Wednesday, May 16, 2012

dan and i waiting to check in the hotel in sydney (2pm..only a 4 hr wait after a 17hr flight)

Monday, May 7, 2012

REVIEW: The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Aufheben

Aufheben is a German word meaning both "destroy" and "preserve". Anton Newcombe has said he loves the idea of artistic creation that involves destroying something to preserve it, like a sculptor might take a clay creation apart to invent something new.

Now sober for the past 2 years, Newcombe is utilizing aufheben to reinvent the Brian Jonestown Massacre. It's been nearly a decade since the documentary film DIG! captured BJM in all their decadent dysfunction, a truly gifted rock band out of control. But that image persisted, reinforced by many years of touring where people came out seemingly to watch Newcombe melt down, taunting and egging him on, and not infrequently getting their wish. At times brilliant, at times sad spectacle, and often in the same night, what got overlooked about the Brian Jonestown Massacre was the music. This was unfortunate because more often than not over 13 full length releases and now 20 years, this band has been remarkably good.

But give this band credit - they've kept what was great, cleaned up the mess, and moved forward both personally and artistically.  They have managed to sober up and not only still get down but do their thing even better.

Aufheben is a bold step for the band, a highly cinematic work, with many international influences, no doubt inspired by the band's frequent touring around the world, and Newcombe now residing in Germany. Newcombe says he was going for something that sounded like a movie soundtrack.

Aufheben has transcendental elements, some instrumental songs, and it sounds particularly good played loud on a long highway drive. And those who love Newcombe's frequent play on words on new song titles with well known musical touchpoints will not be disappointed here with "Blue Order/New Monday" and "I Wanna Hold Your Other Hand".
You can listen to the entire CD here:

Here's a terrific track "Stairway to the Best Party in the Universe":

One more, "The Clouds are Lies":

This CD also marks the return of guitarist and songwriter Matt Hollywood to the Brian Jonestown Massacre. The band did much of its best work with Hollywood. His more straight ahead garage/pop rock was always a perfect compliment to Newcombe's more echoey and out there psychedelia.  The band also recruited Will Caruthers (Spacemen 3).

I was inspired to review this record seeing them live in Portland last Friday. The show was spectacular - focused, professional, well paced, and all out rockin', the newer material highly effectively introduced around all the old hits. And 5 guitar players! Newcombe has gone through a very high number of personnel through the years, but has assembled a highly skilled and complimentary collective now.

I highly recommend catching this tour:

May Tue 8th - Denver CO- Bluebird Theater
May Wed 9th - Salt Lake City UT- Urban Lounge
May Fri 11th - San Francisco CA- The Fillmore
May Sat 12th - Los Angeles CA- The Wiltern
Thursday 17th May Metro Theatre, Sydney
Friday- 18th May ANU Refectory, Canberra
Saturday-19th May Forum Theatre, Melbourne - SOLD OUT
Sunday-20th May- The Gov, Adelaide
Tuesday-22nd May Astor Theatre, Perth
Thursday-24th May Hi-Fi, Brisbane
Friday- 25th May Level One-Newcastle Leagues Club, Newcastle
11 June 12 Berlin - Lido
12 June 12 Groningen - Vera
13 June 12 Rennes - L'Etage
14 June 12 Toulouse - Le Bikini
16 June 12 Spain - Azkena Rock Festival
17 June 12 Montpellier - Le Rockstore
18 June 12 Zurich - Abart
19 June 12 Bologna - Bolognetti on the rocks
20 June 12 Dudingen - Bad Bonn
22 June 12 Aarhus - Vox Hall
23 June 12 Copenhagen - Amager Bio
24 June 12 Oslo - Rockerfeller
25 June 12 Helsinki - Tavastia
26 June 12 Stockholm - Strand
27 June12 Malmo - Debaser
28 June 12 Amsterdam Bitterzoet
29 June 12 Nijmegen - Doornroosje
30 June 12 France - Le Rock Dans Tous Ses Etats
01 July 12 France - Eurockennes
03 July 12 Clermont - Ferrand, La Coopérative de Mai
04 July 12 Paris - Le Trianon
06 July 12 Scotland - T in the Park
07 July 12 London - Shepherds Bush Empire
08 July 12 Manchester - Ritz Ballroom
09 July 12 Birmingham - Academy 2
11 July 12 Tel Aviv - Barby
Thu Aug 16th Minneapolis MN @ First Avenue
Fri Aug 17th Milwaukee MS @ Turner Hall
Sat Aug 18th
Mon Aug 20th Atlanta GA @ Variety Playhouse
Tue Aug 21st Carrboro NC @ Cats Cradle
Wed Aug 22nd Washington DC @ 9.30Club
Thu Aug 23rd Philadelphia PA @ Union Transfer
Fri Aug 24th Boston MA @ Royale
Sat Aug 25th NY NY @ Webster Hall
we're here...

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Interview: The Brian Jonestown Massacre

The Brian Jonestown Massacre... Trail of distraction

By Jonny Abrams

Rocksucker was utterly charmed by the lush, evocative psychedelia of The Brian Jonestown Massacre's thirteenth studio album Aufheben (click here for our review), and now we are thoroughly honoured to bring you our interview with the central hub of the operation, the irrepressible Anton Newcombe.

Commendably, Anton answered our questions just after landing in Australia, where he will play seven shows between the 17th and the 25th before embarking on a month-long European tour across June and July, followed by nine shows on the USA East Coast in the second half of August (click here for dates).

Read on for the thoughts of one of modern music's most intriguing minds, but first do please enjoy this choice cut from Aufheben...

Congratulations on a terrific new album. Maybe it's just my ears playing tricks on me, but one of my favourite things about Aufheben is how the different elements sound kind of 'muddied together' in the mix, so that if you listen closely and pick them apart it sounds quite different to when it’s just on in the background, whereupon it all washes together. Was this in any way intentional? If so, how was it achieved? And are you in any way averse to the concept of 'background' music, be it your own or otherwise?

When I was tracking the record, I tried to use a visual approach to the orchestration process in the sense that I took lower frequency sounds left and right, then starting at low mids mixed them farther left or right as they reached higher frequencies, French horns, oboes, flutes and piccolos etc reaching further to the edges of the mix.

Hope that hints at an answer now for the second part of your question. I create ideas on the fly for me. I look for things that interest me rather than create for imaginary people or situations.

You said in your recent interview with AV Club that you've thought for a long time about making a 2012 record. Does Aufheben sound like you'd always imagined that to be, or did you not really have any preconceived ideas of it?

It makes sense to me, and now that it exists I see clearly how I should approach the next project, and that is my focus.

In fact, to what extent do you go into the making of each album with a clear idea of what you want it to sound like? How much is design, how much is happy accident?

I try to be in the moment. I walk into an album session with no idea what I should do, and I leave the studio with songs. I will write about 40 ideas for songs and it becomes clear to me how an album playlist could work, then I sort of fill in the blanks, add preludes or acoustic songs, whatever I feel it needs.

You seem to have a strong work ethic - in fact you've spoken about your ability to work on things for twelve hours straight on occasion. Do you think that the slight mania this tends to induce can be beneficial to the whole process?

That's the goal - I set up, cultivate a mindset and then roll with it.

Have you ever been tempted to write a sparkling clean, shamelessly poppy, chart-oriented song just to take everyone by surprise? It would certainly mess with a few people's heads.

Pop means popular - it's a marketing device to create popular music before its release. To buy into that sort of rhetorical nonsense would be for me to admit that I am full of shit just like everyone else playing the game. I do not create for imaginary demographics. I am not interested in receiving fake Madison Ave. validation and marketing in any way.

Do you mind me asking how long you've been clean-living for now? How do you feel? Did past experiences with narcotics inform the psychedelic sound of Aufheben, or was it mostly other music/feelings/artforms?

I was very creative as a child, and before I found myself adicted to opiates, a drinker and now a non-user. Change has been a constant...having said that, I feel great. All of this clean living talk has noting to do with AA or making value judgements - it was about it being time for me as a person to move on. Very easy for me to do. I don't feel like I am missing any party or anything so there is no real temptation.

I am in a good place now, and I want people reading this to know that if they feel like maybe it's time then one can just move on to other things. I am an example of this. No drama.

You live in Berlin now but don't speak German, and have said that you find it liberating to be impervious to media and the like. Do you intend to start learning the language at any point, or do you intend to carry on living "like a ghost" for now?

I work on many languages because I am interested in communication. (With bad spelling, even.)

Having heard Madonna's new album, I share your contempt for her and/or her practices. If you ever had the chance to meet her, what would you say to her?

I would like to challenge her to withdraw all of her money from her bank and see if it is actually possible. It's not, but that would make an interesting documentary: multi-millionaire attempts to collect assets, and is shocked to discover.......

Conversely, your admiration of Cate Le Bon is also shared. Are you a fan of Super Furry Animals, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci or any other bands from that (for want of a better word) 'scene'?

I am indeed. Love the Welsh spirit.

Talking about "I Wanna Hold Your Other Hand" from the new album, you told Smells Like Pop"If John Lennon is petitioning to hold that one hand, then I am assuming that there is one hand that is free for me." This isn't a question, I just want to commend you on perhaps the greatest song title justification I've ever seen.

Thank you.

You tweeted a link to an article entitled "Top 10 Unpleasant Facts About John Lennon" along with the comment "people are so mean". Were you referring to Lennon himself or the author of the article?

I was taking the piss. Some of that stuff needs to be said, you know.

Have you ever considered writing a book?

Yes, I would love to. I went on a meeting once with a publisher, but it turned out she just wanted to meet me. What a let down.

Are there any obscure and/or up-and-coming acts that you'd like to recommend or give a shout-out to?

Dead Skeletons, Singapore Sling, The Third Sound, Blue Angel Lounge, Magic Castles (all groups I help out) and Cate Le Bon.

Finally, if you were forced to spend the rest of your days in solitary confinement, but were allowed to bring the entire works of five different artists along to tide you over, whose would you choose?

I would decline any reminder of a world that would lock me up like that. Aufheben.

Anton Newcombe, thank you.

Aufheben is out now on a Records. For more information, including a list of live dates, please visit or the Brian Jonestown Massacre Facebook page.

ted "fucking" gardner & i @ sydney airport

1 comment:

  1. Got my aufheben records today on vinyle from cargo.
    It's beautiful.
    thank you.