Johnny Foreigner

Charlie Ashcroft | Wednesday, 03 June 2009

Johnny Foreigner

It's the final day of the Great Escape Festival in Brighton. Limbs are weary, dry clothes are scarce and 'Relentless' is no longer having an effect. Birmingham's foremost noise-pop trio, Johnny Foreigner, have kindly brought some sunshine with them down from the Midlands. As guitarist and singer Alexei points out, their track record in this part of the country is second to none.

"We're totally blessed with Brighton," he says. "Whenever we come down here the weather's always nice for us."

JoFo are playing two shows today, the first of which is set to kick off shortly in the Freebutt venue, before a gig down on the seafront with Idlewild and Sky Larkin later on tonight. Despite the relatively hectic Saturday schedule, everything seems to have gone smoothly so far, with the band's bassist Kelly admitting that just being in Brighton is enough to provide a welcome distraction from any tour-related hassle.

"It's hard not to get swept up in the fun that everyone's got going on here," she says. "Everyone's just getting drunk and watching bands, so even if it was a stressful day we'd still be like, 'Yeah! Great Escape!'"

The band have travelled a fair distance out of their way to be on the south coast this weekend, with their Brighton gigs sandwiched between the Leicester and Liverpool legs of their UK tour, which is well underway. The jaunt across Britain has also provided them with an opportunity to tour with their old mates Tubelord again.

"We've probably played with Tubelord more than any other band," Alexei says. "It's been nice to hook up with them again, now that we've both got more songs."

As DMG can testify, their gig at the Bristol Louisiana earlier in the week was an absolute riot, seemingly in keeping with the majority of their other recent shows, with the exception of a show in Hull:

"It was a Club NME show, which is notorious among bands for being a dreadful thing to do," explains Alexei. "This has nothing to do with the magazine, but you'll get some standard indie night and they'll just label it Club NME and see if it brings more people in. It was definitely the worst show on this tour, but we've had way, way, way worse ones than that in the past!"

From talking to Alexei, Kelly and Junior, it's clear that they're touring with less pressure on their shoulders than they were faced with last year.

"The hype's all gone now and our new album isn't even out until September, but suddenly we're packing out venues," says Alexei. "It's such a massive ego-buzz to be able to close your eyes onstage and realise that everybody else is singing. It's awesome."

As for album #2, a release has been pencilled in through Best Before Records for later this year. Kelly and Junior both describe the LP as being "nearly there", with a recent rush of creativity perhaps to blame for its initial delay in getting finished.
"We came back from recording it, thought it was all done and then wrote some more songs, which was really stupid timing!" Alexei says. "So some songs are finished and others are still being mixed. We're lucky to have a record label who are kind enough to let us have more studio time. Although it makes me think that they thought the first batch of songs were rubbish!

"We had fourteen tracks originally, but then when we compiled them all onto a CD, we realised that the whole thing was only about half an hour long. It won't hurt to stick a few more on there."

Later on that evening, Johnny Foreigner pull off a marvellously raucous, if slightly truncated, performance over at The Honeyclub, with new hot-weather-anthem 'Feels Like Summer' and their classic track 'Salt, Pepa & Spinderella' sounding superb. All bodes well for the rest of their tour and what should be a blinder of a second album. Expect them everywhere.