Florida Man took the 2019 CPMA for Punk Band of the Year thanks in part to their new album, Tropical Depression, a relentless eight-song slab of roaring guitar noise, guttural vocals, and shifting, propulsive rhythms. It’s certainly got the volume and abrasiveness of punk, but it’s a lot tighter and more intense than what we normally associate with the word; there’s definitely a hardcore influence in the music.

Which begs the question: Florida Man may be a great, talented band, but are they punks?

“I feel like we would be,” says drummer Brandon Johnson. “We’re all just normal people, and I guess that’s punk, right?”

Johnson is in a unique position to talk about Florida Man because he’s a recent-enough addition to see them from both a fan and a band member’s perspective; he joined the group in April after Tropical Depression had already been recorded. Jonathan Peace played on the album itself.

Johnson says that once he was able to get past learning all of the band’s songs in time for a tour, being part of Florida Man felt like a perfect fit.

“It feels natural nowadays,” he says. “When I was learning the songs, it felt more like I was learning a song list to promote a record. Nowadays, I lose myself within the playing.”

Johnson says that he’s a huge fan of what Peace did on the album.

“Jonathan is a fucking beast of a drummer,” he says, “So it was kind of cool to take the foundation of their music and see what he did with it and then figure out what I could do to put my own style on it and adapt to it.”

Johnson says that touring behind the album was a bit of a challenge at first, simply because he’d never been out on the road for an extended period before.

“I’d never really been in a touring band before, so travelling a lot was kind of new to me,” he says. “Adapting to that has been the biggest thing.”

After a flurry of shows around the East Coast and the Midwest, the band (Johnson, singer Jim O’Connor, guitarist Andrew Barnes, and bassist C.J. DeLuca) is in the early stages of prepping material for their next album, with Johnson pitching in as one of the songwriters.

“We haven’t written any complete songs yet, but we have a lot of ideas in the mix,” Johnson says. “We came up with some ideas on the road, and now after a busy run of shows, we’re trying to write. We have a good amount of ideas for what new songs could be, and that’s something I’m really excited for. It’s all in the works right now.” —Vincent Harris