By Mark Glenister
‘Not just a good bread maker’
The beginning of the year for music fans and bands alike, was full of optimism and hope for the year ahead. A year of tours, festivals, album launches and merch, lots of merch!
However, a certain virus came along and since March the music scene has looked like an episode of the ‘Walking dead’, tours cancelled, albums put on hold and the future of live music put to Defcon 1 and we still really don’t know when the threat level will decrease.
So, what have bands done during this time, some are probably still sitting in their plush tour bus in an alcohol and drug induced haze from their last tour. Some bands have done live streams to varying levels of success, some have released cover versions or new singles, some have released lots of singles and then a full album, all accompanied by a social media frenzy that by the time the album arrives you have heard most of the tracks already and the old pleasure of hearing fresh for the first time is somewhat tainted.
Some though, say someone like John Newton from South London Rock Gods JOHN, have done things in the quiet methodical fashion that you expect from them (quiet and methodical is not the sound the band produce, trust me). John left London and went back to his parents in the Cotswolds, here he continued to look at new tracks for the next JOHN album, distanced socially from the other member of the band Johnny Healy, ideas swapped by the medium of technology.
John also perfected the art of baking, I know this as we have spent the past few months sharing recipes and photos of our latest bakes with each other, who said Rock N Roll was dead. He also did some live Instagram interviews with various bands, all of which were highly enjoyable. Various new pieces of merch appeared, which meant lots of bank accounts suffered. Not satisfied with this, and destined to take the prize as the hardest working man in rock, he also wrote a solo album under the guise of Total Wkts (reference to sign he saw on his daily run – yes, he ran as well during all this creativity, hence the album name), the album is called Running Tracks and is stepping up from a digital release to an actual real life vinyl version, which can be pre-ordered via:
The album is 8 tracks long, all of which sound nothing like JOHN, however if this was a recipe the ingredients would be as follows:
150g LCD Soundsystem
50g Nine Inch Nails
The overwhelming influence of Mogwai seeps through every fibre of this album, it needs to be listened to a few times to appreciate the subtleties, the almost ominous sound effects and snatched moments of spoken words. The album demands to be listened to, quiet room, good sound system and the lights off, maybe with a suitable beverage and some nice crusty bread. The tracks themselves are about day to day life, mundane things like printers, spam mail, vivid dreams. The all come together to produce a fine solo album, and possibly an insight into where JOHN may go next sound wise.
It’s safe to say that John Newton had a very productive lockdown, and we can all enjoy the taste of that hard work.