Johnny “J” Crowder of Prison in 2019 opening for Soulfly at the Brick By Brick

My dear Chuggalos (copyright and trademark pending), the Klown would like to talk about the importance of Prison and the many lives it has affected and touched. No, he is not talking about the American prison system. What is this, Ugh Politics (copyright and trademark pending)? On that subject, to quote the great Combichrist, “Fuck that shit!” This is Ugh Metal, baybay! So, enough jerking you around and know that the Klown has done it again, ladies and germs… and boys and girls of any reading age! This time our latest first impressions, involves independent nu-metal band Prison. Seeing how the Klown has mentioned Combichrist, the Klown happened to see Prison a little over two years ago as openers for Combichrist.

Admittedly, the Klown initially had no idea who they were or how they sounded like. Once the eccentric frontman Johnny “J” Crowder took the stage, the Klown was taken aback. That night in 2018, a shirtless Crowder got onstage with the word “fine” scribbled across his chest among the plethora of tattoos. Lest the Klown forget his orange dyed hair, bicycle fingerless gloves and leggings with track shorts over them. The theatrical touch to this grand entrance is how Crowder carried a ball and chain prop whilst adding so much emotion not to say that he didn’t do any of that during his performance… minus the prop. Prison left a long lasting impression on the Klown so much so, he couldn’t contain his excitement when Prison came back to Daygo with the mighty Soulfly on Sept. 29. Prior to stop, the Klown set the gears in motion and donned his Walter Cronkite costume and was lucky enough to get a hold on J via social media and email for this installment.

Johnny “J” Crowder of Prison making a long lasting impression at the Brick By Brick in 2018

 Ugh Metal: Why did you choose the name Prison for the band?

J: The whole idea behind the band name has to do with the mind, and how we can feel trapped if we don’t have an outlet. Think about it like rec time in prison. For one hour a day, you get to go outside and use your body, play sports, play cards, stretch your legs, see the sun, etc. We’re just trying to encourage people to escape that mental prison, even for just an hour, so they have somewhere to put all of that pent-up energy.

UM: How did the band first meet?

J: We’ve all been touring in other bands for years. Dark Sermon, Adaliah, In Alcatraz 1962… the list goes on. We knew each other from playing shows together with our other bands, and when those bands started slowing down, we all decided that we weren’t ready to quit music just yet. We all just sought each other out, and the timing couldn’t have been better.

UM: When did you officially form?

J: We started making music in 2014, but we didn’t start touring until 2017, so that question is a tricky one. To us, it’s 2014.

UM: Was nu-metal (assuming that I have the correct genre) your first choice when you first started the band?

J: We originally set out to create the heaviest music possible, but that quickly changed when another alt-rock project I had in the works fell through. We all got together and decided that we wanted to dip into the alt and nu-metal sound a little bit more, and I don’t think Prison would exist today if that hadn’t happened.

UM: Who are your biggest influences?

J: Oh, man. Basically, any band you grew up listening to, haha. Korn, Three Days Grace, Seether, Slipknot, System of a Down, Linkin Park, Breaking Benjamin… So many people talk trash about these bands, but they’re the ones who set the stage for heavier music to flourish.

The crowd didn’t know what to expect from Prison, but “J” Crowder did not disappoint!

UM: Is there any band or person you would like to collaborate with?

J: In truth, I’d love to work on one of those old-school Roadrunner United-style tracks where it’s just completely stacked with all sorts of musicians from the bands I listed above. Without getting too sentimental, I’d love to be a fly on the wall in a vocal booth with Corey Taylor, Jonathan Davis, Serj Tankian, and Chester Bennington. 

UM: Do you have a pre show ritual?

J: I do a lot of stretching and jumping around before I get on stage, but that’s more of a warm up than a ritual. After my bassist writes the word of the night on my chest, I get on stage and put my forehead on the floor and pray for a minute or so, facing away from the audience. It’s a humility thing. I want to make sure that I never let myself feel so important or big-headed that I forget the reason I’m on the stage: to make a positive impact on everyone in the room, and hopefully save some lives.

UM: Any funny or interesting tour stories that has happened ?

J: On Alex (Lopez, drummer) from Suicide Silence’s birthday, the guys threw cake in his face during the set. That’s something you don’t expect to see in person, especially in front of a packed house. It was all in good fun, though. Looking forward to touring with those guys again, that’s for sure.

J is likes to keep things simple and lumped together both the big names Prison has shared the stage with and bands that he would like to share the stage with. After all, why beat around the bush if the answers are the same?

J: Suicide Silence, Combichrist, Wednesday 13, Soulfly, Unearth, Carnifex, Oceano, Upon a Burning Body, For the Fallen Dreams… man, we’ve been lucky. Can’t wait to see what the next few years look like!

UM: I recalled in the last performance we saw you (in 2018 supporting Combichrist) right before your departure, you encouraged fans to approach your table but to talk and not necessarily buy. Have you always been this open to fans in every show?

J: Yes! We’re not doctors or therapists, and we’ll never claim to be, but sometimes you just need to hug somebody and tell them that you kinda understand what they’re going through and hear the same thing in return. We just try to be there for our fans because we know that family and friends don’t always come through the way we hope they will. At the end of the day, we hope our music can provide that comfort long after we leave their city.

J Crowder pulling in the crowd closer in Prison’s 2019 show with Soulfly.

UM: Assuming you’re all working on a new album, is there a process, ritual, etc for your songwriting preparations or recordings?

J: Our new record drops on October 18! And I record a lot of little voice notes on my phone where I will imitate a riff or pattern with my mouth. Then, when I get to (Austin Coupe, guitarist) Cooper’s house to work on something, we’ll go through all of these notes and pick one that really hits us the right way. That’s how we know what we’ll work on that day – whatever grips us and gets stuck in our heads, that’s the riff that we need to dive into.

Though the Klown’s wish is to reach out to J for an extensive Firey Sides Chat segment, this impromptu segment about Prison will have to suffice for now. Dunno about you Chuggalos but this one felt like one for the books.

Prison’s music especially for the 90’s kids who grew up with the aforementioned bands such as Korn and Deftones will not only take you back to a time when $2 sufficed for a bag of chips and a bottle of soda and multiplayer gaming meant going over to a friend’s house, it carries a powerful message.

As J mentioned, Prison’s newest installment will come out soon (as of this writing) and it is titled Still Alive. The Klown is anticipating its release, as should you, kiddies. If you’ve seen Prison live, then you know what the Klown is talking about. If you haven’t, check ’em out you might end becoming a fan. But if you really want to become an instant fan, swing by the merch table and say hi to J whenever you have a chance to see them. His zen and embracive attitude is contagious that you may appreciate his on-stage messages and performances even more.

Crowder’s words of positivity does not end at the shows in fact he has his own podcast called The Cope Notes podcast in which he discusses mental health and everything in between which you can follow here. If you have yet to see them, get a peek by checking out their out their music on Bandcamp and Spotify, etc. With that note, don’t forget to like snag their sweet merch here and follow their Instacrack and twitter.