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The Brian Jonestown Massacre interview with Anton Newcombe

It would take a few pages to write about everything Anton Newcombe and his band The Brian Jonestown Massacre released in the past. Anton is currently living in Berlin and working with music. He also has his own studio now. The Brian Jonestown Massacre will be performing at the notorious Austin Psych Festival in about a month from now and after that they are going on tour across Europe.  Newcombe is releasing brand new album Revelation, which is the first album that was fully recorded and produced at Anton’s recording studio in Berlin. This is the 14th full length release from the Brian Jonestown Massacre recorded from late 2012 to early 2014, with Anton Newcombe refining the 13 tracks that appear on the album. Featuring appearances from: Ricky Maymi (an original member of the band), Joachim Alhund (Les Big Byrd), Constatine Karlis (Dimmer), Ryan Van Kriedt (Asteroid #4) as well as a vocal performance in Swedish by Joachim Alhund (Les Big Byrds) on the opening track. Here's our conversation with mastermind behind BJM.

Hello Anton, thanks for taking your time for this interview. What are you currently doing?

It's my pleasure, I'm doing alright you know... just taking it easy before I have to tour and spending time with my wife and my psychedelic baby "Wolfgang" as I'll be gone for awhile.

I was hoping we could talk about your latest album "Revelation". What can you say about the process of making this upcoming album and when is the release date?

Well the album comes out on May 19th I guess and I recorded it at my studio in Berlin where I live now. The process for me is that I get up everyday, eat something with my family and ride the utah out to the studio and try and make up ideas because if i don't, then there won't be a record, and no record means there's really no reason to tour... haha.

But to be honest for me, part of the process is overcoming self doubt along the way. I can make up ten songs in a row and a week later wonder if thats it and I'll never make up anything again and give up. The truth is I love writing music... for me it is conceptual art at that point and all I am looking for is the thing that captures my spirit and holds me captive, but not so tight that I can't break free... I want it to scratch this manic itch inside my head as I listen over and over again to it... and I want it to feel like my brain is on fire... like Van Gogh felt with paints or Rodin with sculpture... I am looking for the same with sounds for myself as an artist... Then I try and turn that into performance art live.

How long have you been living in Berlin?

Since 2007 - 2008 I think.

How do you like the "underground" scene of the city?

I am a hermit really, I don't drink anymore so I don't venture too much into the underground, like I said I am raising my son... but remember I spent a hell of a lot of time with a miners cap digging around down there in my life so it's ok to be doing other things.

Do you think it had any impact on you as a musician or maybe influenced you to such an extent that we will hear the traces of urban city life in your upcoming album?

Not just yet it hasn't, I think Berlin allows me the chance to be alone, like a ghost. I don't speak german and no-one bothers me ever... I just come and go as I please wherever I like without many worries in the world focusing on my art. I want to say I am very lucky, but at the sometime I have to say I have and do work very hard and have worked very hard for a long time.

You have your home-made studio there and this is the very first album BJM, that will be recorded there. Would you like to tell us about the recording and producing process?

Well I have an engineer I work with Fabien Lesure, he's quite good and having him there every day allows me to produce myself playing all the parts or with other people and or other bands and get a consistent sound without mucking about working out troubles. We have a system. We have new and old gear and we approach everything pretty much the same way... and at the same time experiment. It's all about the song or project, but the important thing is we keep the cost down... When I was working in studios it would be 1000 a day or more... haha so we can work for a month now for the same price... or something like that. You understand... but yeah... we also produce other bands there... but it's not a commercial studio as such because that would drive me nuts.

It must have been much more relaxed recording in your own home, am I right?

I have a flat and the studio is some place else. I don't like to be confronted with my work as a living space anymore. It makes you feel like an asshole when you want to relax if you are staring at 20 guitars and keyboards getting dusty no matter how much work you do.

You have your own independent label, that formed over 10 years ago and grew into a very special place for various types of music. What's the story about the label? How did you got the idea to start it?

Well I always had an imprint - first as tangible, then The Committee To Keep Music Evil... now it's "A Recordings Ltd"... the main reason is control. I want to make records. I want the money that makes to go toward making more records, paying a small salary, and working on new projects. I don't want some asshole deciding when my "career" is over because of some mistake they made with cash-flow... at the same time, I never sold all my music so this is an option. Some other fucker would be selling my records right now and paying me nothing believe me if I would have taken the offers I would be homeless or dead by now.

The Committee To KeepMusic Evil is putting out some very quality releases for instance Christian Bland and the Revelators, The Vacant Lots, The Cult Of Dom Kellar, The Asteroid 4, Dead Skeletons, The High Dials and many more. How does the work on your own label look like? Do you get demos or do you randomly stumble across the bands, that you find interesting?

We have about 20 albums and projects out and more coming all the time with way better distribution world wide than Rob and The Committee To Keep Music Evil have. Way better. I have seven records coming out in May. Ha ha. No offence Rob, but the reason I started a new label and left the Committee is because I intend to have a label that works… and it does.

Is it hard to run such a label? Do you work on your own or do you have someone to help you out?

I have a label manager Stuart Flint that use to work for Cargo UK with me and now we try and do things to slowly grow the project right.

Are there any exciting upcoming releases from your label?

In May we have:

LES BIG BYRD from Sweden
The KBV from London
And the BLUE ANGEL LOUNGE from Hagen, Germany

All releasing albums along with the new BJM album, then we have things planned for the fall like the MAGIC CASTLES from Minnesota, they have a full length album and we are finally getting around to pressing THANK GOD FOR MENTAL ILLNESS on vinyl (one of our albums) and also, there's a group from the UK called the SLEAFORD MODS that I like, I asked them to do a 10" so yeah... it's a busy time for me.

You've listened to tons of albums. What would you say are those "less" known that had a great impact on you when you started Brian Jonestown Massacre and what are some present artists you would recommend to our readers?

See this is the point where I have to just freeze this conversation because my relationship with music is intense and can not be defined by some list that cannot do justice without the sounds to go with it and why. I have fucking great taste in music, fantastic taste and if I started spitting out song titles and group names it would be ten miles long because it's longer than that and I'm not kidding.

Austin Psych Fest is getting closer and you'll be the headliner there. Are you excited to play there? I think the festival is a great idea of getting all this psychedelic, alternative bands together...

It's an honor, I'm more than excited, I'm nervous. I want everyone to have a great time and I am thankful to be invited again.

Austin Psych Fest, 2012
© Mark Reitz 

After the festival you plan to tour Europe and maybe we can catch you somewhere… Where all will you go on your tour and what can the audience expect?

There really isn't anyway to please everyone when you play a show except to provide whatever it is that it says it is on the tin. That means if you plan to play just the new album, say that so people are not pissed about your other 16 albums. For me, and for this tour... I leave it up to the group because I write and wrote the vast majority of the music of every single era, I'm thankful to have anyone to play any of it with... We're going to play some old some new... that's the plan.

Tue        20th       Lille FR  Aeronef
Wed      21st       Paris FR Bataclan
Thu        22nd      Rouen FR            106
Fri          23rd       Caen FR               BBC
Sat         24th       Brest FR               La Carene
Sun        25th       Nantes FR           Stereolux
Tue        27th       La Rochelle FR   Sirene
Wed      28th       Barcelona ESP    Apolo
Thu        29th       Nimes FR             This Is Not A Love Song Festival
Fri          30th       Besancon FR      La Rodia
Sat         31st       Lyon FR Nuits Sonores Festival                                      
France: ticket link                                           
Mon      2nd        Bologna IT          Rock In Idrho
Wed      4th         Tours FR              Aucard Du Tours Festival
Thu        5th         Strasbourg FR    La Laiterie
Fri          6th         Nurburg DE         Rock Am Ring
Sat         7th         Nurburg DE         Rock Im Park
Sun        8th         Berlin DE             Postbanof
Mon      9th         Warsaw               Hydrozagadka
Wed      11th       Prague  Futurum Music Bar
Thu        12th       Dresden DE         Beatpol
Fri          13rd       Tyrolen, Blädinge, Småland SWE               Psykunta Festival
Sat         14th       Aarhus Denmark              Northside Festival
Mon      16th       Oslo       John Dee
Tue        17th       Stockholm SWE Debaser Media
Wed      18th       Gothenburg SWE             Pustervik
Thu        19th       Malmo SWE       babel
Fri          20th       Hamburg DE       Knust Fabrik
Sun        22nd      Matigny SWZ      Caves Du Manoire
Mon      23rd       Zurich SWZ          Komplex Klub
Tue        24th       Brussels               Orangerie
Thu        26th       Amsterdam         melkweg
Fri          27th       Beuningen Holland          Down The Rabbit Hole Festival
Sat         28th       Brighton UK        Concorde 2
Sun        29th       UK          TBA                                              
Tue        1st         London UK          Roundhouse
Wed      2nd        Norwich UK        Waterfront
Thu        3rd         Bristol UK            Anson Rooms
Fri          4th         Nottingham UK Rescue Rooms
Sat         5th         Glasgow UK        ABC
Sun        6th         Newcastle UK    Riverside
Mon      7th         Birmingham UK Academy 2
Wed      9th         Dublin Eire          Academy 2
Thu - 8  10th       Manchester UK  Ritz
Fri          11th       Leeds UK             Cockpit
Sat         12th       Liverpool UK      East Village Arts Club                                              
UK: Search Results - See Tickets

Will this be more of a presentational tour of the new album, or?

I think we'll play three or four new ones with one unreleased or something like that.

You are also working on a film. Would you like to present us your project, since we don't know much about it...

Well I have wanted for a very long time to do a soundtrack and it looks like I am going to do one for a film called "Moon Dogs". Philip John is the director and it's set in Scotland up in the Shetlands there someplace. It's about two brothers who sort of, they've grown apart after one leaves home and the other stays in the small town or whatever and they go on a trip to get to know each other and bond and all again. And one of them is a musician... and I'll be making up his stuff and the incidental music etc. and maybe working with a few other people. My goal is to have Philip John, and everybody involved end up happy with the project at the end of the day and to the end I want to work hard with him to make that happen.

Maybe you will find it odd question, but still since we are psychedelic, baby! I want to ask you what's your opinion on hallucinogens? Have you ever gone deeper into the psychedelics? I think notorious author Terence McKenna managed to express some really amazing things from his experiments. How about you? Do you think it influenced you as a musician?

I was dosed  with DMT and didn't expect that and I came through the other side. I'm not afraid of those little shits.

Well, Anton we are really glad you have taken your time. Wish you all the best with your current and future projects and also with touring, hopefully we'll catch you on the tour. Would you like to share anything else with It's Psychedelic Baby readers?

Keep the faith baby and enjoy the trip'


© Mary Martley

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2014
© Copyright

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