Quotes


(established 2006; last updated 10/31/17)

Music-related Quotes About Johnny Depp:
  • "He plays guitar like he paints. Wild & colors everywhere you wouldn't have thought belonged...So we sat at my typewriter and not knowing a single thing about him or him, me, we wrote [No Shadow]...That's the first time we ever played it and right out of the typewriter. In fact that's him singing with me in the end. His voice is so beautiful. That song fell right into our arms. What a memory...There's nothing better than sitting and writing songs with Johnny and I couldn't help but think about that magical day today."
  • “Let me introduce Johnny Depp. What an honor to be on the same stage as you.”
    • Kris Kristofferson, Glastonbury Festival, June 2017
  • "@JohnnyDepp can play!"
    • Steve Van Zandt, Twitter, September 2015
  • "He's an artist. [Depp] embodies all of what art should be. He studies his craft, he grew up with great rock n' roll and he came to L.A. to be a musician. He plays great, and he obviously looks the part."
  • "I've had some cool band mates over the years but never thought I'd be in a band with this guy . He's the real deal and the coolest gent #johnnydepp"
    • Matt Sorum, Twitter, September 2015
  • 'The biggest surprise is that Johnny’s probably one of the best guitar players that I know.   I mean, no doubt.  I’m tellin’ ya, he just, when I’ve mentioned to people that, first I very rarely mention it, that I know him, and we’re buddies and stuff.  The next thing is like, he loves music, he loves guitars, he’s a great guitar player, and if you don’t believe me, watch Chocolat.  That’s really him playing and he’s doing stuff that I only dream about doing."
    • Joe Perry, Periscope interview, September 11, 2015
  • "I've been a fan of his acting for a long time. I remember seeing him in the movie 'Chocolat', where he plays the gypsy guitar player. I was really impressed. You could tell that he was really playing guitar versus cutting back and forth to a musician. In the movie, he plays a lot of Django Reinhardt stuff. I didn't know him at the time, but remember telling myself that someday I have to get a guitar lesson off him if I meet him since I don't know any of that type of stuff."
  • "[Our friendship] started off mostly because he’s a stone cold bluesman. He loves the blues; it’s in his blood. He loves to play guitar and talk guitars and good music and is a really creative guy. He’s a painter, an all-around just really creative guy. Needless to say, he’s really intelligent and well-read; he’s an older man.  We have a lot in common as far as the music goes. It’s one of those things where you bump into people and you feel like you’ve known them your whole life. He’s one of those people. We’re both big fans of each other. When we’re hanging out, we’re just hanging, listening to John Lee Hooker."
    • Joe Perry, Haute Living interview, September 24, 2014
  • "It was so inspiring living out there in L.A. and rubbing elbows with so many musicians. Johnny Depp was one of them. I have to rate him as a first-class musician. As great as an actor as he is, he's also right there as a musician. I guess the acting thing outweighed the music thing way back when, but he's a musician through and through."
    • Joe Perry, Artist Direct interview, September 14, 2012
  • "There are actors who can act, musicians who play, then there are the rare breed of artists who bring passion to their art.  Those are the ones who go deep into the darkness, they avoid the obvious and explore the unknown.  They work in the back room of the soul, and that takes guts.  Johnny is a gusty actor, a gutsy musician, a gutsy artist with passion.  We admire his artistic courage and we are honored to present him with the 2012 Generation Award."
    • Joe Perry, MTV Movie Awards, June 3, 2012
  • [On Joe Perry's collapse at the Coney Island Hollywood Vampires show] "Johnny [Depp] took over on lead guitar and so did Tommy Henriksen, who plays guitar in my band," he says. "They just took all of his guitar parts and split 'em up. The show went on and it sounded great. It was great to hear that Johnny could jump in and fill in for all those lead parts."
  • "He never overplays. He plays a tasty lick and then he gets out and that's what a good guitar player should play like. He plays a lot like Brian Jones. I would say that would be the closest guy, or Ronnie Wood. You'll hear a lick of about five or six notes not a whole bunch of notes, the way that Keith Richards would play. He would just play five or six notes that were just in the right spot. George Harrison was a master at that. George Harrison would play just exactly the right notes and get out, whereas a lot of guitar players they just don't know when to stop. They want to show off how good they are. Johnny's one of the guitar players that says, "Judge how good I am by what I play not by how much I play."
    • Alice Cooper, AL.com, August 2016
  • "Well, you know, the nice thing about it, and this is something that people should know about Johnny. One night we had 60 people and one of the girls had brain cancer. They brought her in on a stretcher. Johnny, myself and Joe. Johnny spent an hour with her, just whispering in her ear, and her talking, she could barely talk. We were almost late for the show. He wouldn’t leave. And we finally got back on stage and did it. And after the show, he spent another half hour with her.  That is just really, … I mean, that told me something about him.
  • "We see each other a lot. He's become a close friend and collaborator. We've done a lot of recording together recently. He is really a very talented and cool guy. Johnny is a guy who doesn't have to do anything; he does things because he wants to do them. It's not about his ego... [during Dark Shadows filming] I was on set talking to him, both of us in full makeup, and we talked about music. We were in London about to do a club gig at the 100 Club and I said he should join us. He did. He came up and jammed some classic covers with us. He blew us away... Johnny has this old school rock & roll feel in his playing. It is very choosy and thoughtful. He gets in and out and avoids overplaying, which a lot of players should learn from. He's also not a stage hog, which surprised me at first. He's happy being up there and enjoying the music, but he never makes it about him.  What I really love about Johnny is that when he does music, it is for fun and because he loves music. He was a musician first, so I think it is really close to his heart."
  • “He’s a great player, he’s a great guitar player.  He’s as good as anyone in any band. You could put him in any band, from Guns N Roses to Foo Fighters to our band. He could play any kind of rock ’n’ roll he wants. I’ve told him if this whole acting thing fizzles out, be in a band. That’s how he started anyways. He had his own band in Kentucky and come out to LA not as an actor but a guitar player.”
  • “I always say to him, ‘If you really want to go out on tour, let me know and you can come with us.’ I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.” 
    • Alice Cooper, The Sun, August 2012
  • "I'd work with him again, I mean, the guy is a valid guitar player, we told him anytime he wants to come up and play, feel free.  We've always given that kind of privilege to any great guitar player, like Brian May. He's in the same place as Brian May or Slash. He's a great guitarist."
    • Alice Cooper, BANG showbiz June 2011
  • "[Ryan Adams] was calling him 'J. Diggle.' 'My buddy J. Diggle is going to come by and play a guitar solo on this record. He's a really good player.' But he would never say, 'My friend Johnny Depp, who is a fucking big actor.' That's just not Ryan. So when Johnny Depp walked through the door one day, I was like, 'Oh... that's J. Diggle.' He was awesome, gracious and kind — one of those dudes that cruises in with sunglasses and a hat on and sits, plays and complements the song."
  • "He came in and was like, 'I love this song.' It was pretty cool. I try not to think of that having any more merit than like a fan walking up to you on the street and saying, 'Oh, my God, I love that song,' but it's still pretty fucking cool to have somebody like Johnny Depp go, 'I'm so honored to play on it.' I was like, what the fuck are you talking about? You're high."
    • Butch Walker, on Johnny playing on 21+, Rolling Stone, February 2015
  • "'Hollywood Affair' is very nice; it's a beautiful piece of music." [Johnny wrote the music to this Iggy Pop song; Iggy wrote the lyrics]
  • "He's a very sensitive guitarist, he has a really nice intonation, attack and a really nice sense of music."
    • Iggy Pop, CNN, July 2013
  • "Johnny Depp sat in with dad and I tonight...he's a great player! He's got soul."
    • Lukas Nelson, via Facebook, about his dad Willie Nelson's Rodeo show in Austin, March 2014
  • "Johnny Depp is the coolest guy on the planet, a great guy and a great player."
  • "...we did a song together, and afterward, he said, 'Man, it's so cool to do a song with Marilyn Manson!' I said, 'Shut the fuck up! What's cooler is doing a song with Johnny Depp? You fucking asshole.'"
    • Marilyn Manson, Westword.com, 2012
  • "If you don't recognize my personal friend ... my personal savior, my personal guitar hero ... Johnny Depp!"
    • Marilyn Manson, Revolver Golden Gods Awards April 11, 2012
  • "Johnny Depp is a rock star in the world of movies."
    • Steven Tyler, MTV Movie Awards, June 3, 2012
  • “When we are done recording, I go up to Johnny’s house and I play him stuff and I ask if it is any good. He gives me [honest feedback].  Johnny is a great musician and many people don’t know that, he plays piano, guitar, he knows his music.”
    • Steven Tyler, ultimateclassicrock.com, May 11, 2012
  • "He's legitimately great on guitar."
    • Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, MTV Movie Awards, June 3, 2012
  • "He's a really good guitar player."
    • Patrick Carney of The Black Keys, MTV Movie Awards, June 3, 2012
  • "In 1999, we (with Johnny, Iggy Pop, and Chrissie Hynde) performed a cabaret show in Paris, doing songs by Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and Nina Simone.  Johnny played guitar. That was such an exciting night.  To have my man alongside me made it even more special.  Definitely one of the highlights of my career."
    • Vanessa Paradis, Now Magazine UK, published May 20, 2012
  • "It's getting to be a running gag.  He's like the Alfred Hitchcock of my videos.  And he's good!"
    • Paul McCartney, on Johnny's participation in several of his recent videos, Rolling Stone, July 2014
  • "I blame Johnny Depp because he had just given me this little cigar box guitar that I was wildly excited to play.”
    • Paul McCartney, backstage at the Grammy Awards, January 26, 2014, on winning the award for Best Rock Song with former Nirvana members Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and Pat Smear for Cut Me Some Slack
  • "Also, I must just point out also that Johnny is really playing the guitar solo (in the video for My Valentine). That's him playing. The boy is good.”
    • Paul McCartney, to Vanity Fair, April 14, 2012
  • "He's an extraordinary painter, he's a great musician, he's a great actor - he's a renaissance man in the greatest way… [And] he is one of the most real people you will ever meet."
    • Angelina Jolie, Australian interview January 2011
  • "There is an old Stella acoustic guitar that he cannot resist picking up and strumming quietly.  Johnny is working 12-hours shifts.  The day begins in the makeup trailer, long before the morning rush hour. Downtime is divided between press calls, stacks of pictures to sign, scripts to read, and family responsibilities- ever present and ever embraced. There is also the occasional hour of stolen sleep, often with his guitar resting on his chest."
    • Patti Smith, Vanity Fair January 2011
  • "I love working with Johnny and... he's a nut.  He's a nut.  But at the same time, a very discerning nut.  He's a great musician, actually. He's a good guitar player… has an incredible collection of guitars that goes from the 15th century, I mean, we're talking like, '56 Fenders, here.  We're talking… there are some in there, but uh, he loves his guitar, and this is one of the reasons that we first got to know each other and talk."
    • Keith Richards, BBC interview 2010
  • "Johnny's probably better than he thinks. I'm probably not as good as he thinks."
    • Keith Richards, on Johnny as a guitarist, 2007
  • "He's got one of the best guitar collections, very eclectic."
    • Keith Richards, 2007
  • "He's an astute mind... he's a good musician, and he's got a great guitar collection... which I've got my eye on... Arrrrrrrrrrr..."
    • Keith Richards, Easter Egg on Pirates Of The Caribbean: Curse Of The Black Pearl, 2003
  • "Unloveable was just really easy. Johnny came to play but you just have this massive fear because even though you know him you think,’Is he going to be good?’ because he’s just coming in for a few hours and I’m not sure I’d be able to do it. He’s quite shy and unassuming, but he came in and it all happened nicely.”
    • Stephen Jones, 2009
  • ""He's a very good guitarist."
    • Glenn Tilbrook, 2009 (in spite of Johnny not playing guitar on Glenn's album, Glenn did make this remark)
  • "I think Johnny’s wonderful too — he’s a great guitar player by the way."
    • Shane MacGowan, 2007
  • "He is a great actor and a great guitar player too. We played together. He really heavied it up. His guitar playing releases all of his rage and frustration. We did one song together, but forgot to record it. But it sounded like an atom bomb going off!"
    • Shane MacGowan, 2005
  • "Yeah, Johnny is going to be on it, but he's not just on there to get his name on the cover; he's there because he's actually a great guitarist. Johnny played on The Snake, and this record is going to be a bit more punky in a similar way."
    • Shane MacGowan in 2004, on plans for Johnny to participate in a still as yet unrecorded new solo album
  • "It's going to be quite rocky in some parts. Johnny Depp is going to be playing some guitar again because he's a great guitarist."
    • Shane MacGowan, 2004
  • "As it works out, he's actually one of the best guitarists I've ever seen. He's really, really good. He doesn't actually think he's any good, but he's a fine guitarist. That's why we got him to play the slide guitar solo on Fade In/Out on the last album, 'cos I couldn't play it. Afterwards, everybody...we were rehearsing for the tour: it took me about 6 months to work it out, what he was actually playing."
    • Noel Gallagher, on Fade In/Out
  • "The first part of 'Fade In/Fade Out' was recorded in a little fucking shack on the beach. We were drunk one night [in the Caribbean], and I borrowed his slide guitar and tried to play this solo, and it was absolutely dreadful. So he sat down and played it and got it in one take. He's actually a really good guitar player."
    • Noel Gallagher
  • "He just fit in perfectly. He just... He plays from his heart, you know. He wasn't really into the 'technique' of playing the guitar. He was just more into the 'feel' of it."
    • Bruce Witkin, on Johnny joining The Kids
  • "I'm a songwriter, not a guitar player's guitarist. Johnny can actually play guitar better than I can, but he didn't want to feature it at all and be the actor-turned-rock-star for the evening."
    • Bill Carter, on P's 1993 debut at SXSW
  • "The time [Johnny] was in the band was very important to me as a songwriter, as he was really a riff driven player and solid as a rock, so he helped shape what the band was to become. We got along great and worked really well together and he flat out loved to play which was good for everybody. He left on the best of terms and we remained friends for quite sometime."
    • Bobby Durango of the Rock City Angels, 2009
  • "Johnny Depp was given the lead roll [sic] on a new Police drama, "21 Jump Street", and decided to pursue his acting career, (a good choice actually), fulfilling his obligations to the band before taking the trip to Vancouver where the show was being filmed. His playing helped the band dynamically as well as leaving a strong foundation for the new drummer, Ringo Jukes, to find his fit. He also trained his replacement, Doug Banks [sic], so all was in place for the recording of their first major label album."
    • Rock City Angels Bio from NashvilleRock.net, 2009
  • "Johnny Depp was an extremely talented musician and songwriter. He was really good at coming up with compelling riffs which could then be used as a song signature or an ascending or descending guitar line that a song could be written around."
    • Bobby Durango
  • "We played a bunch of shows with johnny in 86 and 87 in los angeles. before and after he got the gig on 21 jump street. he's a really good guitar player and i remember he learned our set of 12 songs in one rehearsal."
    • Andy Panik of the Rock City Angels
  • "Well Johnny Depp...he was in a rival band in South Florida at the time called the Kids...and they were a little bit more new wave than we were...they weren't a hard core punk rock band like we were...he ahh...him and I had kind of a competition going...we were always after the same women...and we had a certain little rivalry going at that time. But we were still friends and... then years later...we met in Los Angeles after the band had moved to LA and he was acting but he wasn't in a band. He had just finished doing "Nightmare on Elm Street" and he was interested in playing again...well one thing led to another and he started playing in the band and he was an incredible rhythm guitar player...he's a good songwriter as well. People have no idea...he's got many hidden talents...of course he's a great actor...but he...I loved playing with him..."
    • Bobby Durango
  • "Well, we had so many guitar players that he just seemed like another one of the guys in the band. What I do remember sticking out about that guy was we have a song called “Pitbull” that’s got all this real dark, harmonic type feedback during the verses, and I just remember the second or third time we played with him, I looked over and he was bending the neck of the guitar, doing some real outside shit, and that was only the second rehearsal. So I decided then that he was a pretty solid guitar player. Initially when they told me he was an actor, I didn’t even want to see the guy. I was like, 'Oh, a fucking actor.' When you live in LA, you get sick of those bastards. I didn’t buy into him at all, but after two rehearsals, he really impressed me. He only played about 5 or 6 shows with us, though, and then he had to go to Canada. The reason that he was in the band in the first place is because of the Florida connection – he knew the other guys from back there, where he had a band called the Kids. He was good guy, though. He was really a musician that fell into the acting thing. In a way, I feel kinda bad for him, because I don’t think he could ever go back into music and be accepted as a real musician. The Rock City Angels was probably the last real band he was in, and I remember him being frustrated about the whole acting thing. He needed the money, though, because we were all broke."
    • Ringo Jukes of the Rock City Angels
  • "John [Mellencamp] had what so many artists have, and it's an intangible. But it's very obvious. Some people call it charisma; some people call it star power. Whatever it is, it's a drive that some people possess. When we were very young, making the 'John Cougar'* record in Miami, Johnny Depp was a resident of Miami and a fledgling rock star, or so he thought. His mom would drop him by the studio in the evenings, and he would hang out with us. He was about 16 and he had a band called the Kidz. Johnny Depp had the same thing John Mellencamp had. It was a drive, a talent that was going to be realized -- whether it was in music, acting or art. Somehow that was going to come through."
    • Mike Wanchic of John Mellencamp's band
      • *The John Cougar record was released in 1979 and Johnny did not join The Kids until late 1980.  Mike may have been thinking of a later record, or else may have seen Johnny in a band prior to The Kids.  
  • "That is more important than how good an actor he is. Acting, who cares? Everyone could be an actor."
    • Emir Kusterica, saying he knew Depp had something when he heard him play guitar
  • "His physique is his greatest asset. It's almost a teenager's body, those delicate hands, a musician's handshake, and this puerile streak in him. You look at him sometimes and think, 'How old are you?'"
    • Roman Polanski
  • "Loves words, loves music, loves art. An artist in all aspects of life."
    • Terry Rossio
  • "I don't know, but if Johnny Depp's band was involved, I would lie down and let him put his foot on my chest. I'd roll over. I'd be his stalker."
    • Amy Tan, on whether the literary rock band the Rock Bottom Remainders could beat Keanu Reeves' Dogstar or Russell Crowe's The Ordinary Fear Of God in a battle of the bands
Quotes about Johnny's singing voice:
  • "He offered to sing in his own voice.  I knew Johnny was in a band. I remember hearing a tape, but I think we were just too far along. I don't know, maybe I made the wrong decision."
    • John Waters, 2007, on the possibility of Johnny doing his own vocals in Cry-Baby.  Johnny's singing was dubbed by rockabilly legend James Intveld.
  • "Nobody had heard Johnny's voice. Millions of dollars, committed on an assumption. We all said to one another, 'Johnny is a smart guy. He would never put himself in this position if he didn't think he could do it. He must be able to sing.' But nobody could prove that!"
    • Richard Zanuck, co-producer of Sweeney Todd, 2007
  • "I was like, 'Do you want the good news or the bad news?' He goes, 'Well, give me the bad news.' And I said 'The Bad news is you're going to have to do this."
    • Bruce Witkin, 2007, on assessing Johnny's ability to do the role of Sweeney Todd.
  • "I figured he'd have a light baritone. You can hear it in his speaking voice. I love him as an actor, and always have. Put those things together, I didn't hesitate for one second."
    • Stephen Sondheim, on Johnny as Sweeney Todd, 2007
  • ''There are very few people who can act and sing at the same time. He's one.''
    • Stephen Sondheim, 2007
  • "Johnny’s going to bring something completely natural, sinister and heartfelt to the part-his voice is great and he’s such a great friendly guy. I love working with him."
    • Laura Michelle Kelly, 2007
  • "Johnny's singing voice is very sexy." 
    • Helena Bonham Carter, 2008
  • "He's fierce, wondrous, haunted, funny, scary--and on key."
    • Richard Corliss, film critic, Time Magazine, 2008


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Music-Related Quotes By Johnny Depp:
  • "Just like when you're in the booth and you're playing a guitar solo, you don't exactly know how you're going to phrase this or that. Which I think is beautiful. That idea of chance... I've been playing a lot of music lately. It's a real lifesaver, being able to focus on my first love. It's freedom... And immediate—yeah, fuck, we captured it. I suppose that's it, capturing something... I've been writing and recording with Ryan Adams a lot lately. Ryan is incredibly prolific and he's just a pure soul, he's just this being... he's itching all the time. It's like it's burning to come out of him. He's got a great handle on it. And is taking good care of himself. But what a talent, man. I'm amazed by the fucker. And then, here and there I'm doing some stuff with Alice [Cooper], which is really fun. Also with Marcus Mumford, who's amazing."  Chatting with Iggy Pop, Interview, 2014
  • [Asked whether he was asked to guest with the Rolling Stones on their "50 & Counting" Tour] "No, no I wasn't. It's one of those things I certainly wouldn't expect an invitation to go and play with the Rolling Stones.  But yeah, the idea of even doing that... I'd melt... I'd crumble."  BBC 6Music, 2013
  • "I'm always looking for something to aspire to.  Music, since it's been my first love since the age of 12, it's not like I ever abandoned playing, so I've always played. And played on friends' records and stuff like that in the past.  I suppose in the last couple of years, where I guess people got hip to it, and they've invited me on stage, or invited me to play on their album, or that kind of thing.  So it's something I plan on... yeah, I'll still keep doing it for sure, as long as somebody will have me."  BBC 6Music, 2013
  • [Asked "Whose phone number are you after?"] "It's incredible.  I've been so lucky to play with the people I have, from playing with Keith (Richards), playing with Patti (Smith), jamming with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper.  I feel so lucky.  To ask for another would be greedy."  BBC 6Music, 2013
  • "[I've had] sort of a rebirth of my relationship with music. So I've been playing more and writing more and it's led to invitations to play with people."  Christian Science Monitor, July 2013
  • “In the last year or two, music has also kind of resurfaced more in my life, so that’s been a great escape from the things you need to escape from now and again.”  New York Daily News, June 2013
  • "Man, it's so cool to do a song with Marilyn Manson!" Westword.com, 2012
  • [On acting] "Commitment, conviction, these are the only things I believe in. The ideal for me would be to be able to act like one plays a guitar solo: left handed, eyes shut, and never the same way." 
  • [On whether he's played music around Keith Richards]  "No. I don't have the kind of hair that would allow me to pick up a guitar and start strumming. I've never been that confident -- or drunk. I just couldn't do it. Unless he asked me to. Then maybe."
  • [On comparing himself as a guitarist to Keith Richards] "I wouldn't even, like, begin."
  • "I built up the nerve to ask [Keith], ‘What the hell is this chord in ‘Make No Mistake’? My ear is pretty good but it’s been years and I could never figure it out.’ He goes, ‘The fourth chord.’ I said, ‘Yeah, exactly!’ He goes, ‘Yeah…’ I said, ‘Well, what is it?’ He picked up the guitar—bang, brrmm! He showed me the chord. It was one of those moments that are seared in your brain for the rest of your life.”  (2011)
  • "The idea of playing a guitar anywhere near Keith Richards... it took me about 11 years before I could touch a guitar in his presence - and that's just to pick it up [laughs]. There are some things you just don't do. But if you're asking whether I will play in any future film should I be given the opportunity, then yes, I'd love to." (2011)
  • [On what he could play on any session, anytime during the recording of Warren Zevon's final album] "Very bad guitar."
  • "Since I was 14 I have played serious guitar. But I do not want to release a record under the name Johnny Depp. I do not want people to buy it in the light of the name I have built up as an actor. If I ever do release a record it will be with an anonymous name."
  • "I could do a Bruce Willis thing and make a record now (1988), but it would just milk my teen-boy, pop-idol image.  I'd rather do nothing than that."
  • "In my world and in my brain, I was a musician. You know, I get these acting gigs was basically just to... pay the rent, you know, pay the rent, be able to eat, and buy cigarettes, you know, that's really all it was for the first couple of years. And, I always planned on going back into music which had been my first love for ever and ever. And then, whatever one thing led to another and I ended up doing it all the time."
  • "When I first started doing films, the band was making little money. I thought of acting as a way to finance my music habit. My whole upbringing was playing in bars and clubs since I was 14; I still feel like I'm a musician. There's nothing like being onstage with four or five guys with a really loud guitar and all the adrenalin, there's nothing to compare with it."
  • "Jesus, music has always been my first love.  I use music in my work because it's the fastest way to an emotional place.  You hear a song, and that memory comes right back-- you're there...  Making music is immediate, and it's all about you.  If you're playing guitar, the feeling comes through-- the way you bend the note, the intensity with which you hit the strings.  With making films, although it's real emotion, it's false emotion.  You're lying."
  • "I've always been interested in… I guess fringe may be a way of putting it. The people that I've always admired in whatever the arena, whether it's art or film, whatever, music, have always been the people who came in from the outside, who didn't just - I prefer Daniel Johnston to Mariah Carey. You know what I mean? Really by far; like really. A Daniel Johnston, I admire very much. I don't know. It's the kind of people I've always been drawn to."
  • "It wasn't like I ever kissed the guitar good-bye."
  • "Me and music. Music was always my first love. It was my first love for sure. And still is a huge part of my life."
  • "It's impossible to compare music and acting.  With music, I get to be myself, all the time.  With acting, I play different characters."
  • [Asked whether he wishes he had ended up as a guitarist instead of an actor] "Not really.  Music will always be my first love.  But if I continued to do it for a living, I don't know that I would feel the same way about it.  I'm glad that it worked out this way, because it's still as fresh as it was back then and I'm not pressured to write hit songs.  I pick up the guitar and space out and drool." (2008)
  • "The joy of falling in love with a musical instrument is that it will never go away and you won't stop playing."
  • "[Music is] still my first love as much as it ever was, since I was a little kid and first picked up a guitar and tried to figure out how to make the thing go. Going into acting was an odd deviation from a particular road that I was on in my late teens, early 20s, because I had no interest, really, in it at all. I was a musician and I was a guitarist, and that's what I wanted to do. But because of that deviation, and because I don't do it for a living, maybe I still have been able to maintain that kind of innocent love for it. The weird thing is I think I approach my work the same way I approached guitar playing- looking at a character like a song. If you think of expression musically- it goes from wherever it comes from inside to your fingers, and on to that fretboard, and then on to the amplifier, through whatever. It's the same kind of thing that's required here, with acting: What was the author's intent? What can I add to it that maybe someone else won't add to it? It's not necessarily a question of how many notes, but a question of what do the notes express and what does a slight bend do." (from Vanity Fair January 2011).


Quotes by Johnny about Into The Woods and singing:
  • "I am, yeah, I'm going to play the Big Bad Wolf.  I'm so excited to play the Big Bad Wolf, you know.  It's just, I mean it's... that kind of thing is sort of a dream come true. The only deal is, once again it's Sondheim, who's amazing, but when you're not a crack vocalist, I'd say... it's quite complicated stuff that he writes.  But I'm looking forward to it."  The Lone Ranger Press junkets, 2013


Quotes by Johnny about Sweeney Todd and singing:
  • [On his days playing in rock bands] "Never, ever, did I ever want to sing.  Singers always got too much attention. I was always happier playing my guitar in the dark."
  • "I've never been a big-musical sort of guy."
  • "How many chances do you get at a musical about a serial killer?"
  • "[Sweeney] makes Sid Vicious look like the innocent paper boy."
  • "As far as my singing is concerned, I don’t want to shock anyone but I am not a singer [laughter]. I would never ever claim to be a singer but I am willing to give it a shot, to see if it works. It is important to try stuff.  I grew up as a guitar player. I was a musician for most of my life. I am musically inclined and I am not tone deaf. At least, not yet."
  • "When Tim asked if I'd be into it, he said, 'Do you think you can sing?' And I said, 'Honestly, I don't know.' I'm not tone deaf, so I knew I could stay in key to some degree. But I didn't know if I could sustain a note, or belt one out."
  • "I may sound like a strangled cat."
  • "I might be a horrible singer but that might work for the character. You never know."
  • "[Sondheim] said to me early on, it was much more about the acting work than the singing. He felt the singing was secondary to hitting the notes emotionally. I didn't believe him. [Laughs] I think he was probably saying that to make me feel better about what I was about to attempt."
  • "I would listen to [the score] nonstop, just constantly. Various versions. And then just a musical version without any vocals. I saturated my noggin with it."
  • "I just didn't see the character developing with me doing scales in front of a piano, with a vocal teacher going, 'No, no — bring it up from the bollocks.'"
  • "Singing couldn't be more foreign to me in a lot of ways, but at the same time, I need to incorporate my own process to find it, to see where I land."
  • "So here I'm challenged with these amazing melodies of Stephen Sondheim. That was kind of a bugger to deal with."
  • "I ended up going into a recording studio with a friend of mine and I just sang to the tracks to find out if I could do it at all. It’s not unlike the mating call of a rutting stag. It’s a very strange sound but so far, I have not been fired, which is good. We’ll see. I hope you like it."
  • [on the song, My Friends] "That was the first song I ever sang in my life.  It was pretty weird and scary."
  • "When I was doing the demos in Los Angeles, I came home and played it for Vanessa. That was one of the more frightening moments. You go, I'm gonna fall flat on my face…They [Vanessa and the kids] said, 'Is that you?'"
  • "Vanessa was very helpful, because she was the initial victim. Before I sent my first recordings to Tim, I brought them home to her and said, “If I’m going to be fully embarrassed, I may as well play it for you!  So, I played it to her to see if I was doing the wrong thing. She was very supportive about it. She’s a very talented singer. She offered me all kinds of advice in terms of holding a note. More than anything, she gave me confidence. Oddly, she liked my voice. That was a miracle to me!"
  • [on the gutteral aspect of his singing voice] "Organically, there’s something natural in my voice that happens when you push it. And it’s aggressive stuff. But one thing I do—that I don’t remember hearing any of the other Sweeneys do—is English, oddly. [In most productions, Sweeney is played with an American accent.] Especially that East End English. That was something I thought I could add."
  • "The one that was probably the most challenging was 'Johanna.'  It's such an emotional song.  And as far as I was concerned, when Stephen Sondheim writes the note and it has to be held for this many beats, you do it.  I don't care if you're from Miramar or Kentucky or you're an ass and you don't sing.  It doesn't matter.  Don't be a pussy, you fuckin' hold that note.  You can't cheat.  You can't whisper.  You can't do the William Shatner thing.  You just gotta belt it out.  So I really beat myself up, making sure I could hold those notes.  In 'Johanna,' some are, like twelve beats.  That was a bugger.  At one point, I was very close to passing out - I got dizzy and saw black.  But that's what Sondheim wrote, so that's what you do."
  • "If there was anybody in terms of inspiration for my sound, it was Anthony Newley [the Broadway vet]. And Iggy Pop, you know? Iggy’s kind of this very aggressive crooner. Especially in the early stuff, there’s something about his attack that’s haunting."
  • "I wouldn't ever dream of attempting to channel David Bowie, he's a big hero of mine. If there's a similarity, it wasn't intentional, certainly not. [But] it's a nice compliment."
  • "This could be the punk-rock Sweeney, you know. The alternative Sweeney."
  • [on Sondheim's music] "It's beautiful stuff to sing. I can only imagine it must be really nice if you're a singer."
  • [after claiming that he usually never sings, in response to the prompt, "Brown Sugar" comes on …"] "I might sing a little harmony. I might air guitar. Drumming. I like to drum."
  • [after claiming that he probably wouldn't have sung for anyone but Tim Burton, Burton asks, "What if Barry Manilow asked you?"] "That's a different thing, cause that might mean duet, and if that's the case, I'm in." [A car horn sounds in the street outside] "And there he is."
  • "I think I am done with singing."
  • "Am I happy with my singing in Sweeney Todd?  I'm happy it's done."
See also the Johnny Depp Rocks! Sweeney Todd page for more Sweeney Todd-related information!



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