The fact that his band Half Cocked is sometimes identified as Swedish must have led to even more variations on spelling credits then normal for someone named Charlie Johnson. Charlee Johnsson and Charlee Johnson are among the variables for a multi-instrumentalist and bandleader who has been considered one of Boston's best, and loudest, drummers. While the latter trait is perfectly in line with the heavy metal style of rock, Johnson has been accused of overdoing it by mixing his drums too prominently on sides such as Occupation: Rock Star, released in 2001. Johnson has also performed on keyboards and guitar on Half Cocked releases as well as doing much of the production work and co-writing most of the group's songs, a repertoire focusing on subjects such as "Devil Shoes," "Glitter," and "Breakdown." Listeners who feel the band is insincere can take comfort in one of Half Cocked's most popular songs, "I Lied."
While the group's name has various slang connections such as an individual's state of drunkenness or an angry mood, neither of these are connected to the real reason Johnson or Johnsson chose the name. It is also not a reference to firearms, which if it was would have put the band in a category with other "armed" combo monikers such as .38 Special, Machine Gun, or Napalm Death. Predictably for heavy metal, the reference is to sexual anatomy: the original lineup of Half Cocked was half male, half female. Such a philosophy was also behind naming this artist's earlier band, 3 1/2 Girls.
Johnson joined this group in the second half of the '90s after arriving in Boston from Salt Lake City. His mother was a huge musical influence, a classically trained pianist whose contribution to his musical education included helping build up his record collection when she became a buyer for a large record store chain. The family lived in California, Utah, and Virginia before heading to Boston. Johnson vamoosed from 3 1/2 Girls only slightly before the band's debut album, Curve of the Earth, was released in early 1997. Half Cocked was formed only months after this departure, involving among others vocalist Sarah Reitkopp, guitarist Tommy O'Neil, and bassist Jhen Kobran. Curve of the Earth, the same label that had released 3 1/2 Girls, also liked the look of Half Cocked, which the band itself admitted is the main thing it has going. As for the actual sound of Half Cocked, Johnson himself provides an excellent description: "This band sounds like AC/DC and ABBA having a bar fight...We make music for people with attention deficit disorder."