First impressions often prove right. So the distinct nautical air that Thirty Pounds of Bone’s music exudes is confirmed in a chat with the Shetland-originated act. Although folk-based the idea of a ‘collective’ is very alien to Jonny Lamb, a nomadic singer-songwriter who tells musical tales of stormy seas. On the album is ‘All For Me Grogg’, an actual sea-shanty reimagined as if Sparklehorse or Palace Brothers had crewed the Marie Celeste. And there’s the possibly autobiographical ‘How We Applaud The Unhappiness Of The Songwriter’, and ‘Crack Shandy’, whose titles speak for themselves and conjure up the bleakness of the ocean.
Thirty Pounds of Bone is basically just me, Johny Lamb. Sometimes other people play with me, but it’s mine really. I’m the only person on this album; it’s a vicious dictatorship….
I started doing Thirty Pounds of Bone about 5 years ago, maybe a bit more, when my band ‘the small’ started falling apart. The drummer had a fucked back, the bassist went wrong for a bit and I was waking up in all the wrong places. I wanted to write different songs, something more grown up maybe. At least something that felt more genuine. It was never supposed to be a real band, but I demo’d four songs and gave them to a promoter who asked me to support Charlemagne, I’ve been Thirty Pounds of Bone ever since.
I was living in Brighton when Thirty Pounds of Bone started, then I went to this tiny village in Gloucester to make a studio for a while, that house fell over, then I went to Devon for a bit, I had a long holiday in America driving a dodge around, then I went to West Cornwall for some peace and quiet. I’m still there, I like it. I’m considering a move into a town there, but I don’t know cos there’s people in the towns. I like to move a lot, always have.
I am a man who writes songs about the usual things: love, death, sex, drink, religion, work, and catching fish and whales. I like instruments, I like drones, I like distortion and tape. I’m trying to make folksong I think, but it needs to be of its own time. I’m not interested in archaic language or atavistic pastoralism, or wearing waistcoats or any of that stuff. I realized some time ago that the folk singer is a paradoxical figure. Social, ‘people’, community song rendered by isolationist singers who travel around alone, singing in towns they don’t live in. I love that.
Why? I’ve written songs for as long as I can remember. I’m quite awkward I suppose, so singing songs affords me the opportunity to articulate myself in a way that I’m unable to socially. It’s hard to pin down, I hate being looked at but I’m compelled to perform. There is doubtless, some kind of massive ego at work, but if no one was listening I’d still write. Having said that it probably comes down to sex, although I tend not to be approached after gigs because I look like I’m made of spam. Um…. Maybe It’s just because I don’t really know how to do anything else.
Album ‘Method’ is available here
Photo by Ben Atkins