Today, JOHN — the virtually ungoogleable moniker for London duo John Newton (drums, lead vocals) and Johnny Healey (guitar, backing vocals) — announce the arrival of their incoming third album, Nocturnal Manoeuvres, which sees release on Oct 8th via the band’s own Pets Care imprint and Brace Yourself Records.
The new record is the follow-up to their second LP, 2019’s Out Here On The Fringes, which catapulted them into the Top 40 of the UK Independent Vinyl Chart, was featured as an Album of the Day on BBC 6Music with three successive playlisted singles, and saw the band hit the road with the likes of IDLES, METZ and Mclusky.
Nocturnal Manoeuvres finds the duo expanding upon their celebrated idiosyncrasies once more. It sees them returning to their trusted producer Wayne Adams (who was behind the boards for both of their previous albums), knowing his success in capturing their presence as a live band. Realising the expansive quality of the resulting recordings, they then enlisted mastering engineer Sarah Register (Protomartyr, Future Islands, Chastity Belt) to deliver the sense of space that the varied track-list deserved. The result is a colossal body of work that moves easily between cinematic post-rock, elastic post-hardcore and pummeling noise rock.
Today’s news is accompanied by the album’s lead single, the wiry-yet-meditative ‘Šibensko Powerhouse’, which features a guest appearance from IDLES’ Adam Devonshire on backing vocals. Its lyrics recall the hazy landscape of a past memory, reconfigured through the presence of a song. Understanding that any story retold through writing or speech is effectively fiction.
“The lyrics came from a now-distant memory of visiting a festival in another country,” offers Newton. “I remembered standing alone in baking 40-degree heat on the hillside outside of my apartment — only to hear a familiar song echoing live in the distance from over the hill’s crest. It was a once in a lifetime moment that just stuck with me, a reminder of my small scale in the greater scheme of the world.”
“The track was the first thing we wrote following Out Here On The Fringes — through which we had realised our ability to create a much more expansive sound – even with the physical limitations as a duo,” Healey says. “‘Šibensko Powerhouse’ helped open the next chapter, setting the somewhat cinematic tone for what Nocturnal Manoeuvres was to become.”
Accompanying the song is a remarkable video directed by British contemporary artist Ryan Gander OBE — esteemed for his playful and exploratory practice that jumps across a diverse range of materials and media. The visual is no different: centring around an animatronic mouse programmed to sing Newton’s lead vocal, Gander immediately establishes a contrast between the scale of the animal and the power of the instrumentation.
Watch the video for ‘Šibensko Powerhouse’ here:
Newton says of the collaboration: “We’ve been fans of Ryan’s work since our studies almost ten years ago, so it was an honour to collaborate on the track’s video. His creative practice is so prolific and playful that we were genuinely excited to see what he could dream up in response to the music… Safe to say, we certainly couldn’t have anticipated the result (cockroach costumes etc.!), but it certainly didn’t disappoint.”
On the concept of the video, Gander adds: “Do Klingons, essentially a post-human human, care about humans? Do cockroaches (the toughest of all species) care about the anthropomorphism we humans project on everything we confront? Are mice prophets, and do fish float? THIS IS JOHN, questioning empathy at every turn.”
‘Šibensko Powerhouse’ — also released as a 7″ on August 6th — follows hot on the heels of the recent single ‘A Song For Those Who Speed In Built-Up Areas‘, which was premiered by Steve Lamacq on BBC 6Music and reached the A-list there. It served as an engulfing return for JOHN: a titanic, whirring beast that gestures towards the stranglehold of individualism currently engrained in our present. It was released alongside a video — directed by Tom Brewins (USA Nails, Death Pedals) — that traces the journey of JOHN’s signature lightbox to a live show, touching upon the day-to-day life of a working, touring band.
Revisit the video for ‘A Song For Those Who Speed In Built-Up Areas’ here:
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). As venues continue 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, which is exactly the sort of manifesto you could attach to Nocturnal Manoeuvres as a whole.
Watch this space for more info from JOHN, Pets Care and Brace Yourself Records in the coming months.
JOHN — Nocturnal Manoeuvres Tracklist:
1. Return to Capital
2. Šibensko Powerhouse
3. A Song for Those Who Speed in Built-Up Areas
5. Austere Isle
7. Stadium of No
8. Power Out for the Kingdom
9. Northwood Turret
10. Nonessential Hymn
UK + IE Tour Dates:
Aug 20th | Brecon Beacons, UK – Green Man Festival
Aug 28th | Totnes, UK – Sea Change Presents
Aug 29th | Bedford, UK – Ceremony Festival @ Esquires
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 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 Loft
Oct 22nd | London, UK – Moth Club
* = day to be announced
Pre-order Nocturnal Manoeuvres on vinyl, CD, cassette or digitally here:
Pre-order the Šibensko Powerhouse 7″ here: https://ffm.to/john-