Hotcakes meets… Johnny Foreigner

At the start of 2011 Hotcakes were lucky enough to interview Birmingham rockers Johnny Foreigner, and here, for your pleasurable perusal it is.

With an interview at the near start of new year, I have to ask you to reflect on 2010 – how was it for you? Any particular highs and lows?
Yeah, a record amount of both. The highs were a South African tour, American tour, sleeping with Alcopop. And lows were having less money than we started with, label hassle, adults. A hard but confident win for highs, I’d say.

Your most recent release was amazingly titled You Thought You Saw a Shooting Star but yr Eyes were Blurred with Tears and that Lighthouse can be Pretty Deceiving with the Sky so Clear and Sea so Calm, it takes a bit of courage to go for such a lengthy titled, what inspired it?
Everything I’d want to say about the story is said in the sentence and when it splurged into my head it seemed to be a perfect fully formed title. I don’t think it breaks the Fiona Apple record but yeah, our career plan is pretty much: what are Hot Club doing, those guys are awesome. Oooo long titled EP lets go.

Your last release marked a departure from Best Before Records, whats the story behind you moving on to Alcopop Records and does a different label mean that the band do anything differently creatively?
I really hate bands that bitch about their old labels. Like, they just wanted us to make them money, its so unfair. The music industry is trying to reconfigure itself around the fact that people don’t buy music anymore. Some labels understand this more than others and we were at a point in our contract where we could walk if we chose. So we did, and Alcopop seemed like the strongest option; they totally get where we’re coming from and what we want to do and what our audience wants.

From a creative aspect, it leaves us free to do what we like and they figure out how to market what they’re given. I think that’s a totally pure and punk way to operate a label, and it’s made our lives so much easier because there’s no one involved who has a big money pension, just people of the same mindset working together.

You started life at Alcopop with an EP. Was that a warm up act to a full length album this year and will it be as outrageous?
No. I’m not giving it away yet but the title came first, and it’s two words. Musically though, we have a bunch of more traditional fast pop songs to spew out but there’s a bunch of more relaxed stuff too. Don’t think there’ll be any more styleophones though it will be a lot more dynamic than our last proper records. Outrageous is starting to feel natural.

Toward the end of 2010 you made it over to the US in support of Los Compesinos, was it a bit crowded touring with a band with eight members?
Well, they had their own luxury spaceship bus, and we had us, a VJ, a tech, a tour manager and a driver in a Winnebago meant for four adults and a kid – so it was totally crowded but for us. I totally wouldn’t recommend Winnebagos for touring bands but it makes the police less likely to stop you.

It often can be hard for British indie bands with more American influences to find success in the States, how did the US tour go and how important is it for you to get to play shows in different countries?
It was our first tour so I don’t know what to judge against, but if anything I think it made it easier for us. I think a lot of them bands use the “we’re English MAAAN” thing as a card to play, like, part of the persona that they’re selling, so kids are like “WOW! A REAL LIVE ENGLISHER” and that takes up as much space in their heads as the actual songs and what they mean. Whereas, if anything, we trade by not having any kind of affected personas, which means we’re seen as being Pavement fans, not just ripping them off. JOKE. I wouldn’t say we have a play in other countries mandate or anything, but it’s a pretty good excuse to get a holiday and we do like holidays.

Are there more overseas exploits planned for 2011?
Apparently we’re going to Europe in May. Does that count as overseas?! We’ve been asked for SXSW and NXNW and either would be amazing. But I don’t know if we’ll have the cash. Thinking about writing a begging letter to Merge or Top Shelf. All that we care about at the moment is making a record, planning for the future can just leave us alone for a few months please.

I’ve asked quite a few lengthy questions I thought I could end with a few quick fire classics:
Which band would you most like to be compared to?
Lifter Puller

Who is the best band that we should all be listening to but aren’t?
Hot Club de Paris

And where’s the best place to play a gig in the UK?
New Slang, Kingston

Thanks to Alexei, Junior and Kelly for speaking to us and best of luck for the future.

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One Response to “Hotcakes meets… Johnny Foreigner”

  1. […] also some hints towards the songs that’ll make up the album, with Alexei saying in an interview with Hotcakes that “Musically though, we have a bunch of more traditional fast pop songs to spew out but […]

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