Purple Johnson Blimp Situation (also commonly known as "Purple Johnson" or abbreviated as PJBS) is an Australian art band that formed in Adelaide, South Australia in 2005 by Norwood Grimes and Peter Because when they sold their souls to Harleyquin Z. Jones, just off the freeway at Murray Bridge. The group's musical style is what they like to call "blimpcore", which is described as every style of music not rolled into one, and they often brand themselves as Australia's most elusive pop group. This usually means that the pop aspect of their music is elusive, but it also references the anonymity of the group.
The band consist of only two members, Captain Norwood Grimes and Captain Peter Because, and are occasionally joined by the enigmatic Harleyquin Z. Jones (the Z pronounced "zee"). To keep their anonymity they wear masks and use pseudonyms, but they have also on many occasions shown their face to the public seemingly forgetting what the word anonymous means.
They have been accused of miming their live shows from time to time like most pop stars, only to happily admit it. They claim they are poking fun at the pop scene by miming. Not all of their shows are mimed, but the ones that are, are always very entertaining pieces of performance art.
Their most well known image is the oversized cardboard cut-out mask of the Flight Centre pilot's face, although they have also been seen wearing Charlie Sheen faces for the 'Charlie Sheen with Chainsaws' tour, transparent Rondo Hatton like masks, and even dressed up as monster surgeons and performed surgery and catering for a Halloween show in 2012.
Early history (2003-2005)
Purple Johnson Blimp Situation began as The Cheese Dirigible in 2003. A band formed by Norwood Grimes, Peter Because, Ron Dean, and Humphrey Scott (later Lord Humphrey Scott). They met at a Work for the Dole programme held at DK Arts 2 Music in Brahma Lodge, South Australia. Peter was being given the tour of the Work for the Dole site during the time that Norwood was writing his third debut, "Trying to Reason With You". Peter complimented the music, but Norwood thought he was kidding because he was often told his music was too weird. They soon discovered that their musical tastes were very similar. Ron Dean and Humphrey Scott were two fanatical TISM fans who wanted to start their own balaclava clad group, which would explain their choice of pseudonyms. Originally under the name The Cheese Dirigible, they recorded one EP called The PJBS EP which stood for "Pfft. Jet's Bull Shit!", referring to the Australian rock band, Jet. The EP was released in 2004 and was handed out for free shamelessly at other bands' gigs. The response was not good, which is said to be the reason the band eventually broke up. It was later revealed that Peter and Norwood wanted to head in a more avant-garde direction, while Ron and Humphrey wanted to become a pop group. Ron and Humphrey apparently met a girl at their local pub and started a pop group called Amy's Winehouse, while Peter and Norwood dabbled in their own solo works.
In late 2005 Peter and Norwood started to work together again and produced an albums worth of material. They released it at the start of 2006 under the name Purple Johnson Blimp Situation, using the initials of their EP to come up with their new band name. This release was called The Satanic Mechanic in the Sky and it was the birth of what is now called 'blimpcore'.
Satanic Mechanic in the Sky (2005-2007)
It had been almost a year since the break up of The Cheese Dirigible when, due to unemployment, Peter Because and Norwood Grimes found themselves back in the Work for the Dole programme. One night after work, Peter and Norwood headed out to Puzzle Park (just off the freeway at Murray Bridge), where they met a mysterious man named Harleyquin Z. Jones. They played a game of life-sized chess and sold their souls to the man, in return for fame, fortune and a bit of talent. To this day, they are still waiting on Harleyquin Z. Jones' end of the deal.
The next day they began recording mostly improvised jams with the equipment that was available. The equipment included an out of date apple mac, running a very old version of Pro Tools. Two keyboards, one casio-chord and one yamaha, and a couple of mics. Occasionally Norwood would bring his collection of basses and guitars along but this wasn't very often. Recording lasted about 3 months and the album was released on the 13th of January, 2006. The album was essentially a flop. With only three sales, the band found themselves giving the rest away.
In an interview when Norwood Grimes was asked about the contract between PJBS and Harleyquin Z. Jones he said, "It seemed like a pretty good deal, but we kind of expected the success straight away. And when we went back to ask him about his end of the deal, all he said was "These things don't just happen overnight, you know?" So yeah, we're still waiting for that."
Have you got everything in your bag, mate? (2007-2008)
2007 and 2008 was the most productive period for Purple Johnson Blimp Situation. Peter and Norwood call this "The Bag" period. The reason behind this is, when they were walking home from Work for the Dole one afternoon, a wizard standing just outside the car park of Bowland, stopped them and asked, "Have you got everything in your bag, mate?" And then just disappeared right in front of their eyes. Almost instantly the productivity accelerated, and PJBS recorded 6 albums, "Return of the Cheese Dirigible" and "In The Blimp Shed" in 2007, and "Penetrating the Clouds", "Airships", "The Colour Purple" and "The Double Hindenburger with Cheese" in 2008.
During 2009 Norwood Grimes and Peter Because began working with local horrorcore rapper, KidCrusher on a grind/death metal project called Kcavemen, which was originally formed by Peter Because and KidCrusher a few years earlier. Kcavemen released "Gondwanaland" and toured mid 2010.
The vardo period (2010)
In late 2009 while working with Kcavemen, Purple Johnson Blimp Situation hired a caravan and began to work on a new album. Everything was written and recorded in the tiny space in roughly 2 months, and in early 2010 they released their 8th album, "1937".
Just before and after the Kcavemen Australian tour, Norwood Grimes and Peter Because recorded their 9th album, "Blimp My Ride", which was released toward the end of 2010. Blimp my Ride was a noise album and an attempt to break away from their current sound as they feared they were doing too much of the same thing. This album did fairly well within the online noise community and even saw a remix by American avant-garde composer, William Justice Mueller (aka The Smudge), called "Ride my Blimp".
The conceptual period (2011-present)
In 2011, Purple Johnson Blimp Situation started working on their 10th album, "A Monetary Lapse this Season". The title was a parody of their current financial situation and the Pink Floyd album, "A Momentary Lapse of Reason". The album cover also parodied Pink Floyd looking almost exactly like the Pink Floyd album cover, only the picture inside the boarder is gone and replaced with a white background and black text reading "No cover art due to lack of funding." The music was all recorded on a small cassette tape recorder found at a Salvation Army thrift shop for $2. Each track is named after a different currency and between each track is a small excerpt of music which makes the album sound like it was recorded over a tape that previously had music recorded on it, but if you take all the micro tracks (all untitled) and play them all together, it plays one whole track. The concept behind this album was poverty, right from the lo-fi production, to the recycled cassette.
In 2012, Purple Johnson Blimp Situation went quiet. Norwood Grimes and Peter Because were focusing on other media, coming up with ideas for films, comic books, and more visual types of art. Although, 2012 did see two live shows. They played a charity concert for The Cancer Council of Australia, and a Halloween show.
In 2013, PJBS were very hungry and began to record their culinary adventures. They released "The Food Album" which was a collection of ambient soundscapes over recordings of the band eating dinner. This album was also released in 2013 and received the best response from fans. The Food Album was a success, and managed to gain more interest than any other release by Purple Johnson Blimp Situation.
PJBS wasted no time starting work on their new album, and as a band mostly known for their avant-garde and experimental works, they decided they wanted to do something that no one would ever expect from them, and as a result they released "Twelve" (aka the rock album) the band's most accessible album to date. Coincidentally Twelve is their twelfth album under the name Purple Johnson Blimp Situation, but actually their thirteenth album if you include The PJBS EP that they recorded as The Cheese Dirigible. Twelve received a great response and expanded the band's fanbase especially with the album's single "I'm Not Saying It's Aliens", a rock song based on the Ancient Aliens internet meme with Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, and a cover version of The Rudy Schwartz Project's piece "Moammar's Tractor".
Currently Purple Johnson Blimp Situation are working on a number of different projects, including restoring and re-releasing all the early albums, which are currently unavailable.
Musical style and influences
Purple Johnson Blimp Situation's musical style is called blimpcore, which is described as every style of music not rolled into one. They primarily started out as an experimental group armed with keyboards and a few other instruments, but eventually started to cover the noise genres, and rock genres. They have often said they get bored playing the same music over and over again, which is why they like to change genres whenever they feel like it, and this is why in this day and age of labels and categories they've decided to label themselves with the blimpcore genre.
Purple Johnson Blimp Situation have never been clear about their musical influences, and have stated that they prefer their listeners to guess, and although some influences may be obvious, one can only speculate.
- Norwood Grimes - Stuff
- Peter Because - Stuff
- Harleyquin Z. Jones
- Satanic Mechanic in the Sky (2006)
- Return of the Cheese Dirigible (2007)
- In The Blimp Shed (2007)
- Penetrating The Clouds (2008)
- Airships (2008)
- The Colour Purple (2008)
- The Double Hindenburger with Cheese (2008)
- 1937 (2010)
- Blimp My Ride (2010)
- A Monetary Lapse This Season (2011)
- The Food Album (2013)
- Twelve (2013)
- Ödland Kybernetisch (2014)
- Trapdoor Expansion (2015)
- Unplugged - Live at Puzzle Park (2015)
- Gone Fish'n (2016)