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Listening to poor li'l rockstar it's hard to believe that j. englishman was once just another awkward teenager growing up in rural Ontario. Born in Kingston and raised in various Southern Ontario towns, including Walkerton (Yes that Walkerton!), j. was bound to develop into a restless teenager. Piano lessons might've been good training (he took 'em when he was 7), but what j. really wanted was a guitar, and when he was 14 his wish came true. His mom presented him with a shiny new Sunburst Lero for his birthday and he immediately set his goals higher. A year later, after saving up the cash from mowing innumerable lawns, he traded in his birthday gift and purchased a 1963 Fender Duo-Sonic. (The guitar affectionately known as "Baby" is still in his collection.)
By the time he was 16 he had played along with enough records to learn all the rock chords he needed to know, and was ready to unleash his own songs on the masses. His first band The Epileptic Fish debuted at j.s grade 10 Christmas assembly in a flurry of David Bowie, Led Zeppelin and Forgotten Rebels covers, with a punked up version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town thrown in for good measure. Rotary Club dances and bars around Grey and Bruce counties were soon haunted by j.'s next project, The Bentley Society. But their growing fame came to a sudden end when j. packed up his guitar and left for the big city of Toronto.
j.'s small town days ended when he was 18. Not one full week passed in the big city of Toronto before he was arrested for busking in the subway without a license. The experience fueled his late-teen angst and inspired him to form Free And Easy, a rock band that played all originals.
Soon the day-to-day anxiety of poorly paying jobs got to him and the music got angrier. J.F. Wylde was a metal band so heavy that the Skid Row comparisons seemed gentle. For three years they cranked their amps louder, until it all ended with a farewell show at the Gasworks.
Breaking up is hard to do, and j. handled it like any good musician; he started playing country songs on an acoustic guitar. When he couldn't find a hat that fit right, he decided to take control of his fate and go to university. He studied Humanities at Ryerson, and pursued his interest in the theatre while working at a costume shop. He'd acted before, culminating with a small speaking part in a 1988 episode of Degrassi Junior High, but had given it up to pursue music.
It didn't take long for music to regain the top spot in j.'s heart. In 1996 he started work on a one-man electronic industrial rock band under the name Tomorrow The World. I figured that by having a band name, if it didnt work out, I could blame someone else he says.
Things did work out.
It took a year to get the songs together to create the Manic Obsessive EP, but 500 numbered copies were printed, and one ended up in the hands of influential manager Bob Luhtala (I Mother Earth, Glueleg, Edwin). Under Bob's watchful eye j. stepped forward from TTW so that his talent could grow in new directions. He put together a live band and started showcasing. j.'s talent was undeniable and in March 1999 j. englishman, solo artist, was signed to Warner Music Canada.
Released in March of 2000, j.s major label debut poor lil rockstar was co-produced by j. & Dave Hodge, and has yielded four singles and three videos including the top 10 hit, more. j. received a 2001 Juno Award nomination for best new solo artist, and in March of this year the Canadian Association of Broadcasters presented j. with the Canadian Radio Music Award for best new solo artist rock/alternative.
j. is currently hard at work writing and recording his sophomore effort, expected for release in the spring of 2002. Petit Mort, an independent short film in which he stars, recently made its premier at the Toronto International Short Film Festival and will continue to be shown at festivals over the summer/fall seasons.
Information from: http://www.jenglishman.com/ Read more on Last.fm
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