INTERVIEW: JOHNNY FOREIGNER (part 2)

Posted on 21/02/2012 by

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“The Most Beautiful Widow” (Sparklehorse cover)

This is the second and final part of our interview with Alexei Berrow of Johnny Foreigner. If you’d like to see the first part, direct your internet here.

We want to thank the band again for taking the time to talk with us. Read on for more about the band’s plans for 2012, Alexei’s thoughts on football, and how he would change the music industry. We’re glad that someone has their priorities straight when it comes to music.

Their new album is out now on Alcopop! The band will be doing some gigs next month, including a stop at the Brudenell on 11/03.

5. Your fanbase has been extremely supportive since the very early days of JoFo. Is there anything you attribute this to? What are some of the things you’ve done over the years to say thanks?

I guess we don’t really treat people as fans. I don’t want people to put us on a pedestal, I want to be at the same level as them so we can be friends, talk about records, hang out next time or whatever. I’m aware how trite that sounds, and it doesn’t always work like that, but that’s far more of a priority to us than pandering to keep an impersonal demographic in our cash loop. I’m proud obviously, but I find it kinda sad that we have this reputation because I think it’s a lot more to do with what most bands aren’t doing, than what we are. I grew up with Urusei Yatsura and Idlewild, and both had rabid, pre-internet obsessive fanbases and they were lovely people as well as being in awesome bands. Going to shows was like big family reunions, and in my head they felt like what all gigs should feel like. People from other bands say to us all the time, “Oh wow how is your audience so mental?” as if we’re using some unknown parlour tricks, whereas, that’s just what happens if you treat a bunch of like-minded people in a room and give them an excuse for a party.

By the same token, we don’t say a lot of thanks either. We giveaway songs cos we think they deserve to be heard and we enjoy putting on awesome nights and we want to fill our egos up by doing loads of internet artfag stuff. I guess I could use all those things, but really we just do them because they’re fun and make us feel like we have a purpose in life and have somehow contributed, however small, to global happiness. Pointy-shoed LDN types would call this “crowd-sourcing” or something, but we see it as a tradition that’s been going on since punk fanzines in the ’70s, or indie labels in the ’80s — ignore everything unnecessary and learn how to use whatever tools are at your disposal. And the internet is one limitless headfuck of a tool to have.

6. What have you up your sleeves for 2012?

I don’t know! We’re never ones for too much forward planning. Double 12″ release of the record. Japan at the end of the year probably. Europe in the summer, maybe. Get record released in South Africa so we have an excuse to play more shows there. We’re talking (just talking, mind) about getting back to America too.

Musically, god knowsssss! Vs Everything was like a target we spent three years working towards. Arrangements, sounds, visuals, up until release that’s what I’d pretty much spent every night falling asleep thinking about. So I’m not too worried about diving into the next project. In terms of concept, that was our “throw fucking everything into it” record. I don’t know what you’re supposed to aim for after that, apart from make it shorter. We’ve talked about getting more people in the band for live shows — Los Campesions! and Dana and Screaming Maldini all made us jealous of only having 6 arms and 3 mouths. But then, if there’s 4 of us, that messes up symmetry, so there’d have to be 2 more people. We have enough difficulty coordinating our lives as it is, without trawling Birmingham for 2 people who can play guitar and sing and press buttons and can put up with us.

7. All of us at Bubblegunked are big sport fans, especially football. Who do you guys support? Do you have a chance to see matches whilst on the road? Any particularly exciting moments that stick with you from over the years?

Goodbye manpoints! Um, Junior supports The Liverpool, I hear they kick some awesome goal balls. I don’t know. Football lost all allure for me at age 11 when my grandad explained transfers. Like, there’s no one from Liverpool in the Liverpool team, so what’s the point? I don’t see how you can be proud of something you have fuck all to do with, I am that Mitchell and Webb sketch. I don’t get patriotism for the same reason. Also, I have girls hair and know a lot about Star Trek.

Having said that, I still cling on to a boyhood sports car obsession that means I can spend hours watching Group C races on crappy VHS scans from the late ’80s/early ’90s, and cheering to myself when Jaguar wins. So yeah, football is one of those things that everyone’s into that leaves me cold. Like beer, Animal Collective, and any 360/ps3 shooter that involves pressing a button to hide behind a rock.

8. And finally, if you ruled the music industry, what is one change that you would immediately make?

Oh man. Are we talking godlike power here? This industry is fucked and we’re kinda enjoying picking our way through the rubble, so if I can go back in time and give the internet to the ’60s, that would be fine. If not, I’ll just go with compulsory name badges to help our aged stoner memories. Or transfers. Artists by their nature are adaptive and creative people, I’d like to think that no matter how screwed up a system is, there’ll always be someone to benefit and produce something for others to enjoy. All those shit facets that we’ve cliched ourselves in with: greed, vanity, lust, ego, whatever, there’s been some amazing music as a result. If we wanted to live in the real world then we’d be lawyers. Music lawyers.

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Posted in: Interview