Most artists pay somebody to write a long, inflated, flashy bio about themselves, but I thought I’d just give it to you straight.
My name is Royce John Schwienebart, or otherwise known as Royce Johns. I’m a husband, guitar picker, and singer. I’ve also written some songs on my first EP, but after coming to Nashville and really learning how a great song is written, I’d hate to call myself a songwriter just yet. But I’m slowly learning.
I was born on June 22, 1995, in Des Moines, Iowa. I lived in Polk City for twelve years, moved to Pennsylvania for three, then moved back to Iowa in 2008 and have lived here since.
I don’t think I could’ve been dealt a better hand when it comes to family, my parents, grandparents, and extended family.
When most of my friends were into pop radio, I was sinking my teeth into AC/DC, Van Halen, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, and all the classic rock from the ’60s-’80s. I really didn’t have much musically in common with most people my age, and always kinda liked it that way.
When I was 13-14, I would sit in my bedroom for hours at a time, just trying to learn the intro licks to “Purple Haze” and “Thunderstruck”. I never played in band or choir, so all my learning basically has been informal and by ear.
I worked a bunch of odd jobs to pay my way through high school into community college. From car washes to restaurants, retail, warehouse work, car sales, direct sales, and even auto wholesale.
It wasn’t until I was 19 that I took my guitar out of my bedroom and into the streets of Ames, Iowa.
I started busking with the 5 songs I knew how to play, and soon found other musicians that were playing on the streets. From that, I just wanted to play every open jam that I could find, just to get into playing music. I eventually found some other guys that have been playing music for many decades that taught me about playing bar gigs. I just wanted to play guitar, but drawing the short stick in the group, I was left up to be the singer as well. That band became Lincoln Rockhouse and was a starting point for my music career.
I’ve always been around country music with my parents and grandparents, but it didn’t really hit me until I was finishing up my time playing with my cover band Lincoln Rockhouse. Soon after, I started to find my love for the stories of Merle Haggard, Randy Travis, Keith Whitley, Waylon Jennings, Buck Owens, George Strait, Ernest Tubb, and most other popular country artists from the ’50s-’90s.
January 2016, that’s when I started booking solo acoustic shows. It was terrifying, yet exciting for somebody who’s only ever played in a band. I really had to get out of my comfort zone to get up there alone, but once I started to do it, I really started to love working by myself. It allowed me to book as many shows as I wanted, and I could travel anywhere the phone rang.
In 2017 I played 190 shows in the midwest, even with a few events in Las Vegas and Indianapolis.
I recorded my first EP in Boone, Iowa. I played all the bass, keys, and guitar parts, overdubbing the tracks with a studio engineer. I wrote the first four songs but before finishing the EP I met Robert Deitch who introduced me to the world Nashville songwriting.
In 2018 Robert allowed me to record 7 of his songs that he had co-written with other esteemed songwriters. That record became “Truckstop Souvenirs”. The Des Moines Register was so kind to cover the story about the record, and it took the front page of the Iowa Life segment in September. Along with the article, the music video has been shared around 2800 times. It still continues to gain traction on social media and digital music outlets.
I feel like I’ve learned a lifetime of lessons in the last four years since starting my musical journey, but the further down the road I get, I feel like I’m only getting started. With all the love and support my home state of Iowa has shown to me, It really makes me never want to leave. And I don’t think I ever could. No matter where this journey takes me, I’ll always have a 515 area code.