Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
Johnny Reliable began its career unlike most other groups. Most bands start out as a couple of high-school buddies that have a passion for playing their favorite cover songs, eventually wanting to write their own music and making something work.
However, the members of Johnny Reliable did things quite a bit differently. Frontman Brian Jensen began his “career” as a writer for a traveling sketch comedy group called Just The Right Touch. After a few bumpy years with the group, Brian decided that it might be nice to add some musicians to the group and create funny and satirical songs that would mesh well with the comedy troupe. Since no one in the group could carry a tune, Brian took the position of vocalist.
So, the troupe would do wild SNL style sketches and have the band (something like a mix of Tenacious D meets Adam Sandler) perform. During their time on the road, Brian met the future guitarist of Johnny Reliable, Jerrad Dillard. Dillard had been performing in an alt-metal band called Grit Babies with his twin brother Jason. Through a series of coincidences, Grit Babies and Just The Right Touch were booked into numerous venues together, creating a weird show that combined screaming metal rock band with weird humorous band. After a while, the bands didn’t see much of each other and didn’t really speak for about two years.
During that time both Just The Right Touch and Grit Babies fell into disarray, leaving the Dillard twins completely without a band. Members of the comedy troupe had left to pursue other interests. Brian wanted to create more serious music and get away from all of the “gimmicky” humorous music.. Then one fateful day Brian ran into the Dillard twins at a concert in their hometown of Tulsa. They started talking about the woes of their current groups and immediately the bands merged. Just The Right Touch was in desperate need of a bass player and drummer. Jason filled in on the drums and Jerrad actually became the bass player for the group. However, a couple of months later the guitar player for Just The Right Touch left town. Jerrad quickly took the reigns as the lead guitarist for the band. But this still left the band in a quandary - who would fill in on bass.
Marianna was a good friend of the band and had actually been acting as a booking agent for Just The Right Touch. There were some upcoming gigs that needed a fill-in and Marianna volunteered to play until the band found a full time player. However, after three practice sessions, the band was ready to sign her on. She was better than any bass player either band had played with. So, with Brian on vocals, Jerrad on guitar, Jason (Jerrad’s brother) on drums and Marianna on bass, the newly revamped Just The Right Touch decided it was time to make their first album.
They entered a local recording studio (and we use the term loosely – it was more like a guy who had some really great equipment in his basement) and started recording a full-length album entitled Artificially Flavored. It was an eclectic album that sounded like it had come from a band who wasn’t quite sure what style of music they wanted to play. And that was because Just The Right Touch was a band who hadn’t found themselves yet. There were touches of punk, metal, reggae, ska, pop – and just about anything else you can think of. The album sales were extremely poor and due to the poor production and lack of really good music, the band struggled to book itself and find itself an audience. Yet fate smiled on the band once again – and that smile came in the form of producer Mike Roe. For two years, Just The Right Touch played occasional gigs, trying to get anyone to notice them, but nobody did. However, they were able to land a small gig at a music festival in Illinois. It was a major festival with over 300 bands playing in 10 days and they had landed a 15 minute slot on the smallest stage. It was there that they met the famed lead man of the 77’s.
Through some serious coercion on the part of the band, they convinced Mike Roe to produce an album for them. Mike came in and helped a struggling band learn how to make music. He taught them how to merge their styles to create a great sound. Another thing he wanted to work on was the name of the band. During his recording session with group, he began to drop jokes about the name of the band. Finally, Brian asked him, “Mike don’t you like the name of the band?” Mike’s response was, “No, I don’t. I think it’s a great name for a boy band or a massage parlor, but not for your band with your style.” So, after much deliberation, Just The Right Touch sat down to determine its new name. Over 300 names were looked at, but eventually, Johnny Reliable was selected. It was a catch phrase that friend and future drummer of the band, Mark Joseph, came up with. So, with a new album and a new name, Johnny Reliable was ready to start hitting the streets of its home-town of Tulsa. The success of Johnny Reliable’s first album Going Hollywood (released in 2002) was a good feeling for the band after so many years of struggling.. Instantly, the band started getting press in magazines and newspapers across the nation. Clubs across the region began booking the band in. At this point, Jason Dillard left the band, leaving a vacant slot, and long time friend of the band, Mark Joseph filled the spot quickly.
Then, in September of 2002, Johnny Reliable was nominated for, and won the Spotnik award (an independent music award) in the “Rising Star” category. In 2003, Johnny Reliable started touring across the country, going from coast to coast, playing over 80 shows, and selling over 2,000 copies of Going Hollywood without any label support. Also in 2003, the band was nominated for another Spotnik award in the “Best Rock Group” category. They also stopped in Nashville, Tenn. to record their follow-up album Enough Is Enough at the legendary Kitty Wells Studio. Still promoting the album without label support, Enough Is Enough sold over 1,000 copies in the first month of release. And in March of 2004, the band sold more albums in stores in their hometown of Tulsa than other Oklahoma based nationally signed acts such as Hanson and Cross Canadian Ragweed.
|2004||Enough is Enough|
|2007||Out There Tonight||Fools of the World|
Produced by Michael Roe
Brian Jensen - Vocals
Jerrad Dillard - Guitar, BGVs
Marianna - Bass guitar, flute, GBVs
Jason Dillard - Drums
BJ Thomas - Rhythm guitar
Michael Roe - Additional guitar
2007 Fools of the World
Produced by Michael Roe and Ralph Stover
Steve Scott - snobby British vocal on “Can You Handle This?”
All songs written by Johnny Reliable except for “Nowhere Else” by Mark Tootle of The 77s