johnny domino interview
(October 1999)

Listen to self-titled debut album (for US label Blackbean and Placenta) and you'd probably join me in describing Johnny Domino as a miserable lot. Resolutely downcurled of lip, frowned of brow and cynical of glance, they mope through the seven tracks on the record as if there's nothing but a kick in the bollocks waiting for them at the end of it. The band don't like the album much, nor the fact that it's taken nearly two years to release with an LP for Artists Against Success and a single for Reveal records coming out in the meantime. Admittedly, the drum machine does sound like it was recorded inside an oven and then there's the lo-tech production and the, erm, at times unusual guitar tuning. As Ian Dury might've once said, reasons to be miserable...but frankly he had something to be pissed off about, I mean: polio or your first album recorded in two days two years ago? A quick word with Steve, Giles, Marc and James (who democratically answer as one) clarifies things.

So, are you all miserable then?

But you'll own up to cynical?
Yes. These are cynical times, my friend.

And you've got quite a sense of humour?
We don't like to take things too seriously. That's not a bad thing is it? Bands who take things too seriously (i.e. overestimating their importance in the general scheme of things) are generally funnier, though.

You've been releasing JD tapes for a long while, haven't you?
JD started as a duo of Steve and Giles, recording songs on their own, or with anyone they could rope in, on a series of battered 4-track recorders. The first tape was released in '93, and they appeared on various compilation tapes, mostly in France where their first single (the 4th Butch Master EP) was released in 1996. Then Jim and Marc joined. There has always been some talk of releasing "The Shithouse Masters", a 10cd, 10 hour retrospective of everything that was done during the period---luckily this is only talk at the moment. If anyone's interested, though, they should check out our website (address below).

Tell us the story of the Blackbean & Placenta album.
The album was recorded in 1997, and contains some of the first songs written by the current line-up---cherished memories, terrible drum sound. For various reasons it took two years to come out, during which time we'd stopped playing nearly all of those songs.

It was recorded in Cable's Bakery. Are you mates with Cable?
Yes, but not the kind that borrow jumpers off of each other. When the current line-up of JD began rehearsing, they let us use the Bakery for a bargain knock-down price.

Would you admit to some musical influence from Cable?
This is a horrible question, because there's no way of answering it honestly without seeming dead arsey. We can't say that they've had any influence on us at all, really.

They might be coy about it, and insiders on the Derby scene (who wish to remain anonymous) might say that "...Cable were the ones being influenced by the JD's all along," but for fans of the bent riffing of the sorely-missed Cable, Johnny Domino offer some solace, especially on "Monkey nuts" which opens the album. The thudding beatbox monotony is on a par with the Mary Chain in the imagination stakes but the bile in the lyrics ("come and get your peanuts, you're just a bunch of monkeys"), the churning, frantic riffing blurred by the restrictions of 4-track recording and always just off the beat on the difficult change and the high-pitched angularities of the convoluted amelody line are more than adequate compensation.

Where does the lyrical inspiration from?
Jim and Giles get lyrical inspiration from things that amuse them, not from what pisses them off! Perhaps you're taking us too literally? Anything that excites our interest in this wonderful world...

On "Rabbit themes", their second full-length release, the things exciting their interest seem to be a cheerily ironic bring'n'buy rummage of Joy Division and Mario Bros electro, cheese melodies and the ghost of Half Man Half Biscuit. "Are you prog?" is a bendy indie number not at all spoiled by the addition of some unexpected shouted Bullseye (yes, that Bullseye) catchphrases. "Neu! groupie" is another puzzler.

Do you know any Neu! groupies?
No. The song's only called that because Jim can't read Giles' handwriting (it was intended as "Hey! Groupie"). Due to the title, some people have wondered if it's about Julian Cope...

Another character renowned for his sense of humour...Check out the Domino boys on their forthcoming single for Reveal and the new album, hopefully for Artists Against Success, due in the new year. Further information is available from:, or 147 Little Hallam Lane, Ilkeston, Derby, DE7 4AA.

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