By Jeremy Essig
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Still, some of the old punkers have stuck around and are still making moves. Jason Kearbey plays drums in garage-influenced band Thee Fine Lines — a successful touring act that frequently plays St. Louis and has European and American album distribution — and Initial Detonation guitarist Roger Hannifan and Johnston still conspire at times to bring punk rock to the faithful.
In fact, on an October night in Joplin, the Hannifan-owned Blackthorn Pizza & Pub is hosting Johnston's new outfit, the Itch. Shortly before midnight, the group blasts through a quick set of surf and garage-influenced punk songs. Though Johnston has added drumming to his repertoire, his singing style hasn't changed; he's still screaming at the top of his lungs.
For Johnston, the shows are mostly an exercise in "anger management" and creative release. "It's all about controlling our own band," he says. "It's a vent for me. I get to go out about once a month on a road trip and have fun and escape and be free. And I don't have to answer to anyone. I don't need to play cover songs. I don't need to cater to supply and demand. I can just enjoy a fucking show.
"Let's say I could be in a Green Day — I wouldn't have that. My kid would have some kind of perverted idea of the world if his daddy was a celebrity. And that's wrong. I tell Patrick all the time, Daddy's band sucks. No one likes Daddy's band."
And yet, if his eight-year-old son wants to join a hardcore group someday, Johnston says he'd be all for it. Sure, there might be skinheads and police raids, but Johnston suspects Patrick might find what he found — a supportive artistic community.