Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact
Previous story: Pausa Art House
Next story: Chelsea O: Disc jockey highlights local acts at Alternative Buffalo 107.7 FM

John Toohill: Singer and guitarist of JOHNS, and Artvoice cover model

(photo by Sarah Barry)

Artvoice: You’re dressed up as half classical music composer and half punk rocker on the cover of Artvoice this week. Who is your favorite punk rock band and favorite classical music composer?

John Toohill: My favorite punk band of all time? The Stooges. I don’t have a favorite classical music composer; I’m not worldly enough. I can say that when we shot the photographs for the cover and they had me dress up, I made them put on Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus” on repeat.

AV: You were formerly frontman of garage rock band the Fucking Hotlights. Now you’re in a band called JOHNS. How did the new band come to be?

JT: I was recording a lot of music in my bedroom with just some simple layering: acoustic guitars, tambourines, shakers, and lots of backup vocals. I wasn’t doing too much with it until my former band, the Fucking Hotlights, kind of fizzled out. I asked Ryan [McMullen, drummer] if he wanted to get to work on some stuff I had been recording. We ended up finding some familiar musicians—Nick Gordon, Sean Kader, and Jeanne Pfeiffer—and we just adapted these songs into a full band situation. We were calling the songs John’s songs and then we just adapted JOHNS as the name of the band. It’s like a faceless name. A john is also one who solicits prostitution.

AV: You’re finishing up your latest record at Mammoth Recording Studio in Buffalo. What has that been like?

JT: It’s been great. Joe Orlando, our engineer at Mammoth, is amazing. He understands our musical language. He’s got a lot of history and understanding of punk rock so he knows any reference we throw at him. We’re recording 14 songs with him and we’ll probably boil it down to 10. Our working title for the album is Grift Marks. It refers to like a classic swindle situation, where you’re screwing someone over in a con. A grifter is someone who is helping a con man make a move on a mark.

AV: You’re recording a live video at Silo City as party of a series of videos called the Silo Sessions, and you’re playing the Silo Sessions launch party in June. Can you tell me about one of your favorite gigs of all time?

JT: We played a show at the Jungle Gym, which is a like a little basement venue. My friend Frank Napolski and I put together some light boxes; we thought it would be fun to make things seem kind of grandiose in this basement club. It’s a small space and if you’re not one of the first 10 people there you can’t see the band anyways, but on top of that we had a smoke machine. Once we turned on the smoke machine we couldn’t turn it off, so the entire basement completely flooded with smoke instantly. We had the highly powerful light boxes, so when the lights would turn on it would be blinding, then the lights would go off and it would be pitch-black smoke. People couldn’t stand it any more and they had to go upstairs. They could see the smoke coming through the floor. We eventually shut the smoke machine off, everybody came back, and we had a great show.

AV: What’s next for JOHNS?

JT: I assume we’ll get this record out, it’ll be expensive and painstaking, and then after one or two two-week tours we’ll all probably hate each other and break up. Then two years from now a bunch of people will tell us that they really liked our band and that our record was really good and we’ll be like “Fuck you,” then we’ll do it all over again.

blog comments powered by Disqus