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As for the group's frontman, Johnston couldn't have been a more viable lead singer for a group like Load. He had the chops, the scrappy blond mane, and the animated personality needed to keep the band in the limelight.
"Those were the best years of my life, man," Johnston says. "Load meant a lot to us, and when we played, we left our hearts up there onstage every night."
It's no secret that Johnston is remembered and is still seen as the hardest-drinking member of the band. "I remember when Bobby used to get so drunk he'd crawl in the back of a pickup and pass out," local rock personality Rat Bastard says. "Wherever he could lay down, he'd just pass out. But he was a great singer... no one could deny that."
It was inevitable that the heavy drinking and drug use would catch up with the band after a while. By 1997, Qualls had quit, citing blow and burnout as his main reasons. Yet Load muscled on, picking up bassist Ray Halford to fill in, and continued to chase after an ever-elusive record deal. On the outside, the band was enjoying its greatest bouts with success, but on the inside, things were falling apart. Johnston's drinking was also getting out of control.
In 2000, right after 702 Records put out the band's most heralded disc, Feel the Power, Load folded. And although they maintained a cordial relationship at best, the members of Load have been slightly estranged since walking away.
"It feels incredible to be doing this again," Figueredo says of their reunion. "I don't know what's gonna happen afterwards, but the songs are coming back to us. We're just going to get up there and play, let people get shit-faced, take a break and let everyone do drugs in the bathroom, and then play again."