John Grant (musician)
|Birth name||John Grant|
July 25, 1968|
Buchanan, Michigan, U.S.
|Origin||Parker, Colorado, U.S.|
|Genres||Folk, alternative rock, indie rock, electronic rock, synthpop, new wave, soft rock|
|Labels||Bella Union, Partisan, USA, Sena Iceland|
|Associated acts||The Czars, Midlake|
John Grant (born July 25, 1968) is an American singer-songwriter and former member of the Denver-based alternative rock band The Czars. In 2010 he embarked on a solo career and has since released 3 critically acclaimed albums. Queen of Denmark (2010), Pale Green Ghosts (2013), and Grey Tickles, Black Pressure (2015). He is currently recording his fourth studio album due for release Autumn 2018.
John Grant was born in Buchanan, Michigan but later raised in Parker, Colorado by his engineer father and housewife mother. He was brought up in an orthodox Methodist household, at odds with his emerging sexuality. At high school he was, on occasions, bullied both physically and emotionally by his fellow pupils. Grant now sings openly, often with caustic candour, about the landmark experiences that have pained and shaped his complex life to date; It took Grant until his mid-twenties to feel comfortable with his sexuality, having been raised in an environment where it was "clear that those people were going to hell".
Grant moved to Germany in 1988 to continue his study of languages. A gifted linguist, John is fluent in Russian, German & Spanish, as well as Icelandic, the language of his newly adopted home. After some years in Germany studying and working Grant returned to the USA in 1994. Along with Chris Pearson, Andy Moneley, Jeff Linsenmaier and Roger Green he formed the alternative, Denver-based rock band The Czars. They enjoyed critical success, releasing six studio albums, but commercial recognition proved elusive. These were troubling years for Grant as he battled with drug and alcohol addictions. On top of this he struggled with severe anxiety, a condition that has stalked him throughout his adult life. Grant has had the courage to explore and open up on these taboos, and the demons that compelled him throughout these years. While still with The Czars, Grant, who had always been a huge fan of Cocteau Twins, met with Simon Raymonde. Raymonde had recently started the record label Bella Union and although not particularly looking for new acts at that time he sensed the potential. He agreed to produce two Czars albums. Unfortunately the alcohol and substance abuse continued for Grant and after releasing Sorry I made You Cry in 2004 the band split. Following the demise of the band, Grant moved to New York and "returned to mainstream society", as he put it at the time. He worked for a while as a waiter before taking up the post of Medical Interpreter (Russian) in a city hospital. All the while he felt compelled to write music and this he continued to do. It was also during this time that Grant began the process of confronting the addictions that had been so destructive during his time with the Czars. Best Of was released in December 2014 on the Bella Union Label.
Queen of Denmark
While still working and writing in New York, it was the Texan folk rock group Midlake who eventually persuaded Grant to return to the recording studio. They joined him to record and produce what would be his first solo album; Queen of Denmark. It was released on the Bella Union label in April 2010. Described as a "deeply personal album" it explores Grant's struggles with alcohol and drug addiction as well as his personal struggle to reconcile his sexuality. "Brothers" was how Grant described Midlake when interviewed at a later date for the publication MusicOhm.
Queen of Denmark received critical acclaim and was chosen as Best Album Of 2010 by the British music magazine MOJO. Grant was also nominated as Best Breakthrough Act at the Mojo Awards and won Best Live Act for MOJO
Pale Green Ghosts
I would have done [this album] much earlier if I'd had the tools or known how to do it, or hadn't been busy worrying about getting high or drunk. It's the music I love – the '80s, and electronic music in general.— John Grant 
During a trip to Iceland to perform at the Airwaves Festival, Grant met Birgir Þórarinsson aka Biggi Veira of Icelandic electronic pop group GusGus. The electronic, synthesized dance sounds that Grant was looking for and experimented with in Veira's studio formed much of the backdrop to his second album Pale Green Ghosts, which Veira himself produced. Sinéad O'Connor was guest vocalist on three of the tracks, including "It Doesn't Matter To Him". Grant was quickly and deeply touched by the people and landscape of Iceland, so much so that he now has a permanent home in Reykjavík.
Pale Green Ghosts was released in March 2013, garnering more accolades for Grant. Pale Green Ghosts was Rough Trade Records Album Of The Year, and number 2 in The Guardian's Best Album of 2013. A nomination for Best Solo Artist at the Q Awards followed (with David Bowie and Laura Marling among the other nominees). A nomination for Best International Male Solo Artist at the Brit Awards in 2014 followed, and Attitude named Grant Man of The Year 2014.
In 2013 Grant put his linguistic skills to effect by translating Ásgeir Trausti album Dýrð í dauðaþögn. The English version titled In the Silence was released in October of that year. In 2014 he co-wrote No Prejudice the Icelandic entry for the Eurovision Song Contest performed by Pollapönk.
In 2014 Grant guested on the 40th anniversary release of Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, covering the song "Sweet Painted Lady". Always on the lookout for likely or unlikely collaborations, Grant has been keen to explore his passion for electronic and dance music, guesting on the album The Feast of The Broken Heart, by Hercules & Love Affair and released on Moshi Moshi Records.
In the first half of 2014, Grant joined British group Elbow on the North American leg of their tour. In October 2014, accompanied by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Grant recorded tracks from his first two albums for a concert on BBC Radio 6 Music arranged by Fiona Brice. This was released as an album: John Grant And The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra: Live In Concert. Grant concluded 2014 with rave reviews following his UK concert hall tour with the Royal Northern Sinfonia. ClashMusic.com wrote that the concert "could honestly be one of the greatest gigs of all time at London's Royal Festival Hall".
Grey Tickles, Black Pressure
Grey Tickles, Black Pressure is variously agonising, hilarious, uplifiting and moving: another bravura display from a unique song-writing talent.
2015 saw Grant release his third solo album Grey Tickles, Black Pressure. Recorded in Dallas and produced by John Congleton (St Vincent, Franz Ferdinand) it featured guest vocalists Tracey Thorn (Everything But The Girl) and Amanda Palmer (The Dresden Dolls). In July 2015, Grant played Glastonbury and Latitude festivals before embarking on a world tour. The following year, he toured across much of the USA and Europe. In October of that year he made a third appearance on the much acclaimed BBC Two show Later... With Jools Holland.
In 2016, Grant performed a solo show at the Royal Albert Hall, which was met with rave reviews. He was joined on stage by Richard Hawley who performed "Disappointing" from Grey Tickles, Black Pressure. Also guesting were Cate Le Bon, who duetted on "Torn Between Two Lovers" – a song made famous by Mary MacGregor – and Kylie Minogue in a performance of "Glacier". Kylie invited Grant back to the Royal Albert Hall to duet with her on "Confide In Me" for A Kylie Christmas in December that year.
In 2017, Grant appeared at the Hay Literary Festival in conversation with Cosey Fanni Tutti (Throbbing Gristle/Chris & Cosey), to discuss her autobiography Art Sex Music, which was a Sunday Times, Telegraph and Rough Trade Records Book of the Year. Grant announced in 2017 that he had signed with publishers Little, Brown and Company to write his autobiography. 2017 also saw Grant curate North Atlantic Flux: Sounds From Smoky Bay, a four-day event celebrating the best in Nordic and Scandinavian culture as part of Hull's year as UK City Of Culture. The festival, a collaboration with Curated Place, went on to win three awards at The Drum UK Event Awards, including the prestigious Cultural Event Of The Year. Highlights of the festival included performances from Susanne Sundfør, GusGus, Tonik Ensemble, Nils Bech, Adelle Stripe, Wrangler and Grant himself, who also gave a two-hour Q&A hosted by writer and poet Adelle Stripe and later described as "enthralling".
In July 2017, Grant returned to the Royal Albert Hall to contribute to a fund-raising event on behalf of Stonewall. The evening marked the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offenses Act 1967. Grant appeared in conversation with one of his biggest influences, Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins, to discuss tracks from the Cocteau Twins' classic album Blue Bell Knoll. The album was then played out in full on vinyl. According to Grant, "Blue Bell Knoll is one of the best albums of the '80s - and of all time". The event was presented by Colleen Murphy of Classic Album Sunday. In July 2017, Grant joined a distinguished line up celebrating the music of Scott Walker, as part of the BBC's Late Night Proms. Jules Buckley's Heritage Orchestra joined special guests John Grant, Susanne Sundfør, Richard Hawley and Jarvis Cocker to perform a string of Walker's songs. The event was broadcast on BBC Four, BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 6 Music. Grant also recorded "Mountaineers", a duet with Susanne Sundfør for her album Music for People in Trouble, which was released in August 2017.
Having toured with Elbow in the US in 2014, John Grant teamed up with Guy Garvey to record a duet version of Elbow's "Kindling (Fickle Flame)", which was released in September 2017. Grant was a guest vocalist on The Great Distraction, an album by Leeds-based art–electro rock quintet Vessels. The single "Erase The Tapes" featuring Grant was released in September 2017.
As well as recording his fourth solo album, due for release in Autumn 2018, Grant has been working on a side project – Creep Show; a collaboration with Wrangler's Stephen Mallinder, Phil Winter and Benge. Described as experimental pop and surreal funk, the first single "Modern Parenting" from the album Mr Dynamite was released on January 30 with the album itself scheduled for release in March 2018.
In popular culture
- Filmmaker Andrew Haigh has used Grant's tracks in multiple pieces. Several of his songs from his album Queen of Denmark are used in Haigh's 2011 movie Weekend. Grant's tracks "Black Belt" and "Pale Green Ghosts" appeared on Haigh's HBO series Looking.
- Irish musician Sinéad O'Connor covered "Queen of Denmark" on her 2012 album How About I Be Me (and You Be You)? O'Connor also supplied backing vocals for Grant's second solo album Pale Green Ghosts.
- In August 2013, Grant appeared in singer-songwriter Ásgeir Trausti's video for the song "King and Cross".
- On November 18, 2014, Grant duetted with Alison Goldfrapp on the Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood song "Some Velvet Morning" at the Royal Albert Hall.
- Grant appeared as a guest on the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast on November 19, 2015.
- On November 4, 2016 Robbie Williams released The Heavy Entertainment Show featuring John Grant in "I Don't Want to Hurt You", a track Grant co-wrote with Williams.
- On December 3, 2016, Grant was the subject of BBC Radio 4's Reimagining the City, where he took listeners around Reykjavik.
- On December 9, 2016, Grant appeared as a special guest of Kylie Minogue in her Albert Hall Christmas show, singing Kylie's song "Confide in Me".
- In April 2017, Grant curated and performed at Hull City of Culture's North Atlantic Flux: Sounds from Smoky Bay, a four-day day experimental festival celebrating the city's Nordic links and featuring a range of artists. The event has been nominated as Cultural Event of the Year.
- In early September 2017, John Grant released a duet with Guy Garvey of Elbow titled "Kindling (Fickle Flame)"
- John Grant collaborates with Vessels on the track "Erase the Tapes" from the album The Great Distraction, released in September 2017.
- With The Czars
- 1996: Moodswing
- 1997: The La Brea Tar Pits of Routine
- 2000: Before...But Longer
- 2001: The Ugly People vs. the Beautiful People
- 2004: Goodbye
- 2005: Sorry I Made You Cry
|Album||Album details||Peak positions|
|BE (Fl)||BE (Wa)||DE||FR||IRL||IT||NL||SWE||UK|
|Queen of Denmark||66||–||–||157||70||–||38||50||59|
|Pale Green Ghosts||
|John Grant and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra: Live in Concert||
|Grey Tickles, Black Pressure||
- 2013: Gets Schooled (Rough Trade Records) (duet versions of five tracks from Rough Trade's Album of the Year Pale Green Ghosts)
- With The Czars
- 2000: "Val"
- 2002: "Side Effect"
- 2002: "X Would Rather Listen"
- 2004: "Paint the Moon"
- 2013: "Pale Green Ghosts"
- 2013: "GMF" (with Sinéad O'Connor)(IRL #93)
- 2013: "Glacier"
- 2015: "Disappointing" (with Tracey Thorn)
- As featured artist
- 2017: "Mountaineers" (Susanne Sundfør featuring John Grant)
- 2017: "Whiskey" (Bi-2 featuring John Grant)
- 2017: 'Kindling (Fickle Flame)' Elbow featuring John Grant
- 2017: 'Erase The Tapes' Vessels featuring John Grant
- 2018 'Mr Dynamite' by Creep Show released March 2018. Creep Show is a collaboration between John Grant & Wrangler
- "John Grant with Midlake – Queen Of Denmark | Album Reviews | musicOMH". www.musicomh.com. Retrieved 2018-02-24.
- Petridis, Alexis (2015-10-01). "John Grant: Grey Tickles, Black Pressure review – trauma, jokes and joy". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-02-24.
- "John Grant is planning to release a new album this summer". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved 2018-02-24.
- Grundy, Gareth (2010-06-19). "John Grant: 'It was horrifying. I got out just in time' | Interview". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-02-24.
- "Reykjavik, Series 3, Reimagining the City - BBC Radio 4". BBC. Retrieved 2018-02-24.
- Lynskey, Dorian (2013-03-03). "John Grant: 'I wanted to let some of the anger out'". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- "For John Grant, There's Power In The Personal". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- Grundy, Gareth (2010-06-19). "John Grant: 'It was horrifying. I got out just in time' | Interview". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- Smith, Patrick (2017-04-26). "John Grant interview: 'I miss drugs all the time'". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-02-24.
- "The Czars – Best Of | Album Reviews | musicOMH". www.musicomh.com. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- "John Grant: 'This addictive personality permeates my entire being'". The Independent. 2013-03-24. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
- "Interview: John Grant | Interviews | musicOMH". www.musicomh.com. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
- "MOJO's Top 50 Albums of 2010". Album of The Year. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
- "MOJO's Top Albums of 2010 + John Grant tour dates & stream". BrooklynVegan. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
- "Interview: John Grant | Interviews | musicOMH". www.musicomh.com. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- music, Guardian (2013-11-20). "John Grant's Pale Green Ghosts tops Rough Trade shops poll of the best albums of 2013". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- music, Guardian (2013-11-20). "John Grant's Pale Green Ghosts tops Rough Trade shops poll of the best albums of 2013". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- Vincent, Alice (2013-09-05). "David Bowie nominated for Q Awards 2013". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- Reporters, Telegraph (2014-02-18). "Brit Awards nominations 2014: full list". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- "John Grant - Live In Concert (With The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra)". Clash Magazine. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- "Live Report: John Grant with The Royal Northern Sinfonia, at Royal Festival Hall, London". Clash Magazine. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- Petridis, Alexis (2015-10-01). "John Grant: Grey Tickles, Black Pressure review – trauma, jokes and joy". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- "Listen: John Grant – "Disappointing" (feat. Tracey Thorn)". www.undertheradarmag.com. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- "John Grant - I Wanna Go To Marz, Later... with Jools Holland, Series 37, Later... with Jools Holland - BBC Two". BBC. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- "Robbie Williams strips naked for new magazine cover - NME". NME. 2016-11-05. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- McCormick, Neil (2016-12-10). "Kylie Minogue brings early festive cheer to the Royal Albert Hall – review". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- "Cosey Fanni Tutti and John Grant - Hay Festival". Hay Festival. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- "Little, Brown buys musician John Grant's autobiography | The Bookseller". www.thebookseller.com. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- Simpson, Dave (2017-05-01). "John Grant's North Atlantic Flux review – rollercoaster ride through bold music". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- "John Grant and Elizabeth Fraser in conversation — Royal Albert Hall". Royal Albert Hall. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- "Prom 15: The Songs of Scott Walker (1967–70)". BBC Music Events. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- "Susanne Sundfør x John Grant Combine On 'Mountaineers'". Clash Magazine. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- "elbow Announce New John Grant Collaboration". Clash Magazine. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- "Vessels team up with John Grant on 'Erase The Tapes'". DIY. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- "John Grant Confirms New Creep Show Project". Clash Magazine. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
- LISTEN: John Grant's 'Pale Green Ghosts'. Out, January 30, 2013.
- "Most Multiple Personalities, episode #387 of Comedy Bang Bang: The Podcast on Earwolf". www.earwolf.com. Retrieved 2015-11-19.
- "Reimagining the City: Reykjavik, December 3, 2016". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-12-03.
- Breihan, Tom (24 July 2017). "Susanne Sundfør – "Mountaineers" (feat. John Grant)". Stereogum. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
- "Виски (feat. John Grant)" from Виски (feat. John Grant) - Single by Bi-2 on iTunes, 2017-09-08, retrieved 2017-09-14
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