ROX Radio


Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Incoming! Johnny O'Neil


MINNEAPOLIS, MN (June 21, 2023) — Johnny O'Neil announces the release of his third album "Brand New Day". Following on the heels of 2021’s Truth Or Dare, O’Neil’s ambitious debut solo album featuring hard rock tunes that showcase his impeccable songwriting abilities, and the five-song EP, LIVE at the Southern Theater (released in 2022), Brand New Day looks at the world through a slightly different lens. Following the tumultuous events of 2020-21 including the global COVID-19 pandemic, the murder of George Floyd in O’Neil’s hometown of Minneapolis that sparked the largest racial justice protests in the United States since the Civil Rights Movement, and the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, O’Neil wanted to create an album that sparks rejuvenation and celebrates the fact that we made it through alive, looking ahead optimistically – but without rose-colored glasses – to what comes next.

You can stream and purchase Brand New Day at:
There aren’t many musicians who cut their teeth as a founding member of a rock band that performed five nights a week, 50 weeks a year, for 11 straight years, often for an audience of thousands, just as there aren’t many musicians who hold a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. But Johnny O’Neil is a rare artist who combines expert musicianship with astute observations of the human condition gleaned as a therapist and forensic psychologist, all brought to bear on his third solo album, Brand New Day.
“Following such difficult times, I thought it was important to put out a record that rejuvenated people,” O’Neil says. “Although we’re still struggling in many ways, I wanted to say that it’s time to move on and look forward to a better day. Some rock can be really dark, but there’s already a lot of pain and suffering in this world – singing angry songs doesn’t seem to be the way to deal with that. We try to reflect positivity and hope.”
O’Neil’s third solo effort, Brand New Day, covers broad musical territory, taking elements from the past and adding a decidedly modern twist, combining guitar-driven hard rock and R&B with hooky choruses that get stuck in your head for days. Recruiting the talents of John Funk on lead guitar, Benny Craig on bass, and Joachim Baecker on drums, as well as engineer/co-producer Brian Bart – O’Neil’s former bandmate in Dare Force – O’Neil and his full band spent months writing and rehearsing before hunkering down to record with Bart atWinterland Studios in Minneapolis, as well as the legendary Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, Minn., where Nirvana famously recorded In Utero.
Title track “Brand New Day,” with its soaring chorus, “I’m alive, I’m feeling fine” is about “getting through one of the weirdest eras the world has ever seen,” O’Neil explains.
“My Mona,” one of three tracks on the album co-written by Johnny and his blazing lead guitarist partner, John Funk, has a distinct R&B, honky-tonk, Rolling Stones vibe, and tells the story of a touring musician sleeping in a roach-infested motel who’s missing his companion back home, even though she “treats him so cruel.”
Arguably the album’s magnum opus, “Tell Me Your Story” clocks in at almost eight minutes and features soaring, majestic string arrangements swirling around the blistering dual lead guitars of O’Neil and Funk. It was inspired by O’Neil’s experience as a forensic psychologist and therapist. “It’s about someone who comes through a therapist’s door and has been mistreated, but is reluctant to tell their story, even though they desperately need someone to listen, but fear gets in the way. The goal of the therapist is to establish rapport with clients and get them to open up, so it’s a song about hope.”
Johnny O'Neil is excited to announce a show on July 20th at the Moondance Festival in Walker, MN. Show info and tickets can be found at
ARTIST: Johnny O'Neil

1. BRAND NEW DAY (J. O’Neil)
2. TAKE ME DOWN (J. O’Neil, J. Funk)
3. MY MONA (J. O’Neil, J. Funk)
6. IN SEARCH OF (J. O’Neil)
8. HANDS UP (J. O’Neil, J. Funk)
9. DON’T BELIEVE A WORD (P. Lynott)**

Band Members:
JOHNNY O’NEIL: All Lead and Harmony Vocals, Guitars
JOHN FUNK: Guitars
JOACHIM BAECKER: Drums and Percussion

Saxophone on “My Mona”
Piano & Organ on “My Mona,”
“Hands Up” & “Tell Me Your Story”

Backing Vocals on
“Brand New Day” & “My Mona”

Violin on “Tell Me Your Story”

Pachyderm Studios
Cannon Falls, MN
Assistant Engineer:
Nick Tveitbakk

Winterland Studios
Minneapolis, mn
Assistant Engineer:
Todd Fitzgerald

Logic Recording
Minnetonka, MN
Engineer: Brian Bart

String Arrangement on
“Tell Me Your Story”
by Johnny O’Neil & Brian Bart

Johnny O’Neil

The Blood Brothers –
Johnny O’Neil & Brian Bart

Brian Bart

Michael Brandvold

Graphic Design & cover photo:
JoBa Visuals

Band photos:
Tommy Sommers & Kyle Hansen
O’Neil has been in practice as a Ph.D.-level clinical psychologist for over two decades, quite a feat considering he dropped out of high school at 16 to focus on his burgeoning music career. After more than a decade of achieving many of his musical dreams, including the ‘80s with Dare Force, O’Neil decided to go back to school at the age of 28 to get his GED. He went on to earn his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota, followed by a Master’s degree and eventually a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from The Ohio State University.

Now a solopreneur in private practice as a forensic psychologist, O’Neil conducts Independent Psychological Evaluations (IPEs) of claimants involved in workers' comp and personal injury cases, and provides courtroom testimony as an expert witness – a fascinating occupation to be sure. In fact, he found himself interviewing dozens of Minneapolis police officers who filed disability claims due to PTSD in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

Not surprisingly, for O’Neil, playing music is an invaluable form of therapy and expressing his emotions. “I don’t have a choice, I have to play music,” he says. “It’s how I’m wired and how I preserve my sanity. It’s therapy for me. I’ll be performing until my last gasp.”

O’Neil fell in love with music at the age of five, begging his parents to buy him a guitar after seeing The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show, which they finally did when he turned eight years old. The stars aligned when his future Dare Force bandmate, Brian Bart, moved in across the street when he was nine. “We had a tussle over something silly in the front yard, then my mom invited us in for a piece of cake; we’ve been thick as thieves ever since,” O’Neil says.

O’Neil and Bart immediately bonded over their mutual love of music (including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Johnny Winter, Steppenwolf, and Creedence Clearwater Revival), and quickly formed a band together. One of their first gigs was at Sunny Hollow Elementary School in 6th grade, where Bob Dylan’s younger brother, David Zimmerman, was their music teacher and introduced their band to an audience of 500-some fellow classmates.

Infusing his songwriting with his personal values of tolerance, compassion and empathy throughout his career, O’Neil believes that an important part of an artist’s job is to not only reflect what’s going on in the world, but also to comment on it and influence it. To this end, O’Neil’s driving rock tunes go beyond being simply upbeat, feel-good rock ‘n roll, to songs that really have something to say to the world.
DARE FORCE: (Johnny O'Neil's previous band Dare Force)
Dare Force was a legendary hard rock/heavy metal band based in Minneapolis that was initially founded by Johnny and Brian Bart when they were 18 years old. Dare Force released three albums in the 1980s and performed in concert with numerous national acts such as KISS, Ted Nugent, Triumph, Kansas, UFO, the Joe Perry Project, and Ratt, as well as headlining in venues throughout the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. Dare Force also had several songs that received heavy airplay on rock radio stations throughout the midwestern US in the 1980s. Dare Force released its third album, "Firepower," with a reformed version of the band in 1989. The original lineup performed occasional reunion gigs after the long run of the original band ended in 1987, but the original version of Dare Force stopped performing live altogether after their last reunion show in 2002. Dare Force reformed yet again with a return to a four-piece lineup in 2017, and released its fourth album, “Callin’ Your Name,” in 2018.


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