John McIvor's story starts when he began writing his own songs at the tender age of twelve. John (born in Dublin, Ireland) was influenced by a diverse range of artists and soaked all of this influence up through his teens. Eventually he moved to London to study music in 2005, aged eighteen. John played all kinds of music during his time in college, trying anything and everything. It wasn't until the summer of 2008 when things started to pave the way. John moved into a new house with friends and it was at this time that he set up a band around him. Long nights were spent in a bathroom / conservatory, listening to records, and playing music. The influence of this period, the consideration and patience that it fostered, is at the heart of John’s music. After a long gestation, John had his first show in Brighton on the 21st of February 2009.
Soon after this hard work began on the debut EP. Self-recorded and self-produced, it is a testament to the subtlety and emotional depth that some music can sometimes achieve. It has been described as “possessing qualities which are perfect for the genre; addictive, introspective and positively calming..." (Shelley Hanvey - eFestivals). The opening track, Heroes, has found a particularly warm reception, especially live. From its opening chords, it builds, dragging the listener through deeper and deeper water, finishing with a wild, emotional crescendo.
The EP was released to an eager public, a sold-out show at Whelans (Dublin, Ireland) in March 2010. Extensive gigging followed, with performances of note at the Isle of Wight Festival (headline act – Paul McCartney), and Little London Fields Festival. Songs from the EP were played on various radio stations, including Tom Robinson's Introducing show on BBC Radio 6Music, which was followed by a performance on Balcony TV (London) in the summer 2010. Throughout the proceedings, new songs were being written, a tour of the UK and Ireland planned, and work began on a second EP planned for release in 2011.
Soon after this the tour was on the brink. In his white transit van, John traveled with a band across the UK and Ireland. They covered many dates over two months, sowing their music where it would take root (notably Islington's O2 Academy 2, the Troubadour in Earl's Court, Manchester’s Night and Day Café, and The Palace in Dublin.
While on tour in Ireland, the band entered Windmill Lane Studios (Dublin) for the last intensive recording session, resulting in John’s second EP, Institutionalised, which was released April 1st 2011. The material shows a maturing of John's distinctive sound; the same subtlety and emotional depth, but crystallized in a man now thoroughly comfortable in his own skin, confident, and uncompromising. With the addition of this EP to his catalogue, John’s music has now been aired on various radio stations in Europe and America. Notably BBC Radio 6Music, and Dublin City FM. Institutionalised, the title-track of the EP, reached number 2 in the Top 5 Tracks Of The Week on Boston radio in America. After the release of the Insitutionalised EP, 2011 was clogged with touring festivals, local gigs, and more recording for the songwriter, including a return to the Isle Of Wight Festival, and a debut performance at Field Day Festival, in London.
John is also featured playing one of his songs on Communion Records album - The Flowerpot Sessions (released through Island Records in June 2011). The compilation also features artists such as Lissie, Damien Rice, The Staves, Angus and Julia Stone, and Alan Pownall, amongst others.
2012 has so far been a busy year for John as he finishes recording what will be his next EP release (due this summer 2012). Along with this John is currently touring the UK, and he seems to be playing anywhere and everywhere as he has covered many shows already in this early stage of the year. In the beginning of March, John supported rising star Jon Gomm, a sold-out show in Camden’s popular venue, The Proud Gall
Can do sets on my own as a solo act or if with a band it would be... - Bass, Drums, Vocals / Guitar, and Electric Guitar.
"John McIvor & The Tizzlettes EP" - Homesick Records, December 31st 2009. No longer available online. Songs from this EP have been played on various stations across the UK and America. Notably BBC Radio 6 Music (UK), and Berkley Radio (Boston).
"Institutionalised EP" - Homesick Records, April 1st 2011. Available on most online stores. Songs from this EP have been played on numerous radio stations across Europe and America. Most notably on Spark Sunderland (UK), and BBC Radio 6 Music (UK). "Institutionalised" - title-track of the EP - reached number 2 in the Top 5 Tracks Of The Week on UNRegular Radio (Boston, USA).
John McIvor promises great things from them in the future at MAPS
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Sometimes the best discoveries are made without all the preparation, the anticipation and the insigh...Sometimes the best discoveries are made without all the preparation, the anticipation and the insight. Would Columbus’s 1492 landing in the Americas have been any the less worthy of a fanfare had he simply fancied stretching his sea legs and stumbled across the New World whilst having a mooch around? 'Of course not!' I hear you cry and you would be right. But Columbus did prepare, he did anticipate and he was insightful, and all this with the aid of a map…and herein lies my connection with the great pioneer. I ventured out this weekend armed with just such a map, or MAPS to be precise, and this was when I found my own little slice of the Promised Land, or the land of John McIvor as the ownership flag clearly designated.
In its sophomore year and passing every exam thrown at it, MAPS Festival is certainly shaping up to be quite the teacher's pet. The Manchester festival showcases a diverse range of artists and offers visitors the opportunity to sample a mere amuse bouche of the arts and music venues which The Northern Quarter has to offer; one such example being the inimitable and ever impressive Night and Day Café. This was the venue of choice for John McIvor's first outing to the city and neither place nor performer were disappointed.
Formed in early '09 whilst studying together at college, the four-piece band are named after their lead singer, chief songwriter and creative force, who I couldn't help but liken to fellow Irishman and multi-talented maestro, Damien Rice. Fusing blues and folk with a Celtic/traditional acoustic predilection, the band has drawn comparisons with folkies of choice Mumford and Sons. Indeed, McIvor’s tone was not dissimilar to that of Marcus Mumford, both possessing qualities which are perfect for the genre; addictive, introspective and positively calming. The band kicked off their short but sweet set with 'Heroes' taken from their debut EP 'John McIvor and the Tizzlettes'. This reflective yet rousing track speaks about differences; be they cultural, religious or social and is told through wide –ranging geographical references. The track tells us that there is "…no need to save the world, no need to be a hero", perhaps because you won't change the opinions of others and those cultural, religious and social differences will still exist; a view expressed as the music reaches a crescendo in the drum-laden chorus which focuses on acceptance as it's conclusion.
New, non-EP tracks 'Johnny and Addicted' and 'Chelsea Girl' followed, further demonstrating McIvor’s skills as an accomplished lyricist, whilst never compromising on melodic composition. McIvor states on his MySpace page that he is influenced by several notable live performances, mainly in the folk, singer-songwriter genre, including 'Mumford at End of the Road in '09' and 'Fionn Regan live at ULU 2010'. I share this view; as inspiring as listening to a great album can be, I don't think anything can compare to listening to a track being performed live. Indeed, I have often discovered that I like a song far more than I thought after hearing it live, without all the technical wizardry. Stripped down will always be my preference.
'The Garden' followed, which reels you in with the delicate and dreamy harmonica intro, until you feel just as lost as the protagonist in the track who is looking back to describe the feeling of getting lost in someone, '…time wasn’t present here, just a broken clock, always tick not tock.' This is the kind of track that you never want to end and you could quite gladly have on in the background whilst you while away the hours. 'Anna' is the third and final track on the recently released EP and is a bittersweet and reflective ode to lost love. I don't think I could ever tire of the emotion and expression that comes across through the medium of folk music, which is why I find this track particularly special.
Upcoming festival dates for the band include Sellindge Music Festival in Kent and the Isle of Wight Festival, both taking place in June this year. I would recommend fans of Mumford and Sons and the folk/blues genre generally, to take a listen to this band as I think we will and indeed should see great things from them in the future.
review by Shelley Hanvey
photos by Shelley Hanvey
John McIvor and The Tizzlettes EP
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This is undoubtedly our favour- ite tune of the moment and has been on the CD on repeat for at least...This is undoubtedly our favour- ite tune of the moment and has been on the CD on repeat for at least a week; it’s got the poten- tial to become one of our all-time favourites. As in ever, of all time.
It’s got the sound of modern English folk from the likes of Noah and the Whale and in par- ticular the Mumfords, at least as far as the vocals go, and to some extent it’s got a similar sound, with acoustic guitar and quietly played, if powerful drums.
But it’s also got a more weighty feel than the whimsy of Noah or the cheeky grin of Mumford; comparing it to Neil Young is going a bit too far but it’s heading that way. The three tracks on this EP are less for dancing to than sitting and listening to.
Opener is “Heroes”, about rela- tions between the US and that country, reducing it to the per- sonal level of two men, one
American and one Afghan, and about how they blame each other for the mess that Afghanistan is in. Whoever’s right, the results is pointless destruction and pig- headedness.
It’s a beautiful song, starting off slowly and then building in a quiet sort of way — live music fans who’ve seen Robin Pierce’s cover of “Hey ya!” will recognise the song structure (for the rest, it’s on YouTube, on the Congleton Chronicle channel) and the drums are very similar. It’s almost a pro- test song, but not quite.
The second track is “The gar- den”, which is again acoustic and quite beautiful, and the third song “Anna”, which after repeated lis- tens is as good as “Heroes” in its own way, a downbeat love song that has some nicely technical but chilled drumming, plus the acous- tic guitar.
This is really good stuff and if the album’s as good, it will be a stunner. It’s so good that we’d say that McIvor delivers what the Magic Numbers promised: those who remember the days before the MN’s debut came out, will recall that it was very exciting thinking how good it could be and then it wasn’t; Mr McIvor fills the void that disappointing debut left.
They play the Blue Cat Café in Stockport on 26th September and the Fuel Bar Café in Manchester on 8th October. They’re on MySpace (/johnmcivor) and as well as the usual stuff, you can see them play live courtesy of Balcony television. JMC
LONDON FOLK BAND JOHN MCIVOR TALK GIGS, LYRICS & THE FUTURE
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In the past couple of years, London has experienced a resurgence in the popularity of folk. Thanks t...In the past couple of years, London has experienced a resurgence in the popularity of folk. Thanks to the likes of Noah and the Whale, Mumford and Sons, and Reading's darling Laura Marling, folk is cool again. And with our dear capital nurturing the renaissance of flannel shirts, banjos and good honest music, it's no surprise that good quality bands are popping up all over the place.
Thanks to Communion, the London club night founded back in 2007 to champion young alternative folk bands, the live music venue The Flowerpot in Camden Town and folk nights such as Monday Monday, the folk and acoustic genre has become a lot more accessible to a new generation. Alternative folk band John McIvor comprises vocalist John McIvor, guitarist Tom Hill and drummer Boris Baumeister. Stereoboard caught up with lead singer McIvor to chat about gigs, intelligent lyrics and their rather promising future.
John McIvor recently played the acoustic stage at the Isle of Wight festival, alongside the likes of Midge Ure, Suzanne Vega and Ben Montague. The three-piece have been gigging on the London circuit at venues such as The Flowerpot and The Monarch in Camden for the past couple of years and have an upcoming gig in the legendary Troubadour Club, proponent of a hotbed of talent since its beginnings back in 1954.
Singer and guitarist John McIvor talks excitedly about the chance to play at the Isle of Wight festival, saying "it was a big honour to play at such a legendary festival. The sun was shining all weekend too, which was a massive bonus!"
The band has drawn critical praise for their delicate lyricism - take the band's anti-war song Heroes for instance:
"Today I met an Afghan man
He could shoot fire from his hands
Then he pointed at the Taj Mahal
And he shot a golden fireball
He was rambling about the USA
Said they took all his family away"
Protest songs have a rich history in folk music - Bob Dylan's Blowin' In The Wind is an obvious example, along with Woodie Guthries This Land Is Your Land and a whole host of songs from Pete Seeger. In recent times however, we've seen a decline in protest songs and John McIvor has attempted to react to this apparent apathy: "I actually really want to write more political songs, like Heroes. With everything that's been going on in the east for quite some time now, I feel that our generation needs more protest songs."
However, McIvor's songs aren't just protest songs for a new generation. "I also try to write fictional songs too whereby I create different characters and stories in my head or simply just put myself in someone else's shoes. Like with Maybe, a made up story that I thought of when I was trying to figure out what it must feel like to grow old and watch all your friends die around you. What if you were the last one left? How would you deal with that? And I guess I decided to write about it because I felt the topic deserved a song and people in that situation may relate to it."
The band has moved on from their simple beginnings as music students in London. Singer McIvor and guitarist Tom Hill moved in together in their final year of university, and the two eventually decided to form the band after conversations in their shared bathroom - "We had this great bathroom upstairs; well. it was more like a conservatory / bathroom. It had a typical conservatory layout with a glass roof and windows, a bath and toilet on one side covered by a small wooden wall, and then on the other-side there were some wicker chairs and a small table. We all spent most of our nights up there listening to music, watching the sun set, and getting inspired. Our relationship grew stronger during these moments and after talking about it a couple of times we decided to set up the band."
From humble beginnings in a bathroom, the band is slowly building up a fan base in London and beyond. With a UK tour planned for the autumn, this is one band to look out for.
John McIvor : London folk from a bathroom
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Named after their lead singer, John McIvor are a melodic fusion of blues, folk and tender acoustics....Named after their lead singer, John McIvor are a melodic fusion of blues, folk and tender acoustics. McIvor, along with Tom Hill (guitar) and Boris Baumeister (drums) have earned praise for the intricate story-telling within their songs. The band are palpably influenced by the London folk scene (Noah and the Whale, Mumford & Sons etc) and having recently played the illustrious Isle of Wight festival, the trio are destined to become a part of this talented young assemblage of musicians on the London scene. We caught up with singer John McIvor to talk about their rather promising future...
Matchless: Hi John, congratulations on playing the Isle of Wight festival – did you have a good time?
John McIvor: It was amazing! We all loved it and it was a big honor to play at such a legendary festival. The sun was shining all weekend too, which was a massive bonus!
Matchless: Which other bands did you see there that you enjoyed?
John McIvor: There were a lot of great bands, most of which we didn’t get to see, but my favorites that we saw were probably The Strokes, Noah and the Whale and Paul McCartney. We saw as much as we could, but we were so busy most of the time we didn’t get a chance to see many. I think Tom and Boris saw The Editors as well. They said they were excellent!
Matchless: How would you describe your music?
John McIvor: I suppose, to keep it simple, we would call ourselves alternative/folk, but we feel (with Boris’s drum style) that it’s something more. Folk has always been a huge part of my life - especially traditional folk, but when starting the band our aim was to create our own brand of folk music. This is the reason why Tom and myself asked Boris to play drums. He was influenced a lot more by modern music such as broken-beat style drums, some underground French hip-hop and stuff like that… We hoped this would put a different perspective on our sound and it seems to have worked really well!
Matchless: How did you get together with your band?
John McIvor: Well we all met while studying music in London. We all became good friends during this time and in our final year of college Tom and myself moved in together. We had this great bathroom upstairs; well… it was more like a conservatory/bathroom. It had a typical conservatory layout with a glass roof and windows, a bath and toilet on one side covered by a small wooden wall, and then on the other-side there were some wicker chairs and a small table. We all spent most of our nights up there listening to music, watching the sun set, and getting inspired. Our relationship grew stronger during these moments and after talking about it a couple of times we decided to set up the band.
Matchless: What do you do when not making music?
John McIvor: I like to just chill mostly, but I get bored quickly so I try to make music as much as I can.
Matchless: You’re currently playing a lot of London gigs; do you have plans to gig elsewhere in the near future? Do you have plans to visit Germany any time soon?
John McIvor: Unfortunately not Germany just yet because at the moment we just don’t have the money to do it. We are planning a UK & Ireland tour to begin sometime in late September, but Germany is a little out of our grasp for the moment, maybe sometime in the beginning of next year…
Matchless: What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?
John McIvor: Tough one to answer… Different gigs bring different emotions, and different feelings carve the surface each time. For instance The Strokes live could not be compared to Bon Iver live… One you spend running and jumping up and down, shouting your head off while the other you just stand in amazement, goosebumps all over your body, shivers up and down your back. I can probably narrow it down to about three, but don’t hold me to this… Bon Iver at Hyde Park, Paul McCartney at Isle of Wight, and Bob Dylan at the O2 Arena (terrible venue I think, but just to hear Bob and his band was enough). Best festival I have ever been to would have to be Oxegen in 2008.
Matchless: Your lyrics have drawn praise from music journalists, where does your inspiration stem from?
John McIvor: Mostly self-experiences like bad relationships, regrets, loss, basically what’s going on around me and inside me, but I like to be open to write about anything. I actually really want to write more political songs, like Heroes. With everything that’s been going on in the east for quite some time now I feel that our generation needs more protest songs.
But I also try to write fictional songs too were I create different characters and stories in my head or simply just put myself in someone else’s shoes. Like Maybe, it’s a made up story that I thought of when I was trying to figure out what it must feel like to grow old and watch all your friends die around you. What if you were the last one left…? How would you deal with that…? And I guess I decided to write about it because I felt the topic deserved a song and people in that situation may relate to it.
I play on my own with the acoustic guitar, and other times with one other person playing beats and sounds on a sampling unit.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.