Based in New York, this chamber cabaret group, led by lead singer Antony Hegarty comprises a diverse range of musical input -including string arrangement, piano, woodwind, percussion and guitar- from a supporting cast of musicians collectively known as ‘the Johnsons’.
Born and raised in Chichester, Hegarty’s family later moved to the USA. In 1990, he enrolled on an experimental theatre course at New York University and became involved in the city’s drag and punk scenes, performing at late night cabaret shows, where he played homage to personal heroes Leigh Bowery and Klaus Naomi. It was at this time that Hegarty began to experiment with music, later forming a backing group that attracted a cult following. The group recorded their first album, ‘Blue Angel’ in 1996, but remained unsigned for some time before being noticed by ’Current 93’ lead singer, David Tibet who signed them to his ‘Durto’ label.
It wasn’t until they released their eponymous album in 1998, that the group had amassed a diverse range of supporting musicians that included transsexual artist Baby Dee on harp and Francois Gehen on guitar. The group made several EP’s, where notably, Anthony made a return to England in 1993 to record a joint EP with ‘Current 93’ in the ancient church of St Olave’s, London. Hegarty’s soaring vibrato vocals and inimitable voice, accompanied by complex orchestral string arrangements and bass guitar riffs, soon caught the attention of fellow New Yorker Lou Reed, who asked him to make an appearance on his album ‘The Raven’ and invited him to play support on his 2003 world tour.
In 2004, the group moved to Indiana based label ‘Secretly Canadian’, with whom they recorded ‘I Am A Bird now’. The album involved the collaboration of Reed, Boy George and Rufus Wainwright, and included the Johnsons cast of Julia Kent (cello), Todd Cohen (drums), Jeff Langston (guitar), Joan Wassen and Maxim Moston (violin and vocals), and Rob Moose (guitar and violin). The album launched the group into mainstream consciousness, dominating album sales and music press worldwide and was followed by a world tour in 2005. Hegarty has managed to combine this with cameo roles in films such as ‘Animal Factory’ and ‘Wild Fire’ and various political and charitable work.
- 'You are my sister’, EP, Secretly Canadian, USA, 2005
- ‘Hope there’s someone’, EP, Secretly Canadian, USA, 2005
- ‘I am a Bird now’, Album, Secretly Canadian, USA, 2005
- ‘The Lake’, EP, Secretly Canadian, USA, 2004
- ‘I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy’, Single, Durtro, 2001
- ‘Anthony and the Johnsons’, Album, Durtro, 2000