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The The’s Matt Johnson on The Comeback Special and Finding a Way Forward

By Tom Lanham

Sorry for the slight delay, apologizes British composer/conceptualist Matt Johnson. But by all accounts, the ephemeral 2018 reunion tour of his classic The The project was truly something to behold for all fans fortunate enough to attend. The short run of dates marked the first time in 16 years that the vocalist/guitarist had performed live with old cohorts James Eller (Bass), D.C. Collard (keyboards) and Earl Harvin (drums), augmented by new co-guitarist Barrie Cadogan, and it reframed in a more modern context dark, moody classics like “Infected,” “The Beat(en) Generation,” and the signature “This is the Day” and “I’ve Been Waiting For Tomorrow (For All My Life).” Yet it’s only now, three years later, that his recording/publishing company Cineola is releasing a Royal Albert Hall-filmed document of the affair—humorously dubbed, a la a leather-clad Elvis Presley in his own ’68 return, The Comeback Special—in separate video, album and 136-page art book forms. “It should have come out sooner, but the pandemic slowed everything down,” sighs Johnson, who just turned 60.

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