JOHN & JEHN

 

This is not a love song', said John Lydon, back when he wasn’t advertising butter.

 

And this is not a love story, either, as many of John & Jehn’s lyrics will bear witness to.

 

"It's about the despair of being in love" explains Jehn, with reference to 'Love Is Not Enough', a track from their forthcoming second album to be released on France’s Naïve label, 'Time For The Devil' (inspired by a short parable called ‘La Hora del Diablo’ by the Portugese writer and poet Fernando Pessoa). "You know when you wake up in the morning and the only thing you want to prove is you're not a couple?"

 

And indeed, John & Jehn are no longer a couple. They are now John & Jehn & Raph & Maud. On stage anyway. Raphael Mura (of Underground Railroad) has been enlisted to release them from the confines of their drum-machine, and Maud-Elisa Mandeau has been drafted in on guitar, freeing John to focus on bass, because it forms the foundation of pretty much everything on 'Time For The Devil', and allowing them both to pretty much assume the roles of lead singers with a band behind them. "A lot of the new songs are dancey… groovy” Jehn tells us. “We were looking for a groove, and we always started writing the song with the bass. Never guitar."

 

A departure, then, from their eponymously titled first album – released on Faculty Records in the UK back in 2008 – which referenced Joy Divison, The Velvet Underground and other 1970’s luminaries of bluesy pop-noir. And on their self-released EP which introduced them to British ears way back in 2005; ‘L'Amour Ne Nous Déchirera Pas’ (‘Love Will Not Tear us Apart’) which in turn led to their move to London and their move away from those sounds which insprired their early material.

 

In the Summer of 2009, the pair returned to Angoulême to build their own studio, to record the bulk of the album and to rehearse for their first live shows as a quartet (supporting Franz Ferdinand in front of 8,000 people in Paris was to be their baptism of fire). An intense two months ensued with just one five-day break and although the setting was idyllic - surrounded by vineyards and John's mother's home-cooking – this didn’t illicit a relaxing recording environment which suited John & Jehn’s work ethic, what with them preferring to knuckle down than smoke roll-ups by the pool (Angoulême is the birth place of Rizla cigarette papers, if any stoners are interested).