James Johnston (English musician)

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James Johnston
James Johnston performing at the Avantgarde Festival in Schiphorst, Germany, in August 2009.
James Johnston performing at the Avantgarde Festival in Schiphorst, Germany, in August 2009.
Background information
Born1966 (age 54–55)
Guildford, Surrey, England
GenresAlternative rock
InstrumentsGuitar, electronic organ, vocals, violin, harmonica, piano.
Years activeLate 1980s–present
Associated actsGallon Drunk
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Lydia Lunch
PJ Harvey

James Johnston (born 1966) is an English alternative rock musician and painter.



Musician and artist James Johnston founded the London-based alternative rock band Gallon Drunk in 1990 as frontman and main songwriter.[1] The group have been active, both recording and touring, to the present, releasing eight studio albums, compilations, and one live album, most recent being 2014's acclaimed 'The Soul Of The Hour'.

Johnston was a member of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds from 2003 to 2008, having originally toured as a guest guitarist with the band in 1994 on the Lollapalooza tour.[1]

He has also recorded and toured with a wide variety of other musicians, including Lydia Lunch (both solo and as the band Big Sexy Noise), French alternative rock group Ulan Bator, Barry Adamson, and as a member of legendary Krautrock band Faust, and recording and performing with PJ Harvey.

Johnston has contributed scores to numerous film and television projects, the play The Nest, working together with PJ Harvey, and most recently All About Eve stage play, again with PJ Harvey.

He has collaborated with Ken Russell and acted for Olivier Assayas in his award-winning film Clean.

Johnston released a solo album, The Starless Room, in November 2016 which was produced by Johann Scheerer.

On February 26, 2021, Johnston will release a collaborative album with musician and photographer Steve Gullick titled We Travel Time.[2]


His turn to painting initially began with working small scale in hotel rooms on tour, subsequently becoming his primary focus as a daily studio practice. His work has been used on book covers, album artwork and in art publications.[citation needed]

Johnson is a figurative painter. His paintings are both bold and loose. The often unsettling, darkly humorous, and totemic images are based between the everyday and the world of the imagination.

Solo shows[edit]

The Stash gallery, London. 2019.

Group shows[edit]

Linear - Gallery 64a. 2018.

Extricate - Gallery 64a. 2018.

A Letter in Mind - The Oxo Tower, London. 2018.

Push The Boat Out - The Art Academy Walworth. 2018.

Jo Mama's Alphabet Show - Studio One gallery. 2018.

Jo Mama's Second Alphabet Show - A-side B-side gallery. 2018

You Know More Than I Know - The Art Academy, London. 2019

A Letter in Mind - The Oxo Tower, London. 2019.

Magazine and book appearances[edit]

Persona #8. France. 2019

Sargasso arts magazine (Featured artist and cover art). Germany. 2018

Epifanio 2018 edition. Estonia.Johnson is a figurative painter.

Featured artist in Prospero Arts, The Economist. 2019.[3]

The Art of the Murder Ballad. (featured artist) Holland.

'Nadirs' - Tom Buron. (cover art)

'Love is an ancient disease' - M.A. Littler. (cover art).


  1. ^ a b Strong, Martin C. (2002) The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, ISBN 1-84195-335-0, p. 755-6
  2. ^ "We Travel Time: James Johnston and Steve Gullick". Trebuchet. November 30, 2020. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  3. ^ "James Johnston, a veteran rock musician, has blossomed as an artist". The Economist. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2020-03-28.