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L.A. Beat

The Smalls’ Terry Johnson excited about The Smalls: Forever is a Long Time

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The Smalls drummer Terry Johnson is  impressed with how the the new movie the Smalls: Forever is A Long Time turned out.

 The movie shows at the Movie Mill at 9:30 p.m. tonight.

 The movie chronicles the career and reunion tour of the popular  ’90s Edmonton based indie rock/metal/ punk band.

“ I’ve seen it seven or eight times and every time I notice something different,” Johnson said, over the phone from Edmonton, just getting off shift as a parking attendant. He has been working for the City of Edmonton for the past 14 years thanks to guitarist Doug Bevans’ little brother.

The other Smalls have scattered. Johnson noted bassist Corb Lund is in Lethbridge, frontman Mike Caldwell splits his time between Victoria and Lethbridge helping his dad’s roofing company while guitarist Doug Bevans has made a home in Vancouver and a career  working in travel and foreign students.
 The movie includes a frank discussion of the Smalls break up as well as Johnson’s personal struggles with alcohol and being sent to jail for accidentally shooting his friend.

“I’m a pretty frank person. It happened. It’s a part of my life and I’ve dealt with it. It was actually harder to watch it  the first couple of times than it was to talk about it. I’ve told that story a number of times. We discussed it a lot before the movie. Edmonton is a city but it is also a small town, there is a lot of gossip, so I wanted to make sure it was told right. I wanted to show people that it was an accident. That I’m not some monster,” said the loquacious Johnson.

“ If anyone asks about it, I’ll be honest about it,” he said.

 He enjoyed being part of the movie.
“ They’ve been our friends for a long time. I remember them hauling those big VHS cameras around back then. We’d always let people film our shows. So we got along great. I’d mess with them a little, telling them I’d be going to see a drug dealer,” he chuckled.

“We all met in Chilliwack, which is more less half way,” he said, adding he is pleased with how the film tells the story of the Smalls.
“Its a good representation of us,” he said.

“ They got like 300 plus hours of footage and had to  trim it down into an hour and 45 minutes,” he said, adding he is looking forward to  a DVD release of the CD and getting his own copy of it.

“I’m excited to see what they will use,” he said  adding he was pleased to see a lot of  Edmonton punk pioneers SNFU represented in the film.
“ As they say in the movie, they created the template for do it yourself indie rock in Edmonton and we copied it and made it bigger,” he said, crediting  SNFU for giving the Smalls their big break. The reunion tour brought back a lot of memories.

“ I remember the riots in Kamloops. We couldn't play there anymore so we ended up having to play the res, which actually turned out better because we only had to deal with res cops who just let us play,” he said.
“ The Edmonton punk scene was non-existent before SNFU,” he continued, adding they gave the Smalls a  big break in B.C after SNFU got waylaid by an avalanche en route to a gig, coming from Vancouver, so the Smalls, who were also on the show, were coming in from Edmonton and were able to headline.

 Johnson was pleasantly surprised with the response to the the reunion
“ It was amazing. We had to double up the shows almost every place we played. Even in Toronto where we were never that popular. Everybody at our shows would be from Western Canada. We sold out the Horseshoe there,” he said.
“And the fans. There were fathers with their kids and older brothers bringing their little brothers to the shows. And they were telling us ‘please don’t go.’. I’ll be 47 this year and there were guys my age in the mosh pit just like they were 16 again. Even Corbie was taken aback and dealing with large crowds like that and that  is old hat to him,” he reminisced.

 Johnson didn’t rule out the the possibility of doing another tour together, but adamantly didn’t promise anything.
“ I run the Smalls Facebook page and there are a lot of fans and messages,” he said.

“A lot of it is due to Corbies’s  schedule.  We’re really proud of what he has done. But would Corbie be willing to take a break from it. He’s booked into two years in advance. And I’m actually surprised Doug agreed to do this reunion. He was always really fiercely against bands doing reunion tours when they break up. And Mike has always been the wild card of the band. It is the Smalls. We are four really strong willed personalities, so things could just fall to pieces. We wouldn’t go out  again without something. Maybe a DVD of the movie,” he said.

“And, thanks to Steven Harper I can’t travel outside Canada  until I turn 52,” he said.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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