Profile: Johnny Crowder
Published: Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 20:10
Among the hundreds of students at UCF studying psychology, there's a student with nothing but metal music on his mind.
A 19-year-old sophomore majoring in psychology, Johnny Crowder maintains the duty of unleashing a vocal assault on the ears through deep growls and harsh screams for Tampa metal act In Reference to a Sinking Ship. Crowder attends UCF during the weekdays, but come Fridays, he's the first man out the door.
"In this lifestyle as a musician, there isn't a lot of sleep. There's a lot of driving, but never enough sleep," Crowder said. "Music is my main priority, the band comes before school and yes, it can affect my grades. In fact, it often affects my grades."
Don't let Crowder's dogmatic charisma fool you; underneath that black T-shirt and colorful tattoos lies a shrewd businessman. Out of devotion, every weekend Crowder completes the meandering drive to Tampa just so the band can practice. Lead guitarist Austin Good said that Crowder is not only a good band member, but a good friend, as well.
"Johnny is my best friend. He's the kind of guy that would stop whatever he's doing and listen to your problems if you went to him," Good said. "He does a lot of sketch comedy, and it shows when you hang out with him. He is one of the funniest people I know, and I'm really glad to have him as a friend."
Not only is Crowder valuable as a friend, but he has proved himself as an artist and performer; he even writes the lyrics for the band's songs.
"The band and I feel extremely fortunate to have Johnny as our lyricist and frontman," Good said. "He is always looking for ways to improve his performance both on and off the stage alike. The lyrics he writes are some of the best works I've ever read. It's pure literature."
Stability and poise are an obvious struggle for Crowder; his loyalties are solid, though, and he's very much alive and filled with passion. Crowder does recognize that not everyone agrees with his music or musical endeavors, and he tries to keep it all in bounds.
Growing up, Crowder always considered himself to be the "outcast kid on the block." Crowder stayed the course throughout high school and attributes the band Job for a Cowboy, an American death metal group, as his personal protagonist in music.
Close friend Kody Schmidt has known Crowder since he first bulldozed his way onto the stage.
"Crowder has grown into an artist; he practiced deep growls during lunch to change his vocal range," Schmidt said. "From that point on, with practice, you could just hear his improvement as a singer."
Even with the gift of writing music, Crowder doesn't take any side of the music business for granted. He understands that not everyone will approve his "different path in life."
"I can't and don't expect everybody to understand what I want to do. My family does not support my music," Crowder said. "They've never been to one of my concerts; [it's] not their thing. I think they would rather see me concentrate on a real job."
In Reference to a Sinking Ship has performed all over Florida. Scheduled for January 2012, a promoter has booked the band for a concert in Tennessee, and Crowder hopes for a booking in New York City later next year. A record store in Daytona Beach has also shown interest in the band. There is talk about hard copies of their EP being sold in the store.
Hard work and dedication are the ingredients for the next highly anticipated album. Furthermore, if it's anything like Crowder's unorthodox character, it'll rise to the next level, roaring and angry like Crowder himself.
"I want to tour the world, and I want to make music full time," Crowder said. "I want that to be my job."