Published on May 16th, 2006 | by The Beige Baron


Spencer P. Jones, The Johnnys

Legendary cow punk band The Johnnys are back. They will be recording a new album, hopefully to be released before the end of summer, but before that, we have been granted one show of maniacal Melbourne madness.

If last year’s ‘secret’ gig at The Tote is anything to go by (it was so sold out that punters were turned away in droves), you will have to be fast getting your tickets. The show will have all the hay-covered, beer-and-gin-induced mayhem you would expect from The Johnnys, but also some special guests and musical gems… don’t expect all their singles: just plan on having fun with the boys.

I spoke to Spencer P Jones, who is not only frontman of The Johnnys, but is also a founding member of The Beasts Of Bourbon, a sideman for Paul Kelly, and has a prolific solo career of his own.

Can you tell me – what the hell is cow punk?

I wonder myself… Those albums we put out through Mushroom are essentially heavily produced rock albums really, but live I think we have always been a whole different kettle of fish. There was pressure to come up with hit singles in those days. We now have the chance to go back and record and represent ourselves in the light we see ourselves in. We were really young and naïve back then and now I think we’re all pretty jaded…

So, the rumours are true. The Johnnys will be recording a new album?

Yeah. We just want to do a low-fi album and have some fun. Much the way that The Beasts’ first album took like six hours to record; pretty much all live. We would like to work with that same kind of approach. It’s not going to be a live album though; we did that in France and it would be like going over the same ground again. I’m interested in working at someone’s house that has a computer set up… actually, if someone has a Teac two-track, they should give us a call…

What’s the plan? Obviously this run of gigs and then…

There are no plans. I was saying to Mark Arm, “It’s great to see Mudhoney playing again, back on Sub Pop doing limited edition singles. It’s great to see you have lasted.” He then said to me that the reason they had lasted was that they had no plans. All the other Seattle bands had big plans and now none of them are together. We want to go into a studio, do something pretty quick sometime between now and Christmas, but as far as a plan to “be reformed” and go touring around… that’s not the purpose of the exercise. We’ll just go record some stuff and see how it turns out, put it out and then play it by ear. We can always just do one show a year or something like that.

Can audiences expect to see hay-covered madness when you grace The Corner this Saturday?

We did a gig at The Annandale recently and someone handed me a photo afterwards and I’m on my knees, covered in hay with a cigarette in my mouth… a nice fire hazard. There will be hay, there will be chaps, there will be spurs, there will be a fridge onstage, I’ve been trying to locate a cow skull…

— By Golly!

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Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.

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