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A Song For Those Who Speed In Built-up Areas
JOHN - the virtually ungoogleable moniker for London duo John Newton (drums, lead vocals) and Johnny Healey (guitar, backing vocals) – share a new taster of their incoming third album, Nocturnal Manoeuvres, ahead of its Oct 8th release via the band’s own Pets Care imprint and Brace Yourself Records. The third single drawn from the album comes in the guise of its towering closer ‘Non-Essential Hymn’, which gradually blossoms from the band’s propulsive post-hardcore into a motorik, autobahn-ready finale, jet powered by Newton’s driving drums and Healey’s Sonic Youth-esque guitar heroics into a place of pure hypnosis.
It’s a track that hits home at one of the record’s key motifs, of the modern city’s ever-expanding, ever-more 24-hour nature. As Newton puts it: “Echoed by the album’s title Nocturnal Manoeuvres, Johnny and I often found ourselves discussing the 24/7 demands of our accelerated present – after all, it’s pretty hard to ignore when staring over the ever-expanding city from our native Crystal Palace. The song became a nod to these now ‘essential’ obligations, the lyrics recalling the security guards of the city, denying their natural circadian rhythm in order to protect ever-lit office buildings. We wanted to mimic the incessancy and repetition of these traditions, and we felt like the meditative quality of the closing section helped give some semblance.”
The release of ‘Non-Essential Hymn’ also sees the band share a live session video of the song laid to tape at The Bookhouse Studio in South London right off the back of their recent packed-out set at this year’s Green Man festival. Produced by Tom Hill, it offers not only a glimpse of the keen musicianship and bristling energy of JOHN as a live act but also of the mesmerising nature of the more structurally experimental ‘Non-Essential Hymn’.
“It’s certainly quite a structural departure when held up against some of our other tracks,” says Newton.“Having always understood the physical limitations of a duo, we’ve always tried our best to make subtle shifts musically – to keep exploring new avenues – and ‘Non-Essential Hymn’ was written on a baritone guitar, giving the whole track a lower depth which it really benefited from. It became quite obvious when recording the album, that this depth (both audible and structural) meant that the track needed to sit as the album closer, and it’s become a real stand out moment for us both.”
‘Non-Essential Hymn’ is the follow-up to the band’s recent singles ‘Šibensko Powerhouse‘ – which features a guest spot from IDLES’ Adam Devonshire and came accompanied by an excellent videodirected by Ryan Gander OBE featuring animatronic mice and cockroach costumes – and the titanic ‘A Song For Those Who Speed In Built-Up Areas‘, which reached the A-list at BBC 6Music. Between them, the singles have garnered praise at press including from The Guardian, NPR, The New Cue, Upset Magazine and many more.
Nocturnal Manoeuvres is the follow-up to their second LP, 2019’s Out Here On The Fringes, which catapulted them into the Top 40 of the UK Independent Vinyl Chart, was featured as an Album of the Day on BBC 6Music with three successive playlisted singles, and saw the band hit the road with the likes of IDLES, METZ and Mclusky.
Across ten tracks, it finds the duo expanding upon their celebrated idiosyncrasies once more. It sees them returning to their trusted producer Wayne Adams (who was behind the boards for both of their previous albums) knowing his success in capturing their presence as a live band. Realising the expansive quality of the resulting recordings, they then enlisted mastering engineer Sarah Register (Protomartyr, Future Islands, Chastity Belt) in order to deliver the sense of space that the varied track-list deserved. The result is a colossal body of work – one that moves easily between cinematic post-rock, elastic post-hardcore and pummelling noise rock.
Having established an international presence with a blistering KEXP live session and a month-long journey through Europe in support of Out Here On The Fringes, JOHN return to the live stage in 2021. Following recent festival appearances including Green Man and End of the Road, the band are currently on a mammoth tour of the UK and Ireland before hitting the continent in 2022 in a bumper set of dates that the band announce today. As venues continue to reopen, it offers a captivating chance to catch a band who’ve built a devoted following through the sheer energy of their live show: a celebration of the primal intensity of the guitar-drums duo as a format and a monument to idiosyncrasy, which is exactly the sort of manifesto you could attach to Nocturnal Manoeuvres as a whole.