Monday, 19 November 2012

Interview: Johnny Foreigner

Poster by Megan Arnold
Doors at 8pm
$5 at the door
Article by Madison Foster

It's not everyday that our fair city gets a visit from a band who has travelled all the way from Birmingham, UK. Especially when the band is as great and talented as lo-fi, punk rockers Johnny Foreigner. The newly redesigned four piece will be making a stop at the Black Shire Pub (511 Talbot St.) when they touch ground in Canada during their “Johnny Foreigner vs. The Atlantic” North American tour. Although the band, who originally formed in 2006, are no strangers to this side of the planet Johnny Foreigner will be a name more widely heard across Canada and the United States thanks to their recent signing with Chicago record label Swerp, as well as their latest EP release “Names,” their first release with Swerp but fourth with UK label Alcopop! Records. Full of energy and the right rhythm to get you on your feet this band is one that cure your hump day blues. On Wednesday, November 21st Johnny Foreigner (consisting of Alexei Berrow, Kelly Southern, Junior Laidley and newest member Lewes Herriot) will take the stage and bless us with some music along with :
The indie pop, progressive rock group that hail from Toronto who are lucky enough to share the stage with the band on more than several nights during the Canadian half of the tour. A band that displays the prefect combination of synthy keys and stunning harmonies. A combination that can be heard in their so new it's fresh EP “Mother/Father” and in their latest single Feet Here (which you can listen to here).

These local rock darlings are no stranger to the stage. With catchy, guitar driven tunes that will make your toes tap and will never disappoint. And how could you say no to a preview of new material set for the studio. Their “Horse Head EP,” released earlier this year, was greatly received on CHRW and the band has been featured on two local compilations.

Did I mention that this show is only $5? FIVE DOLLARS!

Not convinced? Need more information. Well lucky for you I was able to ask Kelly from Johnny Foreigner a few questions that you can read below! Yay!

The London, ON show on November 21st is on of your first Canadian date of this tour, plus your first time in London. Being from England do you hope to find some time to explore the “Other London?”
Of course! Touring is our only opportunity to see and do things we wouldn't usually get to experience and every chance we get to play tourists, we seize with both hands.
When you were booking the Canadian side of the tour you initially had a few dates TBA. Would there be anywhere in the country you'd like to fill those days up if they were still available?
We're just grateful we've managed to come back to be honest... We totally fell in love with Canada when we were last there and so many of our favourite bands are from there, so we're just hella excited to be coming back full stop.

During your North American tour you're touring mainly with two bands. Nervous Passenger in the States and Elos Arma in Canada. How did you hook up with these two bands? Did you know of them before booking the tour?
Nervous Passanger are our label mates on Swerp. They are freaking awesome dudes and an incredible band to boot. We're having so much fun just now. Elos Arma came to our rescue when our originally-planned Canada shows fell through; we were due to play with them on one of them and when everything went wrong, they helped rebook a bunch of dates for us to do with them. Legends. So excited for these shows!
You just released your new "Names" EP. At this moment it's available as a digital download. Do you plan to create physical copies or stick with that? Is there plans to follow this up with an LP in the near future?
Just MP3s. The physical part is the t-shirt (in US) and badges (for UK).
As for an LP, I'm not sure about time frames, but I'm sure it'll happen at some point.

You recently joined US label Swerp and if I'm correct this EP is the first release with the label. How did you get involved with Swerp?
We met J. Matthew Nix (Swerp's head honcho) at a Brooklyn show a few years ago. He then kindly made our video for Harriet,By Proxy whilst we were hanging in Chicago during the same tour. We kept in touch because he was a rad dude and then he started Swerp. Cool stuff like the tour and release ensued.

How has it been working with the new label?
Awesome. JMN has been super cool and embraces creativity when it comes to releases the same way we do, which is how the MP3 and hand coloured tee idea came to fruition. Match made in heaven.

While recording you had a little guardian, Herio Braker. Can you tell me about him?
Herio Braker was exactly that: a little guardian. He's a B. Daiman mech kit, about 8" tall. I bought/rescued him from a thrift store for 50p on the day we started making names. We gave him a charged little sigil to hold and built him up as we recorded. Lewes drew him and that became the t-shirt design for the US release. He came on tour in the UK with us, and as we pulled away from the last venue, we left him on the doorstep to start a new adventure.
"Names" is your first recordings as a four piece. Why the decision to add a new member to the band?
I think we've been trying to get Lewes in the band for years. It feels like he was always in the band to begin with, it's just right. Alexei would always layer guitars when recording and then we'd never recreate the same sound live because Lex only has two arms. We needed a fourth member to make everything sound BIG. Lewes has done our art from the start, and he plays guitar so it just made sense for him to join. And eventually he said yes.

In Yr All Just Jealous you have the lyrics "These 3 ghosts from Birmingham." Do you plan to change the lyrics when played live?
Ha! Yeh. I love updating lyrics. But first we have to teach Lewes how to play it...
Johnny Foreigner is famous for the ghosts that constantly appear on cover art and merchandise. How did the ghost "motif" come to be?
50% me being bad at drawing and 50% being a useful metaphor for anything. I like the idea that we can be those ghosts, or they could be you, or alternate universe you, or just pure ghosts spooking around..
You guys are also constantly versus various things. For instance you're album “Johnny Foreigner vs. Everything” and this tour which you've called “Johnny Foreigner vs. The Atlantic. Why can't we all just get along?
Because that's no fun. And we played waaaaaay too much “Street Fighter” and “Tekken” when we were young so we assume battles of these sorts are the norm.