Brian Jonestown Massacre, before they play Levitation in
announced the June 1st release of the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s 17th album, Something Else. They promise another full
length album within the year. The BJM has been very active since I last spoke
to Anton Newcombe in 2014. They have toured heavily and have released several
albums since Revelation in 2014. These albums include Musique de Film Imaginé (2015), Mini Album Thingy Wingy (2015), Third World Pyramid (2016) and Don’t Get Lost (2017). In this interview, I focused
on the present and the new album and tour. Previous history of the band has
been explored in these previous interviews:
PHOTOS BY BEV DAVIES / INTERVIEW BY ALEXANDER LAURENCE
the most popular things on my site. Except for maybe Billy Idol….
change his name to Billy Fucking Idol. I have a funny story. One time we were
kitchen as part of the backstage. There is a table and a fridge. I turn around
and there is Chrissie Hynde. And I am like “Oh Hi!” My drunken bass player
Collin says “It’s Chrissie Hynde. What are you doing in
pretty new. Now with the internet you can listen to every obscure track from
the 1930s until now.
When you are driving down the street in
like I think, you go “That motherfucker could have been at the Cavern club easy.”
Paul McCartney is 74, so that whole audience now is that age.
meaning in 2018?
Everything is so weird. You watch the industry create those people
continuously. A lot of people don’t know that Pitchfork is created by a record
label. They didn’t want to pay to lubricate the system. Say that you are Warner
Brothers and you want to deal with Rolling Stone Magazine. Say that you have 60
projects in one year. How many covers can you score in one year? Only so many. And
then you have things like Vice Magazine and American Apparel and tandem
projects. It’s a magazine that we don’t really have to pay for ads.
and have their own PR company.
they tamper with things so much in the music industry. It’s started with The
Beatles. They stopped them from touring
exposure. They wanted to play the Beatles on the radio every hour. If you are
one of these 500 bands you can’t be played because the radio was playing the
Beatles every hour. They weeded shit out and stepped on stuff. There were so
many great mod bands. There was The Who, The Small Faces, and The Eyes. You
would think that there was this one thing happening, but really there were a
lot of things happening. The industry has fucked itself. I get to watch that
whole thing happen.
scam anyways. That’s why I said I wanted to become a producer. I think the
hiphop guys have got it right as far as dealing with the music industry. You
have the rap mogul and all these other guys. With the new media, people have
blogs. You put out a single and a website wants an exclusive of your video. They
announce it on their twitter and their social media. The next hour they are
talking about Beyonce at Coachella. So your lifespan on social media is
nothing. At least with magazines, you were out for a month, and it was on
someone’s table, and got passed around.
The Nazz, he’s in his own world of stuff. My friend did a record with Todd
Rundgren: it’s almost unlistenable. He’s a little different from Prince. When
you see Sinead O’Connor covering that song, you see the purity of his idea and
how powerful his ability to write was. It’s amazing what he was able to
communicate in a universal way. It transcends all the stuff that I hated about
him: all that laces and high heels. His sex show. They had their own scene in
Hall of Fame, and Rolling Stone Magazine: that shit isn’t for everyone anyways.
Rolling Stone was relevant when they had writers like Hunter S. Thompson.
safe bets like U2 and hair metal.
boomers had a lot of kids that came of age in the 1960s. There would have been
a youth explosion in the 1960s if everyone, black and white, were united. There
would have been a revolution. The Doors sang about “5 to 1” which meant the
kids outnumbered the establishment. We could take over. It would have been
great if that would have happened with Generation X, but they used MTV to
fragment people. They forced people to listen to hair metal and raprock. They
suppressed a lot of cool stuff like hiphop and bands who were only on 120 Minutes.
There was more diversity on 120 Minutes than on MTV the rest of the week.
with this drummer. I felt like I could write a song with any of her beats. I
invited her over to my studio and said “Play the beat to Hey Joe by Hendrix”
and I would write a whole new song. I would make up stuff on the spot and knock
out a song a day. It was cool because one day I had Anthony Bourdain over. I
had a whole crew over. I cooked for fourteen people. I cooked two legs of lamb
and produced a song all in one day. It was funny. It will be on CNN this
with her. Also when I first saw BJM in 1998, playing at Bowery Ballroom with
Mercury Rev, you were going out with actress Tara Subkoff. Both of them have
been named in this movement against Harvey Weinstein. Since you were close to
those actresses, were you aware of the situation around Weinstein and Miramax?
than that. I have another kid with the actress who was in Ghost Dog. I know Paz
de la Huerta from Boardwalk Empire. I think that I know five people personally.
she make you aware of any of Weinstein’s behavior back then?
about him back then. Those dudes in LA will hire women to sit at a table, and
they will sit at a desk. They will have a casting call over three days. They
will have a thousand blonde girls between 19 and 25. They will all be 5-6. They
will come in one after another. They will come in room, and some woman
assistant will say “Show us your tits.” They will do that all day. I probably
up with that sort of level of humiliation. You can just look at Harvey
Weinstein and his characteristics, and look at his wife. How are these two
people even in the same room? What was she thinking? Was she thinking they are
going to have some nice looking kids?
an older aging crowd that has followed them from the earliest albums. BJM on
the other hand, seems to attract mostly this youth crowd that maybe wasn’t
alive when you first started.
fortunate. Especially in
said “We are going to see this band because we love them.” How do they know
that we exist? How do they know about this music? When we played
us on a Saturday night playing 22 songs on a boat. It’s crazy.
I just recorded a record with Roman Polanski’s wife. I met Roman wife in
. It’s me and The Limiñanas backing Emmanuelle Seigner. It Paris
will come out later this year. She’s a great singer.
What do you think of his idea about Garage Rock vs Psychedelia?
It started out when Greg Shaw was in High School. His dad got him a ditto
machine. He did a fanzine about sci-fi comics. He was interviewing people like
Phllip K. Dick. He figured it out when he was a teenager. And then the Beau
Brummels came out and he was into that.
by it all but it doesn’t have a face. They were all influenced by the blues and
the echoes of that. The Standells “Dirty Water” is covering a lot of the same
ground as The Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds. There is an overlap with the
early American garage bands. All the natural organic stuff I really like. It’s
folk music. It’s music by the people and for the people. Garage rock is a
suburban thing. It’s not based in rock specifically. It’s more influenced by
jamming in your parent’s garage.
In the Tess Parks band, Roy Meehan, his father is Tony Meehan, who was the
drummer of The Shadows. That’s another connection.
burned out by the industry or the market place. Some of them may start out in
the safety of the suburbs, or in the gospel choir. But it’s like they make a
deal with the devil, and they are corrupted, and become bitter or worse. Have
you any experiences like that?
of stuff that couldn’t be shown in the movie DIG! The whole point of that movie
was we had spy cameras. We filmed the whole process of the label courting me. They
were sending people who were acting like scouts for Warner Brothers or Virgin.
They were sending people who were in fact Swiss hookers. They would send this
girl with a plastic bag of coke saying “I work for Interscope. I have a credit
card. My boss is interested in signing you guys.” It was like that soon after
we met the Dandy Warhols and there was a buzz around both bands. It was before
Ondi Timoner came on the scene.
with an independent label like Rough Trade. The punk bands before them all
signed with the majors and it didn’t work. I don’t think BJM needed to be on a
Anton: I was looking
for a situation where I could record more stuff. I didn’t want labels dictating
what I was going to do. They were telling me “We want you to be the next Kurt
Cobain.” I was telling that “I didn’t want to be the next Kurt Cobain.” The
problem I have with Echo and The Bunnymen when they started producing their own
shit for an imaginary radio demographic in the 1980s, and all that reverb gated
and that drum snare sound, is that it is a bad 1980s sound that dates
everything. I like the real raw jazz thing. I like the sound of Jimi Hendrix’s
first record. And then there’s question of how do you record a band like My
Bloody Valentine? No record label could figure it out. There was no point of
reference for a person like me to explain what I was interested in doing.
All photos by BEV DAVIES