Masters of music
By David Lindquist, The Indianapolis Star
p Machine

This boutique studio opened in January 2000, and original skeptics may be surprised that the Pop Machine’s 10-year anniversary is almost here.

“Everybody basically said, ‘You can’t run a studio by just catering to the band community,’ " said co-owner Marc Johnson. “We’ve proved that wrong.”

A “by musicians, for musicians” concept has been championed by Johnson and twin brother, Eric, who have played together in the bands Wonderdrug and 15 Minutes. With business partner Terry Monday, the Johnsons don’t accept advertising or commercial work.

Vintage microphones and guitar amplifiers line the orange and yellow walls of the studio, which has hosted multiple sessions with all-star drummer Kenny Aronoff.

The Laundromatinee, an online video series presented by My Old Kentucky Blog, recently captured performances by touring acts the Avett Brothers, Supergrass and Mat Kearney at the Pop Machine.

John Waite, known for mid-’80s No. 1 hit “Missing You,” has an ongoing working relationship with the Johnsons, and Smithereens vocalist Pat DiNizio is making a solo album at their studio.

“We’ve been able to attract some national artists to come in, which seems like an unattainable goal when you’re sitting in the middle of Indianapolis,” Marc Johnson said.

John Waite Records "Universal Soldier" At The Pop Machine    

Indianapolis, IN (February 22, 2007)--The Pop Machine has been busy this winter with several recording projects, according to co-owner and producer/engineer Marc Johnson. John Waite, former front man for The Babys and Bad English, recorded the song "Universal Solider" at The Pop Machine, with overdubs cut at Henson Recording in Los Angeles.

John Waite at The Pop Machine's Soundcraft
The Pop Machine principals Marc Johnson and brother Eric Klee Johnson produced and mixed the track, which features Matchbox Twenty's Kyle Cook on guitar, session ace Kenny Aronoff on drums, and Adam Whilte on loops.




Pictured at Pop Machine are (l-r) John Waite, Marc Johnson and Debbie Valentine cutting vocals

Waite’s “Universal Soldier” was recorded and mixed at The Pop Machine for an iTunes-exclusive release on Rounder Records; John 'Squirrel' Searle was assistant engineer on this session.

The Johnson brothers are now putting the finishing touches on a new release for Jane Jensen; one song from the project Saturday Night appears in the new James Gunn film Slither. Eric Klee Johnson mixed the new release for Xero Sum, and Marc produced. In other recent sessions, Tony Buechler and Marc Johnson co-produced the debut release for country music singer Chad Harvey; Marc tracked and mixed the latest from western swing sensations, The Round-ups; and producer Joe Cheesman and engineer Mike Petrow worked at The Pop Machine with The Born Again Floozies, tracking a song for a Paste magazine sampler.

The Pop Machine also recently added more gear to its inventory, including a vintage AKG C414EB condenser microphone, an Amek Neve Pure Path, a pair of Sennheiser E609s (silver dynamic guitar mics), a pair of Uncle Alberts' passive DIs, and Monster power. The Pop Machine's main studio features a Soundcraft Series 1600 mixing console, which includes 24 of the 2011 Preamp/EQ Modules; Pro Tools HD3 Accel system; Otari MX-80 2 Analog 24-track machine; API, Focusrite, Neve, Fairchild and Universal Audio mic pre/EQs; lots of guitars, basses, effects pedals, vintage and modern amps; Ludwig, Slingerland, and Sonor Cocktail drum kits; Fender Rhodes, Hammond B3 and M3, Minimoog,
Wurlitzers, and synths.

The Pop Machine


Indianapolis Pop Machine Generates Buzz

Indianapolis, IN (August 26, 2004)--The Pop Machine has been busy tracking and mixing several exciting projects, including an album with hard rockers Dystalis, who locked out the studio to track and mix their debut release with producers Marc Johnson and William Hammel. Marc's twin brother Eric Klee Johnson mixed the project, which was tracked to 24-bit Digidesign Pro Tools using The Pop Machine's vintage and tube mic-pre sidecar called "The Pop Cart" that includes Neve 1066's, Calrec PQs, API 512b, Focusrite ISAs, and UA 610 models.

Swedish Indy 500 champion Kenny Brack also stopped in The Pop Machine to track and mix his new release for his band Kenny Brack and the Subwoofers. The record was produced by former Why Store drummer Charlie Bushor, engineered by Cortland Foxworth and mixed by Eric Klee Johnson.

Acoustic rockers Dark House Sweet's debut release Four is currently in stores. The record was produced, engineered, and mixed by Marc Johnson at The Pop Machine in Indianapolis and mastered by Andy VanDette at NYC's Masterdisk. Marc is currently in the studio tracking new albums by Jeremy Vogt and Dan Keplinger, and co-producing the debut release from Evansville, IN band Undone with fellow producer Mark Moran.

17-year old singing sensation Kayleigh Silva was at The Pop Machine tracking her new album with the producing/writing team of Eric Klee Johnson, Marc Johnson and Joey Fingers. Drums for the record were performed by rock legend Kenny Aronoff and session ace Dane Clark (both Mellencamp alum). And, producer/engineer Joe Cheesman finished tracking and mixing the debut effort from Easy Astronaut featuring former members of Slip, Transportation, and Elektrolab at The Pop Machine.

The Pop Machine just took delivery of some new (and old) gear including a pair of vintage Altec 436c tube compressors, a Tube-Tech PE -1C EQ, a pair BLUE Eight Ball microphones.

The Pop Machine

The Pop Machine  Voted Best Recording Studio
Nuvo Newsweekly

Session and Studio News
Indianapolis, IN (February1, 2004)
 Former Bad English singer John Waite was in at The Pop Machine (Indianapolis) writing and tracking his upcoming release with producer/brothers Marc and Eric Klee Johnson, Jeff Whorley and Joey Fingers. Also in recording with Marc Johnson and Joe Cheesman were The Fuglees, working through their new CD Indiana, and country band Chevy Downs, who were tracking and mixing their debut release with the Johnson brothers
The Pop Machine

Indianapolis’ Extra Blue Kind—guitarists David Barajas and P, drummer Randee and bassist Brian Peterson—play pop-laden rock music and are damn proud of it. The band grew out of Indiana University’s jam-band frat-boy circuit in early 2000, but it wasn’t until they submitted a demo to local radio station X103’s Battle of the Bands contest and won that the band really broke out and found their audience. Their prize included studio time to develop a single with the Johnson twins (The Pop Machine). The result was the single “The King of Everything,” which became a local hit. The band hit the road, sharing the stage with bands such as Breaking Benjamin, Chevelle, Trust Company, Stone Temple Pilots, Kid Rock, Creed and Everclear.
Learn more at



The Pop Machine Gets New Old Gear, Trainwreck Hits The Studio

Indianapolis, IN (March 31, 2004)--Rockers Trainwreck recently recorded and mixed the debut LP God Bless Rock -n- Roll at The Pop Machine with producers Eric Klee Johnson and Marc Johnson, and assistants Faith Marie, Andy Carrell, and Joey Fingers. Used on this and other recent sessions was some of the esoteric and vintage gear the studio recently acquired, including an Otari MX-80 2" 24-track analog tape machine, two Telefunken U74 mic pre/compressor units, a 1988 Focusrite ISA115, Neumann KM84, EV 664, Unidyne III 545, and a vintage Moog Mini-Moog analog synthesizer. Perhaps the coolest piece of new gear, as reported by The Pop Machine, may be a Wurlitzer Electric piano formerly owned by Stax Records in Memphis.

On the Trainwreck sessions, and the making of its 11-song debut LP, Eric Klee Johnson commented, "The record sounds like The Rolling Stones meets the Small Faces with a Rob Thomas-like voice fronting the band. We cut the tracks live with hardly any overdubs, no drum editing, or auto-tuning; we used Pro Tools like a tape machine and a bunch of vintage instruments, mics, mic-pres, and compressors to give it a 'Muscle Shoals sound.' The record is absolutely stellar."

Artist Jane Jensen has also been at The Pop Machine recently, working on tracks for a forthcoming LP including the song "LA Junkyard" with the Johnson twins and NYC producer Craig Kafton producing and engineering. And, Tiffany continues to work on her new album at The Pop Machine with Eric Klee Johnson, Joey Fingers, and Marc Johnson producing. Two songs "On" and "Take Everything" are complete and she is hitting the road this spring to give audiences a taste of her new music. Birmingham, AL rock band Droned also stopped in The Pop Machine, to track and mix an EP with Eric Klee Johnson and Mick Loud producing.

Producer Joe Cheesman has been working hard at The Pop Machine on the debut for Easy Astronaut and the upcoming release from Las Vegas singer/songwriter Sandy Kastel as well as his own project Blip. And, Marc Johnson and William Hammel have begun production at The Pop Machine on the debut by hard rock band Dystallis.

The Pop Machine

Session and Studio News
Indianapolis, IN (July 1, 2004)
 At The Pop Machine (Indianapolis) was '80s pop icon Tiffany, who worked on her new album with Eric Klee Johnson, Joey Fingers and producer Marc Johnson.
The Pop Machine

Speakeasy with Eric Johnson
Danica Johnson
Who are you currently working with in the studio?
Most projects I co-produce with my twin brother Marc. Currently we are working with Otis Gibbs, Jane Jenson, Sidereal, Trainwreck, Chevy Downs, John Waite, Wonderdrug and Archie’s Address. We usually keep about four to eight projects going simultaneously.

Eric Johnson is a record producer, artist and studio owner.

Who are some of the high profile artists who have stopped in to the studio to record?
Jurassic 5, John Waite, Tiffany, Kyle Cook of Matchbox 20 are the more nationally-known artists; however, we are more proud of the local artists who have made amazing records with us like Transmatic, Extra Blue Kind, The Fuglees, Resurface, DENT, Sindacato, Niswander, RockSoup, The Common, PD&T and Diamonds & Rust.

What brings them to the Pop Machine?
It’s a state of the art studio that has a wonderful vibe. When artists book the room, they basically live there with no distractions and can focus on their art.
As a producer and engineer, who would you fantasize about working with?
Locally, Loretta, Devil to Pay, Johnny Angel and Seth Horan. Nationally, I would love to make a record with Guided by Voices.

Is there a particular record you’re looking forward to being released?
The Resurface album we produced is done and the labels are already going crazy. It’s like an STP meets Staind. It will blow up huge on modern rock radio.

Who are some of your favorite artists currently?
I love the rock gods (The Who, David Bowie, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix). I am currently listening to Travis, Paloalto, Year of the Rabbit, Powderfinger, Jet and Brand New as well as Blink 182, which is a guilty pleasure of mine.

Favorite locals?
Bob Bullock, The Fuglees, Unreel, Chevy Downs, Resurface, Sidereal, Late Show, The Pieces, Joe Cheesman, Transmatic, Trainwreck, Devil to Pay, Loretta, Jane Jenson, Zero Boys, DENT, Sindacato.

What is the most relevant trend happening in popular music today?
Artists becoming totally anti-establishment and making great records on their own.

How has working on the production side of the business affected you as a musician?
Even though I can play musical instruments, I consider myself a great listener to music. I am kind of a professional fan. I listen to music like a 13-year-old girl in Iowa does, I want the song to truly move me, I want to be born again every time I hear it.

The Pop Machine The Pop Machine Update April 2005

The Pop Machine has been busy recording amazing music this winter and the supersonic fun continues into spring. The Pop Machine principles twin brothers Marc and Eric Klee Johnson have been producing numerous projects for summer release including Dark House Sweet, Jeremy Vogt, Emitter, and Wonderdrug, all sessions featuring session ace Kenny Aronoff on drums.

"Kenny brings such a vitality to the music we make, he is truly inspirational and super musical, he always plays what is best for the song rather than banging out some wanker bombast, he locks in so well with electronic loops and has such an infectious positive vibration about him, did I mention we love Aronoff? Being in Indiana, Mellencamp has created such high bar for musicianship, songwriting, and performance so Marc and I as producers who live here take full advantage of that, I believe that you can here that in our records" says Eric Klee Johnson.

The way the brothers track projects is as a tag-team; however, one usually acts as the project lead. Marc is the 'lead producer' for the Emitter, Dark House Sweet, Jeremy Vogt projects while Eric's heads up projects for Jane Jensen, Resurface, and Sidereal. Eric is also currently mixing the debut for the Kyle Cook- (matchbox twenty) produced Virgin Millionaires, a group featuring Zakk Baldauf from Transmatic on vocals and guitar.

Also in session was Say being recorded by LA-based producer Wes Styles with Justin Atkins and Marc Johnson engineering. Faith Marie and Eric Klee Johnson mixed a live CD recorded at The Vogue Theater in Indianapolis featuring 1960's Indy music stalwarts The Boys Next Door, Sir Winston & The Commons, Sounds Unlimited, and The Revengers. Joe Cheesman recorded hip-hop artist Rich C, and producer Trent Bell tracked Christian hard rockers Six Feet of Separation.

The Pop Machine has added some cool new gear to make the recording experience even more enjoyable including a matched pair of Coles 4038 ribbon microphones, a vintage Lexicon 200 digital reverberator, and is gearing up for the installation of a Digidesign Pro Tools HD3 system to supplement The Pop Machine's TDM and 001 rigs.

Make sure you arrive early and catch Wonderdrug. I recently got hold of a CD-R with four of the first new songs that the band has recorded for its follow-up to Hi! Boasting a new thickness to their sound, the Brothers Johnson, Marc and Eric Klee are brewing up what could be a sorely needed ass-kicking in the local scene. Particularly potent is the beautiful "I Know Where You're Coming From" and the heady rush of "Mad Mad Scene."

Marc and Eric are proving themselves the hardest working rockers in the city, what with recording Transmatic, Sindacato and the new Wonderdrug stuff in their spanking new studio, The Pop Machine, playing any and every gig that comes their way AND holding down day jobs. Besides opening the Superdrag show, they'll also be at The Patio this Saturday, Nov. 11 with The Velvet Hypnotic Propellers.

 Pro Sound News October 2000







THE COMMON will be at BIRDY'S on Thursday and at ROCK LOBSTER Friday. The band will then spend the rest of the weekend holed up in THE POP MACHINE studio, run by the wonder twins in WONDERDRUG, recording some songs for a new demo they hope to shop around.

Grammy-nominated studio ace KING WILLIAMS will be at The Pop Machine this week recording tracks with Wonderdrug for their upcoming release, Bionic Embryo.

Local group THE FUGLEES recently had their gear stolen at their rehearsal space, so WONDERDRUG is throwing a party to raise money to replace their gear. It'll be Friday, June 15 at THE POP MACHINE Recording Studios, 6180 N. Parker in Indianapolis. The cover is $10 and all proceeds will go to the band. Also, Wonderdrug will play this Saturday at CT Peppers. The single "Automatic" has been receiving heavy spins on X103. Recently, Wonderdrug has appeared with THE CULT as well as at X103's May Day concert with STAIND, OLEANDER, NICKELBACK and NONPOINT.