Interview: Alexei Berrow of Johnny Foreigner

By on Monday, 4th April 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

“Chicago is Birmingham’s twin city”, an excited Alexei Berrow of Johnny Foreigner tells me. The indie pop-rock band are proud of their Midlands roots. Lex is currently telling TGTF about how the circulating ‘Harriet, By Proxy’ video came to be. The band travelled over to Chicago after director J. Matthew Nix offered to film a video for the track. Expecting a student project, the band agreed. “We were totally wrong. There was pretty much a whole production company with schedules for driving us around the city’s sites for filming. We were so amazed that these guys had donated their time and skills. It was proper old punk,” Lex recalls.  The band put the video online and asked their fans to spread it around. Bandmate Kelly wasn’t quite done though. “She encouraged people to make up lies and put it on the most inappropriate forums possible. As a result there’s a thread on the Lady Gaga website where people, touched by our ‘story’, are uploading their own tributes to the monstress”, laughs Lex.

Johnny Foreigner, as a three piece, have always been a DIY band. Their debut EP, ‘Arcs Across the City’, was originally made as a pop up 12” artwork and even after two studio albums, the JoFo dedication to both vinyl and handmade designs hasn’t changed. ‘You Thought You Saw a Shooting Star’ is an EP that’s taken time to both record and create, with the band handmaking each one of the 500 12” records themselves. “It’a taking f***ing ages and it’s still not done! Each one takes about 25 minutes, but it’s totally worth it when you see batches of photos
of childhoods, holidays, parties and artstuffs become hand cut ghosts on the sleeves”, a proud Alexei explains.

Even after all of this, they’re still working on a new album – recording a new album across scattered Birmingham sessions. With the aim of having 16 songs and cutting down to a 12-track final record by the time they finish in April, the band are relaxed. “We weren’t pressured straight back into making another full album which is good because now we have time to disassemble and play around with everything much more. It’s not as concentrated, but it sure leads to a better result.”

Away from recording, one thing you may not know about Johnny Foreigner is that they’re big fans of cake. An unsurprising fact, until you find out that a chain of their trademark ghosts have appeared on JoFo style cakes. Starting from a Glaswegian fanzine duo, the band have been presented with a fair few cakes in their time. “Everything good in the world should have some kind of relationship with cakes”, Lex tells me.  The best? “The indisputable queen is Julia Christmas, who made us a proper ghost cake in exchange for guest list in Brighton. We were scared to eat it until Kelly forced us to one morning because it would have gone off. It tasted amazing, but felt rude.”

Catch Johnny Foreigner on tour across the UK this month.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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