FEATURE: Spotlight: JOHN




PHOTO CREDIT: Lindsay Melbourne 



IT is hard to know where to start with JOHN


because, actually, there is so much to unpack but fairly little known about them. Hailing from Crystal Palace (something about that makes me smile; I do not often associate Crystal Palace with musical excellence), this exciting pair are definitely worth watching! They are called JOHN but, to make them more searchable online, they are referred to as JOHN (TIMES TWO), too – because they are both called John and are, you know, performing together! I have this charming image of the two Johns drinking tea together at their flat and preparing to go out and cause mayhem. I have also noticed that a lot of the gnarliest duos/bands from the past few years require their members to be pretty well-bearded: look at Royal Blood and, as I will mention soon, the modern-day heroes, IDLES. Maybe there is a connection but one thinks, with a name as Google-unfriendly as JOHN and with its protagonists able to blend in with their pack, what separates these fellas?! I shall get to that but, cribbing from their Facebook page, here is what JOHN are all about:

Taking the mundane spirit of their name as a manifesto, Crystal Palace based two piece JOHN (both members aptly named John) offer a deadpan approach that has become the recognisable force of their live performance, with an almost mechanical solidity rare for only two bodies. Alongside the rhythmic synchronisation of guitar and drums, introspective lyrics suggest that literature and spoken word are just as important influences as the Punk, Noise and Rock genres they might comfortably fit into. This tight balance between content and volume has lead them on to stages with bands such IDLES, Metz, Pulled Apart By Horses and USA Nails, as well gathering notable support from writer/actor Simon Pegg and BBC 6 music. If you were in need of any more persuasion, debut ‘God Speed In The National Limit’ (released at the back end of 2017) bears testament to their unique approach”

‘In this post-truth world where alternative facts get squeezed out via the distorted prism of social media, the simplicity of a band like JOHN makes for a refreshing tonic’ Loud and Quiet”.

I do think this year’s music needs the sort of anger and fire that is inside most of us. There are a few bands and acts on the fringes that are doing some sterling work but I think IDLES are leading the way. Their world domination is going well and, by the month, the guys seem to get bigger and more popular. It is no surprise when you think about what they offer: of-the-moment, intelligent songs that are delivered with intensity and fantastic attention to detail. Let by Joe Talbot, I get the feeling that JOHN have a fond place in their hearts for IDLES. The two acts are different but what is to say JOHN cannot get to the same level as IDLES? Alongside them and Fontaines D.C., it seems like we have some angry young men who are providing catharsis and plenty of fire! What makes JOHN’s revelations and biblical fury impressive is the fact there are only two of them! With only four legs, four arms and an adequate supply of wood, metal and grumble (seriously, I still have images of JOHN tearing it up on stage at night and then settling down in the evening, Bert and Ernie-like after a hard day’s labour!), it is mighty impressive that their new single, Future Thinker, makes such a noise! There is something IDLES-like in the delivery of our lead John but, actually, this exciting twosome have more groove and swivel than the IDLES boys. Future Thinker boasts raw and snarling lead vocals that, if you try to imitate them, you’ll be speaking like Dot Cotton after a heavy bender for several days!

 PHOTO CREDIT: Simon Holliday

Alongside the raging vocals and butt-loosening thrill of their new single comes something, I’ll say it, a bit groovy and cool working its way through! The guitar stabs belches but there is a nice little kick and wiggle that adds some much-needed dance and temperament inside the bubbling cauldron of JOHN - not to mention the tubthumping percussion! The guys headlined The Lexington at the end of May and their album, Out Here on the Fringes, arrives in October. You can check their Bandcamp to see their older recordings but Future Thinker is the sound of JOHN right now; the chef and the painter-decorator (the working boys don’t have the means and money to quite their day-jobs just yet!) are articulating something seriously meaty and substantial! JOHN have caught the ear of BBC Radio 6 Music and, especially, Steve Lamacq. He has an ear for a major rager so it is no surprise he has latched onto JOHN and their ball-melting cocktail of Future Thinker. If you want to see how far the lads have come then check out their debut album, God Speed in the National Limit, and you will see that early promise taking shape. I think JOHN have strengthened and hit a new high with Future Thinker; their minimalist vibes (check out the video to see whilst I mean!) serve them well. Keep your eyes on the social media feeds to see where JOHN are heading and what they are up to because I predict they will be making a lot more noise very soon.

I am not saying they can instantly climb to the same levels as bands like IDLES, but we are living in a time when we are fearful of the future and technology; enraged by our Government and worried that we are sort of being cast adrift. Throw into the mix environmental issues and other problems and music provides some much-needed relief and release. Don’t expect JOHN to be this rather basic and simple duo that are shouting for no reason. Their introspective lyrics and keen intelligence suggests a couple of men who are as fascinated by rhythm, nuance and literature as much as they are volume, force and physicality. With fans such as Simon Pegg (yep!) on their side, I am predicting the JOHN juggernaut to go far and wide. Their incredible live performances and legendary and have been lauded and celebrated by fans and the media alike. Again, there are only two of them and it is amazing that they can make such an avalanche – I know Royal Blood did but their songs did not dig as deep and I do wonder where they have slinked off to! Go buy their upcoming album in October and keep abreast of their happenings - and see them live if you can. Actually, thinking about it, their guitar groove reminds me a bit of the song, The Bird Is the Word but, hey, I digress! These guys are on a roll and I do think they will be rocking festivals and climbing up the musical ladder before too long. With big stations and ears latching onto their incredible music, it seems the averagely-named JOHN are…


HERE to stay!                


Follow John