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Controversial Subject

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Filming The The

We're in the big smoke with The The.

Carney and Graham have today resumed filming on forthcoming rockumentary People In A Film.  Post-punk band, Wire, are working with seasoned director and producer Malcolm Boyle and award winning writer and producer Graham Duff, to create a film that has the humour, the unpredictability, the surrealist edge and creative agility of a Wire song.

Today we're privileged to be interviewing Matt Johnson and Tom Johnston of The The.  

Matt was a couple of years too young to be hit by the full impact of UK punk. His urge to make music was a matter of inner demons rather than surrounding scenes. Johnson, born in 1961 in the East End of London, is one of four sons of a pub owner. His father’s Two Puddings pub employed as musical acts the likes of David Essex, Rod Stewart, and the Small Faces, while Johnson’s uncle—who owned several London dance halls and nightclubs—promoted artists like Muddy Waters and the Kinks. This early exposure to John Lee Hooker and Screaming Lord Sutch and the excitement of live rock performance led to the 11-year-old Johnson’s formation of a band with several school friends, Roadstar.

After leaving school at age 15, Johnson was determined to pursue a career in music. He contacted just about every British record company before De Wolfe, a small publishing house in London, employed him as their tea boy and eventually assistant engineer. Absorbing every aspect of the music business he could, Johnson used his spare time to record his own demos and later placed an advertisement in New Music Express that led to an early incarnation of The The.

Tom Johnston managed The The in the late 70s and early 80’s at this point and later went on to become a cartoonist for the Evening Standard, Daily Mirror and The Sun newspapers.  He also played bass for the band. 

Following the dissolution of Wire, Graham Lewis and Bruce Gilbert started Dome, with the explicit goal of exploring. Gilbert and Lewis produced and played on two tracks on Burning Blue Soul by Matt Johnson, as they pursued their Dome-project.  The The performed concerts with Wire as well as Cabaret Voltaire, DAF, This Heat, the Birthday Party and Scritti Politti.

Johnson clung fiercely to his own agenda. His songwriting focuses on self-degradation, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and general anxiety about being alive. The appeal of Johnson’s music largely stems from the self-revealing language he uses throughout his lyrics. Whether the theme is political and social commentary or sexual love, he bares his soul in an achingly authentic manner.

Having moved back to East London from New York a few years ago, Matt Johnson set about building his own recording studio, setting up his own record label (Lazarus), creating his own radio broadcast (Radio Cineola) and launching his own small publishing company (51st State Press). Subsequently these last few years have seen a protracted period of intense writing, recording and photographing – for films, documentaries, exhibitions, books and spoken word projects – as Johnson combines his love of blending the visual, aural and lyrical into cinematic packages; the fruits of which are only now beginning to emerge, as a series of lovingly home-made CD/Book releases on his Cineola imprint label.