Johnnie Johnston Through The Crack In The Wall: The Secret History of Josef K

Label
Jawbone Press
Released
14th June 2024

Format Info

Book

Josef K are the great lost post-punk band. Taking their name from the haunted protagonist of Franz Kafka’s existentialist novel The Trial, they posed for photographs before brutalist and gothic architecture and produced visionary, often incendiary music that felt like the product of perpetual anxiety. And it really was.

Through The Crack In The Wall is the first ever biography of the band, tracing their story from their origins in the leafy suburbs of Edinburgh through to their untimely implosion four years later. It’s a tale of fun and frenzy, filled with highs and lows. From their thrilling live shows, which left onlookers spellbound, to more anxious occasions confronting a baying audience of rioting anarcho-punks in Brussels; from a brief spell as press darlings of the inkies to the fateful decision to pull their debut album just as pop stardom beckoned—one that continues to haunt them today.

Drawing extensively on new interviews with the band members and those around them as well as contemporary press articles, the book explores the band’s inner workings and analyses their relationships with Postcard Records supremo Alan Horne, labelmates Orange Juice, and manager Allan Campbell. It re-evaluates their position in the pantheon of post-punk greats and considers how their music helped shape the UK independent scene of the eighties. More than anything else, though, the book’s primary purpose is to celebrate the incredible music Josef K made and consider what makes it more vital today than ever.

About the author

Johnnie Johnstone was reared on a diet of Debussy, bossa nova, and Stevie Wonder, inheriting from his mother his insatiable passion for music. In his twenties, he worked in record shops, amassing a huge record collection, which he sold in a moment of madness around twenty-five years ago. For his penance, he resolved to begin writing about the music he loved, initially via a blog founded with a few friends in 2015. He contributes regularly to Shindig! and Record Collector magazines and has also written for Louder Than War. Johnstone is a secondary school teacher in East Kilbride and lives in Glasgow with his wife Wendy and his four children.

‘Everything was just so intense. There was an alienation and awkwardness about Josef K, but that was actually very true to life for me. Listening today I find really difficult because it brings back so many memories, so many ghosts and characters from the past.’  – Paul Haig

‘A lot of what Josef K were about was as much to do with what not to play as what to play. Josef K could never have anything rootsy, no blues scale. We were always looking for the modern.’ – Malcolm Ross