Joe and Tom of the Graveyard Johnnys are busy guys. If they aint touring, they're recording, and if they aint recording they're writing, and if they aint doing any of that then in all honesty I don't really w nt to know what they get up to, but I reckon that alcohol and 'the ladies' may be involved.
Anyway they very kindly took some time out to answer some questions over the course of a few months.
KelC - Each time I check out what you guys are doing you seem to have just had a line up change. How settled is the band now?
Joe - We've had two full time guitarists so far since 2007, and two other guys who fill in from time to time when we need them, sort of like session musicians only paid in food and poon.
Sometimes we give them some drinks too. So we’ve had one lineup change all in all.
Tom - Things seem more settled than they have in along time. Joe and I work real well together, but the last guy we had on guitar was a real pain in the ass so since we moved on from him we’ve been able to get a lot more done in terms of writing, recording and so on.
Using session guys on tour is working out perfect for us, we get to have the talent we need on guitar as well as the seasoned road animal which is a must for us these days, touring is what makes us tick.
KelC - What has led to the changes, is it a commitment issue from ex members?
Tom - Yeah totally, it’s been a problem since the band first started doing a lot.
The first guitarist (Liam) struggled with mixing his work and home life along with the long hours on the road. He loved being in the band and writing music with us but wasn’t so fussed on touring. The last guitarist (Jimmy) seemed to be in it to further his ego and call himself an “artist”
Bottom line is that we’re just in it for good times. To meet all sorts of people and have a party. We’re not here to preach at people at gigs or pretend were anything more than a band who just loves to play music and party.
We’re far from calling ourselves artists.
JOE : Piss artists maybe! It's a common thing with bands to shift line-ups.
Sometimes the real world becomes more important to people and they fall to the wayside. Kinda like a natural weeding out process.
KelC - How did you go about getting new members? Was it easy, and whats more important talent or fit?
Joe - After Liam had to go we pretty much rushed into getting him replaced with anyone who seemed willing.
We realise now that whoever is gonna join us in the van has to be a great guitar player and also good company. So a mix of both.
Bearing in mind it's not easy for anyone to put up with me and Tom for more than a day at a time! Dob who is touring with us at the moment is an old friend and a fucking great guitar player.
He also loves the road so in a lot of ways he's the best man for the job.
Tom - There is a lot of time spent in the van or sitting around.
Playing is only an hour a day out of 24 so we definitely need somebody on the same page as Joe and I.
We're like a two headed monster when we’re together.
We’ve been friends and doing music for so long now even our farts smell the same.
We love meeting people and people’s girlfriends, and we love smashing things over our roadie Dai’s head.
Anyone in the band has to get that.
KelC - With a settled line up do you think that you could have maybe capitalized more on the work you have already done?
Joe - Maybe in terms of recording, we never stopped gigging though and we probably never will.
Tom - The last line up is the honest reason why we’re late with our album coming out.
As soon as we lost the dead weight we’ve become so much more productive and able to get things done.
KelC - So whats the state of play now?
Joe - The new album is looks like coming out very soon and then we're gonna continue touring. After this trip is over we're gonna be putting out some music video kinda stuff at some point too.
KelC - How do you manage to commit to touring. Have you got jobs out-with the band, relationships to maintain and such. How difficult is it to juggle a life, earning cash and interacting with people when you have to work it in around getting out on the road?
Tom - It’s pretty hard if you want a house and family, touring a lot makes normal life pretty impossible. I moved back home when the band started getting busy, paying for my own place and hardly being there wouldn’t be financially viable.
I'm actually self employed as tree surgeon so I am pretty flexible, but it does hit me in the pocket not working. Joe’s the same, he can only commit to so many hours a week in his job so holidays in the sun and posh cars are a no-go.
Joe : I work part time to pay my rent. It's impossible to work any more than that because we do a lot.
I don’t get to see the people I love outside the band as often as I would like, but that’s just the way it is.
KelC – How afr into the new album are you?
Joe - We’re doing it over a course of two-day weekend sessions and we’ve done five tracks in two sessions so far so maybe another three sessions to get everything done and dusted.
We’ve been recording guitar and drums live with a guide vocal and then just building on top of that until we’re happy. After our bit is done though there’s still mastering, pressing, licensing etc etc blah blah to be sorted until it’s on a shelf anywhere so we’re planning on getting back to work on it as soon as possible.
KelC - How does the writing process come about. Does anyone take the lead on that, and do you think that the moving away from the graveyard aspect of the psychobilly scene is something that allows you to have a broader appeal?
Tom - Joe and myself do the writing. Joe is the one who brings the first idea to the table and we then work on them together with Joe playing guitar and me on the drums.
Then we usually strip the tunes down to make them quick and catchy three minute tunes.
Once that's done we then show them to the guitarist Joe returns to playing bass.
We like to play tunes for a few months before recording them to let them take there natural form'
It's surprising how a song will change into its comfortable sitting place after playing it over and over.
It's only then that we feel that it's ready to record.
We most definitely try to keep away from the graveyard aspect of the music.
We've never really been into that part and I'm not sure that we could even write in the vein of that style.
We just write what comes natural to us, and what we have come up with so far seems to sit well with the billys, punks, rock audiences and even the indie crowd seem to enjoy it.
As long as its wrote and performed with passion your on to a winner we like to think
KelC – is the album going to be self released or have you managed to sort out a deal with a label?
Joe - The album will be released worldwide through a German label called “I Hate People Records” and will be available on CD, Vinyl and Digital formats.
KelC - What was it like hearing Mike Davis of Radio One play a song you have written and performed. Is it a sort of surreal experience like you are listening to someone else?
Tom - It’s a good reward from all the hard work to hear ourselves on there. We’re very lucky to get that sort of coverage.
Joe - It’s a massive buzz. From the very early days of the band we’ve had Mike D’s support and it’s amazing to know he likes our music.
I’ve listened to that show ever since I can remember. I used to tape it every week and found some of my all time favourite bands through him.
We listened to our Maida Vale session live on the radio while driving to the airport to fly out for our first proper tour abroad. That was surreal as fuck, it felt like no one could stop us. Definitely gave us some confidence for that trip!
KelC - You've just returned from playing some dates in mainland Europe. How was it? Do you feel you get a better response there? You got any highlights and lowlights you could share?
Tom - Europe was great.
Mainland Europe has always been good for us since the first time we went out there with the help of MadSin and The Peacocks humping on dates of their own tour.
As time has gone on were doing our own headline shows out there which has been great.
Live music is still exciting to the crowds in Europe, so even for midweek shows your get people out and up for it.
Each time we do a tour things seem to grow for us out there, but at home in the UK were filling places on our headline dates in the north to.
It's great to see that were catching up in our own country.
The touring in Europe though is a lot harder in the sence of driving as most shows invlove long hours on the road. In the early days, when we was supporting, we jump in the headliners vans, but on our own headline tours we got to drive ourselves and that can be hard work wjhen you add on the playing.
We;'re learning that a driver is a must on a tour that lasts anything more than a week.
The whole thing of playing to people and travelling is a highlight really.
A lowlight of the last tour is easy.
On leavinga venue on night our van blew up. That was a nightmare to say the least.
We had to sleep there and in the morning we were towed five moiles up the road and charged 250 Euros for the priviledge of being told the van was indeed fucked.
We had to cansel three dates and fly home.
Then drive back out a week later to pick up the van.
I doubt we are the first band to blow up a van in the middle of Germany though.
Thanks for your time guys and good luck with the new video, forthcoming album and live dates. Don't leave it too long before you are back in Scotland.