Photo by Medhi Benkler
There has always been a fascinating darkness at the heart of the enduring tale of the Brian Jonestown Massacre.
It’s a fusion of dead stones and suicidal cults.album titles such as thank god for mental illnessThis is the name of their former record label, The Committee to Keep Music Evil.And it’s definitely among the lasting lessons from the controversial and sensational documentary dig!which ultimately shows the band as a bunch of junkies and Anton Newcomb as their unhinged and unpredictable leader.
Twice in the last 20 years, I have had the rare opportunity to interview the whimsical Mr. Newcombe. Both times he successfully brushed off his question about this intriguing sense of evil and insisted that I focus on what was important: the music. and he is right. By his insistence, the band’s music never stops or fades. In 32 years, they’ve released his 21 studio albums of swirling psychedelic mastery, shoegaze, and sinister pop. Add to this the bands Anton has recorded, the records he’s released, the musicians he’s collaborated with, and his recent soundtracks, and you’ve got a fearless man with a tireless work ethic at the top of his game. You can’t help but recognize the creator.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre could be one of the most prolific periods of their career, with tours in Europe and the US despite Covid complications and stolen gear. We spent over 50 days on tour supporting the two records we released during that time. for several months. Rumor has it that there is already another project scheduled for early 2023. I had the opportunity to interview Anton via Zoom. Anton kindly showed me around his studio in Berlin. He also let us virtually try on his red sunglasses to see the world through his eyes. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Anton Newcomb…
Now let’s talk about creating this new record. Inspired by an epiphany, you recorded one song a day for 70 days?
Yes, I have the space and equipment, as I have shown you. I have a bit of a history in that people have pinned me for being a bit volatile. Music is what interests me. I have all these tools, so what I do is I go in and do the job. This was not really a Covid record. Specifically because I have what I call the “Purple Patch”. This can be described as a manic roll. I just write on the fly and hit record. You can pick up a guitar, strum a guitar and say, “Oh, this could be a song.” It’s been a race for me to get it out of my head ever since.
This time I was playing an old 12 string. It took me about a month to try something I don’t mind. Not because we’re trying to imagine radio’s fictional demographics or what teenagers like. No one impressed me, but I think that’s really good. push yourself forward. I will be 55 years old in August. I am 55 years old, but I still have a long way to go. I mean, we don’t live in the age of music. It’s basically about tribal identification in pop music. You know, it’s beat heavy, like dancing and his TikTok videos. No music—or it’s the same music as anything else—or beeps, blaps, etc.
But I’m into music. So someone like Howling Wolf works and he started at his 60s. I’m really curious what that means and how it’s somehow different from Mick Jagger, who does it at 76. Not one reason in the world but why he is doing it. Not money He’s probably aiming for the last man. He probably has a Colombian hitman trying to take out Paul McCartney. where the two are fighting. Isn’t that great?Here’s what it looks like behind the scenes Better Call SaulI can’t even think of a stadium name because everything is named after a company, but Paul’s like ‘Wembley Stadium’ and Gustavo’s like ‘Yes I understand’.
The new record has the lines “Beasts fight ’till they die / Raise swords to the sky.” Do you think this is a metaphor that applies to your life and career?
Well, you really think about St. George and the dragon and all the northern peoples. I have a lot of fear and respect for them. But since you asked, I feel deep down, honestly, I’m here to destroy all that shit. If you think of people who ride anything, think of Vince Neil’s “Shouting at the Devil” with spinning pentagrams and spinning drum kits and all that shit. Fuck all those guys. and their lipstick. and their hairspray. and their fake hair. In other words, I don’t care if I’m bald. I fuck them all i really don’t care. do you see what i mean? I don’t really give a fuck about it.
I think there are a lot of things you can metaphorically relate to this. Clearly, this iconography has been around for a long time, depending on where you come from. Heavier than that, like St. Patrick and the Serpent, or St. George and the Dragon. For over a thousand years, Iceland has been dropping people into lakes for this dragon. There are still pagans there, undefeated for a long time. That’s a long time of non-stop feeding for Dragon, Sparky, or whatever his name is. Over the past few years, we’ve gone from existential crisis to existential crisis, haven’t we? Applying for a job… rarely, but it’s happened before. Everything that brings out those butterflies, I’ve always jumped into the fire.
I know people fantasize about how great it would be when they were kids Dungeons & Dragons A scenario with their pals when a chaos-neutral 20-sided die beats the man in the shadows, but for me, I’m here to destroy it. No offense to all my demon brethren. I was like, ‘My god created the devil and my god will destroy it. I’ll handle it now. No. That’s the last person I’d pick for my team.I want a quiet guy who doesn’t fart too much.God knows what we’re going to run into, but you’re the last guy.
You had your gear stolen while you were on tour and it was recovered 10 days later by police in Portland, Oregon after you spread the word with grassroots support on social media. All this has happened before. Does this harm or strengthen your trust in your humanity?
You see, it happens to construction workers all the time. People have to break into their gear and pay their rent and ex-wives and everything. It really messes you up. Some of these tools are labor saving devices. In construction it can be easily done with a nail gun. Or you could sit there hammering nails all day and breaking your thumb while you’re holding drywall, ceilings, etc. It is also a reality.
Some of my business partners said, ‘I got these hotel bills because of Covid and gear. was. I hung up and said to the bus driver, “Can you see the bank card that fills up this bus and the name that rented this bus?” They are all in my name. Ignore calls from men with an English accent. Let’s get on that bus and drive. For all these other bands, it’s game over. It goes like dominoes and doesn’t turn into neat little piles. It’s a tough time for public entertainers.
even before the movie dig!, your show was famous for its eccentricities.rear dig!, it seems people started coming to the show hoping something would happen. is that something you admit? How do you see your relationship with your audience?
You see, it started long before that. Looking back on the performances of the Stones and the Yardbirds. If you’re playing at 30 watts and your energy is high, youngsters will turn the tables. And not because they are angry about something. They approach the wall and hit their heads against it. It is the spontaneous response to this energy that they are connected to. From the beginning there was rioting. People don’t realize how stupid they are. That shit happens a lot and it’s society’s fault. Here’s the problem. Especially for people with a culture of egomania. If you listen and pay attention, you can see all sorts of things happening around you. Your ultimate desire is to learn, right?
The magic of the world exists not from what you know, but from what you don’t know – be it science or math. Well I know something you don’t know We are here to play this new music. Please shut up and listen now. I’m not gonna play this other stuff, I’m not gonna play what you want No, please don’t. But I’ve hit countless acid hits and met over a million tough people. I fought gangsters in Mexico growing up alone. They think nothing of that shit. They’re just thinking about their silly pussy TV fucking fantasies.
We had this guy on tour and he stood up, swelled up like Sylvester Stallone and said, ‘Fuck Anton, you don’t deserve this band. Then Joel walked up to the mic and said, “Fuck it on behalf of this band.” He holds his sword like Conan. I approached the mic and said, And he yells “What!?” And I said “chicken butt”. It was quiet. He had to do this crab walk sideways from the whole place. We are really trying to come here and play as good as we can. We have something no one else can do.
And is there a second record after this year as well?
It’s really good, even better than this. I am very proud of both of these works. Both are from that spree song collection. I was thinking about how the Beatles’ “Rain” sounded, but what if Jim Morrison sang it? It’s a juxtaposition, a mood that’s in your head.
What is a good album for you? Do you think the same way you did when you released the record?
We must face the world with the spirit of dealing with it. I hope you learned something as there are certain limitations. A lot of things are neither here nor there. This means you can play all songs from the first practice. 6 songs, and they fit our set perfectly and are timeless. Except for a handful of people, no one in the music business sold rights and made money. Female dog. I own all my rights so I can do whatever I want and make music every day. We knew that saying “no” was more profitable and fair than saying “yes.” You’re betting on a fucking house. I am here to destroy this business. I will teach you how to defeat the dragon. Something like that makes it a self-fulfilling prophecy.
What is your parting word?
I personally like to be known as someone who encouraged me to be myself instead of emulating others. Find some kind of partnership with the people in your life. It’s quality time. A lot of people are looking for validation by impressing record companies and giving them money to pay their rent so they can easily do this or that. I’ll show up anywhere so I can meet more girls. But by collaborating and sharing, we can achieve the same. That’s how I do it. Even if the world seems to have changed, you have to find creative ways around this. There are many ways, even for people. you have to be a party That’s how it’s done: let’s party! And with that bomb, I gotta go.
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