A London four piece, Desperate Journalist make beautiful vibrant punk and intelligent dramatic pop. Formed one Sunday afternoon in a pub near Finsbury Park, their home stomping ground, they are Jo on vocals, Rob on guitar, Simon playing bass and Caz on drums. Of course there has been speculation as to whether the name is a less than shielded criticism of the often aggravating and antagonistic relationship between the press and musicians. It is, but only from a secondary perspective: as Rob points out, ‘ When we decided on the name, we had no experience with the press. It’s taken from a track by The Cure in which Robert Smith bemoans a Paul Morley review.’ Gothic and dramatic new single Organ is released on November 11th on Fandango and Fierce Panda, both great names to have behind any new band, especially one who only played their first gig in February this year.
‘It’s early days so far.’ Rob says .’We’re just arranging the fine details of the release. Simon Williams (label boss) has bought us a few beers and even offered us a bite of his scotch egg. We did everything for the Cristina EP ourselves so it’s good to have some backing for Organ.’ In fact he jokes that the main reason they make music is ‘In the hope that more people will buy us beer. ‘ Clearly this isn’t the case, and they love music and being in a band – in fact Caz learned drums specifically for the band, offering her services on that Sunday afternoon.
Fans of all music, their influences are evident and revealed by the bands that, if pressed to have only one, they would choose to listen to for their lives.
For Simon its The Clash, whereas Caz loves The Cure. The angsty element of their sound is no doubt stemmed from The Smiths, Rob’s choice, and Jo’s love of new wave XTC. ‘The Smiths and the Cure are probably the obvious influences.’ says Rob. ‘Between us there are a number of different influences ranging from post punk like Magazine, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Wire to Nirvana to the Manics and Radiohead. There is a kind of intentional tension for us between jangly 80’s indie, noisy alt rock and stripped back post punk all of which exerts a pull on the stuff we play.’
The sound is very much 80s, melodramatic and shimmering, gravelly and fierce but vibrant. What of the lyrics, do they matter? ‘This is something we talk about in the pub. Lyrics are very important to us and should be more important in music than they seem to be at the moment. Lyrics have the ability to make good music great, important even. A lot of bands seem to take a lyrical approach of trying not to embarrass or distract from the music (bland/boring) or aiming for a vague idea of Importance and Earnestness without actually having anything to say. Even worse, a lot of bands don’t seem to give it a huge amount of thought which is a real shame. That’s not to say that lyrics should always be deep and profound or anything – it depends on the musical context but it doesn’t feel like many bands use lyrics to say much about anything at the moment.’
Their first EP, Cristina, had received great reviews across the indie press, and there are plans for a follow up. However, they don’t want to rush it. ‘Albums are important and you can only release a debut once.’
Until then, the powerful and potent Organ is the focus. The launch night takes place on November 5th at The Shacklewell Arms, and if you sign up to the mailing list there’s a free download of the b-side Distance for you. Great and generous. This journalist rather likes.