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John Grant

Love and Laughter

Jan 15, 2016 John Grant Bookmark and Share

Since going solo in 2010 after a long stint with the Denver alternative rock band The Czars, John Grant‘s hit the roll of his life. 2010’s Queen of Denmark and 2013’s Pale Green Ghosts exhibit Grant’s arresting command of pop’s rich vocabulary, rife with crisp orchestration and impeccable electro-pop structures. But his newest, Grey Tickles, Black Pressure, is his most self-assured and stylistically vast record to date, both musically and lyrically. It also evinces Grant’s gallows humor and optimism in spades, and is yet another stepping stone in his well-documented management of drug addiction.

“I feel like all my records are optimistic,” he says. “I want to show up for this life now. It’s just taken me a long time to figure my shit out, to get sober and look at myself in the face and figure out why I needed to escape from myself for decades. I feel like figuring it out is optimistic, because otherwise it would just be saying fuck it and giving up…. I feel like this is the lightest album I’ve done to date. This one’s more me than the others.”

It’s illustrated masterfully on the album’s title track, a fantasy of coming to New York pre-gentrification only to get lost in hedonism and self-destruction, a topic well documented in the past with Grant’s discussion of his HIV positive status. “It’s about getting a head start with disease,” he says. “I’m sure I would’ve had a great time, but I wouldn’t be talking to you right now,” he laughs.

Grant is disarming when discussing his battles with coming to term with his own homosexuality. “I’ve been dealing with it through humor since 1978,” laughs the 47-year-old. “But a lot of people don’t realize how homophobic this country still is. You don’t hang out where everybody still wants to lynch you…. You have a lot of people say, ‘What the fuck are you whining about? Shut up.’ I wanted to get to what a struggle it was. These things fuck with you for life. I’ve gotten much better tools to deal with it. But there are pockets of New York City you can’t go to still. It’s still there.”

Grant currently resides in Iceland with his partner, and loves the anonymity he enjoys there, as well as their taste in music. “You can hear Gus Gus in the grocery store,” he laughs. But he’s adamant that economically and with the lifestyle they strive to enjoy, Icelanders aren’t all that different from Americans. “They want to drive cars and do whatever they feel like doing. They don’t care that I’m gay, which is a big difference.”

This inspires the question as to whether or not the track “Global Warming” is an indictment of the United States’ political policies. “No, it’s a song about total self-absorption and selfishness,” laughs Grant. “The only reason I’m bringing it up is because autumn is my favorite season and I don’t want to deal with intense heat. We’re quickly moving towards winter and I’m wearing a T-shirt in Boston. It’s about self-absorption. Do you care about the issue, or do you care about having your private fears realized? Americans don’t want to believe in global warming and we’d rather build walls up and down our coasts rather than dealing with the issue. I’m pointing the finger at myself. But I love the states and I love being American. I love American pop culture. We all need to be made fun of for sure.”

[Note: This article first appeared in Under the Radar’s November/December Issue. This is its debut online.]


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THHM Eminem
January 15th 2016

I like John Grant’s second music video. It shows how singing and talking can have the same effect. It’s a point he tries to make. There are things that you do everyday but why? If there is no point to doing them then why do it? You just try to take up time because you have nothing else to do with it.

January 19th 2016

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