From Discography to Photography...
"My photography goes under my birth name as it really has nothing in common with my music at all – in fact I can't think which is worse – music about a garden or photographs of existential angst!"
Since 2012 when Johnny violent AKA Jonathan Casey returned to the fold with a two-date tour, starting with Resistanz Festival and then Anti-Christ, not much has been heard from Ultraviolence apart from the odd demo on Soundcloud and an updated website. Little do his fans know that he harbors a talent up there with musicians such as Bryan Adams and Sami of Faderhead fame. To delve deeper into Johnny's new hobby, Intravenous Magazine had a little chat...
Intravenous Magazine: Since the two gigs in 2012 what have you been planning?
Jonathan Casey: I did have lots of big plans… unfortunately I caught glandular fever which has stayed with me for a couple of years, so is now classed as ME. I’ve managed a few music things but not much.
IVM: After the response from your gigs back then how did it make you feel?
JC: Sheffield was absolutely tremendous... we played to 1000 people at the Restistanz festival and the reaction was so ace. I'm over 40 with no releases for a bit. So to have that sort of reaction was incredible. We had the best ever UV lineup, with great live musicians and vocalist Sam. We put in lots of rehearsal time and it really paid off and was maybe our best show ever.
By the time we got to London that year I really wasn’t well at all and so many aspects were difficult and as it became clear I couldn't cope with that sort of thing. So mixed feelings... I really wanted to do more with a new album to work from so much frustration but it was brilliant in its own right to have played so well.
IVM: You have done a few redux's of your back catalogue, was there a particular reason? Why did you choose those tracks and did you enjoy giving them a new lease of life?
JC: I didn't want to trot out just old tracks for the live shows but of course I wanted to play the most popular tracks... I still love all of them! I reworked about seven of them with modern production techniques... you can check most of them on the UV Soundcloud page. I think 'Masochist' and 'Heaven Is Oblivion' were my favourites.
IVM: How did you get to master Petrol Bastards' new album?
JC: I heard PB's excellent 'Violent Assault On Priory Way' track a couple of years ago and was struck by the heavy abrasive production combined with a wicked sense of humour – not many artists can write convincing angry music, not many are genuinely funny but PB manage both and give the impression it took them two minutes to do it! I found out they were UV fans and thus the love affair began. I remixed their excellent Shit & Fire track last year which they've included on the new album 'Nice Jacket Dickhead'.
I've been mastering my own music for a few years now and mastered 101 for UV guitarist Paul's band Ctrl Alt Del's album 101 last year and I think PB asked me on the back of that. It’s good to still be involved in music even if I don’t have the energy to produce my own material as I'd like right now. The mastering takes me about three days an album – I like the focussed, methodical work and it’s a great way to make a contribution to these brilliant releases.
IVM: How did you get into photography and what is your major drive behind it?
JC: I've been playing with the odd cheap camera & making fun little cards & designs for my website for many years and got curious about buying a proper camera. I had a good excuse as I'm not really well enough to do photo sessions for Ultraviolence, so I made the images for my website in early 2013 are elaborate selfies with the new camera merged in with heavily manipulated photos of metal pipes, which were great fun to create. I got really, really into making the photos and carried on improving my skills and amassing equipment. Last year I won RHS gardens category of their Photographer of the Year competition – it was pretty surreal. I got on the Alan Titchmarsh show on ITV1, my photo was in lots of newspapers and prints got exhibited at the Chelsea Flower Show and public gardens around the country! I haven't been well enough to see any of them, though.
I find photography far, far easier than music as I can do the walking to locations, concentrate hard enough to shoot for an hour at a time and do the computer processing an hour or two at a time. Music is far harder with the ME as to do it well it requires hours of concentration, looking a brightly lit screens and playing loud music... it’s something I used to love but its beyond my capacity at the moment so I'm concentrating more on the photography. I'm getting much better this year, I'm just starting to sell images to stock libraries and I’ll go for a couple of big competitions at the end of the year, although I don't necessarily expect to repeat last year's success.
My photography goes under my birth name as it really has nothing in common with my music at all – in fact I can't think which is worse – music about a garden or photographs of existential angst!
IVM: Are their any artists new on the scene you enjoy the sound of?
JC: Yes, I listen to lots and lots of music while I'm editing photos... much more than I have for the last twenty years. When I was very busy writing albums in the mid-late '90s I'd almost never listen to music for fun, just to check out production techniques or because people asked me to.
Da Octopusss have an huge dark dancefloor sound and love it... really original with production easily keeping up with the mainstream boys. I think their last album is on Bandcamp free... I gave them a fiver, though! It’s nice that you can get FLACs from Bandcamp – a pretty bizarre thing is that music is generally listened to at lower quality than when CD came out in the 1980's. I still generally buy music on CD – the last lot I had included Anti-Nowhere League, Kate Bush, Behemoth, Handal, Dropkick Murpheys, Georges Delore (soundtrack composer), Part (classical), Rancid. Really I listen to all sorts of music all the time... I especially like the punk music I missed first time. I just got a pile of CDs by The Exploited... I loved them when I was a child, toured with them (they were great people) and now I'm back to being a fan again, just enjoying the music for the sake of it.
Back to the industrial scene I've just been introduced to the unholy noise of DirtyK... love it plus I listen to a lot of The Outside Agency – very dark gabber & hardcore from Holland. I'm sure they'd do really well on our little circuit if they wanted to – I think they played in the UK at Bangface a while back. I’ve also just been introduced to the music of Grr on Industrial Strength… seriously hard beats.
IVM: Have you any plans to release a new album or do any live shows soon?
JC: My health shows no signs of improving so it'd be hard until it does but I'm not ruling anything out. Once I'm better I'll see what direction my life will go best in... I'd love to continue with Ultraviolence. The demos of the new album were/are killer but I just don't have the energy for the hard work of the production and promotion.
We'll see... I've achieved a fair bit in photography even with the ME so if I was well it might just rip... we'll see! Maybe I can do both well…
Johnaton Casey on 'The Alan Titchmarsh show'
IVM: What of your plans to release a range of hot sauce?
I do a lot of cooking, love hot sauces and wanted to make limited edition bottles to go with releases... not sure until then but here's a recipe for Ultraviolence Immolation Naga Sauce...
15 dried naga (ghost) chillies (less if you're not used to them, you can buy them from Amazon or eBay)
1 tin of tomatoes
4or so sprigs of fresh rosemary, taken off the stalk
1 heaped tablespoon soft brown sugar
1 tablespoon black treacle
50ml white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cloves peeled garlic
Put all the ingredients in a saucepan, bring to the boil stirring occasionally, then turn to the lowest heat and leave for an hour stirring every 10 mins or so. Leave for an hour then blitz. Keep in an airtight bottle or container… lasts for a couple of weeks – yum yum!
Thanks for featuring me in Intravenous... you can check out my music via Ultraviolence.co and my photos at jonathancaseyphotography.com
Johnny's legacy has stretched over 20 years and it's to not leave a mark in that time, here's what some of his fans had to say:
"Johnny is one of those people that learns things to the max. Obviously music. He's also an exceptional cook and a great photographer. He applies himself with a professionalism I've never seen in anyone else. In all things! I heard North Korea goes bang and it changed the way I thought about electronic music. Up to that point I was a die hard Thrash Metal guitarist with no interest in anything that didn't involve a drummer, two guitarists and a bass player. The rhythms and hard drums in that track made me want to play faster than I could achieve in a conventional band set up." – Paul Batchelor, Ctl Alt DEl.
"From day one of Resistanz, Ultraviolence were at the very top of the wish list (despite not playing a live show for many years). We were very fortunate to twist Johnnys arm enough for him to agree to a live performance at Resistanz 2012, a show that turned out to be one of their best shows ever and a personal highlight in nearly 5 years of running the festival. Johnny is a great guy, very talented and a pleasure to work with. Long live Ultraviolence!" – Leighton Thomson, Resistanz Festival
"Coolest, nicest, most supportive badass motherfucker in the scene." – Jonathon Tetsuo, Petrol Bastard