John Bellows
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John Bellows

Band Rock Singer/Songwriter


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"John Bellows Live at Nanci Raygun"

John Bellows is a great dude from Chicago who rode into town to play a show with Hallelujah!, The Coughs, and The Amoeba Men. After Hallelujah! played, John ran up to the front with a guitar strapped to him in teal green Umbra shorts and a striped shirt and just started wailing on his acoustic guitar with these "can't-stop-looking-and-can't-even-talk-because-you-must-listen" songs. He played and sang by himself, and needless to say, he looked crazy and we were all waiting for him to get kicked out until we noticed his band on his arm that denoted he was scheduled to play. The songs were childish, harshly played, and hilarious, so I still thought he was crazy. He played for a solid 15 minutes with only about five seconds in between songs. The songs were so catchy that while the next band was playing, I was still thinking about his songs.

After he played, we went back to talk to him and he was absolutely sane and normal. I was so amazed by his balls in how he played and acted. We bought his CD, entitled "Clean Your Clocks." On the CD, he has other instruments which takes away from the childishness and craziness of the songs, but they're still pretty damn good and just as catchy with the other instruments. - Half Machine - Lip Moves

"The Real John Bellows"

It's a Sunday night at Pilsen's Turning Fork Supper Club, a refreshingly mellow live-in-storefront-cum-venue where concertgoers can sprawl out on cushions, and hot toddies and roasted almonds are provided on the house. The music, likewise, has been unrelentingly mellow--moody synthesizer pieces played by brooding young women--but the notoriously unhinged John Bellows is getting ready to take the stage, wielding his duct-taped acoustic guitar like a weapon, and anything might happen.
Bellows, apparently, plays all over Chicago, and can be found in several wildly different incarnations; he plays the tormented troubadour with real conviction, but can also be seen in full electric freakout mode, leading a sloppy, punked-out backing band--or, less frequently, indulging his rural roots with countrified collaborator Dewayne Slightweight. A recent appearance found him channeling his teenage hero Kurt Cobain in an ad-hoc but decidedly unironic Nirvana tribute band. But even at his most finger-pickingly subdued, there's an intense turbulence bubbling just below the surface of Bellow's music.
The set begins softly enough. Trading war stories with the adversary, he sighs, the opening salvo of a devastatingly dark new song entitled No Word of Warning. But, shape-shifter that he is, the mood soon changes. I woke up in my clothes on a Saturday/Artillery in place for an alien attack, he begins on the weird, shaggy Bare to the Bone, from his soon-to-be-rereleased full-length album, Clean Your Clock. Another track from the album follows, the heart-rending Imaginary Friend, whose portrait of childhood fantasy has all the tenderness of the classic Velveteen Rabbit book.
Even when indulging in questionable covers, Bellows is very much himself, as on his yowling rendition of John Frusciante's Femininity ("It's from his heroin album," he explains, laughing). Piling on the pathos, Bellows plows forward with another new number, Your Make Believe. The song is a rich, if somewhat obtuse, exploration of Bellows' Catholic upbringing, brimming with tense, unsettling snapshots--Your fingernails pinch at the needle in your pocket. He then invites some local talent up on stage for a more lighthearted finale. Dewayne Slightweight joins him for Second Nature, a rollicking, absurdest take on country-western melodrama, and local guitar-hero-weirdo David Cavazos emerges for Bellows' River's Deceit. There's nothing to do but to leave, they howl in unison, by way of sending the audience back home, before delving into an extended vocal freakout. Get on outta here! Git!, Bellows screams, channeling some deranged mule-driver.
The audience appears dazed, a not-uncommon response to Bellows' always-intense live shows. Having earned a name for himself around Chicago with a wildly confrontational style--he'd often charge headlong into the audience, toppling whatever happened to be in his way--the 30 year-old Bellows is now harnessing his feral demons in service of the songs themselves. Whether singing in a vulnerable little falsetto or paleolithic shrieks, gently strumming his guitar or writhing around on the floor, this much is always certain: he will never, ever simply phone in a performance--Bellows is too terrifyingly real. - Secret Beach


Clean Your Clock CD/LP
Happy Hits - Music for Kids CDR
Dimentia Europa CDR
Warped Zone CDR
Brown Stuff Cassette



I am the youngest child of 5 total siblings in a town of 297 near the Ohio River in rural Western Kentucky. I grew up a catholic schoolboy, belting out hymns louder than anyone else at church. I was told I had the voice of an angel! Come puberty though, I began to sing a very different tune. Thanks to Motley Crue's Decade of Decadence, my first CD, I developed a taste for hard rock, mastered the art of air guitar, and blew my parents speakers. But it was not until Weird Al Yankovic's Smells like Nirvana that I truly discovered the meaning of rock n roll.
Grunge hit rural Kentucky, fittingly, when I was thirteen. I got Nirvana's Incesticide at Wal-Mart and learned Aneurysm on a shoddy acoustic guitar that my mom purchased from a grocery store catalog. By ear, I figured out versions of all the songs from that album using the low fat E string. My dedication earned me an electric guitar for Christmas. My friends and I immediately formed a Nirvana cover band called Milksop. The high school student showcase was our only show. Kids moshed, crowd surfed, broke things, got taken to the office, and girls attacked me. It was the happiest day of my life! I was convinced that I had what it took to be a rock star. I'd often take my guitar and amp outside and scream songs to the cornfield like it was a million adoring fans. Rock stardom was such an innocent dream.
By Nirvana's blessing I sought out more underground music and exposed it to my metalhead friends, who in turn exposed me to marijuana. An acoustic guitar became more suitable and portable for our backwoods antics, and my obsessive tape recording showed a scrappy, twangy songwriter being born. I left Kentucky for a high tech art school in the suburbs of Chicago. My approach to music didn't jive well there with the ravers and computer geeks so I retreated deep into my room, making mumbly, stoned out dirges for no one, ingesting loads of acid and smoking pot daily.
Upon graduation I instinctively moved to Chicago proper and went on what I called my "Imaginary Tour", in which I played an open mic in the city every night for one week. It was like rebirth after a four-year hiatus. Out of captivity my inaudible humdrum songs quickly transformed into awkward, screaming confessionals. I was often kicked off stage for my obnoxious yet oblivious delivery. Hell, I was nearly evicted from my studio apartment! My landlord said I sounded like a dog with its balls caught in a chain link fence.
I procured a street performer's license and made the world my practice space. I became louder, and more spastic and confrontational than ever, clumsily experimenting with an audience of anybody that happened to walked past. It was not a profitable operation, but the wealth of public experience was worth every embarrassing charade. Besides, I was banking salary designing and animating slot machines 50 hours a work week. I was forced to spend my time out of the office wisely.
There was a defunct Bollywood movie theatre near my house in Rogers Park called The Adelphi that rented rooms to bands. I recorded most of Clean your Clock there on Sundays secretly using all of these banal bands' expensive pro-gear. The building was sold, so all the bands moved out, but I continued to record there using my own shitty gear for months after. After five years in the clutches of the white collar dream, I finally quit my job in June 2006 with 500 CD pressings of Clean Your Clock and went on my first tour with Chicago noise ensemble Coughs. I was not actually on the bill of any show that three-week tour, but managed to weasel onto every one of them. I would charge out into the audience like a kamikaze soldier, using my guitar like a machine gun and singing bloody murder, captivating or thwarting audiences in weird ways I never thought possible. And I still do.