The Blog

From the Bayou to Brixton


I get the lowdown from on the UK's hottest new talents, John J. Presley to discuss the blues and the current state of the UK scene.

Ask any rock fan worth their salt about the Blues and they will tell you it is the primordial ooze from where all rock comes. From Chuck Berry to Led Zeppelin, the Sex Pistols to Slayer if you go back far enough into the music's DNA, you'll find yourself in the American South with a disenfranchised young man picking at a guitar. My first encounter with the Blues 'feel' in music was the work of ex-Misfits frontman Glenn Danzig, whose solo project melded the riffs of metal with a southern twang and a lyrical fixation with Evil which comes straight down from Robert Johnson. Once you get that feel you're hooked for life.

Hooked for life is exactly what John J. Presley is, a man dedicated to making contemporary blues without the nagging old school pretentions of the purists or the surface deep clichés of the folk revival (Mumford I'm looking at you and your waistcoats). Presley's music is instilled with a Blues essence that doesn't rely on strict rules or a minimal set of chord sequences. His crushing riffs and gruff vocals on the likes of 'Sweet Sister' and, his latest single, 'Honeybee' conjure dark backroom bars and long, drunken, journey's home on an East London night bus.

Having just returned from a European jaunt with, Rock N Roll psychotics, the Jim Jones Revue, I shot the shit with him about what's next for the young guitar man.

"Let's start with the most important question, what does the J. stand for?"

Indeed the most important - James.

"For someone who's never heard you before how would you describe your sound?"

Blues with a bit of beauty. No Dad rock.

"How did you first become influenced by Blues music?"

When I first left home at 18 I got into 'The Blues' in a huge way; Son House was the man - I loved how one man could have so much depth to him...more than any band that I'd heard before.

"How have you adapted it to your personal style of song writing?"

I don't think there is any point in covering old ground, especially when it's been covered so well. I try to make it my own with an English tint. After all, I live in London, not Tennessee.

"What can we expect from your debut album?"

We've released two singles with Killing Moon, who have been absolutely great. Our priority now is to find a home for the album and future projects. When we get there expect soundscapes, strings, horns, a few mellow numbers too. Hit the depths.

"Would you say there are any specific artists that are heavily influencing you at the moment?"

I love the latest Cold Specks album and St Vincent. I Love the old Jazz cats too, namely Monk and Mingus.

"Do you think there's enough people doing something with a bit more bite in popular music? Like your own material."

I do think there is something happening. Things got a little stagnant and bland for the last few years from my point of view. No risks were taken. Unit shifters you may say!

"How has playing the BBC Introducing Stage helped move on your career forward?"

It definitely helped. Another rung on the ladder is always good.

"And you've just finished a tour with Jim Jones Review, how was that? I know those guys are a little wild."

It was pretty amazing, some beautiful but long drives, Jim Jones Revue looked after us very well, I thank them. I really enjoyed Mainland Europe. It's completely different to touring the UK.

"And finally what's next for you? Any more big tours coming up?"

With any luck yes, things are being pencilled in. Hopefully UK dates in February and Europe in the Spring.

John's new single 'Honeybee' is out now on Killing Moon Records

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