrasive,” Johnson said. “We are about to [put out new music] within the next couple months. [This new music] will see us go even further into a different sound. So for me, [our sound] is always changing but has really just started changing within the past couple of years more drastically.”

In terms of the process of creating and cultivating a sound and aesthetic, Johnson’s take is deceptively simple.

“I think that the process for us is making music that we want to hear. That’s the main thing that informs our process: what do I want to hear? What do I feel like no one is doing that I’m yearning for? Or maybe they’re not doing it enough, or maybe there’s a loose spin on it, or maybe no one’s really touched back in on this classic song,” he explained, referring to the process as “nostalgia mixed with the future.”

It’s clear that the music itself is what drives Hundredth to continue creating all of these years.

“We want to show that we have a multi-faceted approach toward creativity; that there’s no ceiling [for us],” Johnson said. “Being a band for as long as we have been and trying to transform into another scene and gain a wider appeal just to connect with more people [means that] we’ve probably seen growth in different ways than most bands have.”

“We’ve never had a moment with a crazy radio success; we’ve always been underground,” he continued. ”We just enjoy making music and want to last a long time doing it, on our terms. That’s where we are and with these new songs we’re hoping to show a different side of us yet again; to shed off another layer and kind of dive a little deeper.”

Hundredth will certainly be bringing this laid-back, musically-inclined energy to the stage at Govball.

“I haven’t seen a lot of bands that have gone from the Warped Tour world--we’ve done that tour a couple of times-to a festival that’s as mainstream-leaning as Govball,” Johnson said. “We see it as a great opportunity for one, to show the industry that we can exist in a different scene outside of Warped Tour; and two, to reach a lot of new people that otherwise wouldn’t of ever heard of us before. So we’re super excited to play, and it should be cool.”

In terms of the process of preparing for Govball, Johnson doesn’t see it as being too different from any other shows that Hundredth plays.

“We’re not doing any crazy production or anything, because it’s outside in the daytime. So it’s kind of similar to what we would do on Warped Tour, just play our songs as best we can and hope people turn their heads and walk toward our stage. That’s the goal,” he said, adding that the main difference he sees is that Govball caters toward more mature people with a broader music taste.

Although Hundredth may switch between genres and settings, the sentiment behind creating their music has always remained the same.

“Music for me is a mission; it’s to get people out of one mind state and into another one,” Johnson explained. “t’s about escapism; using [music] as a moment of getting away from the mundane tasks. If our music can make a mundane, boring thing fun, I think that’s a really high priority for me; to make a song that’s so good people just want to listen to it at any time.”

Make sure to catch Hundredth at the Governors Ball on Friday, May 31 at the Bacardi Stage at 12:45 p.m. Tickets can be found on the festival’s website.


Lucie Turkel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at lucie.turkel@uconn.edu.