I love JOHN — the virtually ungoogleable moniker for London duo John Newton (drums, lead vocals) and Johnny Healey (guitar, backing vocals) — who make a fabulous return with their new single ‘A Song For Those Who Speed In Built-Up Areas’. It sees a physical release on 7″ on July 2nd via the band’s own Pets Care imprint and Brace Yourself Records.
The 7″ is the first release from the band since their second LP, 2019’s Out Here On The Fringes, which catapulted them into the Top 40 of the UK Independent Vinyl Chart as well as being featured as an Album of the Day on BBC 6Music with three successive playlisted singles.
‘A Song For Those Who Speed In Built-Up Areas’ makes for an engulfing return: a titanic, whirring beast that gestures towards the stranglehold of individualism currently engrained in our present. Speaking of the track, the band offer:
“We had the title written down for quite a few years, and it seemed to perfectly fit the sentiment and structure of the music as lyrics. These words guided us to a narrative image: a driver who is so wrapped up in themselves and their journey that they don’t seem to realise that the car is slowly filling with water. I guess it can be read as a slightly barbed reminder to have a sense of responsibility within the world, especially amongst constant calls for individual self-improvement.
“Musically, the tempo is rather consistent, perhaps less frenetic than some of our past material, and we recognised and enjoyed this difference. Using ‘less is more’ as our mantra, we were interested in the way the track could gradually carve itself from a pretty constant groove, a bit like a car meandering on a long journey.”
The single comes accompanied by a video that traces the journey of the JOHN’s signature lightbox to a live show, touching upon the day-to-day life for a working, touring band. As the video’s director Tom Brewins (USA Nails, Death Pedals) puts it:
“For me, the stark reality of playing a gig is the monotony of loading in gear, waiting around, performing, loading out and driving home before you’ve remembered to even enjoy yourself. It’s all a lot of self imposed work for a 30-minute buzz on stage. I felt shooting this process from the point of view of JOHN’s memorable lightbox was a way to encapsulate the repetitive motions a band goes through on a nightly basis”
Watch the video for ‘A Song For Those Who Speed In Built-Up Areas’ here:
Meanwhile, on the 7″‘s b-side, you’ll find a live session version of the song recorded in December 2020. Without the chance to road-test new material, the band decided to make a visit to The Bookhouse Studio in South London to capture the track in lieu of live opportunities.
Having established an international presence with a blistering KEXP live session and a month-long journey through Europe in support of Out Here On The Fringes, JOHN return to the live stage in 2021 with a mammoth run of UK and Irish dates throughout the autumn of this year (see further below for full details), preceded by two socially distanced shows at London’s Studio 9294 next month. As venues begin to reopen, it offers a captivating chance to catch a band who’ve built a devoted following through the sheer energy of their live show: a celebration of the primal intensity of the guitar-drums duo as a format and a monument to idiosyncrasy.
UK + IE Tour Dates:
June 19th | London, UK – Studio 9294 (socially distanced)
Sept 1st | Milton Keynes, UK – Crauford Arms
Sept 2nd | Cambridge, UK – Portland Arms
Sept 3rd | Birmingham, UK – Hare & Hounds
Sept 2nd-5th | Larmer Tree Gardens – End of the Road festival*
Sept 9th | Cardiff, UK – Clwb Ifor Bach
Sept 10th | Exeter, UK – The Cavern
Sept 11th | Liverpool, UK – Futurama festival
Sept 12th | Hebden Bridge, UK – Trades Club
Sept 18th | Leicester, UK – Wide Eyed Festival
Sept 19th | Sheffield, UK – O2 Academy 2
Sept 30th | Tunbridge Wells, UK – The Forum
Oct 1st-3rd | Liverpool, UK – Sound City festival*
Oct 2nd | Blackpool, UK – Bootleg Social
Oct 6th | Nottingham, UK – The Bodega
Oct 7th | Wrexham, UK – Focus Wales festival
Oct 9th | Dublin, IE – Whelan’s (Upstairs)
Oct 10th | Glasgow, UK – Stereo
Oct 12th | Stockton, UK – The Georgian Theatre
Oct 13th | Leeds, UK – Brudenell Social Club
Oct 14th | Manchester, UK – YES
Oct 14th-17th | Norwich, UK – Wild Paths festival*
Oct 16th | Reading, UK – Face Bar
Oct 17th | Bristol, UK – Thekla
Oct 19th | Oxford, UK – The Bullingdon
Oct 20th | Brighton, UK – Patterns
Oct 21st | Southampton, UK – The Lft
Oct 22nd | London, UK – Moth Club
Watch this space for more news from JOHN, Pets Care and Brace Yourself Records in the coming months…