John Bellows

John Bellows


Bellows has spent the last 8 years freaking out the Chicago underground with a guitar & his singular vision. He has ingested & regurgitated virtually every form of popular music, from the Carter Family to the heavy riffage of AC/DC. One of the most incredibly intense live performers of this era.


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.



Written By: John Bellows

Have no fear, my clementine is here
What's its face, whatever say is ok with me
Are there as many stars in the sky as there are fish in the sea
I don't know, I sure hope so, maybe
Soda is popping in my spine, I fell funny all the time
'Round the clock I rock-a-bye my babies

Take a handful of your most favoritest things in the world, let's all play show and tell
Flippin' out it's a flat as a pancake world and I'm not sure exactly how or why...
There's a bigger sky than your own brain pushing your feet on the ground
And you can't fly unless you die and go to heaven

The sun says,"Hi!" through my venetian blinds
I run outside and try and try and try and try to leap into the sky
But every time I come back down my clementine's still not around
You don't win, please try again later

Take a handful of your most favoritest things in the world squishing with all of your might
Hold your breath until you start seeing swirls, work up an appetite
Break out all the finger foods and pelt the bride and groom as hard as you can...
Cause if you'll believe it, I'll conceive it, whatever makes you my neighbor
We'll toss rings around the rosie, decorate the graveyard
I'll flip my lid, I'll blow my mind, I'll clench my eyelids really tight and hope and pray someday you'll say, "My clementine is here!"

Bare to the Bone

Written By: John Bellows

I woke up in my clothes on a Saturday
Artillery's in place for an alien attack
And I thoroughly collapsed from a heatstroke
When I was on the back porch telling you that

I'll warn you, misinform you with sudden surprise
All dressed up to fess up, I doubt I'm gonna make it on time
And this madness, this sadness, it's everyone's own
So don't expect no compassion unless you're giving some

Red Rover run over here and break me loose
Conformity's deformed me into some sort of heinous groove
And I told you so, the melody's all tangled up
Like wire inside a soft cushion, poking through, messing iit up

And I casually mentioned that I like you but you didn't care
And to think that you were the diversion that brought me here
But I'll trick you, I'll kill you, I'll make you my own
Charm your heart through a cannon string telephone

Unfolded, unraveled, and bare to the bone
Skin flaking, so embarrassing and without reason
I caught you red handed hand standing on the tip of my tongue
Fall over, it's over, I'm over, and that's the end of the song

Travel On

Written By: John Bellows

Traveler how will you find your way, nobody knows but you
And if all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you have a parachute
And I cross my heart and hope to die, I've told you all that I know
So stop killing me, and set me free, and let my people go

We wake up early every morning, go to bed late every night
And believe you me, we will skin our knees, but we won't go down without a fight

Traveler how will you find your way, nobody knows but you
If you stop and smell the roses you may find a friend or two
When you fly away into outer space everyone else will too
And we'll all dissolve in a big mirage and find our dream come true

Imaginary Friend

Written By: John Bellows

I'm so depressed, I can't forget these little feelings I repress are all I hold that's dear to me
Tie up my shoe and we'd sing songs, dance in the nightlight on the wall, and our shadow puppets would all parade and scare the monsters all away
Tucked beneath the blankets in our bed we'd share the secrets in our head, and I always knew that you'd be there, there to listen, there to care

Coming on home from school one day, I found my friend had run away, oh where oh where now could he be
Then Mommy sat me down and said that all along it was just pretend, and I was old enough to understand he was just an imaginary friend

Oh who will ever save me, for this empty heart enslaves me in the memory of my friend and me
And rubbing my cheek against a peach I can feel his love so soft so sweet, and as my kitty purrs me to sleep I know I can waltz with you there in my dreams


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

Set List

When I play solo, the set can be fairly manic. I try to rock the mood between very loud short songs and very soft long songs. These sets are typically 25-35 minutes. A few covers I like to do are Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" and the Kinks' "Strangers".

If I play with a band, then it is typically a spastic rock show, occasionally with a very small toy drumkit.