We were first alerted to Crystal Palace based noise-punk duo JOHN on the recommendation of our friends and allies, the similarly cacophonous drums & guitar twosome, Frauds, who thought we might approve of their searing vocals and relentless guitars. As usual they were right, and following a raucous performance at our To Hell With Good Intentions night a few months back, we’ve been keeping tabs on JOHN ever since and were delighted to hear that the pair have just released their debut album God Speed In The National Limit through Pets Care Records, as well as a double A-side single, ‘Local Blood Sport / Spies’, through the ever wonderful Too Pure Singles Club, previously home to the likes of PJ Harvey, Future of The Left and more recently Cassels and The Lovely Eggs.
We asked drummer/vocalist John (not to be confused with guitarist Johnny) to give us the lowdown on the LP – here’s his track by track guide:
Having lived in the East End of London for the last ten years (before moving south of the river), our opener takes its name from Erno Goldfinger’s looming brutalist tower block. I thought it would be nice to write a song from the perspective of the building surrounded by demolition and gentrification. For the keen eyed, the ‘leaf carrying ant’ lyric refers to me struggling beneath it at midnight with my gear after my train got cancelled.
Using the familiar ‘factory settings’ of most electronic devices as a symbol, this one’s about living with and suppressing our animal instincts; i.e. all those delightfully shameful things you did (or didn’t do) when you’ve had too many shandies.
Throughout the writing on the album, I was also applying for a lot of arts residencies, and after many failed attempts, I realised it might be healthy to fold it into a song – albeit through a character. It’s basically a song that should be read as an excuse: the character is blaming his failure on a ghost stuck in the printer that’s spitting out the wrong words to represent him.
Having been stuck at Prague Airport for sixteen hours and repeatedly hearing the phrase ‘French Industrial Action’, it stuck with me and twisted into ‘Fresh Industrial Action’ (What can I say… I like France).
Second single off the album, and takes its cues from the often forgotten gestures that we participate in everyday. We’ve got a lot of odd historical conventions as human beings e.g. Blessing someone when they sneeze (this gets a mention in the middle section of the song).
Walking through a cemetery every morning for five years is a sobering way to wake up. You notice the same faces, the same familiar nuances each day. I often began relying on other recognisable stranger’s as a kind of clock to check I was on time… of course, that didn’t account for their ability to be late too.
God Speed In The National Limit
The title track of the album and a big positive send off that basically encourages everyone to keep pushing creatively regardless of situation, finance, privilege. I remember just coming out with the phrase whilst travelling back from a festival in Manchester in the van and it got lodged in my mind. I couldn’t think of a better phrase to wrap the tracks in, we sincerely hope you enjoy them.
Photograph and introduction by Paul Maps