John Forrester sings songs of travel, adventure, lust, discovery, friendship, love & weather. A fine performer with an easy relaxed delivery, a warm openhearted voice, an unshowy guitar style and an infectious personality. Having toured Europe extensively his songs have a strong sense of location & motion.
Forrester’s 2014 album ‘Outsider’ received many rave reviews, and was described as ‘a contemporary take on folk and roots that is steeped in the great traditions. Its themes are universal; and it’s a testament to patience, exploration and determination, but still has time for humour and humanity’.
July 2016 saw the album ‘The Former Me’ released. This is a completely solo re-recording of songs released before the ‘Outsider’ album, plus a couple of carefully chosen covers.
As well as his own shows, he has opened for many artists including Show Of Hands, Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin, Nick Harper, Rory McLeod, TV Smith, Sonny Condell, Robb Johnson, John Kirkpatrick and Fate The Juggler.
“an open, flexible collection… by turn poetic and philosophical… Forrester is wise enough to have inherent balance… decent” – fRoots
“takes me back to the real days of bedsit heroes and singer/songwriters who can put over emotion and tell stories… gentle and impassioned… in a world filled with music that is loud, boastful and completely ignores the listener, this is a wonderful relief, an album that talks to the listener – Music News
“songs to captivate… rousing and anthemic… an utterly accessible collection of subjective, openhearted, and honest musings” – FATEA
“a rich, varied soundscape… John’s voice can be smooth and delicate but is more often big and forceful… Restless is an album full of exquisite pain” – Folking.com
“weaves together folk-rock with Americana feel to create a distinctive and immediate sound… passionate intensity and swelling arrangements… reviews are always subjective, but this is something special” – R2 Magazine, 5 stars
In the early 90’s Forrester was the singer, bassist and lyricist for The Colour Mary: a very loud guitar band described by Melody Maker as a ‘grand canyon of glorious noise.’ A live session for Radio 1 and support slots with amongst others, The Stone Roses, Ride & Swervedriver were all taken in their deafening stride. They refused to jump on any bandwagon & revelled in never really fitting in.
After they disintegrated, he played bass for ragged yet respected folk band Pressgang. This is where Forrester feels the basis for the musician he is now was formed. They toured Europe constantly and Forrester had a chance meeting with a bouzouki. The travel & experience broadened his horizons and he saw a new possibility for his songs. The solo writing began…
In the mid 90’s he formed his own band, SunSpeak, and signed to a small indie label. Around the same time, he started recording a solo side project. SunSpeak never got the chance to realise their potential as an integral band member left just as the label’s studio burnt down, engulfing the tapes of their debut EP. He took this as a sign to go it alone…
What was meant to be a side project therefore evolved into his main musical focus. That first album became his solo debut, ‘Tales of Nothing’. It was licensed to German indie label, Twah (Tunes With a Heart), and Forrester headed out across Europe with his guitar & bouzouki for the first time on his own.
Gradually a band formed around him and they recorded the ‘Lanterns’ EP and later the ‘All The Wrong Things’ album. Forrester toured them to death, spent too much money, developed throat problems, lost the plot and eventually sputtered out with exhaustion…
Hiding out in Cornwall in 2000, he got a call from Nozzle, a band made up of members of New Model Army and All About Eve who had just recorded their debut LP and needed a touring bassist. He enlisted, providing solo support, toured the US and Europe and recorded an EP and album, which led to the band getting signed to Cordless Recordings (Warners) by A&R legend, Jac Holzman.
Back on double bass, he played with Medway’s now defunct The Singing Loins – who described themselves as ‘the world’s longest serving, truly amateur, original musical group’ and ‘bare-knuckle folk’. They toured the UK, Germany and Serbia and Forrester appeared on three of their albums released through seminal punk label, Damaged Goods.
Then, in a field just outside Uttoxeter in 2011, the writing came back, and Forrester once more dedicated himself to his own songwriting and recorded his return album ‘Outsider‘. The album was released in 2014 and received rave reviews. In 2016 he released ‘The Former Me‘, a re-recording of tracks from his releases before ‘Outsider’, and the live performances continue to go from strength to strength. His refreshing new album ‘Restless’, recorded in London (by Roy Dodds) and Cornwall (by Gareth Young), was released in February 2018. Read all about it here.
When on breaks from solo outings, Forrester plays bass & double bass with Robb Johnson, (‘the real deal when it comes to songwriting’ – Radio 2). He’s been with him since 2005 and has appeared on many of Johnson’s albums and also contributed to his highly acclaimed Gentle Men project, a song suite charting his grandfather’s experiences of the First World War.
He also plays bass for The Outcast Band – a roots-rock band from Gloucestershire. The band is a big hit on the festival scene, playing slots at Guilfest, Bearded Theory and The Acoustic Festival of Britain amongst others. Their 2010 album, The Longest Mile, was recorded by Levellers and Waterboys producer, Phil Tennant.