I am always on the lookout for new bands to play on my show and to see perform live and recently I came across a group called Johnny Switchblade. They have been around a couple of years, the Kansas City music scene is so huge that sometimes it takes me awhile to stumble across all of the various groups in the various genres and “sub-scenes”, if you will. Recently, I began playing the band’s music on my High Voltage rock N Roll Radio Tuesday overnight/Wednesday morning program on 90.1 KKFI-FM in Kansas City. I also had the band in as live guests in-studio on my June 19th broadcast and have seen them perform twice in concert.
Johnny Switchblade has a sound that hearkens back to early 1980s American punk rock, in particular, bands from California and the U.S. west coast, such as Dead Kennedys, The Germs, or the Jack Grisham fronted earlier version of True Sounds Of Liberty (TSOL). You can also hear some elements in the angular guitar of Darryl Gilland of late 70s and early 80s New York “No Wave” groups such as Teenage Jesus and The Jerks or The Voidoids. The lyricist is vocalist Phil Clark, the lyrics are understandable both in recording and live, and the songs tend to focus on serious real life subject matter, but through a prism of parody and humor and range from songs looking at media escapism (“Trapped In Television”) to youth suicide in India due to educational performance pressures (“Schoolyard Suicide”), to frustration with the media establishment (“Not Meant For The Airwaves”).
When I had the band in-studio with me for a live radio interview, I found them all to be very thoughtful and talkative, they had many ideas and insights as far as music and philosophy of life connected to their songs and what they are seeking to convey with Johnny Switchblade. From the live performances I have attended up to this point, the band is loose, has a good rapport and sense of humor among themselves and with the audience, and the show is lively and moves right along and keeps the audience interested and engaged. They have already released an EP called “The Basement Cut” and are performing new material live and working on releasing new recordings in the near future. They appear to be developing a growing following in the Kansas City music scene, I would encourage you to check them out at least just once, I think you will enjoy them – Calvin C