Jowe Head (Swell Maps/Television Personalities)
Sunday 12th May
Tickets available via See Tickets or in Store at Tickets Scotland
Jowe Head is a musician and artist from the Midlands of England, now living in east London. He started his
musical career in his home town of Solihull with various school friends in 1972, a project that came to be
known as Swell Maps. This group, also featuring the late Nikki Sudden and his brother Epic Soundtracks,
emerged in the late 1970s, and are now known as legendary pioneers of what is now referred to as the
“Alternative Rock” scene. They set up their own record label, and mixed Punk Rock with experimental
Swell Maps released four singles and two albums in a brief but dramatic career, that led to them topping the
UK independent charts, and influencing bands such as Sonic Youth, Nirvana, and Blur. When they broke up,
Jowe joined the Television Personalities, headed by another legend of UK Independent Music, Dan Treacy.
Ten years with the TVPs saw Jowe making more influential records, touring Europe regularly, and playing in
Japan and the USA.
At the same time, Jowe was also evolving his own visual art imagery and practice. Starting from his early
experiments, he completed a degree in Fine Art at Manchester in 1980. As well as many solo and
collaborative exhibitions, he has helped to run a community art centre in his adopted home district of
Hackney, and he also runs art classes in his neighbourhood for disadvantaged young people.
As well as painting in oils and acrylic paint, Jowe’s other main pre-occupations are drawing and print-making.
He also designs his own record and CD covers, and has painted murals, made films, and he also makes
collages, sculptures and clocks using recycled junk.
Jowe continues to make challenging music, and often visits the USA and Europe to play concerts. In New
York, he is usually backed by members of The Mad Scene, who are a local cult psychedelic band, who
revolved around the core of New Zealander Hamish Kilgour (of The Clean), and co-singer Lisa Siegel. He
also plays in the Washington DC area with members of experimental rock band The Plums.
More recently, Jowe has been leader of a band called Angel Racing Food, and also of a band called The
Demi-Monde, for a pair of ambitious albums called “Diabolical Liberties” (2011) and “Tales from the Twisted
Tower” (2013). The recent sound still has a more psychedelic feel, with experimental aspects, plus a more
recently acquired folk element, due to an increasing awareness of traditional English song, and an interest in
acoustic instruments. The recent sets have mainly been original material, mixed with exciting arrangements
of traditional folk songs, and also versions of songs by Joe Meek, Sun Ra, Nina Simone, and film-maker
Jowe’s final recordings with The Demi-Monde were under the heading of “Visionaries”, a suite of pieces
about visual artists which have inspired him, such as Joseph Beuys, Louise Bougeois, Hannah Hoch,
William Blake, Joseph Cornell and Kurt Schwitters. This is intended to be part of a larger project, with
contributions from other song-writers and bands.
His latest band is called Infernal Contraption, featuring the voice, bowed saw and Theremin of Catherine
Gerbrands (Valerie’s Week of Wonder), guitars by Lee McFadden (Alternative TV), drums and percussion by
Ravi-Low-Beer, and also sound-effects and guitar by Cos Chapman (Rude Mechanicals).
His other current musical project is called Eleventh Hour Adventists. It’s a collaboration with cellist /
vocalist Sister Jasmine (aka Rotten Bliss). They sing murder ballads and surreal dramas sometimes using
Greek mythology as subject matter, in close harmony. The electronically treated electric cello is a powerful
sonic tool in Jasmine’s hands, and it forms the basis of their unique sound-world.
“Jowe Head spent time in two of the UK’s coolest underground bands: Swell Maps and Television
Personalities…a lovably skewed indie-pop tunesmith.” Time Out New York 2013
“Head draws on cabaret pop, 60s cinema, dinky electronics, industrial noise, and his own multi-
cultural imagination to put together weird ditties.” (Trouser Press, USA)
“The mad genius behind the mad genius of Swell Maps, the band who re-invented music as therapy
for northern neo-depression in the really 1980s. A man of many talents.” (Time Out, London)