Nick Johnston


  • Instrument

    Guitarist, Songwriter, Instructor

  • Location

    Toronto, ON

  • Education


Biography Nick Johnston

This week we spotlight an awesome Canadian guitarist, Nick Johnston. Guitar geek. Comic book geek. I think I discovered Nick through a guitar Facebook page that was spotlighting him. I was blown away by him and immediately researched him. The more videos I watched, the more blown away I became. So, if you are reading this (of course you are reading this!), then prepare to be blown away too. Once again, we shine the spotlight on a fantastic musical talent. This one a bit different, as Nick has no affiliation with Arcadia Academy of Music. But, since I get to work on the website and the blog pages in particular, I thought, “what the heck! I’ll ask Nick Johnston!” And to my amazement, Nick was totally open to us spotlighting him. So, all you up and coming, young guitarists (and you older ones too), I give you a spotlight on guitarist (and comic book geek), Nick Johnston! UPDATE: Nick has also agreed to adjudicate our guitar and battle of the bands competition at our 32nd Annual Musicfest on June 12!

Rather than write a bio on Nick, he has this really cool mini documentary that was done for him. Check it out below…

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi! My name is Nick Johnston and I’m a Canadian musician! I love guitar, reading, cartoons, video games, comic books, eating delicious food and drinking as much coffee as any one human being can until they explode!

How long have you been a guitarist and where did you receive your musical training?

I started playing guitar 14 years ago – which means I’ve been playing guitar  exactly half my life! I feel at 28 years old, I am still an infant with the instrument. There is always so much to learn and always so much to hear! I am a self-taught musician. Everything I have learned about music and it’s inner-workings has come from listening, experimenting and writing music.

What inspired you to first pick up the guitar and what was your prime motivation or the driving force behind wanting to continue to learn guitar?

I had a neighbour who was 1 year older than me and I found out that he was a guitar player. At 13 years old, I idolized him and wanted to be as cool as he was! I would go over to his basement and watch him play for hours. I’ve never needed any motivation – I’ve always loved the instrument!

In the beginning, what was your practice routine like? Was it tough motivating yourself to practice?

I don’t think I ever had a practice routine. I would learn whichever songs were in the monthly guitar magazines (GuitarOne was my favourite!) or try and figure stuff out by ear. Once I gained a little facility on the instrument, I started getting into the realm of lead guitar. Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath satisfied my hunger. I then got more into the ‘virtuoso’ world a bit – Yngwie, SRV, EVH, Jeff Beck, Satriani Etc.. After that, I started working on my own music.

When did you know that you wanted to be a full time musician and what steps did you take to begin focusing on a career in music?

It just sort of happened! It’s been an extremely long and difficult process, or course, but it naturally progressed over the course of 8 years to the point where I could stop and think ‘Wow, I’m a musician now!’. It’s such a strange industry! Everything started moving in the right direction once I released my first album in 2011.

What are your views on music education and how important do you think it should be to our young students?

I think it’s important to learn as much as you possibly can! It’s essential to figure out what works for you as an individual when it comes to absorbing and applying new pieces of information that are presented.  I did not take guitar lessons or attend a music college, but that’s just because I know that for the type of musician I am, I wouldn’t have thrived. I like to figure stuff out at my own pace and learn through trial and error. At any rate, figure out what works for you and you’ll be just fine!

If you had to recommend one song to a young student, what would it be and why?

Any song that gets you excited to play the instrument! Simple as that.

What advice would you give to young musicians who want to attend/audition at a college/university music program?

Keep an open mind about everything and leave any trace of an ego at the front door. Don’t expect to have a career in music when you graduate, rather, the tools to help facilitate a career. There’s enough room for all of us out here, so stay positive and work hard!

Tell us about your current projects and upcoming events?

I’m going to be releasing my 4th album this year! I’ve also got a signature guitar with Schecter, so I’ll be travelling all over the planet to promote it on clinic tours. I’m also going to be touring more with a band this year – something I’ve been working towards for quite some time. I think it’s going to be the busiest year for me as a musician thus far.

If you were only allowed to post one video of yourself that shows who you are as guitarist, what would it be? A video that says, This is me; this is Nick Johnston, guitarist.

This is me!

You went from Fender Strats to Schecter Guitars and now you have your own signature guitar from Schecter. Tell us about the signature guitar and how it feels to have a guitar that is totally customized to you.

It’s an amazing honour! It’s something I never expected and am still quite in shock over! I am so thrilled with how everything came together with this instrument. It’s a pretty straightforward work-horse of a guitar. I went with a pretty simple, stream lined guitar, as I tend to like things on the less complicated side of the spectrum. I just wanted an incredibly well built S-type guitar. I couldn’t be happier with the results! I look forward to a long and amazing relationship with one of the most active and progressive guitar companies in the world!

NJ custom guitar

Any last thoughts, comments, suggestions?

I think I mentioned everything worth mentioning above! Thank you so much for your interest in what goes on inside my head.

Thank you, Nick!

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