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A Certain Ratio

Musician — Stockport

Name, where are you from?
Don Johnson, Stockport, England.

Describe your style in three words?
Machine Gun Funk!

What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?
1970’s Marc Bolan, Manchester Free Trade Hall. It was my very first gig.

If you could be on the line up with any two bands in history?
This would change daily so today...
'70s Headhunters and Tower of Power, both bands super tight and funky.

Which Subcultures have influenced you?
Flim Noir - infinite light and dark shades when framed correctly produces a timeless classic.
Punk - DIY Attitude.

If you could spend an hour with anyone from history?
Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
He built bridges, canals and ships all executed to perfection with limited technology.

Of all the venues you’ve played, which is your favourite?
I like small venues such as...
Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh
Sugar Club, Ireland
Band on the Wall, Manchester

I love playing and seeing bands in a small ornate well-run venue.

Your greatest unsung hero or heroine in music?
Our road crew as their day is solely geared to help to make our gig the best it can.


A Certain Ratio embraced the ethic and culture of the late seventies post-punk explosion, but sounded like nothing else around them and refused to fit in. Formed in Manchester in 1978 and signed to Factory Records, the band has had various members throughout their career, with a core line-up of Jez Kerr, Martin Moscrop and Donald Johnson that remains today.

A Certain Ratio have shared their first new music since 2008’s 'Mind Made Up' and will release ACR:SET, a career spanning compilation on 12 October 2018. Which you can purchase here.

The first track you played on repeat?
'Israelites' by Desmond Dekker.
This was one of the first songs along with Desmond’s (it Mek) that I can remember with a Jamaican accent that was in the charts when I was a young man.

A song that defines the teenage you?
'Rock On' by David Essex.
This song has the most unique sound ever and there was nothing in the charts like this in 1973. Noel Gallagher would later use the line "Prettiest girl I’ve ever seen" on his song 'Lock All The Doors' from his album 'Chasing Yesterday'. ”She wore a star-shaped tambourine prettiest girl I’ve ever seen.”

One record you would keep forever?
'What’s Going On' by Marvin Gaye.
Every time I play this album I find something I’ve not heard before. It’s a timeless classic that is one of the best records ever recorded.

A song lyric that has inspired you?
'The Cross' by Prince.
I love the punky feel of the whole thing and Prince on drums. I like the way the whole thing builds to a big solo vocal at the end.

A song you wished you had written?
'Love Will Tear Us Apart' by Joy Division.
A Certain Ratio used to share a rehearsal room with Joy Division in Salford. This is such a well-crafted classic, I played this live with Bernard Sumner & The Factory Allstars at the Hacienda on Madonna’s debut live performance in the UK which went out live on Channel 4’s 'The Tube'.

Best song to turn up loud?
'Brazilian Love Affair' by George Duke.
The production on this album is amazing and whenever ACR write something really good I always gauge the finish production against this.

A song people wouldn’t expect you to like?
'My Resistance Is Low' by Robin Sarstedt.
Written by Hoagy Carmichael back in 1951 this version has a brilliant string & vocals arrangement and no drums which is something I would like to do with an ACR song in the future. The Jane Russell version on YouTube is also pretty good. 

The song to get you straight on the dance floor?
'I Wanna Be Your Lover' by Prince.
That guitar rhythm is so hypnotic. I think Prince was still in his teens when he recorded this. He also produced it after many tussles with Warner Bros.

Best song to end an all-nighter?
'These Eyes' by Jr. Walker & The Allstars.
Used to dance with my girlfriend, who became my wife, to this song at our youth club “Baguley Hall” in Wythenshawe.

Any new bands you are into at the moment?
Sink Ya Teeth - Narcissus.
They are both standout bands that are not afraid to carve their own path with their own unique sound. Sink Ya Teeth have been our special guests on most of our dates this year.

Name, where are you from?
Don Johnson, Stockport, England.

Describe your style in three words?
Machine Gun Funk!

What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?
1970’s Marc Bolan, Manchester Free Trade Hall. It was my very first gig.

If you could be on the line up with any two bands in history?
This would change daily so today...
'70s Headhunters and Tower of Power, both bands super tight and funky.

Which Subcultures have influenced you?
Flim Noir - infinite light and dark shades when framed correctly produces a timeless classic.
Punk - DIY Attitude.

If you could spend an hour with anyone from history?
Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
He built bridges, canals and ships all executed to perfection with limited technology.

Of all the venues you’ve played, which is your favourite?
I like small venues such as...
Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh
Sugar Club, Ireland
Band on the Wall, Manchester

I love playing and seeing bands in a small ornate well-run venue.

Your greatest unsung hero or heroine in music?
Our road crew as their day is solely geared to help to make our gig the best it can.


A Certain Ratio embraced the ethic and culture of the late seventies post-punk explosion, but sounded like nothing else around them and refused to fit in. Formed in Manchester in 1978 and signed to Factory Records, the band has had various members throughout their career, with a core line-up of Jez Kerr, Martin Moscrop and Donald Johnson that remains today.

A Certain Ratio have shared their first new music since 2008’s 'Mind Made Up' and will release ACR:SET, a career spanning compilation on 12 October 2018. Which you can purchase here.

The first track you played on repeat?
'Israelites' by Desmond Dekker.
This was one of the first songs along with Desmond’s (it Mek) that I can remember with a Jamaican accent that was in the charts when I was a young man.

A song that defines the teenage you?
'Rock On' by David Essex.
This song has the most unique sound ever and there was nothing in the charts like this in 1973. Noel Gallagher would later use the line "Prettiest girl I’ve ever seen" on his song 'Lock All The Doors' from his album 'Chasing Yesterday'. ”She wore a star-shaped tambourine prettiest girl I’ve ever seen.”

One record you would keep forever?
'What’s Going On' by Marvin Gaye.
Every time I play this album I find something I’ve not heard before. It’s a timeless classic that is one of the best records ever recorded.

A song lyric that has inspired you?
'The Cross' by Prince.
I love the punky feel of the whole thing and Prince on drums. I like the way the whole thing builds to a big solo vocal at the end.

A song you wished you had written?
'Love Will Tear Us Apart' by Joy Division.
A Certain Ratio used to share a rehearsal room with Joy Division in Salford. This is such a well-crafted classic, I played this live with Bernard Sumner & The Factory Allstars at the Hacienda on Madonna’s debut live performance in the UK which went out live on Channel 4’s 'The Tube'.

Best song to turn up loud?
'Brazilian Love Affair' by George Duke.
The production on this album is amazing and whenever ACR write something really good I always gauge the finish production against this.

A song people wouldn’t expect you to like?
'My Resistance Is Low' by Robin Sarstedt.
Written by Hoagy Carmichael back in 1951 this version has a brilliant string & vocals arrangement and no drums which is something I would like to do with an ACR song in the future. The Jane Russell version on YouTube is also pretty good. 

The song to get you straight on the dance floor?
'I Wanna Be Your Lover' by Prince.
That guitar rhythm is so hypnotic. I think Prince was still in his teens when he recorded this. He also produced it after many tussles with Warner Bros.

Best song to end an all-nighter?
'These Eyes' by Jr. Walker & The Allstars.
Used to dance with my girlfriend, who became my wife, to this song at our youth club “Baguley Hall” in Wythenshawe.

Any new bands you are into at the moment?
Sink Ya Teeth - Narcissus.
They are both standout bands that are not afraid to carve their own path with their own unique sound. Sink Ya Teeth have been our special guests on most of our dates this year.

A Certain Ratio | Make It Happen (2018)

A Certain Ratio | Do The Du (1979)

A Certain Ratio | Lucinda (1982)

Donald Johnson's Drum Kit