John McGrath

Liverpool-based Guitarist


Dr John McGrath is a guitarist and academic from Ireland. He has collaborated, performed and recorded as an electric guitarist with numerous experimental, improv, blues, scratch, rockabilly and avantrock musicians from Rhys Chatham to Dustin Wong and the aPAtT Orchestra. A professional musician since the age of 16, he has also done session and TV work and has had his compositions played as part of art installations at Tate Modern and FACT. His recent EP of solo acoustic instrumentals has received positive attention from The Wire Magazine, Aquarium Drunkard, and numerous radio stations around the world, including the BBC, Radio New Zealand and Sydney’s Sideways Through Sound. He was subsequently commissioned to write for the IMMIX ensemble, the collaborative performance of which is forthcoming for release on Product Records. McGrath's research has earned awards from the SMI and AHRC and has been presented at conferences in Germany, Ireland and throughout the UK. His main research areas are Word and Music Studies, Practice as Research, Popular Music Studies, and Aesthetics. He has a forthcoming monograph with Ashgate entitled "Samuel Beckett, Repetition and Modern Music". John is a Lecturer in Popular Music at ICMP and previously lectured at University of Liverpool and LIPA. He is a member of IASPM, SMI, RMA, and WMA, and holds degrees from Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, and University of Liverpool.



"Dublin born guitarist John McGrath’s debut EP of solo acoustic instrumentals combines static drones, glitches, and contemporary techniques with rich harmonics and intricate fingerpicking.  His versatile, experimental approach, reminiscent of Jim O’Rourke, Christian Fennesz, and Marc Ribot, pushes at the boundaries of new guitar music and the UK avant folk scene. McGrath recently supported Richard Dawson and performed with Rhys Chatham and Dustin Wong. He has just completed a PhD on Beckett, repetition and modern music, and is currently a lecturer in Music Aesthetics at the University of Liverpool." -The Wire



"Bringing a touch of the 21st century to the guitar soli scene, Irish guitarist John McGrath combines loop pedal technology with Takoma-style fingerpicking on his new EP, Lanterns. The results are very cool, suggesting an alternate reality where loop maestro Dustin Wong worked on acoustic rather than electric guitar. Over four tracks, McGrath adds neat harmonic and percussive elements to his sharp solo playing. But it’s more than a gimmick — the songs here are uniformly strong, especially the oddly named, but quite lovely “Ghosty’s Spinach Song,” which closes out the EP." - Aquarium Drunkard


"John McGrath's reputation is still bubbling underground, however his appearances in various guitar ensembles and scratch orchestras, as well as his Lanterns EP, have made him known for dexterous guitar work and the ability to work folky melodies in with complex arrangements. With the help of fellow composer Chloe Mullett, McGrath's work with Immix is less of an overhaul and more of a tasteful augmentation of his music, as if to highlight the ornate nature of his work that is more subtle in a solo capacity. Bringing to mind the likes of Owen Pallett and Grizzly Bear, John McGrath is an artist capable of balancing classical and folk textures to great effect." -

The Skinny


“his clutch of haunted icy soundscapes sounds very much like wandering around half-remembered wintry dreams.” - Bido Lito!


"a deft masterclass in cyclical finger-picking fused with subtle glitches, warped drones and rapping Autumnal taps." - Peter Guy, Liverpool Echo


"One of the most innovative solo guitarists on the scene right now is John McGrath ... his style can be best summed up as 'glitch blues', utilising seriously warped effects over John Fahey-esque musings." - Deep Hedonia


"like Bert Jansch remixed by Four Tet, combining extraordinary technical mastery with warm drones and harmonic effects." - The Cube