Thirsty – Interview with Guy Bailey and Chris Johnstone

Thirsty release their second album Albatross on 7th November.

Thirsty features founding member of The Quireboys Guy Bailey and former Quireboy Chris Johnstone, along with Russian Poet Irina D and Simon Hanson (from Squeeze).

PlanetMosh asked the band a few questions ahead of the album release.


How long have you known each other?

Chris Johnstone - Thirsty
Chris Johnstone – Thirsty

I have known Chris Johnstone since we were at School together in Staffordshire back in the day. I guess we must have been about 14 when we first bought guitars and started to hang out. There was another good friend of ours Bill, who lived in the lodge of a big old house in the country and we used to go round every day after school and jam a lot. Have also been playing in bands with Simon off and on for about 20 years also – but he is harder to get hold of as he is always on the road with Squeeze.

Do you remember playing a gig at Manchester International II with The Quireboys in the early 1990s?*

We certainly do! That would have been on the Bit of What You Fancy UK tour in February 1990 – it was always a lot of fun to do shows in Manchester because we were at the stage when we were still doing clubs where you could still hang out at the bar afterwards and meet everyone. The bigger shows we did later on the Monsters of Rock, Donnington or with Aerosmith and the Stones we were always surrounded by security – so they were actually less fun in many ways

*(Note – I only asked this because I was there!)

If you go back in time to attend a gig or festival who/what would be and why?


There are a lot! – Bob Dylan and the Band in 1965 when everyone was calling him Judas for turning electric – and he turned up the volume; any gig at all ever by the Band circa 1970; or the Stones with Mick Taylor plus horn section on the1972 tour with Stevie Wonder opening; The Beatles at the Indra Club in the Reeperbahn in 1960 (any one of 48 nights); Elvis and Scotty in Tupelo in 1956 – or at his 1968 Comeback Special. I would add Tom Petty’s first ever tour – but I was there!

Fast forward over thirty years and you’re back together in Thirsty. What have you been up to in the intervening years?

This and that. There have been a few projects which were pretty well documented at the time. But our focus is now very much on developing Thirsty.

Why do you think you work well together?

Part of the answer is that we have all been working together for many years off and on – and we share similar tastes in music – so our styles have kind of evolved in a complementary way. And we have always been good mates in between which helps. Of course there is also that other element which is harder to define – I just find that I play better and write better with Simon and Chris – and more recently with Irina D not sure what kind of alchemy is involved there to be honest but there is definitely something cool going on.

Why choose the name Thirsty? One could be thirsty for a drink or thirsty for knowledge. What’s your biggest thirst in life?

Well we chose the name because we think its really cool name and we like it. It you really want me to get into analysis, I would say that You have kind of answered your own question here. It can be totally ambiguous – really a thirst for something whether it be a drink or knowledge or enlightenment or anything really

Speaking of thirst, many bands these days have a beer named in their honour. If Thirsty were a beer what would it taste like?

Pretty stupid question if you don’t mind my saying so – but if thirsty were a beer it would be a perfectly formed and satisfying pint of best”” which can be consumed in three minutes.

‘Thirsty and the Three Minute Rule’ what’s that about?

Again this is pretty simple – all of our favourite songs and favorite albums are based around the three minute pop song – and three minutes is where it all started in the 1950s and 1960s. In fact it is quite a challenge to say all that you want to in less than 3 minutes – I have always felt that an awful lot of popular music would be the better for it if it were corralled into a three minute song.

What other rules and regulations do Thirsty adhere to?

Apart from that – the only rule is that there are no rules – we will try any style and any thematic material

How did you come to work with Irina D, a Russian poet?

Irina D
Irina D

It was really a happy accident. I had known Irina D for a while socially – but we had never really discussed collaborating until one day – not quite sure what prompted this – she gave me this bit of paper with a few lines sketched out on it – the first verses of “From Donnie to Sonny” I think it was – and asked me to turn it into a song. Now I was always used to just working out a riff based idea on the guitar and then trying to figure out something to sing on the top – like most guitarists I guess. So this was a bit of a challenge. But after about a week I came up with something in a certain mood that I hoped fitted her thinking about the lyrics – and something just clicked. So we decided to try another song.. and then another.. And before we knew it, we were roping in Simon and Chris. And then Lynn came and put down some BVs. And best of all, we asked Chris Kimsey and he loved it – and really helped us to shape the sound and feel of the project.

What’s the difference between poetry and song?

Do you have a certain Nobel Prize winner in mind here? Probably a lot less than many people would think. There is a certain establishment view which finds the idea that lyrics of popular music can be on equal footing with poetry unacceptable – but its really just prejudice – splitting hairs over categories, a bit like deciding what is art and what is crafts. There are a lot of good songs and a lot of bad poetry out there. Also if you go back far enough in time, they pretty much were one and the same thing – early poetry was always intended to be recited with a musical accompaniment.

Which classic poem would you love to write some music for?

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – we just did!

Favourite poet?

Byron – did you ever doubt it?

Favourite lyricist?

Irina D

Favourite author?

We all agree about Master and Margarita so lets pick Bulgakov

Guy – you’ve recently given up smoking. Why after all these years?

Just got bored with it – and I started singing lead vox!! wish I had done it years ago to be honest.

Chris – what’s your biggest vice and would you give it up?

Guy says that it’s always sitting on the fence – and no I would not.

An Albatross is a sea bird but ‘The word albatross is sometimes used metaphorically to mean a psychological burden that feels like a curse.’ What’s the story behind Thirsty’s Albatross?

Well the starting point and inspiration for this song is the poem Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge – its brilliant and unique and everyone should read it. If you want a bit more more detail, the Rime of the Ancient Mariner is one of Irina’s favourite poems and, she says, the original inspiration for her lyrics came from a couple of intense passages in the middle of the poem where Coleridge’s writing is so full of imagery that it sounds as though he was on another planet – which of course, being an opium addict, he was most of the time.

Who comes up with the concepts for the songs?

The main thing is that they lyrics always seem to come first – although this is by no means a fixed rule. Then I try to figure out a kind of mood and style to go with the words and of course work on how I am going to sing them – you know – the melody thing. Then the tracks just grow organically – sometimes we jam together – sometimes we overdub a few ideas to see how they are going to fit together. The aim is to get to a place where the wonderful Mr Kimsey can start to work his magic.

What is different about Albatross compared to the first album is that this time Irina was getting inspiration from her favourite books rather than from all the”fact being stranger than fiction” stories and histories from real life that she kept finding for the first record.

What do Thirsty have planned for the foreseeable future?

Well we are all totally focused on the launch of the album on 7 November and are very busy preparing for that. 2017 still seems a long way away. But we are hoping to be working through the spring on developing and launching singles and videos from the album and on putting some shows together. So – watch this space!! Of course, we are also already putting down a few rough sketches for songs for the next album too!

Any final message?

Just thanks to all our fans. And don t forget that the new album comes out on 7 November.

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.

Watch Flawless from Thirsty’s self-titled debut album: –


About Louise Swift

I first went to a gig in 1981, Gillan at Leeds University. I've been a regular gig goer ever since. I haven't kept count of how many gigs I've been to over the intervening years, but it's a lot! My favourite bands are AC/DC then, in no particular order, Anti-Nowhere League, Slaughter and the Dogs, Towers of London and Dirt Box Disco. I tend to like Glam/Punk and rude offensive lyrics, not sure what that says about me but as Animal would say 'So What!' The question was recently put to me - did I write for any online publications? My reply - No, but I'd like to! Planetmosh was suggested and I found myself offering to review Aces High Festival. Easy peasy I thought! Well not quite, if a jobs worth doing it's worth doing well! I had sixteen bands to research. I found I actually enjoyed that and it kept me too busy to be making lunatic comments on Facebook! ;) Then I felt a bit inadequately qualified. I mean, who am I to comment on others, when my musical expertise extends to being able to play a mean Greensleeves on the recorder and a passable Annie's song on the flute! Haven't picked up either instrument for years! What I do have, however, is over 30 years of experience as a gig goer, so I can comment on what I like and what I don't! It's only my opinion and, if I don't like a band it doesn't mean they are bad, just not to my own liking. I admire anyone who has the guts to get up on that stage and have a go!