Introducing Peter Johnstone| Music

I first met peter in the summer of 2017. I had set up a meeting with him to talk about his music. He agreed to meet me in a Café Nero just around the corner from where he was staying in London. I gathered all my equipment and set off. When I reached the coffee shop I was surprised to see him outside, in a side alley looking at a poster. A few moments passed before we spoke; I stood next to him – and the first thing he said to me was,

‘Could you take a picture of me in front of this please?’.

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Cool. I already knew we were on the same page. Peter’s mainly a light-hearted musician though, he tells me. Glasgow-born-and-bred, Peter won’t mind me saying that for the first 15 minutes of our conversation I found it very difficult to navigate his accent – more fool me, right? I’ve never been to Glasgow, actually, I confessed.

‘You’d love it. it’s a lot like Manchester. Lots of street art’.

Here’s a man who’s brimming with pride for his city, his country and its music, but Peter freely admitted that he’s very drawn to London, and that he comes regularly to simply soak up the atmosphere. En route to our venue for the day, London Review of Books, every building held an anecdote for him. Did he like to read? Yes:

” I wasn’t into music at all as a kid – more into nature and Harry Potter. I still remember the feeling of hearing Pulp’s Disco 2000 on the radio, that was a lightbulb moment. hearing Jarvis sing in his real accent made me realise you could have songs about realise life, which is why I couldn’t ever get into Blink 182 at the time – it seemed quite alien”.

Skip forward to today, with two Christmas singles and numerous performances for Music for Mental Health in his repertoire, Peter’s been gigging the independent music scene up in Glasgow; you might have seen him at venues like the New Hellfire Club.

We caught up with him this month, ahead of the release of his debut EP Teleshopping.
R.O: So Peter, a little birdie told me that you used to go by a different stage name? Can you tell me a bit about that and the inspiration behind it?
P.J: That birdie is correct! But not for long. When my last band broke up I felt self-conscious about my name – I think it’s very boring – so I used the pseudonym Francis Forever after a great Mitski song. Now I feel confident with my real name, it has a comforting blandness and I think I’d always be thinking of new names if I didn’t just use it. I’m thinking of coming up with a name for my live band, Peter and the…

It was at a Glasgow University songwriting class, led by Francis MacDonald from Teenage Fan Club, where Peter met his current drummer Luiza Lucuta. Bassist Cameron McDougal from Killer Bangs and Chris Smith from Life Model also play on the EP.

DSC_7204.jpgphoto: Miff Morris

R.O: The EP is quite experimental, you’ve got some tongue-in-cheek tracks like Teleshopping, which reminds me a bit of some of my dad’s old punk records in the lyrics, but then this is offset by your softer, melodic delivery. Did you have fun with the song?
P.J: Oh, I love a bit of dad-rock! Teleshopping is a song I’m happy with; it’s the title track of the EP. It actually has quite dark origins, I got the idea talking to someone with Schizophrenia who would stay up to get messages from the presenters on late night TV The first demo is actually really dark, but soon I explored the lighter side, throwing in some daft puns so it’s totally changed. Chris Smith, who produced and played on the EP, was really keen to go a Sweet Jane [Velvet Undergound] vibe.
R.O: If you HAD to pick a favourite song, could you?
P.J: Affection by Jonathan Richman. It’s like a hug; got me through a lot, that song.
R.O: What’s the Glasgow music scene like at the moment? And where are your top gig venues to play or to see bands?
P.J: The music scene in Glasgow is great! It’s like living in Scott Pilgrim Versus The World! You could see a band every night if you wanted to – and I come pretty close. Broadcast, Nice and Sleazies and Glad Cafe are must-visits.

photo: Miff Morris

R.O: I’m loving the photo shoot you’ve done for the EP, it’s got a nostalgic feel to it. Where is the location?
P.J: Thanks! The location is the Mitchell Library, which is a huge building in Glasgow and one of my favourite places in the world. It was so much fun sneaking around and whispering when the librarians weren’t looking. The building has grand Victorian parts but we concentrated on the kitsch 19070s carpets; it’s very Wes Anderson.

Teleshopping was released onto a limited run of cassette tapes in early June. Follow Peter on Spotify, YouTube, and Instagram.


INTERVIEW BY REBECCA LAVENDER| PHOTOS BY MIFF MORRIS | SPECIAL THANKS TO PETER JOHNSTONE AND THE BAND: LUIZA LUCUTA, CAMERON MCDOUGAL, AND CHRIS SMITH

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