Uncle John & Whitelock were a Scottish horror punk band from Glasgow. They were active from 2001 to 2006 and were noted for their live shows which incorporated elements of performance art.
Formed in 2001 by singer and guitarist, Jacob Lovatt, and bass player, Raydale Dower, the three-piece line-up was completed with the addition of Andrew Hobson on drums. The band was expanded to a five-piece line-up in 2002 with the addition of drummer Matthew Black and keyboard player Nic Denholm, Hobson moving to guitar.
Denholm and Hobson left in early 2005. They were replaced by Jamie Bolland on keyboards and David Philp, on guitar.
The band had a reputation for the originality of their live performances which incorporated elements of theatricality and performance art. These performances might see the band playing on stage inside a specially constructed wooden shack, unseen by the audience, or with scratchy black-and-white, 16 mm film projected over the band as they played, giving the impression of an old silent movie.
Live reviews often focused on Lovatt’s stage presence, describing him for example as a ‘demented frontman’, or a ‘crazed urban preacher’, while the band as a whole were described as ‘the best live band in Glasgow’ and ‘perhaps the best undiscovered band in Scotland’.
The music was described as ‘steel-toed subterranean rock’ and ‘frighteningly visceral blues’, and this blues sensibility, coupled with Lovatt’s distinctive vocals, led to the band being compared with Dr John, Captain Beefheart, Tom Waits and Nick Cave, while their songs were noted for their disturbing and anarchistic content.
The band were supporters of the charity the Scottish Association for Mental Health, appearing on their One in Four CD. In October 2005, they appeared at an awareness-raising music festival in Ljubljana, Slovenia for World Mental Health Day.
The band maintained a heavy gigging and touring schedule from 2004 to 2006, playing with bands as diverse as Franz Ferdinand, Babyshambles and The Fall. Their final show was played on 23 December 2006 at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow.
I caught them live on a couple of occasions, but came to the conclusion they were an acquired taste. I have one song on the hard drive, courtesy of having a copy of the One In Four CD mentioned above.
mp3: Uncle John & Whitelock – The Train