GALLON DRUNK frontman JAMES JOHNSTON is to release his first ever solo album in November.
The Starless Room was recorded earlier in the year at the studio of Gallon Drunk’s label Clouds Hill in the Rothensburgsort area of Hamburg. It was produced by Johann Scheerer, producer of the band’s previous two albums, 2012’s The Road Gets Darker From Here and 2014’s The Soul Of The Hour.
Forming Gallon Drunk in North London in the late 80s, Johnston has spent a considerable amount of time working with others. A member of NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS for a number of years, he’s also collaborated with LYDIA LUNCH on BIG SEXY NOISE, German experimentalists FAUST and, for much of this year, he’s been recording and touring with P.J. HARVEY.
The Starless Room reveals a mellower, yet no less rewarding, side to Johnston, aided by Sebastian Hoffman’s lush string arrangements and slower, more even-tempered, songs. “Something I adore,” says Johnston. “Like a lot of the ISAAC HAYES or RAY CHARLES albums that I love. It almost feels like I’m listening to someone else’s record.”
“The band’s records have quite an earthy feel, but in a way this is more focused and direct, musically and emotionally. The last Gallon Drunk record’s my favourite, and it was certain elements of that which I really wanted to take further, to strip away the dissonance and anger, to reject the more familiar sounds in order to free it all up again. So the instrumentation is very different, led by piano and voice, and the overall sound is lush yet intimate. Overall it’s far more reflective of me, both as a person and the sort of music I actually listen to.”
The Starless Room will be released by Clouds Hill on 18 Novmber. It’s available to pre-order here.
Pic by Steve Gullick