After 18 years, 11 full-length recordings, seven EPs and countless days on the road, Centro-matic has decided to call it a career as they prepare to embark on one final tour. There was no bad blood that led to the decision, no egotistical battles for control, and none of the typical drama that tends to end bands — just the knowledge that it’s time to wind down and celebrate the end of their career as they began it — on their own terms.
After their recent release, “Take Pride in Your Long Odds,” Will Johnson and company agreed that it might be time for a formal farewell. “It became present on my mental landscape around springtime,” says Johnson over the phone from Texas as he packs the Centro-matic van one last time.
“We encountered a handful of scheduling conflicts with regard to touring. I was also at the point writing-wise where I haven’t been writing much rock music. I always said if we ever got to that point where we couldn’t be a true band and give it the best we could that I didn’t want it to be hobbled and limp along. We made the decision and figured out a way to do this in the most celebrated way we could. We decided to handpick all the bills, pick all the openers, play all the rooms we’ve loved over the years, work with the promoters that we’ve enjoyed working with and really take it for one last true fun lap instead of dissolving and going away.”
The highly prolific Will Johnson first joined forces with Matt Pence, Scott Danbom and Mark Hedman in 1997, and the band remained faithful and unfaltering ever since. Quickly becoming the pride of Denton, Texas, Centro-matic would, in time, evolve from their lo-fi beginnings to a fleshed-out rock band defined by dynamics and dedication. With the suspenseful sparseness of harrowing strings and scant bass and drums, Johnson’s dusty, rusty, warm and weathered warble weaved their songs in-and-out of emotional crescendos, while their music always maintained an earnestness, even in its incremental onslaught of volume and distortion.
“I’ll always be really proud of our recordings and our live show, but I think the thing I’m most proud of is that we have maintained a care and compassion for each other over the years as we’ve basically become adults together,” notes Johnson.
"We started this thing when we were living in small, little shanty-type rent houses in Denton right out of college trying to figure out what to do with our lives and trying to figure out who we were. And we’ve kept this lineup intact. I’m really proud of the type of racket that we’ve been able to make together. We make a specific sound that I think represents our friendships and our history together. Those friendships and that chemistry and care for one another is what I’m most proud of over all these years. We did it very, very econo as Mike Watt would call it — and still managed to take care of each other.”