Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson (born 15 August 1961, in London, England) is the founder and only constant member of the multimedia band, The The.

Matt Johnson / The The rose out of the post-punk industrial music scene of late 1970s Britain. Over the years he has proven himself a prolific songwriter on various subjects. On 1986's "Heartland (51st State of the USA)" he railed against the Americanisation of the UK. "Global Eyes" from 2000's Naked Self album continues the argument to a global level. His observations on human sexuality have also raised eyebrows (and led to numerous radio bans) over the years on songs such as "Out of the Blue (Into the Fire)", "Dogs of Lust", "This Is the Night" and others.

Johnson also argued forcefully for music videos to be considered an extension of the creative process, rather than just a marketing tool. His Infected movie was the first full length video album and picked up various international awards. Johnson left Britain in the early 1990s, and by 2006 was dividing his time between New York and Gothenburg, Sweden.

The son of East End pub owners who used to put on gigs, he grew up with John Lee Hooker, The Kinks and The Small Faces dropping by his parents' pub. Going through phases of fascination with The Beatles, Motown and Glam rock, he left school at 15 and started forming try-out bands.

In November 1977 Johnson placed an advertisement in the NME 1977, asking for 'Bass/lead guitarist into Velvets/Syd Barrett'. Johnson placed a second advert in the NME, stating his new influences ‘The Residents/Throbbing Gristle’.

The The made their debut as a prototype electronic trio at London's Africa Centre on 11 May 1979, third on the bill to Scritti Politti and PragVEC, using backing tape tracks for the drums and bass.

As a duo (with Keith Laws), The The later began playing shows with some of that era's most influential groups: Wire, Cabaret Voltaire, DAF, This Heat, The Birthday Party and Scritti Politti. The band managed to appear on the indie record labels 4 AD and Some Bizzare, the former releasing their 1981 debut album, Burning Blue Soul. Although the album was originally credited to Matt Johnson, future releases from Johnson (including re-issues of his debut album) were credited to The The. In 1983, Johnson/The The released the synth-noir classic Soul Mining.

As the titles suggest, Johnson explored the depths of his soul in his music. Studio psychosis in New York and Hunter S. Thompson-style road trips with manager Stevo lie behind the recording of early singles "Uncertain Smile" and "Perfect". The 1986 Infected album project led to The The breaking through commercially with singles like "Sweet Bird of Truth" and "Heartland" (a UK Top 30 hit single). Johnson was sometimes seen with Tom Waits in New York, and also filmed the stunt-filled, longform video for Infected while in Harlem and in South America.

The The released the globally rallying Mind Bomb in 1989 along with its banned religious war-alerting single "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)". He recruited Irish singer-songwriter Sinéad O'Connor and ex-The Smiths guitar ace Johnny Marr to join the band and toured the world, topping off with three sold out nights at London's Royal Albert Hall. It spawned the band's biggest UK hit single "The Beat(en) Generation", which made #18. Marr remained a member of the band until 1994.

1992 saw the release of the UK No. 2 hit album Dusk and the singles "Love Is Stronger Than Death", "Slow Emotion Replay" and "Dogs of Lust", all UK Top 40 hit singles. In 1995, Johnson moved to New York, preferring to conduct from afar his ongoing tussle with the meaning of Britishness. He released Hanky Panky, an album solely consisting of cover versions of Hank Williams' songs, such as "I Saw the Light", which was released as a single.

During The The's more prolific period of releases, from Soul Mining (1983) to Dusk (1992), most artwork used on the albums and single releases was produced by Matt Johnson's brother Andrew Johnson. The artwork has a distinctive style, and sometimes courted controversy, most notably the initial release of the single "Infected" which was withdrawn from sale and re-issued with an edited version of the cover art.

In 2000, the album Nakedself was released. It was well received by both critics and fans.

Recently, The The have enjoyed a small surge of attention in the United States thanks to an M&M's advertising campaign, which has been using the band's song "This is the Day" as its theme music.

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