*UPDATE – the Sheffield gig has been moved to Queens Social Club – more tickets released*

TEN YEARS. It’s been ten years since the release of the first Monkey Swallows the Universe album, The Bright Carvings.


The five of us are going to be reborn from an egg on a mountaintop in a little one off gig at the Greystones in Sheffield on the day of resurrection: Easter Sunday, 27 March. We’ll be playing all the songs from that first album. Tickets here.

We’re also going to be releasing a digital single, featuring new versions of Sheffield Shanty and The Secret Word is Groucho (the secret track of Kev’s at the end of the album). That’ll be out sometime in Feb.

Please indulge us.




Today’s listening

This week I’ve been listening to Joanna Newsom a lot, getting excited for her new album.

I hope this means she’ll be touring, I haven’t seen her play for ages (I’ll take this opportunity to show off again about the time she gave me a hug backstage at Green Man). I also found a great 70s playlist from the woman herself over here.

When Emily and those meteorites haven’t been circling in my head today, this one has been popping in, which I hadn’t listened to for years…

and that one reminded me of this…

This weekend I’m making a video to go with the lead track on the Lonesome Lake EP, and I’m seeing the Wave Pictures and Alvvays (not on the same bill, though that would be pretty great). Have a good Bank Hol!

Don’t Worry Baby

I’m hoping to catch the new Brian Wilson film, Love and Mercy, at some point this weekend. It’s reminded me of our (Figureheads) Beach Boys cover…

It was the B-side to Wonderful Emergency on Damaged Goods, which was Gideon Coe’s ‘label of love’ on BBC 6 Music earlier this week (which meant a spin for another of our singles, Wasted!) Gid also repeated a 2007 Monkey Swallows the Universe session this week that you can listen back to as well. Thanks, Gid!

Tour stories

It’s Sunday and I’m sat in my pyjamas on the sofa. I don’t have to go anywhere today. We’ve done a fair few miles over the last couple of weeks, so I think that’s ok.

After our unstoppable beginnings in Manchester and our smoother trip to Nottingham, we played a house show in Oxford, in the home of the former editor of Sandman Magazine, Sheffield’s indie bible back in the 00s. Mi12 web

Mi8 web

Thanks to Glass Hertz for the pics from that day. You can see more over here.

On Tuesday we travelled to Birmingham and played at the rather beautiful Kitchen Garden Cafe. We also popped over the road to another cafe, Cherry Red’s, for excellent cheeseburgers and rootbeer.cherry red webAnd I was given a lovely gift (thanks, Tony!) of this little solar powered light-up house. Note the tiny Neighbour of the Year sticker!10269457_10152827011688705_731104152004351802_n

After the gig we drank wine and played Lexicon, which Hannah won 5 consecutive rounds of.


The next day we took a detour on our way to Cardiff into the Forest of Dean. It was such a beautiful day we decided to carry our instruments down to the River Wye…

10934080_10152827011613705_5008505987980628073_n…and filmed ‘Condor’, a song I wrote for Connie Converse:

And then Oliver and Katherine carried on playing…

That night we played at Gwdihw, an ace, gorgeous little place in Cardiff. Our guest that night was The Gentle Good, aka Gareth Bonello, who played an incredibly beautiful set accompanied by his wife Jen. I’m planning to bring Gareth to Sheffield in May, so watch this space.Gentle Good

It turned out that Jen there is a real master of zoology, and offered to give us a behind the scenes tour of the Cardiff Museum the following day, where we feasted our eyes on pickled spiders, cupboardfuls of beautiful beasts and birds and drawers filled with flies.Jen Hannah shell

After eating the biggest sandwiches in the world (I failed completely)…

sandwich web…we headed to London. We’d spent a bit too long (oops) in the museum and then we hit awful traffic, and ended up being 2 hours late for soundcheck, but it all turned out ok. Thanks to Ruth Barnes for hosting.

10981865_10152827011308705_3157604673620204863_nMe ol’ mucker Kev had come to see us, and I very much enjoyed getting the audience to boo him. He also got himself a Neighbour of the Year window sticker, as displayed here by him and his boys:


We were a bit giddy from a lack of food and too much booze as we left London, which led to us all confessing our secret love for Sheryl Crow to each other and singing along to ‘A Change Would Do You Good’ on youtube via Katherine’s phone in the car.

Somewhat sleep-deprived, and a little bit sad because we’d reached the end of this particular adventure, we arrived for our final show in Sheffield at the Greystones on Friday. It was the first time since Manchester that we didn’t have Mark Hadman with us and he was missed. Mark was our driver/roadie/tech support/sandwich locator/generally helpful wonderful man throughout the tour. THANK YOU MARK!

mark in the museum

Sheffield gave us a very warm welcome home. We were filming this show for Sheffield Live TV, so it will be available to watch at some point. I’ll keep ya posted.

greystones1 greystones2

And so it ended. There’s nothing quite like travelling around with your friends and playing music every night in superb little venues. It was an amazing 10 days. Thanks again to Mark, and thanks to Chris at Hey Manchester!, Sam at Nottingham Indiepop, Jan & Emma, Brett at Kitchen Garden Cafe, James at Gwdihw, Chris at the Finsbury and Emily at the Greystones. And finally, a massive thanks to everyone who came out to see us on these cold nights and bought tickets and records, thank you thank you thank you.

The restrospective set:

  1. Sheffield Shanty (The Bright Carvings)
  2. Martin (The Bright Carvings)
  3. Little Polveir (The Casket Letters)
  4. Heart of Clay (b-side to Dirty Rotten Soul)
  5. January (Roman Radio)
  6. All This (Roman Radio)
  7. Hedgehunter (I’m Across, I’m Ashore)
  8. Straw & Hay (I’m Across, I’m Ashore)
  9. Not Now, Horse (Neighbour of the Year)
  10. March, March (Neighbour of the Year)
  11. I’ve Been Shot (Neighbour of the Year)
  12. Neighbour of the Year (Neighbour of the Year)
  13. DOG (Neighbour of the Year)
  14. Shelter (Neighbour of the Year)

Our next gig is at the Blue Sky Cafe in Sheffield on April 11th, as part of the ‘For The Common Good’ festival of events in support of the Sheffield Green Party. More details.

More tour photos here.










Weather Report

The tour began yesterday with a successful trip to Manchester despite the universe doing it all it could to stop us from reaching our destination, first with all the snow it could throw at us, making getting the equipment to our tour vehicle very difficult, then ensuring that said vehicle refused to start. We loaded ourselves up like packhorses and jumped on a train, enjoying the scenery on our way.


train web

In other weather news, my very own rain-soaked Sheffield Shanty makes a timely appearance in The Guardian this week, in a list of the best songs about cities.

Guardian link

Next stop on the tour is Nottingham, tonight at Lee Rosy’s. At the time of writing I have no idea how we are getting there, but we’ll get there!

Something to look forward to

January stretches before us like an interminable ice pop, and not even a blue one, but wait – what’s that in the distance?

Why it’s a TOUR!


Tickets on sale now for:
ManchesterNottinghamBirminghamCardiffLondon and Sheffield. Email themusicinn@gmail.com for the low down on our Oxford visit.

If you were in charge of the set, what Monkey Swallows the Universe / Nat Johnson & the Figureheads would you definitely include? (No promises being made). Leave me a comment below or tell me on twitter or Facebook.

Happy New Year!

Tour dates and a competition!

Neighbour of the Year tour! Accompanied by my wonderful band on harmonies, flute, fiddle, lapsteel, horn and banjo, I’ll be playing a retrospective set featuring songs from my Monkey Swallows the Universe and Nat Johnson & the Figureheads days, as well as (of course) songs from the new album.

Thursday 29th – MANCHESTER – Takk – GET TICKETS
Friday 30th – NOTTINGHAM – Lee Rosy’s – GET TICKETS

Sunday 1st – OXFORD – House show (limited availability – email themusicinn@gmail.com for details)
Tuesday 3rd – BIRMINGHAM – Kitchen Garden Cafe – GET TICKETS
Wednesday 4th – CARDIFF – Gwdihw – GET TICKETS
Thursday 5th – LONDON – The Finsbury – GET TICKETS
Friday 6th – SHEFFIELD – Greystones – GET TICKETS

More TBC!



Enter my Neighbour of the Year competition and win all these goodies for yourself, or share with a neighbour!

– A copy of the new album on both CD and vinyl
Two pairs of tickets for one of the above shows
– a Neighbour of the Year window sticker

To be in with a chance, answer the following question:
What would your neighbour say is the worst thing about living next door to you?

Email nat@natjohnson.co.uk with your answer and state which show you’d like tickets for if you win. Entries close at midnight on 30th November. Good luck!