John Grant tours album Queen of Denmark
Former frontman for The Czars, Midlake collaborator and now solo artist with album Queen of Denmark
This article is from 2011.
Name John Grant
From Denver, Ohio
Occupation? From around 1994 to 2004, frontman of the dimly remembered but beloved by those who know them, Czars. Now an unexpected comeback king, with last year’s debut album under his own name Queen of Denmark (recorded with Texan indie-rockers and Bella Union labelmates Midlake as his backing band) earning Mojo magazine’s Album of the Year award.
He must be pleased. Maybe not. ‘I wanted to kill myself last year more than I have in my entire life,’ Grant told The Independent’s Andy Gill earlier this year. Having semi-retired from the music business over the last few years, working in translation and waiting tables instead, Queen of Denmark is a work of catharsis which recalls the horror of growing up gay in smalltown America and the latter days of The Czars – a time when Grant had a bad drug problem and a habit for what he described to the Guardian last year as ‘dangerous sexual behaviour. There were people who’d only have sex with me if I smoked cocaine with them.’
Sounds pretty depressing. It isn’t, at least not all of it. Just check out the fried barroom honky-tonk of ‘Chicken Bones' (key lyric: ‘some days it’s just chicken bones / you better fuck off now / you better leave me alone’) or the bittersweet and nostalgic country psychedelia of ‘I Wanna Go to Marz’ (check out both below): Grant is a first-rate singer-songwriter first and foremost, otherwise why would we be so pleased to have him back?
Listen to: Queen of Denmark by John Grant feat. Midlake, Goodbye by The Czars, The Ugly People vs the Beautiful People by The Czars (all on Bella Union).
Liquid Room, Edinburgh, Wed 23 Mar.