Both Jack Johnson and Ryan Bingham have fake front teeth. One lost the originals when he head-butted a bull, and the other lost them when he head-butted a reef. Neither of them ever set out to be professional musicians, but, as they say, here we are.
Johnson, of course, is a surfer. “Music is always secondary for me,” he says. “I try to make it so that it’s not so important in my life that it starts to feel like a job.” He surfs in the day and plays music at night — a decent way to live, by any standards.
Bingham grew up very differently than Jack did. He’s from the desert town of Hobbs, New Mexico, along the border of West Texas. He grew up riding bulls and says roping brings back memories of the rodeo.
Jack and Ryan could have made it in surfing and bull riding, respectively, but both of them took a different path. “I really feel like the environment where you grew up shapes you,” Bingham said. “I grew up in the desert; in the flatlands of West Texas and New Mexico. A lot of the music around there was country and blues and folk stuff and western swing. I’ve been pretty fortunate to have played with a lot of musicians from around the world, and it reminds you of the universal language that music is.”
Despite their very different upbringings, the music they play comes from a similar place. They both speak that language fluently. In Yeti’s new offering, The Midnight Hour, Johnson and Bingham sit down and strum it out. And while doing so, they find “a likeness and a naturalness in one another’s music and the identity searching that lead to their sound.”