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A short biog

I spent most of my late teens playing guitar in a Bristol-based indie band called Saturnines with old school friends Chris Thomas & Dom Flook. We had great times whiling away our spare time recording, gigging and dreaming of the big time….

By my early 20s I was looking for something a bit different, and eventually left Saturnines and became one half of Monk and Canatella with Simon Russell - a crazy crossover act consisting of breakbeats, samples, detuned guitars, shouting/rapping and vocals.

We were signed to Bristol label Cup Of Tea Records. We released an album Care In The Community, a few EPs and caused a stir touring with an unpredictable adrenaline-fuelled live show before signing to the legendary Telstar Records. A couple of years and one album (Do Community Service) later it came to an end. We continued to work on a few ideas in the mid-2000s culminating in a final performance at Itchycoo festival near Shepton Mallet in 2009.

In 2010, I put a band together with Bassist/Producer Martin Dupras and former Saturnine Chris Thomas and recorded and self-released my first solo album Voyage Of Oblivion (2012).

Featuring guest musicians Owain Coleman (Bare Knuckle Parade) & Emily Barker (Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo), it captured the mood of a Blues/Rock band recorded live.. We promoted the album with a series of gigs around the south of the UK through 2012.

In 2013 I started working on my second solo album After All The Wishing…. I wanted to spend more time on the production on this one and go for a different feel and bring in some of the New Wave influences which I used to hear a lot of on the radio as a kid, combined with the blues & rock sound of the previous album. The line-up changed slightly and I was fortunate enough to have James Eller (The The, Julian Cope) guest on the bass. I had randomly met James in a Bristol street twenty years previous and we were going to work on a project together but it hadn't come to fruition. Chris Thomas returned on drums/percussion and this time I mixed the album with the help of Swindon-based Producer Stu Rowe (Future Sound Of London, Andy Partridge, XTC).

The album featured an amazing array of guest musicians, including Craig Crofton (Monk & Canatella), Annie Gardiner (The Hysterical Injury), Mark Stewart (The Pop Group), Dom Flook (Saturnines), and the dark narration of writer & storyteller Damien Moran. It was released in March 2015 on Rattlewatch Records.

On the 25th May 2018 I self-released my third solo album Three-Dimensional Living, it was recorded between 2015 and 2018.. I had set myself the arduous challenge of doing everything on the album myself, right down to the mixing, mastering and artwork.

The album was accompanied by three music videos for the tracks Gamblers, Anaesthetic Apathetic and Andrew’s Suicide which were directed by Alan Cartwright once again. I performed a handful of gigs to promote the album.

I'm currently playing guitar with Dominions of Glue, Brutal Wounds and the improv duo Searle & Johnston.

Jim x

"Astonishing live… Never heard or seen an acoustic guitar played better!"

BBC Introducing

"Refreshingly intense, dark and brooding - reminiscent of Bowie’s experimentations with the industrial genre."

Divide & Conquer

"an album that is both futuristic and primal, detached yet tribal, dance-fuelled but swaggers with rock and indie moves, it is progressive yet familiar, focused yet constantly shifting."

Dancing About Architecture

"it's obvious Johnston has drive and vision…if you love classic Cabaret Voltaire, you’re in for a feast!"

Soundblab

"A modern-day successor to Scary Monsters"

The Quietus

"Chaotic glee, sinister whispers & genre-popping rock 'n' roll swirl to head-spinning effect!"

MOJO

"A sprawling twisted masterpiece!"

Louder Than War

"Both weird and intoxicating, dangerously attractive and unlike anything you have heard before. In the right light it would be easy to convince yourself that this is actually a long lost album from Bowie’s Berlin years and there are not many albums that you can say that about."

The Rock & Roll Report

"Takes the listener on a cinematic journey through twisted soundscapes. alt-indie plains and just about everywhere else."

PROG

"A hell of a musician, exalted amongst mere mortals."

Listomania

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