- Words Ryan Cahill
We sit down with former Tribes frontman Johnny Lloyd as he prepares to drop his first solo album.
By this point in his career, Johnny Lloyd is already recognised as rock royalty. He’s formerly the frontman of rock quintet Operahouse, after which he became the frontman for Indie-Rock band Tribes, and now he’s broken away from his band roots to go solo. His debut solo album, Next Episode Starts in 15 Seconds, follows two solo EPs, which he released in 2016 and 2017 consecutively. He sought the help of Jamie T, Mike Crossley (Hozier, The 1975) and Hugo White (The Maccabees) to guide him through his solo transition, and their musings seems to have worked wonders on the frontman’s sound.
The first release from the album is it’s title-track, which is in collaboration with Lloyd’s lifelong mate, Frank Turner. It’s melodic and minimal; the kind of jam that you might find tucked into the soundtrack of a Michael Cera movie – it has a nostalgic sense of melancholy that’s reminiscent of coming-of-age films from the late Nineties / early Noughties. It’s also a slight change of direction for Lloyd, but it’s a refreshing one – and bodes well for the new album which drops in May.
As he gears up to unveil his new sounds and his solo direction upon the fans t hat have stood by him throughout his career, we sit down with Lloyd to discuss the inspirations behind his latest work and explore how going solo compares to being in a band.
Tell us a little bit about how long you’ve been working on this album.
It started in October. I had just written ‘next episode starts in 15 seconds’ in my kitchen. I sent the voice note to my manager and he said ‘let’s make this album’. I hadn’t had any plans to make a record again. I was really excited about that song. The rest of the album took 3 weeks. I wrote 12 new songs in that time and we recorded 10 of them.
What would you say are the key themes of the album?
What were the core influences for the album?
Musically I wanted it all to be acoustic. I wanted that challenge. I listened to a lot of Elliot Smith and Paul Simon while I was writing it.
How does this work compare to the work you did with Tribes?
It’s a lot more personal. There are things on this record I wouldn’t have said in Tribes. I don’t think I would have felt comfortable saying them.
This is the first solo album you’ve released. How do you feel about that? Do you think cross-over fans of Tribes will be happy?
I feel great about it. It feels empowering to be going out there under my own name. Yeah, I hope some of the old Tribes fans pick it up but it’s not geared towards them in any way.
How does being a solo artist compare to being in a band?
It’s completely different in all areas. I enjoy both. Obviously being in a band there is a lot of compromises when you bring a song to the table. Being solo feels a little more free creatively.
What were the key things that you learnt from working in a band?
I think the main thing was a confidence onstage I think you can only get from being top there with your mates and learning to deal with it all together.
Talk us through the album cover for your new release.
I told Billie I was headed to Regents Park to take the cover photo in front of my favourite tree. She said that was the worst idea she had ever heard. So she suggested if the album was about our life we should take a shot of us in the moment. I rang Toby Ross Southall, who does all my videos/photos. He arrived in 20 minutes with his Polaroid and we just shot where we were sat on the bed. I wrote almost all the album in that room so it feels right.
What have you got lined up next?
The album is out on May 3rd at which point I’m going to do an instore tour around the UK. I’ll be announcing a proper tour around that time for October – December.