After parting ways with the indie rock band, Tribes, Johnny Lloyd took to the life of a solo musician. First by releasing two EPs by the titles of ‘Dreamland’ and‘Eden’ and has now begun to make his mark on the alt-folk world with his first full-length release ‘Next Episode Starts in 15 Seconds’. Johnny made time in his hectic schedule to speak to me about life since Tribes, including writing for TV and film, his songwriting for the new album, becoming the newest member of the Yamaha family and his ownership of a guitar played by a pioneer of sad alternative
You’re about to release a new album, that’s going to be released on May 3rd. It sounds to me as if it’s unlike anything you’ve ever done before, what have your influences been for it?
Well, I’ve been doing a lot of stuff for film and tv for the last two years. I’ve been working on the music for the new Rolling Stones film and I’ve been doing stuff for loads of TV in America. A lot of that has been quite electronic, quite heavy, so I just wanted to get back to the basics of my songwriting which is just me on an acoustic guitar. I didn’t really want to have too many people involved and I wanted to get it done fast. It’s literally just how I felt that month. All the songs were written between October and November last year and they all just seemed to come on an acoustic quite naturally.
Who produced the new album?
Nathan Coen, he’s a great new, young producer in London. He had a very minimalist approach to the whole thing and actually wanted to go back to doing full takes rather than going back and editing everything together afterwards. 2 or 3 of the songs on the record are actually live takes. I really loved doing that.
Did I see that you had recorded some of it at Abbey Road Studios?
It was mastered there, yeah.
So you’ve released two EPs before this album, did you want to move away from the sound of those on purpose?
No, not really, I’m just not playing with a band at the moment. I’ve got plenty of songs lying around to make another album like that if I wanted too. But I didn’t really want to do that and I didn’t want to go back on the road with a band and I wanted to try doing it by myself. I didn’t really want the constraints of other people’s schedules. Something I’ve never done before is go out by myself, so it’s something I really wanted to do
Is the idea of touring all by yourself quite a daunting feeling? Because you haven’t really got anybody to hide behind and it’s quite an honest representation of your ability as both a songwriter and performer
Yeah, I played a show at the Brits week and it was pretty scary. You can’t lean back on the other guys on the stage, but I loved it, I really enjoyed it and it’s something that I’m about to do a lot of, here and in America later this month.
I’ve seen from some other interviews that you have done, that some of the lyrical topics are based around your time living in the US. You’ve broached topics regarding gun laws. What are some of the other lyrical topics that you’ve touched upon?
It’s all about being in your 30s, becoming a dad, it’s about not achieving some of the things you wanted to do, it’s just about being able to live with yourself. The main sort of brunt of it is learning to love yourself and enjoy what you’ve done and not freak out about what you haven’t. I think that’s come from becoming a dad and looking back on what I’ve done and what I haven’t. In terms of the America stuff, ‘Mass Shooting’ is something I wrote whilst I was in Los Angeles and it’s just all over the place and the gun laws are just so crazy. I think once you’ve spent a bit of time there and you realise how many shootings are happening, especially in schools every single day, it makes you feel a long way from home and left a bad taste in my mouth and I wrote a song about it.
There are some special guests on the new album, am I right?
Yeah, Frank Turner is on there, he sings on ‘Next Episode…’ and Hugo White from The Maccabees plays on ‘I’ll Be Me’, I’ve got Harry Styles’ bass player who plays across a bunch of stuff. Then there’s a big crew of musicians from San Diego from a record label called The Redwoods, which is a very Americana label, and they play on a couple of things; they play on ‘Forced Therapy’ and ‘I Need Help’. I just sent the acoustic tracks over and they just jammed on them.
Yeah, I really like ‘I Need Help’, it really reminds of something Elliott Smith would write, especially within the double-tracked vocals
Yeah, I used an SM57 (microphone) like he did and I double tracked everything. I just really love the sound that it gives you, and it’s really hard to get the sound unless you use the gear that he actually used.
‘Next Episode Starts in 15 Seconds’ is out now on Xtra Mile Records. Johnny departs on a 3 month UK tour in September.