Caus­ing a Row

A new al­bum has been like a di­ary for this for­mer Cow­boy, writes Jade Kennedy

Townsville Bulletin - - Savvy -

On a per­sonal note, ex-foot­baller John Rowbotham is a com­pli­cated man. Get­ting ready to re­lease his de­but full-length solo al­bum and cel­e­brate his 30th birth­day this week­end, Johnny Row, as he is known in mu­sic cir­cles, is con­tem­pla­tive.

‘‘ This al­bum has been a long time com­ing, it’s long over­due,’’ Row said.

‘‘ It’s pretty much me in a nut­shell, like any­body else I’ve got my demons but I’m not an­gry all of the time.’’

Row has been in the lo­cal rap game for sev­eral years, most no­tably as part of The North Ward crew.

‘‘ I’ve been work­ing with The North Ward boys but I had all of this other ma­te­rial that wasn’t re­ally suit­able for the group,’’ he said.

‘‘ I just found that look­ing af­ter my­self was eas­ier, and I mean no dis­re­spect to the boys, just time-wise and money-wise it’s been eas­ier for this re­lease.

‘‘ Also, the songs that fea­ture on this al­bum are kind of like di­ary en­tries.

‘‘ Some of them were writ­ten back when I was 18 or 19 and I’m turn­ing 30 now so there’s 10 or 12 years of ma­te­rial there.’’

Row said some of his ear­lier musings have made it to the al­bum, with a lit­tle tweak­ing.

His al­bum, On a Per­sonal Note, was com­pletely home­grown.

‘‘ It’s all home­made, it was recorded in a home stu­dio, it doesn’t have all the bells and whis­tles of a high-cost pro­fes­sional pro­duc­tion,’’ Row said.

‘‘ At the end of the day it all comes down to the per­son’s own ear and pref­er­ences.

‘‘ It’s a very raw record­ing, so these days a lot of peo­ple, es­pe­cially the crit­ics, might say it’s not enough, but the real fans of hip hop will ap­pre­ci­ate it.

‘‘ It may not fit in with a com­mer­cial ex­pec­ta­tion of mu­sic, but ev­ery beat be­longs there, and it’s very in your face, al­most graphic in places.’’

Row said he had pur­posely cho­sen tracks that would not al­low the al­bum to be eas­ily pi­geon-holed.

‘‘ There are dark and gloomy tracks, there are love songs, there are some very sex­ual themes on there,’’ Row laughed.

‘‘ The hip hop heads will find some­thing on there to en­joy, girls will find some­thing that they can en­joy, but ev­ery­thing from the beats to the lyrics to the art­work to the pro­duc­tion sums me up.’’

Row said he was for­tu­nate enough to have some tal­ented friends who helped in the pro­duc­tion of the al­bum.

‘‘ J-Point, Ro­bie Gore and Beast are all lo­cal blokes that helped with pro­duc­ing tracks on the al­bum, and db pro­duced a cou­ple of re­ally good bangers,’’ Row said.

‘‘ I also got some friends to fea­ture on there – J-Point, db and Ro­bie all rap, Pat Mock and P-Boy run some verses and Smi­zler comes out with a crack­ing num­ber.’’

Renowned lo­cal artist Lee Harnden pro­duced the cover art. ‘‘ Lee and I go way back,’’ Row said. ‘‘ We made an agree­ment over a few beers, I said to him, ‘ If I ever make an al­bum will you do my art­work for free?’ and I was just blown away by the por­trait he came back with when the time came.’’

Com­ing from a heavy foot­ball back­ground, Row said he made a liv­ing from the sport un­til 2001, and thought he was go­ing to make a ca­reer out of it.

‘‘ For a long time there, mu­sic and rugby league was my life,’’ Row said. ‘‘ To this day mu­sic still is.’’ >> Johnny Row, On a Per­sonal Note will be launched at the Mad Cow’s Ud­der Bar this Satur­day from 10.30pm. CDs will be on sale for $ 20 each.

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