Brian Jonestown Massacre

Brian Jonestown Massacre

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  1. The Brian Jonestown Massacre

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Stream-of-consciousness poet. Misunderstood genius. Middle-aged brat. Anton Newcombe is many things to many people, thanks largely to the revealing albeit lop-sided DiG!, the 2004 documentary tracing seven years of trials and tribulations contrasting Newcombe's Brian Jonestown Massacre and Oregon rockers The Dandy Warhols.

"I don't respect those people to any degree," says the multi-instrumentalist and BJM mainstay in his assessment of DiG, a Grand Jury Prize winner at Sundance. "I have a lot of insight given I orchestrated that whole thing and my friend paid for it and it's not exactly what it was presented as. I think it's unfortunate that people will watch that movie and think I'm a junkie or something because that's not really the case."

Speaking to Truepunk on a scratchy mobile from Europe, Newcombe is certainly the perfect gentleman; engaging, polite and genuinely excited to be touring the world. He also has a new home, Germany, having recently relocated from Manhattan: "I've had about enough of the New York thing for now. It's just sirens and people yelling abuse."

Currently residing in a pock-marked industrial district in East Berlin notable for its old breweries and subterranean World War 2-era tunnels, Newcombe says it's an artist-friendly environment and a creative place to be; he is working concurrently on four separate albums.

"You wouldn't think of Berlin as a green city with Germany being an industrial powerhouse of Europe," he says. "But I would highly recommend it. There's lots of trees and children and a great mass transit system and people taking life at their own speed - I kind of like that."

Having formed BJM as a quasi-psychedelic outfit in early 90s San Francisco, Newcombe has endured the arrival and departure of a veritable roll call of musicians, most of whom have since moved on to their own projects; Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Raveonettes and The Warlocks, to name a few.

But the prolific Newcombe has persisted, this month releasing the band's 13th album My Bloody Underground, written and recorded between Liverpool and Reykjavik, Iceland.

"Once you know a lot about Iceland and you've been there it's hard to imagine a country with only 300,000 people," says Newcombe whose young son has Icelandic heritage. "There are smaller countries, Luxembourg has only 29,000 or something like that but it's more like a city with farm around it.

"But I find Iceland is really cool, the people are well-educated, they speak multiple languages, they travel all over, they hang tight with each other and close ranks. I found it easy to work in Reykjavik. I rented a hotel close to the studio and would go out and drink in the day and then hook up and do some stuff in the studio and then go out for dinner and then come back and do some more.

"After my son was born, I don't live with my son, but after he was born, I slowed down a little bit as far as being hyper because right before that I had a record contract with some people that became a two-year fisticuff session over some crap - so I slowed down. It didn't mean I stopped writing but rather sitting around and playing with friends and just making stuff up for the hell of it, the joy of it, that's when I really love it.

"But music's not my only identity, you know, I'm the record company now so it doesn't matter. It's not like someone's pressuring me every 15 months to put something out or to have spectacular results on the commercial side of it. I just like to experiment with stuff and move on."

Self-funded and self-produced, My Bloody Underground is a typically provocative collection showcasing such tracks as Automatic Faggot For The People and We Are The Niggers Of The World, a track Newcombe says he wrote as a nine-year-old.

"It was just personal stuff that I never cared to share with anybody, like a personal therapy kind of thing," he says of the song's genesis. "But I transferred it into Icelandic and then had my friends just talk it which it allowed me to take it out of that serious emotional thing and just enjoy it for what it was.

"I do a lot of writing, for myself mostly. I'll show them to friends sometimes and they'll say 'what did you ever do with that song you used to play, why don't you record that?'. Basically when I started making this record I just started creating things and the album doesn't make that much sense until you see the videos to it because it's not really meant to be like Dark Side of the Moon or Sgt Pepper's where you put it on and you're like WOW!'."

While the so-called wild man of rock n' roll admits to having a pipe n' fluffy slippers flipside - he's an avid gardener and enjoys cooking - Newcombe says his first love - music - remains his true saviour.

"I guess it's kept me out of trouble - maybe!" he shrugs. "I think it's a positive outlet for me to express myself but there are so many facets to it. I have the artistic side where I'm kind of like no-bullshit even though I screw around take the piss out of people.

"My sister, my mother and my grandmother - they all live in the same place near where they went to school. The fruit doesn't fall far from the tree but that's never been my thing. Most of this came out of wanting to be in a group that would have me."



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2013-05-08 - Lodz, Atlas Arena 19:30 165-616 PLN

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