Ivan Julian

Ivan Julian is best known as a firebrand guitarist who made his mark on the early New York punk scene, but he's also served as a sideman for a diverse range of artists, as well as working as a bandleader, producer, and engineer. Julian was born in 1955, the son of a naval officer, and his father's occupation meant his family moved a great deal in his younger days, spending time in Cuba and Haiti before the family settled in Washington D.C. As a youngster, Julian studied bassoon and saxophone, and at 13 he joined his first rock & roll band, singing with a group that specialized in Led Zeppelin covers. Not long after, he took up the guitar and continued to focus on the instrument while studying music theory during a short stint in college. He also lived for a time in the U.K., touring as a guitarist with the Foundations, the British R&B outfit that scored a global hit with "Build Me Up Buttercup." After returning to the States, Julian relocated to New York City, where the nascent punk rock scene was catching fire at CBGB's and Max's Kansas City. When former Television and Heartbreakers bassist Richard Hell decided to form his own band in 1976, Julian was tagged to play guitar, and Richard Hell & the Voidoids became one of the seminal bands on the early New York punk scene, with Julian forming an impressive guitar duo with Robert Quine. Julian also co-wrote two songs on the group's classic debut album, 1977's Blank Generation, but the original Voidoids lineup didn't last long, and by 1980, Julian was free to form his own band. The Outsets were a combo who fused rock, funk, and R&B and cut an EP in 1983 with production help from Garland Jeffreys and Bob Clearmountain; they became a staple on the New York club scene, and the Clash were impressed enough with their work to invite Julian to add some guitar licks to their album Sandinista!, but the Outsets never broke out to a larger following. Julian retired the group to form the Lovelies with vocalist Cynthia Sley, formerly of the Bush Tetras; their sole album, Mad Orphan, was issued in 1988. Julian went on to become a touring member of Shriekback and was invited to play guitar on Matthew Sweet's 1991 album Girlfriend; the album became Sweet's commercial breakthrough, and Julian joined Sweet on-stage and in the studio regularly over the decade that followed. In 2001, Julian and the original lineup of the Voidoids reunited with Richard Hell to record a new song, "Oh," and in 2009 Julian teamed with Hell to record guitar leads for a reworked edition of Hell's 1982 album Destiny Street. Near the turn of millennium, Julian partnered with Matt Verta-Ray (of Madder Rose and Speedball Baby) to open a recording studio in New York City, NY Hed, and since then he's recorded and produced sessions for the Fleshtones, Jon Spencer, the Master Plan, and many others. Despite his busy schedule, Julian continues to write and record his own music, and after producing sessions for the Spanish band Capsula, he struck up a friendship with them. Capsula were accompanists on Julian's first solo album, 2011's The Naked Flame, and were his backing band on a tour of Spain.
Mark Deming, Rovi

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