Former frontman of The King Blues, iTCH, a.k.a Jonny Fox, is an up-and-coming street music artist from the UK widely known for his smooth raps and tatted style. The talented musician recently unveiled the video for his hit single “Homeless Romantic,” which features Taking Back Sunday’s Adam Lazzara.
Celebrity Teen Scoop recently chatted with iTCH about his new “angry political street music,” the “Homeless Romantic” video, and why he feels being in a punk band has strengthened his rapping career. The talented yet humble artist also shared what it felt like performing as a rapper at the Van’s Warped Tour—broken leg and all!
CTS: You recently premiered a video for your hit single “Homeless Romantic” on Inked Magazine. What’s the story behind the song and video?
iTCH: “The story is of a girl who becomes homeless, and I wanted it to be about the wider picture. I spent time on the streets myself when I was a youth. What struck me most about it was the camaraderie and unity among street people. That’s what I wanted to show in the lyrics and the video—not just a doom and gloom story. I wanted to show some of the reasons why people become homeless, but I also wanted to add the humanity back into it so people can understand that these are real human people with real human problems and with real human love and real human heart.”
CTS: What was it like working with Taking Back Sunday’s Adam Lazzara on the song?
iTCH: “It was amazing. We were throwing names around in the studio on who would be best to do the hook. I feel there are a lot of bands nowadays where I don’t necessarily believe them. I don’t necessarily believe that they’re angry even if they’re shouting. When I heard him sing, I thought to myself, ‘This is real.’ I could hear the pain in his voice. I believed him. So we sent the tape off to him, not expecting not to hear anything back. And about a week later he came into the studio and I was recording with him. He’s a very humble, almost shy type of person, but if you put a mike to his mouth he becomes someone else. It was very inspiring to work with him.”
CTS: Can you tell us about the two EP’s you released?
iTCH: “I released Manifesto Part 1 and Manifesto Part 2 which are free EP’s that were part of a series. was a way to introduce the new sound that I am doing to America and to the people here in the UK. like to see my music as kind of a mixture of pop rock and hip-hop, because to me they’re the same thing. It’s angry, political, street music that come from different planes. That kind of strand melds the two together, and I think that’s what the manifestos are doing.”
CTS: Over the summer you performed at shows during the Van’s Warped Tour. Can you share some of the highlights?
iTCH: “The tour was incredible for me. I actually broke my leg like a week before I left, so I had to do the tour in a wheelchair, which was pretty physically demanding and very hard. What was really great was the unity amongst the bands. They had ninety bands on the tour, and no egos. That there were very few egos is quite an achievement. There’s a real spirit of everyone being in it together, which is awesome. For me the highlight was getting to tour America. I’ve spent a lot of time in LA and the Bay area, but I’ve never been to all the small little towns. I’ve seen the real America, and that for me was the best thing about it.”
CTS: What was it like being a rapper on a rock tour?
iTCH: “It’s a strength and a weakness. Sometimes kids get bored of the intense screamo bands. They enjoy seeing something different. I like to bring the energy of a hardcore band. I think a lot of rappers’ shows are very chill and not very energetic. I think those kids took to it, and I think nowadays people listen to all kinds of music. If you go through someone’s IPod they have rock, hip-hop, all kinds of different stuff. I think it went in my favor, because it gave them a little bit of a break. It showed them something different about a culture that they ordinarily wouldn’t go into.”
CTS: Tell us where the name ITCH comes from.
iTCH: “I’ve had that name since I was about four years old. You don’t want to know where it came from, trust me. It’s an old nickname. I’ve had it for very long.”
CTS: You were in the UK punk band the King Blues for ten years prior to transitioning to hip hop. How did the band help you grow as an artist?
iTCH: “I think we were very much like the Beastie Boys. We had that sort of hip hop. Getting to grow up in the industry and in the game and learning how perform live and take it on the road were the main things. I think a lot of punk bands are great live and don’t necessarily put out the best records. The opposite is true. There are a lot of hip hop rappers who are great in the studio but don’t necessarily know how perform live. The King Blues gave me a good grounding on how to be good in the studio and also how to do a live show well. Being in a punk rock band gives you a real grounding and humbleness, which is important to take forward.”
CTS: What inspired the switch in music genres?
iTCH: “The switch wasn’t necessarily that huge. I think as the band went on, we were definitely becoming more and more hip-hop. I had been rapping for probably 7 or 8 years over 10 years of the band’s time. I was rapping different kinds of genres. I still see myself as not being strictly hip hop. I like to think that I can go over kind of any kind of beat, whether it is ska or reggae, punk, or hip hop. I don’t like to box myself into being one type of genre. The spirit of it being rebellious, angry music remains the same.”
CTS: Who are your greatest musical influences?
iTCH: “My favorite bands are the Clash and Public Enemy.”
CTS: You also have an impressive collection of tattoos. Can you tell us about some of them?
iTCH: “They’re bad. I got my first tattoo aged 12. 99% of them I’ve done myself with a safety pin and a bottle of India Ink. They all have been there for a very long time. They’re not going anywhere unfortunately.”
CTS: What do you like to do in your free time besides writing songs and performing?
iTCH: “There’s not an awful lot of free time, I must admit. I’m very interested into clothes, and I reading and shopping. Music is really my life. There’s not too much else that kind of comes into it. I like to eat healthy, stay fit, look after myself, and then just really immerse myself in music. I don’t think a day goes by where I’m not working. Other than that, I love kicking it with my son.”
CTS: What else are you working on right now? Do you have any upcoming tours?
ITCH: “I am doing Warped Tour UK in London, which is a great honor to be in my hometown. I’m very much looking forward to that. Then, I’m headling the Kevin Said Tour around the UK.”