Cowboy John is a self-actualised enigma of many a profession.
The self-professed legendary horseman, Anzac wing commander, churchman, mechanic, pilot, bodyguard, navigator, security officer, carbon-smoking cowboy, station master, medicine man, friend of society and prophet can nearly do it all, but it doesn’t stop there.
Cowboy John has been hitting Poons Head Studio since ’88 mastering his own eccentric take on rock and roll.
He is often seen walking through Claremont, donning a red crown and cape, rolling out his own outlandish psychedelic mix tapes that form a subtle resistance to classic music theory.
The rulebook for key changes, pitch, tempo and syncopation are thrown out the window in Cowboy’s work, the exact genius that has gained him the notable reputation he has today in Perth’s music industry.
He has recorded music with a wealth of musicians, most notably starring in Pond’s fifth studio record Hobo Rocke—which we were lucky enough to witness a live rendition of.
Cowboy John said he was given creative license on Hobo Rocket, creating an almost perfect once-off collaboration with the psychedelic all-stars.
“It’s only two and a half minutes, no, no, we’re not rehearsing,” Cowboy John said in recording with Pond.
“We’re going to do this professional and it only happens once.”
Poons Head Studios owner Rob Grant has recorded music for a wealth of talent, including Tame Impala, Miley Cyrus, Death Cab For Cutie and Eskimo—but Cowboy John has stood by him as most loyal.
Rob said Cowboy John could never play the same thing twice, so would only ever live record his music, often over the phone, and pump out an album in a day.
“We recorded Cowboy’s first album in ’88 and he sent the master tape to the Queen of England,” he said.
That’s right ladies and gents. Cowboy John’s one and only copy of his debut album is being hidden from the masses behind the walls of Buckingham Palace.
From there, Rob and Cowboy have recorded many albums, with full length 2013 release Secrets of the Universe exemplifying his original take on themes such as love, religion and a plethora of bizarre lyrics.
Cowboy John said he has taken inspiration from the likes of Deep Purple, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.
“Just equal out echo, tone, bass, volume and reverb, it all sounds good then,” he said.
“Any band can sound better than Led Zeppelin ya’know, anyone.
“Just pump the whammy and peddle.”
But we wouldn’t want to give away all his secrets.
In the depths of Cowboy John’s music he has taken life experiences as a stimulus for his outlandish lyrics, including the many important women throughout his life.
“Plenty of sad love and beautiful women, it’s better to be alone these days,” he said.
“I’ve got a girlfriend now, but she only comes around when she wants cigarettes.”
When asked about a six-inch golden key hanging from a chain around his neck he mentioned one young lady in particular.
“My last girlfriend gave me this key to ancient cities and treasure troves,” he said.
Unfortunately however, Cowboy John has never traveled internationally to uncover the secrets of the key.
Cowboy John was excited to tell us his latest unreleased recording at Poons Head Studios is finished and is ready for release.
“It’s all done and recorded on the studio backup, it’s called Atomic Cow, Nuclear Sex Kittens,” he said.
He ended the afternoon’s formalities with a passionate insight into a few of his self-taught home remedies for numerous illnesses.
Heart disease: gunpowder, potassium chloride (or alternatively bananas), copper sulphate, aspirin and fish oil.
Cancer: bread and butter plum jam sandwiches, goats cheese, cows milk and sunflower oil.
Cold and flu: cinnamon, steak and basil, salt, black peppers, apples and oranges.
Extraordinary insight; coming from a fully recovered bowel cancer patient who has gone through 29 open heart surgeries and who suffers from bronchitis, epilepsy and diabetes.
“But I never get the flu anymore,” he said.
Holding the secrets of the universe, is Cowboy John the prophet our world wants and needs?