Jon Poole

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Jon Poole
Birth name Jonathan Charles Poole
Born (1969-10-16) 16 October 1969 (age 45)
Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England
Genres Psychedelic
Progressive rock
Hard rock
Instruments Guitar, vocals, bass guitar, keyboards, drums
Years active Mid-1980s to present
Associated acts Cardiacs, The Wildhearts, Ginger, Silver Ginger 5, Ginger & The Sonic Circus, God Damn Whores, Dr. Brighton, Crayola Lectern, The Lotus Eaters, La Momo, Celebricide, Ablemesh, Ad Nauseam

Jonathan "Jon" Charles Poole[1] (born 16 October 1969 in Hemel Hempstead - also known as Random Jon Poole) is an English multi-instrumentalist singer and songwriter best known for his work as guitarist for Cardiacs (1991–2004) and as bass player for The Wildhearts (2002–2005 & 2012–present).[2]

Poole is the frontman and main performer of God Damn Whores, and has also worked with the bands Ablemesh, Dr Brighton and Celebricide. He is currently the live bass player for The Lotus Eaters and has joined the Brighton band La Momo as drummer.

Personal information[edit]

Jon Poole comes from a musical family and is the youngest of six children, all of whom play musical instruments. One of his brothers is highly regarded session bass player Ed Poole and one of his sisters is jazz trombonist Cathi "Trombabe" Poole, a member of the Cathi Cook Quintet and former musical director of the Milton Keynes Open Band.[citation needed]

Musical style and influences[edit]

Poole's projects tend to draw from or combine punk rock, progressive/art rock and hard rock, mostly due to his manic performance style, punk-style vocals and dual interest in complexity and raw riffs. He has also commented "I find beautiful perfection repellent."[3]

However, Poole has cited a wide range of influences affecting his music, starting with the jazz which his family were all interested in (and played). As a listener, he subsequently became interested in (in rapid succession), contemporary disco and soul, New Wave and 1980s synth pop, and 1960s pop. This was followed by a period "catching up with" punk and post-punk, followed by ska, 2-Tone music and Trevor Horn producer pop. By the mid-to-late 80s, when he was beginning to play in bands, he was listening to maverick American art-rock heroes such as Captain Beefheart, Tom Waits, Frank Zappa and also to British progressive rock from the 1970s (as well as contemporary prog-inspired bands - most notably Cardiacs).

Poole has also expressed interest in a variety of 1990s rock and pop acts including Nirvana, Blur, Sugababes and others. He is a fan of several classical composers - Igor Stravinsky, Eric Satie, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst.[4]

Work as bandmember[edit]

Cangels Close Crew and Ad Nauseam (1980s)[edit]

"I tried to keep Ad Nauseam going... but internal arguments, power struggles and jealousy regarding girls and certain people joining their favourite bands tore the band apart. I'd vowed that I'd come back for Bob and get him in (Cardiacs) somehow but then we didn't talk for a year. We did however then kiss and make up and still love each other to this day and hey, fuck...I got him in the band!"

Jon Poole on Ad Nauseam and his future Cardiacs bandmate Bob Leith[5]

Poole began his musical career with the Cangels Close Crew producing such works as "The Beano" and "Softy Walter" in the Moorland Road Studio with fellow band member Rob Flowers. It was in this period that his love for Adam and the Ants and "Tiger Feet" began.

After a move to Milton Keynes circa 1990, Poole wrote and performed in his first proper band, the Cardiacs-inspired Ad Nauseam alongside lead singer and drummer Bob Leith. Although Ad Nauseam had a shifting lineup Poole played, at various times, most of the instruments in the band.

Ad Nauseam split up a short time after Poole's recruitment into Cardiacs. Poole has since expressed interest in an Ad Nauseam reunion, saying "I'd really like to do it if only to get it right this time but I don't know if it'll ever happen. I don't even know if it'd be the same line-up. Me and Bob would be there of course as it was always our band. I had a brief thought of doing a set of Ad Nauseam songs with some more obscure Cardiacs songs chucked in such as "Bitter Pill" "Big Noise In A Toy World" or "Stench Of Honey" but I'm not sure if that might just be naff. Who knows? Not me,boy!"[6]

Cardiacs (1991-2004)[edit]

Poole's work with Ad Nauseam (plus relentless "pestering", as a fan) had brought him to the attention of Cardiacs and their leader Tim Smith. On hearing of guitarist Christian 'Bic' Hayes departure from Cardiacs in May 1991, Poole promptly put himself forward as a replacement candidate and was recruited into the band later in the year. (His Ad Nauseam bandmate Bob Leith would also join the band as drummer, replacing the outgoing Dominic Luckman in December 1993.)

"Tim would have drums and rough keyboard chords on tape and would ask me to come up with guitar and bass riffs. I was literally allowed to do pretty much anything I wanted. Tim would then do the production bit and get the best out of me… I remember Tim had programmed the weird bit in the middle of "Odd Even" and left me to find a guitar line amongst the chords so I was sat on my own dropping myself in. When he came back it was done and he was very happy... particularly with my choice of last note! We would both make suggestions then Tim would edit the ideas into something that worked. Tim would chip in with ideas for my songs too like the string arrangement on "Manhoo" which was lovely."

Jon Poole on his contributions to Cardiacs (on the Sing To God album)[5]

Poole stayed in Cardiacs for the next thirteen years, playing second guitar and singing backing vocals (plus playing keyboards on record). He also played some of the group's bass guitar parts both on record and live (covering for Cardiacs bass player Jim Smith).He was noted for his parodic tapping-style guitar solos on live performances of the songs "Fiery Gun Hand" and "Anything I Can't Eat".

Poole appeared on two Cardiacs albums (the 1995 double album Sing To God and its 1999 follow-up Guns) as well as on the song "Faster Than Snakes With A Ball And A Chain" from Greatest Hits album. He is one of the only Cardiacs members to have entire Cardiacs songs credited to him (including concert favourite "A Horse's Tail"), the others being Tim Smith and Colvin Mayers (who wrote the song "Food on the Wall" from the 1979 7" single A Bus for a Bus on the Bus), though this is from the period of which the band went by Cardiac Arrest. Poole also co-wrote songs with Smith and Leith and was also credited with co-writing riffs and arrangements on Smith's own songs.

Poole left the band amicably in 2004 due to other musical commitments, and has remained a friend and fan.

Two Worlds Collide (1992-unspecified date in 1990s)[edit]

On joining Cardiacs, Poole befriended the band's guitar technician - the former Alternative TV guitarist Clive Giblin was hired as the band's guitar technician - and was subsequently drawn into a Giblin songwriting project "specifically designed to put the listener on edge." This project became Two Worlds Collide, which Poole contributed to using virtually every instrument he played (initially guitar and keyboards, followed by bass guitar and finally, in a later line-up) drums). Two Cardiacs drummers - Bob Leith and Dominic Luckman - also played drums for the project at various times.

During Poole's tenure, Two Worlds Collide recorded the Sympathetic Storm album (eventually released in 2006 by the Le Cluricaun label.[7]) but did not play live due to the members' other commitments. Although Poole left the band during the 1990s, Two Worlds Collide (currently managed by former Public Image Ltd publicist Helen Maleed) has continued with a lineup of Giblin, Leith and Marina Young, working on a second album and live performances.

Ablemesh and Dr Brighton (1990s)[edit]

While still a member of Cardiacs, Poole also played and worked with Ablemesh, a Milton Keynes art-rock band centred on singer/publicist Gordon Glass, guitarist/lyricist Sean Walmsley and drummer/photographer Wig Worland. (Other members of the band during its 1991-1996 lifespan included drummers Bob Leith and Mark Turner, bass players Andy Allum, Sujay Jayaram and Allan Thompson, and keyboard player Mike Turbutt.)[8][9] Fiercely independent, Ablemesh practised a multimedia approach to their combined art and explored various new ways of reaching an audience. This included a distribution experiment anticipating the later practise of viral distribution, in which the band’s 1992 Shareware EP was produced in an extremely limited run of three CDs only, with the CD's recipients simply invited to copy the music onto cassette free of charge and to pass it on.[10][11] The band repeated the experiment with the follow-up EP Fecund. They also explored a related promotion idea by exploiting a loophole in the law which effectively allowed them to place dummy Ablemesh cassette releases on the shelves of the record departments of mainstream retailers such as Woolworths (each dummy copy contained an insert telling the reader where they can get mail order copies).[12]

Poole's main involvement with Ablemesh was in 1995, when he played bass guitar with the band, apparently "reinvented" many of their songs and produced their album Present Imperfect. The latter was recorded entirely on an analogue cassette 4-track machine using Poole's determined and innovative production skills. The album remained unreleased until 2006 when a remastered version was made available as a download via the Ablemesh homepage.[13][14]

In 1995, Poole and Walmsley formed Dr. Brighton, a more straightforward rock band with punk and pop influences. Poole fronted the band, sharing guitar and vocal duties with Walmsley (with whom he also wrote the songs). The rest of the band were current or former Ablemesh members - Allum on bass guitar, Turbutt on keyboards and percussion and Leith on drums. The band recorded a number of tracks and played live, but did not release any albums or singles.[15]

Silver Ginger 5, The Wildhearts, Ginger & The Sonic Circus (2000-2005 plus intermittent reunions)[edit]

"I was filled with excitement (about) playing in Japan (with Silver Ginger 5), the fact we had a drummer and the fact that The Who's "5.15" had just started blaring out of the pub juke box. In front of the guitarist and the manager, both of whom I'd never met before, I jumped up on the table, kicked over our pints and strutted up and down the table miming along with Roger Daltrey whilst doing the odd bit of "air brass"... The next day Ginger called the manager to see how our meeting went (and the manager said) "Er, yeah, Ginger, em fine.... incidently, your new bass player: He's very random isn't he?" Now bear in mind that the phrase "Random" wasn't used in such a way in 2000 as it is now, and Ginger thought this was really funny and I think he'd had concerns over how to market a bald bloke in a mod suit to a bunch of rockers, so decided that giving me a nickname may endear me to the metal crowd. So "Random Jon Poole" was born."

Jon Poole on gaining his nickname[5]

In 2000, due to Cardiacs' influence on (and friendly relationship with) The Wildhearts, Poole began to work with Wildhearts leader Ginger on the latter's spin-off project Silver Ginger 5. Poole played on the Black Leather Mojo album (produced by Tim Smith) and joined the Silver Ginger 5 live band as bass player. It was on the first day of Silver Ginger 5 rehearsals that Poole gained his nickname of "Random Jon".

Poole's work with Silver Ginger 5 led directly to him joining The Wildhearts in 2002 (replacing Danny McCormack on bass). This move ultimately led to him leaving Cardiacs in 2004 due to the demands of the Wildhearts' touring schedule. When The Wildhearts split up again in 2005, Poole continued to play as part of Ginger's band Ginger & The Sonic Circus and on Ginger's solo tours and albums.[16] He rejoined The Wildhearts in December 2012 when the Wildhearts reformed for Ginger's annual Birthday Bash. He played with The Wildhearts on all of their 2013 live dates.[2]

God Damn Whores (2005-present)[edit]

After leaving The Wildhearts in 2005, Poole created the God Damn Whores, a glam-punk/hard rock band centred on himself as lead vocalist and guitarist. The band has a flexible lineup which Poole describes as "just me and anyone else who happens to be available."[6] At various times The God Damn Whores has featured Ginger, Wolfsbane guitarist Jase Edwards, Chris Catalyst (The Sisters of Mercy/Eureka Machines) and Ginger's drummer Denzel. God Damn Whores have supported both Cardiacs and The Wildhearts on tour.

The band's first album, We Are The Lucky Thirteen, was released on Round Records. Poole later described this recording as "a bit of fun"[6] and stated that it would be entirely eclipsed by the follow-up ("a very tribal/glam/psychedelic affair.")[6] On 19 October 2012, Poole launched the second God Damn Whores album, Heya Heya Heya Heya Ho! via PledgeMusic.[17] releasing the album on 29 December 2012. On this release, Poole played all instruments although some guitar solos were contributed by Jase Edwards.

Other collaborations (Crayola Lectern, La Momo, Celebricide. The Lotus Eaters)[edit]

Poole has been involved in several Brighton-based collaborations with fellow psychedelic/experimental rock musician Chris Anderson. Since 2008, Poole has been part of Anderson's psychedelic rock project Crayola Lectern, in which he plays Casio synthesizer.[18] Since 2009, Poole has played drums for La Momo (which features Anderson on guitar). During 2006, Poole drummed for Celebricide, which featured two of his future La Momo bandmates (both Chris Anderson and Sadie Fredericks).[19]

In June 2009, Poole announced that he had joined the cult 1980s indie rock band The Lotus Eaters as bass player. He performed at their concert at the Liverpool Philharmonic on 25 July that year.[20]

In April 2014, a Pledgemusic preorder campaign was launched for a new project called The Dowling Poole which saw Jon teaming up with Willie Dowling formerly of Honeycrack and Jackdaw4. The album "Bleak Strategies" is set for release on 11 August 2014 through 369Music.[21]

Work as solo artist[edit]

In addition to his band projects, Poole has released two albums under his own name.

"When Uncle Frank died in 1993 I lost it big time. I must've been like one of those embarrassing Elvis fanatics that couldn't imagine a world with him not in it… Being only 23 years old when hit with this hammer I decided in a very obsessive manner that I simply must pay tribute to the man the only way I knew how. I set out to stay as faithful as possible to the original arrangements but wanted the mix to sound more inviting to people who don't like Zappa… My only criticism of it in hindsight is the crap attempt at an American accent which at times sounds more West Country than anything else, but that's probably the XTC fan in me… I can't imagine that I'd do anything like that again but it did manage to drag in a few new converts, so maybe re-writing the New Testament wasn't such a crazy idea after all!"

Jon Poole on his Frank Zappa tribute[5]

In 1994, Poole released a particularly ambitious Frank Zappa tribute album Mothers Covers (later renamed What's The Ugliest Part Of Your Body?[22]) which was released in 1994.[23] On this album, Poole performed a surprisingly accurate and effective one-man band rendition of old Mothers of Invention songs using only multiple overdubbed vocal parts, guitars, a Yamaha DX7 synthesizer and a primitive Alesis HR16 drum machine.[24] In January 2003 the album was released as "What’s The Ugliest Part Of Your Body – The Works Of Frank Zappa Circa 1965-69" on Org Records.[25] It was reissued again via Bandcamp in November 2013.

On 19 October 2012, Poole launched his second solo album, Random Jon Poole on PledgeMusic.,[17] making the digital version available on 29 December 2012 (with a CD version scheduled for March 2013).


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Announcement on The Wildhearts official website, accessed 12 January 2013
  3. ^ July 2009 interview with Jon Poole on Cardiacs homepage, page 1 - accessed 11 September 2009
  4. ^ July 2009 interview with Jon Poole on Cardiacs homepage, page 3 - accessed 11 September 2009
  5. ^ a b c d "July 2009 interview with Jon Poole on Cardiacs homepage, page 2". Cardiacs homepage. July 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-11. 
  6. ^ a b c d July 2009 interview with Jon Poole on Cardiacs homepage, page 6 - accessed 11 September 2009
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ Article on Ablemesh homepage, accessed 10 September 2009
  9. ^ Article on Ablemesh homepage, accessed 10 September 2009
  10. ^ Article on Ablemesh homepage, accessed 10 September 2009
  11. ^ Article on Ablemesh homepage, accessed 10 September 2009
  12. ^ Article on Ablemesh homepage, accessed 10 September 2009
  13. ^ Article on Ablemesh homepage, accessed 10 September 2009
  14. ^ Article on Ablemesh homepage, accessed 10 September 2009
  15. ^ Notes on Dr Brighton's MySpace page - accessed 11 September 2009
  16. ^ Metal Talk news article 19 September 2011
  17. ^ a b Random Jon Poole PledgeMusic page, accessed 12 January 2013
  18. ^ "HUGS AND KISSES: Neo-classical nightmares and the wonder of contexts" - Everett True blog review reprinted in Village Voice, retrieved 20 September 2008
  19. ^ Notes on Celebricide MySpace page, accessed 16 September 2009
  20. ^ July 2009 interview with Jon Poole on Cardiacs homepage, page 5 - accessed 11 September 2009
  21. ^
  22. ^ Amazon UK listing for 'What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body?'
  23. ^ Information on Poole Zappa covers album from, accessed 9 September 2009
  24. ^ Organart biography of Jon Poole, accessed 10 September 2009
  25. ^ News Article from The Wildhearts official website, dated 7 December 2002.