Twisted Wheel were a band which defined part of my youth growing up, and lead singer Jonny Brown has always been as sound as they come. I was delighted to catch up with Jonny for my latest Q&A – talking Oasis, the Manchester music scene, clothing and everything in between. A cracking interview if we do say so ourselves!
Hi Jonny, how are you today?
I’m double-double good!
How is lockdown treating you?
Lockdown was rubbish but things seem to be loosening up now. I feel one of the positives of the lockdown is that some people had time to have connection with family members they wouldn’t usually see that much. I’ve noticed artists and musicians have had time to work on their crafts which is a thumbs up from me. Hopefully when things go back to how they were (as close as it can get) we should get some positive shit going down. I understand it’s been very tough for many but you have to see the positives in these situations
Let’s start from the beginning, for those who may not know, talk us through your background in the music industry?
I started out playing guitars as a young teenager and messed about in bars growing up until I started a band in Manchester called The Children. The Doors and The Coral were big influences. We did well in Manchester but things didn’t work out so I broke away and started doing acoustic gigs playing my own songs I had been writing. Soon after that we formed TWISTED WHEEL, a few friends from school.
We smashed it up in the city every weekend and landed a four-album record deal with Columbia records. We recorded our first album with Dave Sardy in Hollywood LA. We toured as Oasis’ main support for the majority, plus some legendary gigs like Heaton Park, Wembley arena etc We toured pretty much constantly and were awarded the hardest working band of 2009. We toured with Ian Brown, The View, Pigeon Detectives, The Enemy, Paul Weller to name a few and supported Happy Monday’s, Buzzcocks and many other legends of rock n roll.
Amongst all that we played sold out gigs up and down the UK and Europe and toured Japan. We did Glastonbury John Peel stage, Leeds, Reading loads of times, T in the park main stage and many more festivals like Fuji Rocks in Japan. Our album did well and gained a hardcore following as well as Liam and Noel, Weller, Shaun Ryder were all fans. Things didn’t run smoothly though, and the band split up and reformed with different members many times. With absences for years sometimes.
From 2008 when we formed, to 2020, we released three albums and an EP Jonny Guitar which got number 1 in the physical charts. Our third album Satisfying the Ritual got top ten in the vinyl charts also. 2018, 2019 we did a few tours with Liam Gallagher including Europe just before the lockdown. Since the lockdown I’ve decided to step back from Twisted Wheel for a while to concentrate on another project I’m currently working on that you will hear about soon so get following me.
You’ve been through some well documented lows, including overdosing a number of times and being homeless, how did you turn it all around?
Yeah I was a rum turkey but that’s all in the past. I now choose to live in the present and envision the future which is bright. I don’t live like I did and won’t be going back to that madness.
How euphoric was it getting the band back together after going through what you did and the struggle you had?
It was beautiful to come back from that stuff but I’m a warrior and I realise the importance of life now. I didn’t see the importance back when I was in the grips of a nasty illness or the mind. It was mega though making a new record which was well received by the fans and gained us more respect from the music industry. The last load of gigs before lockdown were seriously mental.
On to happier times, Liam Gallagher is big fan of yours isn’t he?
As said before Liam has always been supportive of what I do and a sound as bloke.
How much advice has he passed onto you about dealing with being in the limelight and the music industry as a whole?
I don’t think we’ve talked much about that stuff really, we just have a laugh and talk as mates. He doesn’t have to give advice he’s a walking , talking inspiration just how he is isn’t he?!
I know the pandemic has delayed a lot of your gigs, how much are you missing touring?
I miss it loads and loads. I was watching a documentary on X-Ray Spex the other night and I really got the hunger to be touring or at least gigging again. It will all come again though.
How have you been keeping busy?
I’ve been helping others who suffer from addiction and mental health, reading books and writing, buying clothes, getting out in nature sometimes on a mountain bike and keeping fit. Watching footy. Oh yeah and cooking. I’ve really took to cooking Indian food and I’m fucking great at it. Not my words.
What are your plans for the rest of the year, once, fingers crossed, restrictions are lifted?
Getting my new musical venture off the ground.
Onto fashion, you love your clothes what are your favourite brands and why?
My favourite brands are Adidas for the history, the Originals still going strong, its timelessness and obviously its branches like SPZL. I like a brand called Newells / Cultura del Terrazo they are a fairly new brand and are growing and delivering better and better goods each drop. Check them out. Stone Island mainly for the over shirts these days, CP are making some nice joggers, Levi’s have always worked well on me, Yogi footwear just take a look to see for yourself.
A couple of brands have been good to me and are making decent stuff, CNS which stands for Cast no Shadow clothing and Three Stroke Productions who are an Italian/ English based brand. I also like Lacoste, Lois jeans/chords, Lyle and Scott, Farah menswear, Norse Projects, Barbour, Fred Perry and Pretty Green have been consistently good over the years.
Why do you think fashion is so important to a band or artist like yourself?
It’s your image isn’t it. People are shallow and can judge you on your image but I don’t give two fucks about that. I love my clothes and it makes me happy. If you’re cool you’re cool and you don’t have to try. I find I just go for clothes I like and then people compliment what I’m wearing and want to know where to get it. It’s another element to a musician that creates a whole new avenue. As well as this you don’t want to look back on photos and old videos in years to come and be like what was I thinking wearing that haha well at least not too much anyway.
How has Manchester shaped your sound and style?
It runs in the blood so in every way. My dad was a musician growing up in Manchester which gave me the opportunity to pick up a guitar as a kid but the bands are some of the best. I’ve listened to bands like The Smiths, The Buzzcocks, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Oasis, Slaughter and the dogs, Doves, Inspiral Carpets, The Fall from being a young child so it’s kind of built in to make the music I’ve made and still make.
The city and the lifestyles and people play a big part. I don’t feel it’s like it was now in Manchester but some time ago it was a great scene and growing up there were so many inspirational characters who weren’t in bands who would open your eyes and ears up to musical acts you don’t hear many talking about. A bloke RIP Jacko aka Mr Music man who was well known in town bought me records by folk artists from the 60s when I was 18 such as Davy Graham, Pentangle, Tim Hardin etc which really inspired my writing skills.
When I started going out in town at night time in my early teens I met so many great people and there was a togetherness where people helped each other out. Like a proper scene you know. I don’t feel it’s like that anymore, although it’s still a great city, those times have given way to a more hipster kind of vibe.
Who are you listening to at the minute?
Eminem, Nick Cave, White Stripes, Leonard Cohen, Ian Brown, Nas, The Bees, The Beta band. I’ve started listening to a lot of stuff I was hammering when I was 17/18.
Here at CC, we’re also bang into our football? Do you have much interest?
Yeah I love football. I’m a RED!
What’s the proudest thing you’ve done to date, either as a solo artist or in Twisted Wheel?
Joining Paul Weller on stage to sing That’s Entertainment at Silverstone.
What advice can you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in music?
Be yourself, concentrate on writing and making your music more than social media. Do that stuff after or get some other fucker to do it. Musicians spend more time doing social media than living and making music. Listen to the best music and keep it real.
Finally describe your sound in only 3 words…
I’ll describe my new sound as it’s up and coming you will hear about it soon…
True, Pure, Magnificence