Ivan St John

Ivan St John

 Dublin, Leinster, IRL
BandAlternativePop

Pop

Biography

IVAN ST JOHN

UP TO SNUFF

The debut album, releasing in Ireland November 12, on Nestegg Records
Lead single - There You Stand - out November 5

And now for something completely different...

Dublin pop songwriter Ivan St John has been quietly plying his trade over the last number of years. Despite performing shows and touring with artists of the ilk of Camera Obscura, Richard Swift, Of Montreal, Rodriguez, Bowerbirds and The Walkmen, he has avoided screechy hyperbole, choosing instead to get on with the work at hand. No scenester ligging, no grandiose claims to next big thing titles. Ivan St John has simply been playing and writing and recording and playing and writing and recording. Having grown-up in St. Patrick’s Cathedral Choir, Ivan has been cocooned in music since he was eight, inspired by the juxtaposition of listening to Paul Simon and Queen on the way to school and then singing Allegri’s Miserere in the evening.

Fast forward twelve years and Ivan St John prepares to release his debut LP, Up To Snuff:
“Every song I’ve ever written has been plotted out obsessively before recording, I have to visualise every element, every little touch. I think I'd find it impossible to hand over control of production to another person. If you listen to someone like Bjork, or Shiina Ringo, Os Mutantes, Gong, or even Bowie you see their use of unconventional techniques and instrumentation serving the songs perfectly. There is a world of sound out there. Why restrict yourself? Plus, to paraphrase John Lennon "I'm a fucking musician, give me a tuba and I'll get you something out of it." So says Ivan.

There mightn’t be any tubas on his debut album Up to Snuff, but a wurlitzer, ukulele, glockenspiel and a colossal closing chorus of kazoos on ‘A Pressing Question’ all make an appearance. “I play with two musicians who would be enviable to any contemporary act. Rhythm and bass is integral to the sound of the record”, he says. “With Liam [Marley] and Ray [Murphy] I know the backbone will be rock solid. It’s a fantastic creative catalyst.”

Ivan plays the role of musical comforter on the album’s opening track and lead single – There You Stand. “I hate to be the one that has to break this news to you,” he sings. “But you’ll get over it one day.” Up To Snuff is full of such comforts, heartbreaks, tenderness and humour, narrated by Ivan’s warm, resonant voice. Some songs knowingly reveal his love of 60's pop, but they are always layered with more contemporary ideas. "I wear my influences on my sleeve, and people will either get that or they won't, but this record sounds like nothing else out there."

Ivan is very much of the bedroom producer generation, recording songs on dodgy tape decks since he was knee- high. And in the bedroom is very much where his debut album was conceived. Nonetheless, to finish the job he took the plunge and headed to a ‘real’ studio. And where better than Steve Albini’s celebrated Chicago hangout Electrical Audio. “Making the album in Electrical Audio was going to be a vastly different experience. You definitely get a sense of it being the studio of a guy who understands exactly what he wants from it and the gear at our disposal was unbelievable.”

Rob Bochnik, one of the Electrical Audio founders, manned the controls on Up to Snuff:”I'd say to Rob, "Do you reckon he'd have this or that?” He’d wander off and return a while later with what I asked for, plus a bunch of alternatives. It was unreal. The studio is connected to Steve's house and we could pan out in his living room. He had a billiards table and the biggest VHS collection you've ever seen.”

The cover art was created by Frank O' Sullivan, a Limerick based artist. “When I saw it, I just fell in love. It was a perfect summation of the dominant theme of the album. Life can be bitter, but it’s fun to dress it up in a catchy melody. I hope there's a depth there for people, that they can identify with the songs, see past the poppy exterior and hopefully see something of themselves, or people they know, in the characters.”

Up To Snuff releases on Nestegg Records on November 12th. The lead single, There You Stand, is out on November 5th
WWW.IVANSTJOHN.BANDCAMP.COM

For further information, contact Emma at Entertainment Architects on +353 1 2606998/emma@ealtd.ie
www.entertainmentarchitects.ie

Lyrics

There You Stand

Written By: Ivan St John

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven
You hate to wish her well
As she's walking out the door,
Bags are packed they're on the floor
She don't want you any more.

You cast your mind back to how it was before
Man, you were happy then;
Had her for two years and ten (and now that she's departing)
It's a shame it had to end (you'll have to start all over again).

You remember how she used to rub your neck
And run her hands right through your hair.
Man, she was everywhere,
Indeed you made quite a pair.

But she built walls up around her, yes she did
And she turned herself to stone.
Said she'd prefer it on her own,
But that means leaving you alone

So you look on
And there you stand
You've held your head
In your hands
For the longest time

You're cold and wet as memories flood your mind
You're overwhelmed and you just sink.
Man, she was everything.
The happiness she used to bring.

You recall how she used to comfort you
Ironic now that when you need it,
There's no way you can receive it,
She's not here to relieve it.

So you look on
And there you stand,
You've held your head
In your hands
For the longest time.

I hate to be the one that has to break this news to you
But you'll get over it one day.
And here's what all the people say; (and though you love her madly)
You're better off without her anyway (you're gonna be so sad).

You have to face that there's been many bridges burned
Far to many to rebuild
And you hope she feels the guilt
Of deconstructing what took so long to build.

So you look on
And there you stand,
You've held your head
In your hands
For the longest time.

That Mamma

Written By: Ivan St John

You make me sick, make me sick,
Yeah You're so-wo-oh-oh
So asleep, so asleep
And it shows.

You got tangled in her
And all that you can do is get upset about it.
You changed the clothes that you wear,
Let me tell you you should just forget about it.

She will get inside you head
And your mind, your mind may fail,
So don't let her in.

It's only you, only you
Can let go-wo-oh-oh
So waken up, waken up
Don't be so-

You don't come out no more,
I asked you and you told me not to talk about it.
Can't you see whats in store?
Do you really want your friends to just forget about you?

She will get inside you head
And your mind, your mind may fail,
So don't let her in.

That Mamma's got a hold on you And she's gonna break your back.
All summer you been workin' hard, She won't cut you any slack.
Told you, told you, told you're gonna lose your mind, unless you get away.
That mammas got you under her thumb she won't let you out to play.

Smooth

Written By: Ivan St John

She's not your friend,
She'll break you til the end
And take your cold, cold comforts and slowly turn them to ice.
Break your spirit down, pretend she's sugar and spice.

She says "Shut up your mouth. Take that smile off your face.
Now honey this ain't the time,
This ain't the time or the place"
Her golden rule is to guide your action
And the secret behind her success Is her talent for abstraction.

She's so smooth you better be careful 'cos you can't tell
She'll bring your body to heaven but she'll send your mind to hell.
She's so smooth get up from where you fell
All her tricks get easier she knows you all too well.
She's so smooth but I don't like her way
There's something strange about her and it's in the things she says
Cos she's so smooth, yeah.

She's not your friend
She's drain you til the end
And she'll revert to a trick that she learned years ago,
Same response when you let your feelings show;

She says "Shut up your mouth. Take that smile off your face.
Now honey this ain't the time,
This ain't the time or the place"
Her one sole aim is to make you look a fool,
So take heed of my advice and rememeber her golden rule.

She's so smooth you better be careful cos you can't tell
She'll bring your body to heaven but she'll send your mind to hell.
She's so smooth get up from where you fell
All her tricks get easier she knows you all too well.
She's so smooth but I don't like her way
There's something strange about her and it's in the things she says
Cos she's so smooth, yeah.

A Pressing Question

Written By: Ivan St John

You asked me a question there,
Much to my torment
And I've put off answering,
Only now will I relent.

You want to know about
All the loves of mine?
One time significances
Now time out of mind.

Well there's been other women
There's been quite a few.
But all of these other women
Were a rehearsal for you

And in my way I think
That I've loved them all.
But in the end I know
That I love you more

I know you love me baby
I know it's true, oh
There's no other baby
Has loved me quite like you, oh.

We've got each other baby, that's for sure.
We've got each other baby, who could want more?

Discography

Debut album "Up To Snuff" is released Friday 12th November 2010.
Lead single available as free download from BandCamp from Friday 5th November 2010.

Set List

1 - Mysterious Ways
2 - Senectitude Becomes Her
3 - Jack The Lad
4 - That Mamma
5 - This Is How We Play
6 - Edwina
7 - Home
8 - There You Stand
9 - Smooth
10 - A Pressing Question

9 or 10 songs, 45 minute set.