Hi there, I’m good thanks, I’m currently stood under a tree in a park in South London. I’m John Newton and I play drums and sing vocals, and my absent colleague is Johnny Healey who plays guitar.
You’re a 2 piece which seems to be far more common in the past decade; what do you think has caused this shift? And what made you feel that the line up was finished with just the two members?
There’s certainly been an influx of two piece bands in the last decade or so, but I think it’s reductive to focus on numerical similarities instead of looking at the specifics of each band’s ideas. In our case, there are the physical limitations of our instruments and I feel this has helped define the idiosyncrasies of what JOHN is. For example; I can only sing in syncopation with the rhythm of drumming and that creates a meter, based on the movement of my limbs.Like many, your powerful media attention deserving debut album God Speed In The National Limit released in 2017 passed us by and it was your tour support with IDLES that brought you to our attention so kindly lets rewind; how did the band start, what’s the story so far, give us all the details?
We formed in East London after three years of studying at the same university. It got to the point where we found ourselves discussing music so regularly that it seemed right to try to put our heads and skills together. Like many discussions, it could’ve quite easily remained in words, but i’m rather glad it didn’t, it’s transformed the shape our of lives. Since then, we’re now based ourselves in Crystal Palace, South London, so we now have very little chance of escaping each other. I’ll often curse a van for beeping at me whilst crossing the street only to realise it’s Johnny at the wheel.
Ok, so we’re chatting to you because there’s a new single called Future Thinker out now and it’s accompanied by a self-produced video filmed in the underground; can you talk to us about the track and the video?
Future Thinker is the first track we wrote for the new album, and it felt like a pretty natural opener for the record. It’s a song that opened a new chapter for me personally and it negotiates the persistence of an imaginary view of the future. The video I made mimics this idea through a small repetitive vignette of city life. We were also lucky enough to have the immensely talented Chlöe Herington (V Ä L V Ē / Chromehoof / Knifeworld) guest on Saxophone duties, and that just brought another level of excitement in relinquishing our control of the song to another musician.
Talking about Future Thinker John Newton said, “I find there’s a beautiful economy in playing music… the songs are contained inside you, they help create a shared moment that dissipates after the lights are switched on.” What do these feelings mean to you as a musician, a member of John and as a fan of music listening to others music?
These days, there’s so much aesthetic cladding attached to the expectancies of being a ‘band’, some of which isn’t always specific or interesting. I am, however, interested in how all these elements are temporarily constructed and hows it falls away (as per the quote). It’s like when the circus leaves town and all that is left are the marks of yellowing grass and perhaps a few more of the local children are scared of clowns.
Rarely a band drop a release without live plans to go with it, what can you tell us about your touring plans? Where can we see you live?
We’ll be playing a ten date UK tour in October to support the album’s release, but before that we’ve got some festival appearances over summer.
Your new album Out Here On The Fringes is coming in October this year, we’d like to learn a bit about the album. The title feels like it could an album based on a theme, how true is that statement? Tell us all you can about the album?
Having moved to the outskirts of London for a number of reasons (some financial). The songs of the album act as a series abstracted snapshots from this location; capturing events or feelings that fall-out from the mundanity. I also like how ‘fringes’ can have multiple interpretations too, both geographical and meta-physical. Overall, we’re really happy with the progression from our debut, there’s a few surprises alongside what previous fans might have come to expect. We’re very much looking forward to sharing it.
Seems we’ve covered a lot of ground with John right now, is there anything else we need to know or that you want to tell us today?
Questions: James Wadsworth.
Photo: Lindsey Melbourne.