A new year is a great time to start a new chapter in your life, and this is certainly what Johnny B. has done. For much of the last decade, he was the lead singer for the California alt-rock band Still The Sky’s Limit. Recently, though, he decided to change directions and become a solo artist. His new new name? Ten Two, a pseudonym that comes from his initials’ place in the alphabet. In January, he released his first debut album under this name—Forth, which combines his alt-rock past with his passion for acoustic music.
We recently spoke to JB about his new music and passion for music in general. Read on to learn about his first solo tour, his aspirations for the future, and more.
TYF: Before you were Ten Two, you were the frontman of Still The Sky’s Limit. How would you say that performing as a solo artist has been a departure from that experience?
Ten Two: It’s a lot different because as a band, we were a bunch of friends onstage together and we’d play off each other. It was a lot of fun to interact with one another as well as crowds. As a solo artist, there’s just me. It’s a bit lonely on that stage. But I like either one. And I’m still friends with those guys that I used to be in a band with, so if I ever go back on a tour with a full band, those guys will play again.
TYF: A couple of years ago, you moved from Orange County, California to Orlando, Florida. How has the transition affected your music?
Ten Two: Actually, the scene out here that’s my style is a lot better than the one in Orange County, California. The Orange County crowd is a bit more of the hardcore scene; at least when I was there, it was. Orlando has more indie, pop-punkish stuff, which is more my style. I actually really like it out here in Orlando. It’s pretty cool.
TYF: Just before that move, you went on a solo tour, if I’m correct.
Ten Two: I did. First acoustic solo tour. It was actually really awesome. Really cold, since I went during the winter on the West Coast. I went up north to Washington, Oregon, those states. It was fun. It was a lot different than going on tour with a full band because a) I could just take a small car, so I didn’t have to worry as much about gas, and b) it was just myself.
TYF: What were some of your favorite cities that you went to?
Ten Two: I love Seattle. I’m a huge fan of playing Seattle. But I also like a lot of the smaller cities. Boise. Not that Boise is a smaller city, necessarily, but the venue that I played was kind of in a smaller area of the city. I really enjoyed that. The outskirts of towns are really fun to play. Like, outside of Portland, outside of Boise… even outside Seattle was pretty awesome, too.
TYF: Do you have any favorite memories from tour?
Ten Two: The first show, because at the first show, I really played outside of my friend base in California. People didn’t know me, and it was nerve-wracking, but it was really interesting to see how it turned out. It turned out good, so I kept going with it.
TYF: Your album Forth just came out. Which song are you most excited about sharing with the world?
Ten Two: Right now, I’m really excited about the song “Raise Your Hand,” because it’s probably the most important song I’ve ever written. It’s about domestic abuse, domestic violence, and [the purpose is] to kind of get people to come together more and understand that they’re not alone if they’re in a situation such as that.
TYF: I saw the lyric video for that the other day.
Ten Two: Oh, yeah. It took a long time to make that one, with the visuals. I wanted to make it count.
TYF: Your bio says that you “[focus] not on what could have been, but instead [you choose] to focus on the future—all that is and can be”. With that said, what are you hoping your future will look like, both near and far?
Ten Two: Honestly, my goal is to tour around and play with music. I don’t care where. I don’t care how long it takes to get there. Because my old band, we did a lot of touring and we sort of started building, but then it came crashing down when people moved on with their lives. My goal is just to literally tour the world and play music. Whether it’s acoustic or full-band, I honestly don’t care. I just love doing either one of those. That is my near and far goal. (Laughs)
TYF: Do you remember the first song that you ever wrote?
Ten Two: Oh, my gosh. (Laughs) That would’ve been, like, twenty years ago. I don’t remember the first song I ever wrote. I remember the first song I wrote for this project, which was actually when I was still in my former band. It was a song called “Checkmate,” which is on the record I just released. That kind of geared me toward the acoustic style I was going for at the time.
TYF: If you had to get a tattoo of any of your lyrics, which lyric would you choose?
Ten Two: That’s a good question. I probably wouldn’t get a tattoo of my lyrics. My whole thing—I’ve always said this—is if my musical project at the time ever “makes it,” I’ll get the name of that band or project tattooed on myself. So if I make it as Ten Two, that’s what I will definitely put on myself as a tattoo.
TYF: Do you have a favorite lyric in general from your new music?
Ten Two: Good question again. I don’t know; I like every subsequent song. I always try to focus entirely on all the parts of it. At the time that I’m writing it, my favorite lyric will be the next thing that I’m doing. So I get super excited about that—I basically get tunnel vision for each song. Whatever I’m writing at the time will turn out to be my favorite lyric, or else I won’t release it. I wouldn’t put it out if I didn’t love it.
TYF: You play the acoustic guitar. Are there any particular songs by other artists that you like to play when you’re just having fun?
Ten Two: You know, this is gonna sound stupid, but I don’t know any cover songs. ‘Cause whenever I play the guitar, I’m writing something. I mean, I love people’s songs. My favorite song ever is the Early November song “Ever So Sweet,” which is an acoustic song. But I don’t really play that, or any other cover songs. I’m always trying to write stuff, so I don’t really cover things. Not that I’m against it—that’s just how I operate.
TYF: Imagine that you can make a music video for any of your songs, and you have unlimited resources. What kind of music video would you create, and which song would it be for?
Ten Two: So I actually want to make music videos that are almost a compilation. I have three songs on the record that I want to make videos for that are intertwined stories from three different perspectives. My buddy in California, he caught his then-girlfriend cheating on him with his best friend. So I wrote three songs, and each of the songs is from [another person’s perspective] in the situation. So I want to make three videos—one for each perspective of the song. If I had unlimited resources, I would do that, for sure.
TYF: That would be super cool. All right; is there anything else you’d like to say to the readers before we wrap things up?
Ten Two: I would appreciate people taking any amount of time to listen to any amount of a song I’ve written. It’s kind of a surreal feeling to see people listening to your music. I appreciate it.