A celebrated psych-folk band is set to bow out with a trilogy of farewell gigs at their spiritual Preston home – the first marking the re-branded re-opening of celebrated music venue The Ferret.
Five years after their formation, Johnny5thWheel & TheCowards – built around Richard Lomax, Stevie Guy and Dave Watkins – are hanging up their plectrums.
They wrote on their http://followthewheel.blogspot.co.uk web pages: “After five years, two and half albums, 42 band members, and who knows how many gigs, the experiment is over.
“It is with much sadness (mingled with optimism for the future) that we have decided to call quits on live performance and, barring a musical version of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, quitting recording as well.”
But the band aim to go out on a high, playing their last three gigs tomorrow then October 4 and October 24 at their favourite venue, formerly known as the Mad Ferret.
The band formed as ‘two men and a lot of friends trying something completely different’, ostensibly the vehicle for the songs of Richard Lomax.
In June, 2010, they released a limited edition hand-crafted EP, and four months later “scraped together some money and self-released” debut album, ‘TalesOf...’ to positive reviews.
It was followed by successful festival appearances at Kendal Calling and the Ribble Valley’s Beat-Herder.
That first album and follow-up Music To Shake’n’Shuffle To are still available, released on the Sotones label.
They were working on their third album, set to be released this year, but it looks like that will only see light as a solo project now.
Richard said: “It was around 2009 when myself and Andy Lyth concocted the idea of an anonymous band who would dress like Mexican wrestlers, wear fake moustaches, have a different frontman at every gig, and always play with a different set of musicians – depending on what city we were in – and play only wooden instruments and spell everything Without AnySpaces.
“It was an experiment with the format of being in a band in the modern age – we wanted to see what was possible if we just created for the joy of creation without worrying about what people thought of us or if it was cool or rock’n’roll.”
The band went on to release two albums, and Richard added: “I think we created what we set out to do, although along the way we learnt some lessons about the harsh realities of constantly changing, eschewing stability and consistency, and employing humour in our music.
“A lot of people got what we were trying to do, some were baffled, some were enraged, but we never inspired indifference and hopefully some folks’ imaginations are just that bit more enriched for what we tried.” Richard and Stevie Guy, who also plays in The Woodwards, will continue to work together, while Richard hopes to release his first solo album on Manchester’s Dogface Records later this year, featuring much of the band’s ‘lost’ Uncomfortables album.
He added: “Anyone who knows me, knows I’m constantly writing so you know there’s at least a couple more albums in the pipeline containing songs that none of you have heard before.”
Support at the Ferret re-opener tomorrow – with free entry on the night to the Fylde Road venue – will be from fellow Preston acts The Jacket Golden Boys and Matthew Cogley.