Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Whatever Happened To John?”?
Brian Eno’s a fan! He championed the track as part of an arts festival and said: “Brisk, funny, exciting, great drumming. This track feels fresh and exciting to listen to.”
I released a demo version a couple of years ago, which some of my fans may recognize, but I’ve recently re-recorded and reworked it (and it’s been mastered at Abbey Road Studios!) for the release. The single also features a new unreleased track called ‘Magic Disaster’ and is released on all online stores on the 7th July (but you can stream ‘Whatever Happened to John?’ now on my SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/jamesholtmusic).
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
The inspiration came from a SkyArts TV programme set in an alternate reality in which John Lennon walked out of the Beatles prior to their fame in the mid-60s, and also bears references to G. Orwell’s 1984. It’s a fusion of thought and ideas, and dwells on social rejection and absurdity (“… conducting cars with a baton”), of protest against The Man and serves as a commentary of society with each verse satirically depicting social caricatures.
How was the film experience?
I really enjoyed working with the director Matt Boone (https://www.facebook.com/madebyboone) on the video. He had a great concept and the film is his interpretation of the song lyric: it’s set in the first half of the 20th Century and follows the story of ‘John’ who’s a disgruntled farm worker out for revenge. Dave Crellin, who plays John, is fantastic (check him out:http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0187327)! Fun fact: the video’s shot at my home.
How was the recording and writing process?
I’m a multi-instrumentalist (piano, guitar, cello, vocals among others) so I record most of my material myself which can be quite challenging but also gives me absolute freedom. It gives me the ability to experiment with my songs and take them to weird and wonderful places, so when I was recording ‘Whatever Happened to John?’ I asked myself the question: what if Bob Dylan experimented with psychedelic rock? It has the rockabilly drum groove, harmonica and fast-paced lyric of mid-60s Dylan but then moves to an Indian-fused Beatles-esque bridge (Revolver springs to mind). I find the fusion of all these differing genres very interesting.
What role does Manchester plays in your music?
I love this city. There are so many great venues and opportunities to play that you can’t help but be influenced and inspired by all the activity going on. The worker bee symbol, which can be seen all over the place on coat of arms and public places etc., perfectly embodies this Manchester spirit.
Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?