The lay it all on the line mentality of Johnny Foreigner has got to be admired. US tour booked, everything goes wrong. What to do eh? How about pour out personal savings, borrow cash, scramble together equipment and try to prepare for the ultimate DIY tour. Now, as much as the brilliant JF have tried, they still can’t quite get together the cash to make it happen. They have worded it so much better than myself but basically they need the help of fans and friends to hit the road so to speak… They’ve put up some really great stuff to download on their sites, early tracks and/or bootlegs. The kind of stuff that die head fans split heads for in a bid to scratch together enough moolah. I managed to have a little chat with Alexei of Johnny Foreigner about their tour, new music and, as you do, exorcisms. . Amongst the hail of swearing and spontaneity, there’s a real poor mans plea hidden! I hope you can perhaps help make this stuff happen. Great acts need supporting, none more so that when they are trying to get out and play. You may be a torrent addict and have not paid for music since Limewire hit the web but right now, they could do with a hand.

Chat as follows:

Right, verging on tradition now but can you just give us a shout as to who plays what etc!

kelly plays bass and sings, junior plays drums and keys and noisy things and does a bit of singing, and I (Alexei) play guitar and sing the most. even tho i have the worst voice, that’s just how it worked out.

Now, you may have been asked a million times before but it’s still worth asking. How would you describe your sound?
late 90s record collector rock

So, i guess onto the big problem you guys are facing at the moment. How is it all going? Is the US tour still all go?

In that we’ve booked our flights and quit our jobs, yes. unfortunately, We were relying on a tour support fund from our publishers, a big company called mannet. We’re contracted up to £5000 if say, we get offered an amazing support tour with ‘Los Campesinos!’, in exchange for them holding the publishing rights to our songs. Simply put, Mannett are blanking us – not replying to mails, not returning calls. We’ve been trying to get in touch with them since we were offered the tour. Our manager’s literally going to doorstop them this friday, but even then, the amount of time it takes companies like this to pay up money, we’ll be out of time to make merch, hire a van, and all of the other things essential for a working tour. We kind of hoped that publicly calling them out for the unprofessional pricks they are might shake someone into picking up the phone and calling us, even if its to say they’ve all been on holiday or some usual industry bs. but no, I doubt it’s registered, I doubt any of them actually like music. We’ve always fought hard for our contracts, we’ve never been tempted to sign stuff that could come back and haunt us later, but this just goes to show how little contracts matter to small bands like us. We could well be within our rights to take them to court, but food and petrol kinda takes priority of lawyer money..

Is there anything you would like to say about your publishers at the moment? This isn’t a family show so feel free to be honest…

I think yr all cunts. vampires. you have nothing to do with music or art, yr part of a tradition that started off as a long con, and I know the reason yr all acting so desperately and unfairly is because the internets come and shown you all the door. Tho we may be a casualty, we’re still wise enough to see the bigger picture and you and all yr cokefiend bullshit music industry gang is fucking doomed.

Apart from the US what are you planning to do in the future? What quite is going on with your label?

Our new label, we signed about a month ago. tellingly, we signed over drinks, emails, 5 years of mutual respect, and noone mentioned contracts. We’re super excited, and have two awesome releases planned for the next couple of months, as well as a tour with labelmates and good pals stagecoach.

Interestingly as part of your ‘Great Digital Good Will Sale’ you have put out your early early album ‘We Left You Sleeping and Gone Now’ that doesn’t include the whole band. How exactly did you guys come together?

The band started as a side project for me to fill in days, the band i was in rented this massive room and it was full of instruments, I was friends with dan so asked him to come help play stuff, he was friends with junior, and when my band broke up, there was this almost scene like mentality, the core of 3 of us and whoever was floating around shared the room with dans other band and we all hung out. dan was always happily unhinged, so no one was too surprised when he moved to london on a whim. we still had shows but couldn’t afford the room, so i asked kelly to help out and the three of us relocated to the other side of town and i guess stuff just clicked.

How exactly would you say your music has developed since?

I dunno if it has! It’s kinda hard to tell, even having gone thru all our old stuff recently for this, i think we’ve got better at structuring stuff, and we’ve got better at playing, but whatever mental rules our brains have to dictate what music stuff pleases us hasn’t really changed. I guess to everyone else, it would seem like we’re getting more experimental as we get older, there’s more electronica and country-rock notes, but it’s more to do with us spending the two years around our two Best Before albums solidly touring and not having the time to mess about with stuff like we used do.

You say you have a new EP on the way out. Have you got an ETA for it we can all mark on our calendars?

November the somethingy? We got the last of the mixes back this weekend and everythings sounding great. The artwork is going to be unique for each copy. Can’t say more yet, but v excited.

On a side note, can you explain the seemingly psychopathic pac men ghosts that are on everything you produce?

Ghosts end up being a metaphor for everything, is one of our new projects, explains stuff way better (and less pretentiously) than i could in soundbitey form here.

Ooh, as another digression, i’ve always been curious, where does the name Johnny Foreigner come from? Do you get asked if you’re a solo artist often?

We started off (and i guess we still are to a certain extent) as kinda outsiders to the music scene that birthed us. like, we’d hang at the same shows and the same clubs and pubs but noone’d really get us, they’d consider our obsession with obscure bands a tokeny kind of fad, think we where being deliberately obtuse, as opposed to OMG THIS OWLS RECORD IS FUCKING AMAZING I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT. To be fair, we wanted to be in a band and write awesome songs, most of those guys wanted to be famous and score awesome one night stands, we just happened to all consider ourselves “indie”. Anyways, johnny foreigner is a 60s/70s british xenophobic insult that was fairly light-hearted (as far as racism can be light hearted) and used mostly round my ears by the elderly folk on the nice english middle class streets, usually meaning the burgeoning indian population. It was always vague and suspicious, and, to an impressionable little kid, waaaay cool. Johnny Foreigners coming. BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN. I’ve always lived in the same area for all my life, and johnny foreigner as a term has pretty much been eradicated. The Indian population of our town is now integrated into the lives of these old folks, everything from driving their taxis to the doctors, to being the doctors themselves, everyone gets on, and the whole concept of being scared of change/brown people has been shown to be as ludicrous and ill-founded as it sounds. SO OBVIOUSLY by calling our band johnny foreigner, I hope’d to invoke some sort of spirit change in all the people we shared pubs clubs and stages with whereby they’d eventually come to see us as a necessary part of their culture, not the weirdos in the corners who only dance to songs by american bands.

As a penultimate question, who would you cite as your influences?

There’s a massive list on our myspace page cos these answers got way too long. Essentially I guess Pavement, Pixies and Sonic Youth are our year zero.

And finally is there anything you would like to say to all the readers out there who might feel like helping your cause?

We’re being careful that we don’t fall into the donate button trap. We’re acutely aware that bending the rules of supply and demand by guilt tripping people, however sincere we are, is still cheating. If people feel like they still want us to have more of the money they’ve earnt after buying all our packs on bandcamp / big cartel, then there’s a gift money option on paypal somewhere when you go thru our big cartel store. We totally can’t condone it, hence no tempty tempty links, but people have done it and obviously, it’s helped us out immeasurably. We’re not far off getting hire money for a winnebago that’d mean we could avoid hotel costs and buy our own food. as long as we meet someone each night who doesn’t mind us processioning thru their shower. I guess petrol cash is the next obvious target after that. that or guitar strings. If I could change all of this answer to “please bring me a pack of guitar strings to whatever show yr coming too” that’d be awesome. But yeh, just buy our stuffs.

So yeah err, I guess it’s not really my thing to try and suck money out of people who read this. Heck, with free downloads etc, it’s pretty much the opposite of my goal. However JF need the help and it’s a pretty cool cause. If you’re feeling generous or even just wanna chuck some cash around you could do a lot worse than head on over to their Bandcamp or Big Cartel store and give ’em a helping hand. You can get some cool music too. A win win!

Cheers guys!

For those of you who haven’t heard them before or want to know what you’re about to purchase, here’s one of the songs you might be purchasing.

Cranes And Cranes And Cranes And Cranes  –  Johnny Foreigner

Some more linky linkies.

Their Bandcamp:

Their Big Cartel store:

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