A Night with Johnny Foreigner

2010-03-31 16:51
Johnny Foreigner


The soundcheck which started at 17:00 is taking very, very long. "I hope they'll sound ok tonight," Anja is worrying. "At Assembly they soundchecked for nearly 3 hours. It's important with a noise-pop band like Johnny Foreigner for their sound to be precise and perfect. Otherwise they just sound, well, like noise." Kelly's voice sparkles over the mic: "La, la, la" sharp and sweet now that it can be heard sans guitar erm.. noise.

How was the show at Assembly? It was their first show in South Africa, ever.

Junior exclaims: "Awesome, awesome, awesome!"

Lexi nods. "That was amazing. I mean for us to come over here and no-one really knows us but they're jumping up and down. For us to get that kind of response in England it takes two albums and a whole lot of live shows."

"Plus the visuals were amazing,” Junior adds, “Ben did our visuals. He had cats shooting lightening bolts out of their eyes."


Everybody is chased out of the venue, Johnny Foreigner's request apparently. The organisers and band stick very strictly to the guestlist. Even Anja, appointed as tour manager, can't let her friend in for free. Bringing the band over was an expensive experiment.

Anja says it sucks that she couldn't show Lex, Kel and Jun (as Jo Fo likes to be known) much of Cape Town as they have such a hectic schedule. “It was literally like, ok guys, we have 1 ½ hours, let's quickly go up Table Mountain!”

"And we went to the beach at Camps Bay, a bit," Junior adds "... swam a bit. That's pretty much it. And we went wine tasting. We'll see a bit more when we come back. We're definitely coming back. We love it here."

“You know our tour manager in England's never been and he was like I'm gonna get you guys bodyguards and shit!”, says Lexi.

Junior laughs: "And I was like shit man I've been there before you don't need bodyguards! Yeah I came here five years ago, fell in love with the place then, couldn't stop talking about it."


Lexi asks to borrow my lighter, he lost his and he always wonders where all the lighters go. We think that there might be some lighter heaven where they all end up or one person who has a lighter collecting obsession, some klepto. "It's so awesome to be able to smoke here," he says. We talk about the smoking laws in London.


"People just end up not going out and pubs lose money because no-one wants to stand outside in the cold to smoke." He is surprised to hear that SA has the similar laws. “I asked the guy in Assembly where the smoking section was and couldn't believe it. He just said you can smoke here man, anywhere."

Dom needs to speaks to Lexi urgently: "Have you seen the plastic bag that was in the back of the van?"
"Uhm yeah... dunno where it is now."
"The cables are in it"
"Oh shit"



A six-pack of Steri Stumpie milkshakes is shoved into Kel's skinny arms and Jo Fo sits down to pose for promo photos. Are they sponsored by Steri Stumpie? I ask Anja. “No. But ever since they got here everyone just wants pictures of the band with their products.”

Chatting to Lex, Kel and Jun becomes unnerving as a video/tv cameraman records everything. “S'ok,” they say, “We're used to him now, he's making a doccie for Red Bull.”

Jo Fo recorded a track for Red Bull with Peach from Yesterday's Pupil. “It was an awesome collaboration,” Junior says, “He's just like us, a stoner.”

Lex says: “Usually when we go in to record something or to collaborate, the person already has a set idea about how they want it to be. But with Peach it was just like shopping. He did like a million takes and then played them to us and we just sat there and would say, we like that, we like that, we like that...”

Anja says that after the succesful Red Bull recording, Jo Fo are contemplating recording their next album right here, in South Africa.


Lexi brings back my lighter. “Shit now I'm that guy who steals the lighters!” he says.


So I hear Johnny Foreigner is big in Japan. Junior tells all: “We went to McDonalds after the show in Japan and there were all these kids going crazy holding like life size cut-outs of us!”

Heard of Die Antwoord? “Yeah yeah yeah,” they all confirm.

“He's gonna be massive.” Lexi says. “He reminds me of Aqua.”

Kel: “I think he's got like subliminal messages or something cause you can't get it out of your head!”

Lexi: “It is like an awesome pop genre. You can see it going massive and people will be listening to it for like forever. People will be singing along to it on buses in Germany.”


Jun checks out our photos, he says they're awesome and we should send them to the band. Especially the one of Dom and Ben watching them do soundcheck. “She's been so amazing at organising everything,” he says in awe. Dom has, in the mean time, retraced the steps of the missing plastic bag as well as some keys Lexi thought he had lost.

Jun likes taking pictures himself. He takes all the pics for their bloggyforeigner.blogspot.com and Lexi writes for it. I recall seeing a photo of a dassie on Table Mountain with the caption: “Tell yr mom to get off our rocks!”



Kel's head is resting on her palms, elbows on the table. It has been a long day and she has a headache. “I think I'm just dehydrated because of the wine tasting,” she goes looking for a headache tablet. “I'm gonna ask Dom.”

Jun says he's fucked, he's had like a few ciders on top of the winetasting, he starts drinking water hoping he can sober up before the show. “When I'm drunk on stage I just have no idea what I'm doing.”

What is it that they're doing with their music? Are they trying to convey a certain message to their fans/the world?

“This thing that we do is like so unpretentious,” says Lexi. “There's no like deep thought behind it. It's just that we can write good songs so we do. And people like good songs so...”

I mean so many bands try to sound deep and they're like well actually you should know about this and you should be doing that. It's just entertainment.”


Dom brings the band some KFC. Jun: “Man awesome you don't get mash and gravy in England”


The show begins. Hardly into the second song Lexi yellls: “Whuzzyername from Ashtray Electric can I please borrow your guitar? I think mine's fucked. Sorry I don't know what your name is!”

Kel: “So we really wanna stay in this country and we heard the only way that we can do that legally is to get married! Any takers?” No lack of volunteers.


Rudi from Ashtray Electric gets on stage and joins the band halfway through a song, it doesn't look planned. It doesn't sound planned.


Lexi: “How come you guys know the words to our songs! That is amazing”

I wonder if anyone else noticed that Jo Fo attempted a rendition of the Supermario theme between songs, something that Kidofdoom used to do. I wonder if it's a kind of a tribute or just coincidence? Maybe everyone else was too busy noticing the two guys who have removed all clothing besides their their undies in the whirl of the sweaty dancepit.

The crowd doesn't take as long to disperse as the shrill notes take to stop ringing in your ears. Because the crowd was sparse, despite vigorous flyering by Griet's team. Of course, Stellies students can hardly be expected to fork out 60 bucks for a band they've never heard of. They'd much rather spend those precious cents on seeing Jack Parow twice a week, every second week. Or to see Fokofpolisiekar once a month. A tradition ever since 2004. As far as Jo Fo themselves are concerned there is only one SA band to look out for (besides Die Antwoord) “Kidofdoom!” they shout in unison.

They'd love for their friends Danananakroyd to come tour here with them next time.

So Jo Fo will definitely be seeing SA again and SA them?

Jun: "We feel like we're being selfish by coming again but then we're like no we've been here first!"
Lexi: "It's ours!"

Let's hope that Griet will recover from this debut experiment to make it a habit, as planned.

Nadine Theron got up close and personal with British noise-pop rockers Johnny Foreigner at the Klein Libertas gig in Stellenbosch, during the Mother City leg of their recent SA tour.
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