The Obelisk Questionnaire: Johnny Lee of Miss Lava

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The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Johnny Lee of Miss Lava

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

My first art expression and my first roots were drawing. Since forever, I remember drawing and trying to replicate everything all the time. The more realistic or the closest to the original the best.

But as I grew up, I became a huge music fan and music turns out to be my favorite type of art, especially metal and rock music. I’ve learned most of my English by reading metal bands’ lyrics. I developed my drawing skills by drawing, countless times, all of Iron Maiden’s album covers, and by drawing every band logo I could.

Since a very early age, I sang along with all of my favorite metal bands of the ’80s and I started to sing and write lyrics on top of instrumental songs as well.

That was the starting point of everything, but in one-way or another, I’ve always wanted to become a singer and wanted to do something art related. And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.

Nowadays, I work as a Creative Director in an advertising agency and I’m the singer of a Stoner Rock Band. I guess I could say “Mission accomplished”.

Describe your first musical memory.

When I was four or five years old, around 1980/81, I remember grabbing one of my mother’s tapes and playing it over and over. Side A – Pink Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon” and side B – Supertramp “Crime of The Century”. I guess that first impact of reproducing some music made me feel very powerful, like I had a superpower or something. In a way I think that feeling still lasts as I have become a music collector. I own more than 1,000 records and almost 1,500 CDs.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

In 1995 Megadeth and Corrosion of Conformity played in my hometown, Cascais in Lisbon, Portugal.

I was a big C.O.C. fan, I am still, and me and K. Rafaah (Miss Lava’s Guitarist) found Pepper Keenan and Woody Weatherman drinking some wine in a terrace in Cascais the night before the show. We invited them to a pool house bar where we used to hang.

Turns out we spent that night partying with Corrosion’s Pepper, Woody and Reed Mullin and Megadeth’s late Nick Menza. We drank, played some pool, talked about music all night and by the time we were so drunk, me and Pepper sang together, in the middle of the street, the song “Shelter” from the album Deliverance that they were promoting at the time.

On the next day, during the show, Reed pulled me from the crowd onto the stage to sing with them “Rather See You Dead” (Legionaire’s Disease Band cover) and before playing “Vote with a Bullet,” Pepper dedicated the song to us, me and Raffah.

I was 19 years old at the time, and I think nothing will ever top that for as long as I live. Epic!

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

That is a tough one. I guess all the time. I try to be as straightforward, true and honest as I can, but honesty and truth most of the times are too hard to handle by others. Certainly, I compromise more than I should or want. I guess it’s a learning process.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Hopefully will lead to better places, better times, freedom and deeper emotions.

For me, Art is a constant, shifting universe that stimulates my very own space and time.

It’s the way that I chose to live my life, to challenge my boundaries and I hope that I’ll continue to make something meaningful and different each time.

How do you define success?

I guess success is: to look back and being able to understand and appreciate how far we’ve come. Have no regrets. Feel good with the choices we’ve made and to be proud of our achievements. Success should put us in a good place and make us feel happy about the journey. But the most important thing about success is being able to share it with your friends, family and keep them all around you.

We can’t be successful all alone.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Back in 1996 I went to a soccer match in Lisbon, Portugal. It was the Cup Final between my team, Sporting Portugal and our main rivals Benfica. During Benfica’s first goal celebration, one of Benfica’s supporters fired a rocket flare towards Sporting fans. I saw the rocket speeding my way, crossing from one point of the stadium to another, only a few meters above the players’ heads, when suddenly it changed direction and hits a peaceful man, next to me, in the throat and kills him on the spot (he was the father of two small children). I was just a few meters away. I remember seeing all the blood splashing from the man’s throat as the rocket was still burning inside him and I remember thinking that could have happened to me. Very sad memory.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

I would like to direct a music video for our band.

And I’ve never tried doing a sculpture. I think I would like to make a realistic one someday. Maybe an Ozzy or a Lemmy bust or even a Cristiano Ronaldo’s, to see if I can top the ridiculous one hahaha.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

Establishing communication with our emotions.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Like I said before, I like do draw as realistic as I can. In the near future, I want to make a full detailed gigantic realistic painting of a foot plant, hahaha. Don’t know why? Probably it’s going to be the unfinished work at the end of my life.

Miss Lava, Doom Machine (2021)

Miss Lava, “The Great Divide” official video

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