by Donte Kirby
“If it’s not alive, it’s not live,” is the band’s mantra when it comes to live shows and what Abner Ramirez tells me. He’s one half of the married duo, Johnnyswim, and his voice is playful and full of life, no doubt energized by his other half, Amanda Sudano.
Johnnyswim is currently on a tour across the country promoting the release of their upcoming album Diamonds. The tour stops at Ardmore Music Hall this Friday, April 25th.
“Ultimately, we hope they get little bit of ourselves, like we’ve been sitting around their living room telling stories,” says Sudano, about what she wants fans to take away from their shows. “Every single person feels like we spent time with them,” Ramirez adds.
The tour, so far, has been going well. Sudano feels like it’s been sort of like a vacation. “It’s been just the two of us sleeping at little bed and breakfasts. Then playing a show. Abner does old Cuban songs which I think is adorable.”
“The goal for the tour is to gain some constituents for my 2015 presidential campaign,” says Ramirez in a serious tone after being asked Johnnyswim’s goal for this tour. Then he breaks out in laughter and continues, “we just really want our fans to feel more connected to us. We always stay after the show to talk to fans.”
The band’s name, Johnnyswim, comes from a family nickname Sudano picked up as a child from her parents. Her mom is the late singer/songwriter Donna Summer and her father is composer Bruce Sudano, who created songs for Michael Jackson and Dolly Parton (to name a few).
“Growing up, our parents instilled this thing. This thing that breakfast was the most important meal of the day. I grew up next to a highway and she grew up next to a pool,” says Ramirez. “Amanda would want to emulate Johnny Mitchell and swim in the morning, but before she could go, she would have to eat her breakfast. So Amanda would put her plate by the pool and eat between laps and they would make fun of her. Her parents would say ‘There she goes, John Mitchell. Look at Johnny swim,’ and it became her nickname. We didn’t want to spend hours debating over a name so we used Johnnyswim.”
In the coming years, Sudano hopes that Johnnyswim is still on the road. She measures their success in mileage and sees them one day on the road “schlepping a few kids.” “Three kids,” Ramirez says in the back ground as Sudano continues, “making them do embarrassing things on stage.” Ramirez recounts his past when thinking of his goals as a musician in the future.
“I was at the Rockwood Music Hall one night playing the acoustic guitar and being so sick of it. Then played Tommy Emmanuel and it really reignited fire for music and the guitar. It was a spiritual experience and I would hope to someday do the same for some up and coming musician.”
When prompted, the duo has more advice for up and coming musicians. “We consider ourselves up and coming musicians, so I’m going to tell them what we say to ourselves. Never stop,” says Ramirez.
“Enjoy what you’re doing,” says Sudano. She continues, “if you don’t enjoy it when you’re alone, you’ll enjoy it a little more when people are watching.”
“Contentment,” Ramirez adds to round out the thought.
Johnnyswim’s new album Diamonds will be released on April 29th, Ramirez’s birthday. He says, “if you don’t want to buy the album, you can send gifts to the label.”