Johnny Rock & The Limits

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Johnny Rock & The Limits


Johnny Rock & The Limits frontman Johnny Moretti set up a mission in 2009 to form the biggest band that Melbourne had ever seen in the mere space of six months…

You’ve gotta aim high to reach the stars – or at least score national exposure through a Cornetto ice cream ad. Johnny Rock & The Limits frontman Johnny Moretti set up a mission in 2009 to form the biggest band that Melbourne had ever seen in the mere space of six months… And even though he’s still working on it, it’s safe to say he’s getting there mighty fast.

"This idea came to me literally from one of those crazy moods where you decide to build a car from scratch in your shed," Moretti laughs. "My old band Accessory had ended at the time, my relationship with a girlfriend ended too, and there were heaps of things in my life finishing up and I felt like my life was heading in a new direction. I needed a new band and I met this drummer through a friend. She now plays in The Big Scary, Jo Syme. We had a jam and really hit it off.

"It was around the time bands like The Bloc Party and The Killers were really popular, the rock bands doing ’80s dance stuff, and I wanted to have a fun rock band that made people dance too. Jo was really keen to do it but she also told me she was leaving the country in six months and going on a world trip for nine months. We basically had a deadline of six months to be the biggest band in Melbourne, which is where ‘The Limits’ part of the name comes into it."

According to Moretti, the ‘Johnny Rock’ part was inspired by the Russell-Brand-like attitude he found many musos put on in the local circuit, the clichéd-sounding name of his band being something of a piss-take rather than a literal statement.

"A lot of bands I’ve met think they’re too-cool-for-school," he laughs. "Many of them take on this serious Russell Brand vibe and they think they’re real rock god. I remember inviting bands I liked to come and see my shows when I was in my old band and they’d tell you, ‘yeah, it’s good for what it is’ and backhanded comments like that… And I just thought, ‘you think you’re so amazing with your serious rock band’, so I took on the persona of ‘Johnny Rock’ as the biggest of rockstars in Melbourne – like, my name is so ‘rock’ that you can’t possibly top me! It’s taking the piss out of bands like that, really.

"People just get so precious about music. They get so caught up in sounding as original as possible and coming up with something no-one has ever even though of before, something so ‘pure’ that it’s almost impossible to come up with! It’s ridiculous because you dig yourself in a hole like that – I mean, that’s gotta be really hard…"

Rather than reinventing the wheel, Moretti decided to keep it simple – but fun. As Johnny Rock & The Limits, the singer says he didn’t mind sounding like his favourite bands, just as long as the songs were quality and, most importantly, catchy.

"I’m not that gifted as a guitarist or a singer or a writer but I know a good song when I hear it," Moretti claims. "There was an interview with Noel Gallagher about his record collection and he said it was full of T-Rex and The Beatles and a whole bunch of Best-Ofs. He goes, ‘of course my music is going to sound like that, because it’s what I listen to!’ If the music excites me, that’s awesome, and if you like it when we play it, you’re onto a winner.

"With our songwriting process, if the song doesn’t excite us straight away, it’s just not going to cut it and we’ll move on. Sometimes we’ll stumble onto a good thing randomly – like someone will accidentally fiddle with the amp or accidentally fall on the keyboard and we’ll be like, ‘what was that?!’"

Franz Ferdinand, The Strokes, The Killers – those are the bands that first spring to mind when hearing Johnny Rock & The Limits. And while Moretti claims that in his own head his band is reminiscent of Primal Scream – whatever the case,

Australia is certainly loving it and word is spreading like wildfire, partly thanks to being featured in a Cornetto commercial.

"We were the only Melbourne band that got shortlisted in the final top 10," explains Moretti. "They wanted us to keep sending them tracks, so we continued to send them songs that were even remotely poppy… We tailored the lyrics so they would be all ice-creams, summer and hanging with your girlfriend on the beach…. So kind of a bit cheesy!

"We went into Sing Sing to record one of the tracks Warm Summer Days for the ad, but they asked us to bring another one along. We had this other track Give You What You Need – we actually already had it on our album (their record, Finally Famous) but didn’t think much of it. We spent half a day recording that song again very quickly just to give them something to compare Warm Summer Days to – and they loved it!

"We never would have guessed they’d want to go with Give You What You Need instead so it’s worked out nicely!"

Very nicely indeed, it would seem.

JOHNNY ROCK & THE LIMITS launch their excellent single Give You What You Need at Revolver Upstairs this Friday Saturday February 26 with Tomaki Jets and Winton Hill. The best part? Seeing as it’s the soundtrack to the latest Cornetto ad, there are limited numbers of FREE Cornettos being handed out on the door! Hells yeah! Give You What You Need is out now on iTunes and can be bought from shows.