BY JAMIE ROBASH
In the nearly two decades that The Brian Jonestown Massacre has been putting out records, a revolving door of some 40-odd musicians have come and gone. Yet the one constant who remains immovable is founder/frontman Anton Newcombe, a man who’s come to be known as much for his oftentimes egotistical antics as he has for fostering his band’s hazy psychedelic sound. Chicago INNERVIEW spoke with Newcombe just as he finished setting up his Kickstarter campaign to buy the mansion that Brian Jones died in, which had recently come onto the market.
Chicago INNERVIEW: You’ve been living in Europe for several years now, currently in Berlin. Has that change of scenery affected the way you work?
Anton Newcombe: No, I don’t think so. But I am really hell-bent on being super-duper productive. I don’t have forever to work on ideas in the way that when I was 20, that never occurred to me. Now that I’m 48, I’m like, ‘well, fuck how many years’…I mean I’m still gonna work until I’m done, you know, but I just wish there was more time in the day because basically my whole year is inked up with stuff I’m gonna do, whether it’s soundtracks or records I’m making with other people or my own group and touring and stuff.
CI: Much of what has been written about you deals with your public persona, painting you as some capricious rock star. Does that bother you?
AN: Eh, you know, I don’t really care what people think. Everybody’s got their head up their fucking ass so…do you know what I mean? Look who’s running for president. It’s like, ‘what’s really going on?’ It’s like everybody’s like [adopts a slightly feminine tone] ‘oh Leonardo Dicaprio, he finally won. Wasn’t it great he said climate change.’ Like I woulda just said ‘fuck war’. But people are lame. It’s worse than ever. But anyways, back to music I guess.
CI: You made a brilliant record with Canadian singer Tess Parks. How did that collaboration come about?
AN: Well Alan McGee who did Creation Records and Oasis and all that stuff, he started a label again and he put out Tess. And I was reading articles about it and about how she liked my band and whatever and people were saying it sounded like my music and I hit her up. I was like, ‘why don’t you just fucking record with me rather than some band that sounds like mine?’ I said, ‘just come to Berlin, let’s make a record.’ We’re gonna do more stuff and I really like working with her because she’s very open-minded. She basically doesn’t get in the way of a song, which is cool.
CI: You also put out the film score Musique de Film Imagine, for which there is no film.
AN: I just did a whole soundtrack to a movie that’s coming out called Moon Dogs and it’s the director from Downton Abbey. Yeah, so I did the whole soundtrack for that and he’s doing another movie and he wants me to do it. And then these other people who I can’t namedrop off the top of my head, they’ve tentatively wanted me to do a soundtrack with them.
CI: When you go into the studio to make a record, do you have an idea of how you want it to sound or do you just wing it?
AN: I can have no ideas and just press record, or I can have something that I just made up in my head as I was walking to the studio or some other vision…I have another project that’s going to be, if you can imagine, early Donovan with acoustics. You know, like the perimeters aren’t just that we’re gonna pull My Bloody Valentine’s and you know there’s gonna be like flutes and stuff. Just like organic-sounding stuff, no distortion pedals. But I don’t go, ‘I really like Billy Idol, let’s become him.’ Or, ‘I really like Jesus and Mary Chain, let’s become Psychocandy.’
CI: Is there a new Brian Jonestown album in the works?
AN: You know, my drummer and guitar players are here in the studio right now. We just played a 6,000-person show in Manchester. So we’re setting everything up and setting up the mics. Because I have my own recording studio…and I’m cooking lamb, so it’s pretty funny. I’m looking forward to coming back to Chicago. It’ll be really good, I think. The only thing I can advise everyone is to buy tickets because it always sells out. I mean we must have sold out the Metro a lot of times. Their soundman there, I wonder if the same guy is still working there because he’s really quite good.
This post was originally published by Chicago Innerview on April 6, 2016.