Answered by: John Hartley (Johny Nocash)
What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
In my head I think I have always been making music. Even though I was born after they split I wanted to be in The Beatles. I was convinced it couldn’t be that difficult, and at the age of eight fashioned some instruments out of cardboard boxes, elastic bands and borrowed Stephen Butler’s mum’s acoustic guitar. “Don’t break the strings!” she insisted. Yes, well…
A decade later I was playing socio-political pop songs on the streets of Bolton but writing more personal songs on the sly. I nervously touted these to a couple of friends who didn’t just burst out laughing, and The Irony Board – initially Boards – were born. Fast forward a few years and the world has also had to put up with Echolalia, Broken Down Lorry, The Broken Heed, JonJour and, indeed, Johny Nocash solo output. I no longer even know what my current incarnation is.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
Ah, The Irony Board’s ‘Unfinished Business’! The story of The Irony Board was published in 2018 by i40Publishing, with a compilation CD accompanying it. I thought that might bring me closure but no: I realised the songs we performed but didn’t ever record were still nagging away, so I set about righting that wrong. Wally and Jamie at The Beautiful Music were very kind and released the songs into the big wide world. ‘Unfinished Business’ is to The Irony Board what ‘El Camino’ is to Breaking Bad, but without the murders and the meth.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
I started writing The Irony Board songs to fill gaps when The Trash Can Sinatras weren’t releasing any, though I’ve also taken hope and inspiration from the likes of BOB, McCarthy, and BabyBird over the years. Maybe if I’d immersed myself in music by Wet Wet Wet, Boyzone and Oasis I’d have had a bit more success but hindsight is a wonderful thing… Non-musical influences are always a bit harder to pin down, aren’t they. Tea: there’s one – you can’t beat a nice cup of tea. In my youth I would have cited alcohol too, in particular Joseph Holt’s bitter and mild. Lyrically, the seaside, underdogs and the wrongs of the political Right have also been a strong influence. And the search for the perfect pop song.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
I can’t really answer that and keep a straight face. I’ve never been good at selling my stuff (theoretically or physically). It’s the sound of a bloke trying to write songs that his heroes might have written, usually on an acoustic guitar but sometimes pretending he can rock, and other times pretending he can play the piano.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
This is easier… Books: ‘The Scheme For Full Employment’ by Magnus Mills, ’45’ by Bill Drummond and an anthology of Roger McGough poems – you can choose which one.
Movies: ‘Local Hero’, ‘All You Need Is Cash’ and, for seasonal purposes, ‘Elf’.
Albums is harder, but today… ‘Cake’ by The Trash Can Sinatras, ‘Abbey Road’ by The Beatles and ‘Stutter’ by James. Or should I take ‘Strip-mine’? I don’t know.
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
Studio recording, definitely. I have a love/hate relationship with live performance: I love the idea of it, hate the build-up, love the last few minutes of it and hate the aftermath and post-match analysis conducted in my head. Studio wise, I really enjoy playing with the layers and textures of songs, trying things out, ironing out the mistakes and, sometimes, deciding which mistakes to leave in on purpose.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
The Irony Board were upstaged twice by jukeboxes, once by the theme tune for ‘Coronation Street’ blaring out just as we were about to embark on a song, the second time when Tony, our keyboard player, waved hello to the manager of the venue who assumed it was a signal that we’d finished and whacked up the volume on the jukebox. Topping that though, I’ll never forget the look on the face of my German teacher when he saw The Irony Board busking – full band – in Bolton one Christmas: a combination of surprise, shock, and the thought that seven years of quality education had come to this.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
‘It Looks Like We’re Done For’, which was recorded originally with Echolalia, then appeared under the Broken Down Lorry moniker before finally being re-recorded for The Broken Heed. What makes it unique? Probably that it isn’t me trying to sound like somebody else… It’s a delicate little song that just came organically, with lyrics inspired by the cameradie of friends faced with an insurmountable task.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
I’m going to pop down stairs and put the kettle on. Musically, there’s an album written for which recording commenced in late August and then hit a hiatus which has been going on for a bit too long now, really. I don’t know under what incarnation it will be released, but it will see light of day. It’s a collection of unconventional love songs, in that the subjects include slugs, the West Pennine Moors, and shortcuts to spite the town planners.
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
Why haven’t I got the message and just given up?
Because I can’t.
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
Connect with The Irony Board:
I don’t ‘do’ Facebook, but I Tweet as @JohnyNocash and am happy to engage in conversation there. Finally, and maybe most importantly, there’s Brokendownrecords@bandcamp.com which has much of my back catalogue available, often for free. (Well, it was, last time I looked…)