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The The

The The was the guise of Matt Johnson, a mercurial singer/songwriter whose music ran the gamut from dance-pop to country. Born August 15, 1961, in London, Johnson was raised in the flat above his father's pub, the Two Puddings, a haven for well-known celebrities and criminals; he also became exposed to music at the nightclubs and dancehalls owned by his uncle, where he saw performers like Howlin' Wolf, the Kinks, and Muddy Waters. Johnson formed his first band, Roadstar, when he was 11; at the age of 15, he was hired as a tea boy for the DeWolfe music publishing company, and within three years, he was working in their recording studio as an assistant engineer.

After the demise of the duo the Marble Index in 1979, Johnson formed the first incarnation of The The with synth player Keith Laws; after playing their debut gig opening for Scritti Politti, the group issued its first single, "Controversial Subject," on the 4AD label in 1980. A year later, contractual obligations forced Johnson to issue the LP Burning Blue Soul under his own name; that year, he also recorded as a guitarist with the band the Gadgets, and The The contributed a track to the Some Bizzare Album compilation.

In 1982, The The -- now essentially a Johnson solo project, backed by a revolving coterie of musicians -- recorded the album The Pornography of Despair, which a dissatisfied Johnson chose not to release; a 1983 single recorded with Orange Juice's Zeke Manyika, "This Is the Day," formed the centerpiece of The The's proper debut, 1983's Soul Mining, an excursion into dance-flavored pop. Illness sidelined Johnson for much of the following year, and The The did not return until 1986's Infected, an eclectic commentary on the state of Britain in the modern world. Recorded with the aid of talents like Neneh Cherry, Art of Noise's Anne Dudley, and Swans' Roli Mosimann, Infected was also accompanied by an ambitious album-length video.

When The The returned with the dissonant Mind Bomb in 1989, they were once again a true band, with Johnson joined by ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr as well as bassist James Eller and former ABC drummer Dave Palmer. The same lineup remained for 1993's pared-down Dusk, but 1995's Hanky Panky marked yet another new direction when Johnson was joined by guitarist Eric Schermerhorn, keyboardist D.C. Collard, harmonica player Jim Fitting, and drummer Brian MacLeod on a brooding covers collection honoring the music of country great Hank Williams. Despite recording some material in 1997, Johnson didn't return with a new album until 2000's NakedSelf, which included Schermerhorn plus a new rhythm section of Spencer Campbell and Earl Harvin. Despite some touring during 2000 and much of 2001, the band dissolved.

Johnson continued to be busy, forming his own independent film soundtrack company Cineola, scoring several films over the subsequent ten years (including 2009's Tony, 2010's Moonbug, and 2014's Hyena), forming a publishing company to issue his father Eddie's memoir of life running a pub in East London, and occasionally releasing one-off singles. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Hanky Panky

1. Honky Tonkin'

2. Six More Miles

3. My Heart Would Know

4. If You'll be a Baby to Me

5. I'm A Long Gone Daddy

6. Weary Blues From Waitin'

7. I Saw The Light

8. Your Cheatin' Heart

9. I Can't Get You Off Of My Mind

10. There's A Tear In My Beer

11. I Can't Escape From You

x

Track List: Dusk

1. True Happiness This Way Lies

2. Love Is Stronger Than Death

3. Dogs Of Lust

4. This Is The Night

5. Slow Emotion Replay

6. Helpline Operator

7. Sodium Light Baby

8. Lung Shadows

9. Bluer Than Midnight

10. Lonely Planet

x

Track List: Mind Bomb

1. Good Morning Beautiful

2. Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)

3. The Violence Of Truth

4. Kingdom Of Rain

5. The Beat(En) Generation

6. August & September

7. Gravitate To Me

8. Beyond Love

x

Track List: Soul Mining

1. I've Been Waitin' For Tomorrow (All Of My Life)

2. This Is The Day

3. The Sinking Feeling

4. Uncertain Smile

5. The Twilight Hour

6. Soul Mining

7. Giant

8. Perfect

Comments

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This is the day played at the end of the movie Empire Records; to answer a comment question from 2 years ago!
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The The is one of the the coolest bands!
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pixelpusher9
The The is one of the most talented bands that lack the recognition they deserve. Truly influential.
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Always great to hear and do this in concert great live tune.....
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Armageddon Days Are Here. Best describes the crisis in the middle east.
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Armageddon Days Are Here. listen to the words, so true for the crisis present time.
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Mind Bomb could not have been more appropriatel y titled...wha t a great record. Wish Matt would start working again
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This Is The Day is regrettably one of the great forgotten songs of the 80s.
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Sings like a girl. Later
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tkaweski
@quikboy2 - I was at the same concert in 1990 at The Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver. Johnny Marr on guitar in concert backing Matt Johnson, at an historic dancehall - amazing! One of my most memorable concerts.
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quikboy2
I was a fan of The The at the age of 12 because of my brother - 18 years old at the time. I saw them on my 19th birthday in 1990 at The Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver - with my Brother and his now wife - it was the best birthday ever and I will never forget the power of seeing Matt perform live. The The is a great part of who I am today. Great lyrics, vocals and amazing instrumental s . The Commodore Ballroom is by far, one of the best concert venues in Vancouver.
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quikboy2
I was a fan of The The at the age of 12 because of my brother - 18 years old at the time. I saw them on my 19th birthday in 1990 at The Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver - with my Brother and his now wife - it was the best birthday ever and I will never forget the power of seeing Matt perform live. The The is a great part of who I am today. Great lyrics, vocals and amazing instrumental s . The Commodore Ballroom is by far, one of the best concert venues in Vancouver.
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The poor guy needs more than 413 likes!!! Lol I just started listening to him I like a lot of stuff.....
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The The is related to these similar artists in the fact they are Alternative 80's , Eclectic bands. I think that's why they get lumped together.
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Soul Mining and Mind Bomb blew me away in the 80's...and still do today each time I listen to them. And why Pandora would suggest that Depeche Mode, The Cure, New Order, The Smiths, and The Church are similar artists - also blows me away. Those groups, great as they are, are nothing like The The - musically, lyrically, genre-crossi n g , etc. An artist like Matt Johnson doesn't come along very often. Glad I have been around to see/hear him.
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First three albums are masterpieces ( S o u l Mining, Infected and Mind Bomb), albeit a little self indulgent at times(in a good way!), but after these it goes down hill a bit(Dusk), and then becomes too self indulgent to be bothered with(Hanky Panky-who cares about Hank Williams FFS?) But it has to be said, Matt Johnson is a under rated music genius!
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njhkp7
Soul mining is a true masterpiece
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What movie was This is the Day in? Its bugging me. Awesome song though
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christinatre m b l a y 0 0
Amazing that Matt was only 22 when he wrote / recorded this album. And if you read the biography attached, recorded the first The The single at 20. If any of you reading have never listened to Scritti Politti whom The The opened for in 1980, I highly recommend their '85 album Cupid & Psyche. You won't be sorry.
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Soul Mining was out of this world, those that followed take some getting use to after a number of listening.
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aegilbert67
One of the best albums of that decade. I still love this album as much when I first purchased it in 83, I was a still in high school. Classic!!!!
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This is an amazing album. Unfortunatel y I bought it on cassette and I'm afraid to play it. This could make it into my top ten albums list, along with Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys, The Seduction of Claude Debussey by The Art of Noise, Everything Waits to Be Noticed by Art Garfunkel and Oyster by Heather Nova.
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Wow I forgot about the the. Amazing lyricist and with J. Marr....talk about Marr moving from one lyrical genius to another.
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the dusk cover is the second release, the disc set, where is the original cover?
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he had it all, talent his story and awesome albums, too bad he stopped releasing.
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justin11316
My day hasn't been perfect, but it just got a bit better.
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this the true music that was ahead time my favorite memories being with friends and radio stations like kjjo 104.1 modern rock rev 105 the current
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pegasi77
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in two days.
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armsbyned
Sorry kids. This is real, real bad. People who sing like this shouldn't sing; it gives singing a bad name. Kindof bizarre to me how many people seem to like them. I find them to be completely unlistenable .
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Heard MJ on KEXP this morning....b r o u g h t back memories. I remember buying Soul Mining on cassette, just because of the band name, The The. Sill awesome 30 years later!!!
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rossmachiner a c i n g
He did modern rock live on the radio which was an awesome acoustic set. Anyone have a link to it? I would agree on being underrated
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Most people MJ- Michael Jackson

Me MJ- Matt Johnson
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discer2365
Damn fine Piano lead.
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secglc2
Matt Johnson - Pure lyrical and musical genius. I was fortunate to see his band with the Cranberries as the opening act in Denver way back when.
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Soul Mining, what a GREAT album!
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One of the most underrated singers and songwriters, ever. Wish he was still doing music, but he seems to have stopped and is now running a cool (but non-musical) political blog. Miss his voice, music and insight into sound and true musicality.
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mccombs9
Awesome band!
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Thethe hanky panky is a great album.
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budbud00
Bestest Band ever!
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lung shadows ripped off to form HURT - NIN.. give it a listen.
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Was introduced to The The in the 80's by the boyfriend at the time...best thing he ever did for me.
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I saw The The in 1987 in London. Great show! He took requests and I screamed for him to play Uncertain Smile. He replied back, Well, that's an old one, then played it beautifully.
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The great beatnik poet Lawrence Ferllengetti would have loved this band.
The The ignites a lingering sensation of uncertain emotions!
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The The is one band that "Infects" me to the core... The contrast from Mind Bomb to Dusk is one of sheer delight and mental deconstructi o n . I have always described Mind Bomb as an album that makes you cry b/c of the state of the world, religion, love, and death and how it explodes while Dusk looks at all the same aspects within yourself and how the world implodes. I can't listen to just one song! I cry everytime I listen to either continuously . "Uncertain Smile" is my all time fave!
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milosdad
Hanky Pank is a record I buy for all my friends. Never had the chance to see The the live but I have most records and I go through phases where I play them over and over. Something about them that just envelopes my moods.
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Pandora we need "Infected" one the best albums from the 80's
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funkylowlife
SAW THE THE WITH DEPECHE MODE YEARS AGO LOVED THE ALBUM DUSK, WHAT HAPPEN TO THEM??? WOULD DEF. GO SEE AGAIN!
Report as inappropriate
life in nyc = a million shows, dusk tour at cbgb's 1 of top 3 ever (other 2: sonic youth also at cb's , swervedriver at the mercury ) wish we could see matt more than once every 10 yrs or so (and that goes for swerves too).
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take me back to '85 please
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Johnny Marr on guitar on Dusk was a plus
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