Jim Johnston composed hundreds of different entrance themes during 32 years working for WWE, and shared how he wrote one of the most memorable ones in his first interview since leaving the company.
Appearing on the Prime Time with Sean Mooney podcast, Johnston shared the story of writing the entrance music for "Stone Cold" Steve Austin:
"With Austin's theme, he had been so frustrated with his career that part of the whole anger thing in him was real. He was so frustrated. He knew—not in a really arrogant way—but he knew he had a real gift for this business and that he could do it if he could just get a shot. All this time he spent in the south [in WCW], he kind of got a shot but never really what he wanted to be. And then he finally made it to WWE as the Ringmaster, that wasn't, that didn't resonate with him at all."
Johnston still was not certain what direction to go with the music, but he did know the tone it needed.
"I knew I needed something that sounded pissed off," said Johnston, whose time with WWE ended in late 2017.
Johnston even went to observe filming for some of the promo videos for Austin after first going to the "Stone Cold" character which were shot in a nearby warehouse.
"I was most happy not with the composition but that the composition served Steve and helped him become the star he deserved to be," Johnston said. "Steve's thing is everything dark and angry and relentless that Steve represents."
Johnston, who told Mooney he is not a wrestling fan and never became one despite 32 years working in WWE, described the process of writing entrance music to writing a musical score for a film, with each wrestler being the subject of that film.
"I really was serving the talent," Johnston said. "I really wanted my music to help them succeed and for me to do that, I knew I had to find something in them that was kind of real and draw it out and somehow make it part of the music, so that when they listen to it, was something that felt real."