Centro-matic started in 1995 as a side-project for Will Johnson. It released a few singles that year and grew into a full-fledged group in 1997. The initial 60 songs recorded in a Millstadt, Illinois studio supplied the material for the quieter, more emotional Navigational on Idol Records and the louder, lo-fi The Static vs. the Strings, Vol. 1 on Quality Park Records.
Throughout his career, Johnson has had a reputation for being prolific and dynamic. So much so, that he built an entirely separate band, the much quieter side-project, South San Gabriel, named after the San Gabriel river fork north of Austin, Texas. The group consists of the same players from Centro-matic with the inclusion of guests, but focuses on more introspective and subdued offerings from Johnson's repertoire. Will has alternated between the two projects, while also releasing solo albums. Centro-matic released Distance and Clime on Idol in 2001 and "Love You Just the Same" on Misra in 2003. South San Gabriel released Welcome, Convalescense and The Carlton Chronicles in 2003 and 2005, respectively. Johnson's solo albums, Murder of Tides and Vultures Await, appeared in 2002 and 2004. Centro-matic followed up Love You Just the Same with Fort Recovery in March 2006. The two-disc set Dual Hawks was released in 2008, with one disc featuring the songs of Centro-matic and the other featuring South San Gabriel. Members:
Will Johnson (singer, guitarist, songwriter);
Matt Pence (drums and percussion);
Scott Danbom (piano, violin, backing vocals, bass);
Mark Hedman (bass, guitar).