Home Read Albums Of The Week: Ivan Julian | Swing Your Lanterns

Albums Of The Week: Ivan Julian | Swing Your Lanterns

On his first solo release in 12 years, the N.Y.C. post-punk pioneer blends the serrated edge of his Voivods days with echoes of Thunders, the Stones and other influences.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Swing Your Lanterns is the latest solo offering from Ivan Julian, who’s had a long and distinguished career as a provocative songwriter and one of New York City’s most distinctive guitar stylists. As a founder member of Richard Hell & The Voidoids, Julian was an essential part of the original punk scene while sowing the seeds for post-punk with the pointedly lopsided rhythms structures and scorched, askew guitar lines that comprised The Voidoids’ oeuvre.

The album was produced by Ivan, recorded to 2” tape at his own SuperGiraffeSound studio in Brooklyn as well as Raxtrax Studio in Chicago. Julian himself performed on a multiude of instruments including guitars, organ and even electric Bulbul Tarang (an instrument found in India and Japan). He was joined in the studio by drummer Florent Barbier (Elliot Murphy), Keith Streng (The Fleshtones) on percussion and backing vocals, Nick Tremulis on guitar and backing vocals, bassist Derek Brandt, as well as James Burke and Jared Michael Nickerson also on bass, to name just a few.

The songs on Swing Your Lanterns reflect Ivan’s experiences over the last five years and beyond set against the contemporary sociopolitical stage, asking the question: Where do you stand during troubled times, and will you remain vigilant? The album plays like a series of novelettes depicting the underlying human condition, our aspirations, loves, and losses.

“These are the types of stories in this record,” Julian says. “I am Not a Drone (Alone) was partially inspired by a scene in the film Rollerball where elitist investors shoot flare guns at trees for sport. This word-imagery was combined with the view from my rooftop of a men”s homeless shelter in the dead heat of summer.”

The son of a Navy officer, Julian grew up in a string of exotic locales including Guantanamo Bay, nurturing a sensitive, creativity that eventually manifested itself musically. At the age of 13, while living in D.C., he began singing in a Led Zeppelin cover band, picking up the guitar the following year. After studying music theory in high school, Ivan headed to London and joined U.K. R&B hitmakers The Foundations (Build Me Up Buttercup). While touring, he decided to settle in Macedonia and study its traditional music, which had a major influence on his playing.

When Julian returned to the U.S., he settled in New York and soon became a founding guitarist and composer for seminal art-punks Richard Hell & The Voidoids, teaming up with iconic punk poet Hell (whose spiky hair and safety-pinned clothes inspired The Sex Pistols), extraordinary guitarist Robert Quine (Lou Reed) and drummer Marc Bell (later Marky Ramone).

After The Voidoids, Ivan fronted the rock / funk / African beat combo The Outsets before forming The Lovelies with Bush Tetras’ singer Cynthia Sley. He also reunited with Hell for an extensive tour of Japan. Julian would go on to collaborate with a wide array of acts. The Clash invited him to play on The Call Up and Ivan Meets GI Joe on Sandinista. He joined Shriekback for two tours of North America and Europe. He also worked with Afrika Bambaataa and Bernie Worrell of Parliament/Funkadelic. Ivan spent much of the 1990s touring and recording with Matthew Sweet.

In recent years, Ivan has concentrated mainly on studio work, establishing his SuperGiraffeSound studio as one of New York’s hottest facilities, as well as producing and recording artists including Sean Lennon and The Fleshtones. In addition, he released his solo debut The Naked Flame, followed by the Below the Pink Pony EP by The Fauntleroys, featuring Alejandro Escovedo, Nick Tremulis and Linda Pittman.”


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