STORY WRITTEN BY GARY GRAFF
The Oakland Press
Jonny Wickersham has spent most of his life as a band guitar player, working on the Cadillac Tramps, Youth Brigade, U.S. Bombs and, since 2000, with Social Distortion.
So putting himself out front as Jonny Two Bags — starting with last year’s critically acclaimed “Salvation Town” album — has been an adjustment for the 48-year-old California native.
“It’s definitely an unusual experience,” Wickersham says by phone from California. “I’ve never done anything like this before. It’s different being Jonny Two Bags than it is being Jonny ‘2 Bags’ Wickersham, who plays guitar in whatever band I’m playing with at the time. Most of the time I enjoy it, but it’s a trip. I’ve never experienced anything like it.”
The best part for Wickersham, however, is having a means of expression that’s all his rather than having to compromise as part of a band.
“This has been an opportunity to be able to do things a little more how I see it and how I would like to do it,” he notes. “I’d already been feeling that way for along time, but I tend to put things off that I’m not comfortable with doing. I really have wanted to make a record like this for as long as I’ve been playing guitar, but I just never got to it. I just wasn’t ready.”
Wickersham is already working on the next Johnny Two Bags recording, this time an EP to benefit the nonprofit Karma Blast. As for a next full-length album, Wickersham still feels like “we have a lot of work to do for (‘Salvation Town’); I want to get the full value out of trying to promote this and play this record out.” And, he adds, next on the docket is making a new Social Distortion album to follow 2011’s “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes.”
“That’s the top priority for everybody, of course,” Wickersham explains. “We’ll get to that early next year, I think, and when I get time I’ll go back and do (Johnny Two Bags).”