John Grant makes music, dreams of a house on Lake Superior

John Grant performs "Global Warming" from the album Grey Tickles, Black Pressure live in the studios of 89.3 The Current. (MPR)
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John Grant performs in The Current studio (full session + interview)
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  • John Grant performs in The Current studio (full session + interview) 23:37
  • John Grant - Global Warming (Live on 89.3 The Current) 04:06
  • John Grant - Down Here (Live on 89.3 The Current) 03:44
  • John Grant - Grey Tickles, Black Pressure (Live on 89.3 The Current) 05:24

John Grant's latest album, Grey Tickles, Black Pressure sits at No. 5 on the U.K. charts, just a few hundred copies behind electronica group Faithless's No. 1 entry, Faithless 2.0. That said, Grant doesn't care too much about charts. "I don't want to know anything about all that," Grant says. "All I want to know is: When can I have my house on Lake Superior?"

Although he lives in Reykjavik, Iceland, Grant suggests a return to the Midwest is an aspiration. "I'm a Michigan boy, and I love the Midwest," he says. "I love Minnesota, for example, these places where the weather is more extreme in the winter, where it gets really cold and you have these amazing icicles, and where you have a really beautiful autumn with the trees changing and everything."

Grant is seeing a hearty helping of autumn leaves as he and his bandmates visit the Twin Cities for a show at the Cedar Cultural Center on Thursday, Oct. 22. Earlier in the day, Grant, along with keyboardist Chris Pemberton and guitarist Pétur Hallgrímsson, stopped at The Current for an in-studio session hosted by Mac Wilson.

The name of Grant's album, Grey Tickles, Black Pressure is cryptic at first, but Grant explains the name is a literal translation of two idiomatic phrases from Icelandic and Turkish, respectively. "… 'Grey tickles' is the phrase for 'midlife crisis' in Icelandic," he says. "'Black pressure' is a direct translation from the Turkish, and that means nightmare: so 'midlife crisis nightmare'."

Although the album contains dark themes, influenced by the Icelandic winter, Grant recorded it in Texas, which provided an interesting contrast in the entire experience. "It was so awesome to go to Dallas, because I really love Texas." Grant says. "I ended up doing two of my three albums there. It was a fantastic experience. It was dark because of the album itself — the subject matter — but it was also a time of great levity and light-heartedness."

Listen to the complete interview to hear more from John Grant, including how he got hand-picked by Elton John to record a track for the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road reissue, and how he met and was able to collaborate with a musician he's long admired, Tracey Thorn of Everything But The Girl.

Songs Performed


"Global Warming"
"Down Here"
"Grey Tickles, Black Pressure"

All songs from John Grant's 2015 album, Grey Tickles, Black Pressure, available on Partisan Records (U.S.) and Bella Union Records (U.K.).

Hosted by Mac Wilson
Produced by Lindsay Kimball
Engineered by Corey Schreppel and Dan Mariska
Web feature by Luke Taylor

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6 Photos

  • John Grant - 2
    John Grant performs in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Leah Garaas)
  • John Grant - 3
    Chris Pemberton and Petur Hallgrimsson perform with John Grant in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Leah Garaas)
  • John Grant - 4
    John Grant performs in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Leah Garaas)
  • John Grant - 5
    Chris Pemberton and Petur Hallgrimsson perform with John Grant in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Leah Garaas)
  • John Grant - 6
    Petur Hallgrimsson plays guitar with John Grant in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Leah Garaas)
  • John Grant - 7
    John Grant performs in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Leah Garaas)

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