The End: John Grant | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, June 12th, 2024  

The End: John Grant

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Apr 19, 2019 Photography by Shawn Brackbill Bookmark and Share

To end out the week, we ask John Grant some questions about endings and death. Grant released a new album, Love Is Magic, last fall via Partisan and Bella Union. Grant produced the album with Paul Alexander (of the Texas band Midlake) and analogue synth expert/collector Benge, hence it had a bit more of electronic feel to it. It was mainly recorded at Benge’s MemeTune Studios in Cornwall, England. Grant was born in Michigan, but raised in Colorado, and has spent a lot of time in Europe. As on previous albums, lyrically Grant’s biting wit shines through on songs such as “He’s Got His Mother’s Hips,” whereas ballad “Tough & Go” is a tribute to Chelsea Manning. Manning was a United States Army private who was court marshaled in 2013 and sentenced to a 35-year jail sentence for violating the espionage act by leaking classified and sensitive materials to WikiLeaks that exposed civilian deaths in Iraq due a U.S. helicopter attack, among many other things. She’s also a trans woman and in January 2017 President Barack Obama commuted her sentence. “The lyrics aren’t just the doom and gloom of the past. They’re a snapshot of everyday life-the ridiculousness, the pain, the deep longing,” said Grant of Love Is Magic in a press release announcing the album. “Each record I make is more of an amalgamation of who I am. The more I do this, the more I trust myself, and the closer I get to making what I imagine in my head.” Read on as Grant discusses how he’d like to die, what song he’d like played at his funeral, his concepts of heaven and hell, his favorite endings to movies and books, his ideal last meal, and the animal he’d like to be reincarnated as. How would you like to die and what age would you like to be? I would like to die riding the newest most bad-ass gigantic roller coaster in the world. 95. What song would you like to be performed at your funeral and who would you like to sing it? “Harper Valley PTA”a reanimated Burl Ives. What’s your favorite ending to a movie? I wasn’t aware the movie had ended. Or Old Yeller. Don’t want to spoil it for you if you don’t know. What’s your favorite last line in a book? “I spoke loudly and incessantly like the peasants and then like the city folk, as fast as I could, enraptured by the sounds that were heavy with meaning, as wet snow is heavy with water, convincing myself again and again and again that speech was now mine and that it did not intend to escape through the door which opened onto the balcony.” From Jerzy Kosiński’s The Painted Bird. What’s your favorite last song on an album? “Time It’s Time” by Talk Talk from The Colour of Spring. This is my favorite album by Talk Talk and it also has one of my favorite opening tracks on an album [“Happiness Is Easy”]. “Time It’s Time” is such a remarkable example of melancholy and at the same time it’s full of optimism and the call to keep going. I especially love the percussion on this track, which always reminds me of a rhumba or bossa-nova. What’s your favorite last album by a band who then broke up? ABBA: The Visitors. My friend Scott Heim, the man who wrote Mysterious Skin, one of my all-time top books, recently said: “It’s like in every note of this album they KNEW their time as ABBA was over and they were resigned to living their own lives and growing old.” To which I added: “As billionaires.”

What’s your favorite way a band broke up? Don’t know any stories. I guess I haven’t been paying attention. Strange, I would have thought I would have heard something that would have left an impression, but apparently I haven’t. Or I’m just old and can’t remember. Whose passing has most affected you? My mother’s. If you were on death row, what would you like your last meal to be? Best fried chicken with fresh sweet corn, mashed potatoes, and gravy and fresh green beans. For dessert, the pumpkin cream pie my mom used to make. Followed by the peanut butter cream pie my mom used to make. Followed by the butterscotch pudding pie my mom used to make. What would be your own personal version of heaven if it exists? In the immortal words of Laurie Anderson: “Paradise is exactly like where you are right now only much, MUCH, BETTER!” What would be the worst punishment the devil could devise for you in hell, if he exists? Not fucking telling you in case you are he. If reincarnation exists, who or what would you like to be reincarnated as? Porcupine. What role or achievement would you most like to be remembered for? I would like to be remembered as a great friend.

[Note: This article originally appeared as a bonus article in the digital version (for tablets and smart phones) of Under the Radar’s Issue 65, which is out now. This is its debut online.]

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April 19th 2019

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