John Henry Timmis IV, aka J.T. IV, sits on the floor and leans against a door with a drink in his hand and a brown paper bag over his head. Holes have been cut cut in the bag for his eyes and mouth.
John Henry Timmis IV, aka J.T. IV Credit: Courtesy of Suzanne Lehmann

Hard as it might be to believe, it’s been 15 years since Gossip Wolf (and the rest of the world) finally got hip to local outsider punk J.T. IV, aka John Henry Timmis IV. In the 1980s, Timmis released a handful of impossible-to-find singles and a compilation LP in near-total obscurity, and he died at age 40 in 2002. In 2008, Drag City released the J.T. IV compilation Cosmic Lightning via its Galactic Zoo Disk imprint, run by Secret History of Chicago Music creator Steve Krakow (who’d profiled Timmis for the Reader). Accomplished with heavy lifting by Robert Manis of Moniker Records, the reissue brought the forgotten rocker to a new audience of enthusiastic weirdos. Since then the only additional Timmis material to see the light of day has been his short autobiographical book From the Inside, published in 2017 by Moniker and Featherproof Books. Thankfully, more music is on the way: on Friday, March 10, Drag City releases The Future, a two-LP set that more than doubles J.T. IV’s available catalog. (The set hit streaming services last week, and it’s available digitally on Bandcamp right now.) The set’s 19 tracks are split between chilly acoustic numbers and what Timmis called “destructo rock,” and the lyrics often lampoon the celebs and current events of the 80s: “The Ballad of Oliver North” reaches unsafe levels of sarcasm, and “My Fellow Americans” sounds like a madman president delivering a suicidal State of the Union address backed by a golden-era SST Records band.

Half the royalties from The Future go to Chicago nonprofit the Night Ministry.

If you’ve ever described going to a concert as a “spiritual experience,” you may be interested in Church!, a new series about music and spirituality. It debuts at Golden Dagger on Sunday, January 29, where host William Murray-Rodriguez will interview two of this wolf’s favorite Chicago musicians, Jessica Risker and Angel Marcloid (aka Fire-Toolz). Both artists will play full sets to cap the night. “Services” start at 8 PM, and tickets are $10.

Recent releases by both scheduled guests on the inaugural episode of Church!


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