Gallon Drunk [Special]

Gallon Drunk [Special]

High-energy rock 'n' roll band that emerged as contenders for the vacant Birthday Party throne in the early 90s. The band's original line-up featured James Johnston (b. 1966, England; vocals, guitar, organ), Mike Delanian (bass) - both of whom were at school together, Max Decharne (drums, also keyboard player with the Earls Of Suave) and Joe Byfield (maracas), the latter having spent a brief period with My Bloody Valentine. Formed early in 1990 and based in north London, original drummer Nick Combe was soon jettisoned. They quickly garnered plaudits from the music press, the New Musical Express describing them as "a synthesis of quite disparate elements, from Memphis soul slew to primal rockabilly". Others noted a similarity to the more raucous Birthday Party/Nick Cave recordings.

After releasing singles on their manager's own Massive label, Gallon Drunk moved on to Clawfist where their debut album was released in 1992. Given their high press profile, this proved to be a little lacklustre, with strong songs smothered by a flat production. The 1993 follow-up From The Heart Of Town was much closer to the mark, with Johnston's lyrics given a strong empathy by the band's voodoo rhythms and dry musicianship (including the contribution of new Gallon Drunk horn player Terry Edwards). Johnston's vignettes included some startling depictions of the grubbier elements of life in the capital, populated by characters of the grim majesty of "Jake On The Make" and the tramp in "Arlington Road".

Johnston played with Cave and the Bad Seeds, and then collaborated with Edwards on Dora Saurez, a spoken word album with crime writer Derek Raymond. Gallon Drunk returned in 1996 with new members Ian Watson (guitar/trumpet), Andy Dewar (percussion) and Ian White (drums), proving to be as raucous and menacing as ever. Despite Johnston's subsequent claim that the band was finished, and that he was embarking on a solo career under the name JJ Stone, they returned in October 1999 with a new EP, Blood Is Red, and the soundtrack to Nicholas Traindafyllidis' Black Milk. A new studio album appeared three years later, with Johnston, Edwards and White joined by new bass player Jeremy Cottingham.

Johnston has continued to work with Gallon Drunk on an ad hoc basis, playing live shows and recording the 2007 studio album The Rotten Mile. His commitments to Cave and the Bad Seeds (he became a full-time member in 2003) and his busy soundtracking and acting career take up the rest of his time. His soundtrack work includes The Most Fertile Man In Ireland and his acting roles include appearances in Ken Russell's Fall Of The House Of Usher and Oliver Assayas' Clean. He also records with Steve Gullick and his wife, film maker and painter Geraldine Swayne, in ... Bender.

[Releted links]

Gallon Drunk - Tonite... The Singles Bar (1991) pw :
Gallon Drunk - You, The Night... And The Music (1992)
Gallon Drunk - From the Heart of Town (1993)
Gallon Drunk - Live in Chicago 1/7/93
Gallon Drunk - Black Milk (1999)
Gallon Drunk - The Rotten Mile (2007)