Brian Jonestown Massacre's Anton Newcombe on Beck, living in Germany and Bright Channel
On your last tour through Denver, you played almost entirely from your releases prior to Who Killed Sgt. Pepper. For this tour, will you play material from your new record?
I'm going to try and do a combination, and that will change regionally. Like when I'm in France, I'll play some of the French stuff, and I probably won't play any of the French stuff in America. There's no right way to do it. Unless it says "J. Mascis is coming down to the Bluebird Theater playing his classic album from 1989 and other things. Cookies will also be served" -- then people expect that. Otherwise, it's not up to them. Your job as an entertainer is to be entertaining.
When you have hundreds of songs, it's a really difficult decision. The first order of business is to get the band to feel really good and have good communication. Hopefully the best ever right now, because at our age, there's no reason to be there unless they're having a good time. The next part of it is, I'm gonna challenge everybody and interact with some of the ideas I've personally created to different ends.
Right now I'm going to propose to Matt to sing the Finnish song in English, and I'll make it part of the single so he can get paid for his efforts through iTunes and I can play music with the sales of it. And I can play music because I don't care if I'm the front person, necessarily.
I'm more interested in the whole big thing. I want to be part of something worth seeing, hopefully. Hopefully we're in a decent mood and that everybody has a good time and feel like, "That doesn't happen every week." Or something. No break dancing moves this time. I threw my back out. Bob Pollard and Iggy Pop have to run into the speaker every show.
James Brown did his crazy dancing up to his final shows.
What a guy. Until he just, for no apparent reason, did the "Living in America" on stage. That PCP-induced, driving across South Carolina with no tires? That was pretty badass. That movie wasn't his high point.
Rocky IV. No. After he did that driving stunt on PCP, he did those PSAs that college DJs used to play. His mea culpa to society or whatever.
Yeah, but he did the whole "Stay in school" and so many PSAs this whole time because of his poor background -- no shoes. He was always about empowering the community. So that wasn't about "The man stepped on me so hard." He was doing that shit anyway, even though it would be hypocritical in light of his arrest. I don't think that broke him; I think the money did. Because I don't think he needed any of the money -- which is the weirdest thing. That sample, "Funky Drummer" and all that shit? Think about. That was everywhere. He was so rich at that point.
Did you do that "Verve" cover with just synthesizer?
The only covers I've done, I did this Crying Shame song, called "Sailor Ship," and called it "Sailor" and credit those two guys and changed a bit. Nobody knew about this record. And those guys have never been mad at me for that. I just covered this Bobby Jameson song. Frank Zappa stole his wife.
This is the guy that worked for Phil Spector and Jack Nietzsche, who was flown, when the Stones wanted to hire Phil Spector, he said, "Okay, I'll send my sound over." He sent Nietzsche and Bobby Jameson. He was the guy from Mondo Hollywood. He recorded this demo, because that's all he did. They had him doing protest songs under the name Chris Lucey.
He did this one in '65 called "There's a War Going On." And I swear to god, it kicks the shit out of any Dylan, any Joan Baez, any Pete Seeger, even any Phil Ochs -- wow, that song just bags it. It was so hard-core they couldn't even use it. I heard it. One of my friends, Joe Foster from Creation, posted it on Facebook. So I just hit up Bobby Jameson. I found him because he blogs. He's still so pissed off at the industry getting ripped off over everything. He's the one that brought the Vox fuzz from L.A. to Brian [Jones], and it's used in "Satisfaction."
This guy is deep, Bobby Jameson, and I said, "I'm gonna nail this thing and do it as a group." And I just blew it out with the bass full blast and distorted. I'm remixing it and putting it out as a single with his original demo on the other side. That song is so good, I just changed one word to make it look like there is a war in the Middle East instead of Vietnam. It's probably going to come out in August. You crank that up and you feel like your head is on fire. It's like the "House of the Rising Sun"-style progression.
So why did you do Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" as "Bittersweet Irony"?.
Oh, yeah! I did that because of Allen Klein. He's a fucker. What happened is that when Keith Richards and Mick [Jagger] found out that Brian was getting twenty percent off the top because it was his band and then they were splitting it equal ways, they tore into him. They lied and stole all the rights to all the music. Not only did they take the credit for their fame when they signed that deal with Allen Klein, they didn't even write all those songs.
So Andrew Loog Oldham had paraphrased a riff in the song that you can't even copyright and put it out as the soundtrack to "Charlie Is My Darling," which is a 1966 Australian tour movie. He has a cello quartet doing the hooks of their songs. But the audio recording on the books was Rolling Stones money. They signed it over, they didn't own it, but they just gave it to Allen Klein.
For some reason, the idiots in the Verve tried to clear the sample afterward and it broke the label. The penalty for that was they made no money for the whole album. It was 1/13th or three points on the album or whatever anybody gets. An artist gets 13 percent after expenses. The Doors now get 26 percent for the $10,000 investment. But every year they have to renegotiate it. Michael Jackson's highest royalty rate was 25 percent at its zenith.
So check this out, I was like, "Fuck you, Allen Klein" -- before he died, you know -- "I'm going to cover this with real instruments and you can't sue me, it's not a sample. See ya." That song took me less than an hour and a half to track out with somebody. And then it was there, and that's all they had to do. Instead they broke up their band because they were like, "This business sucks." Which I think was really pussy.
I know for a fact Brian Jones wrote "Satisfaction" because Keith doesn't even play lead guitar. How is he going to make up leads that aren't a Chuck Berry song? He said he woke up in the morning and it was on the tape deck. On Brian's tape deck. Next to his head. He can't even remember writing it. But when you read his book, you know he's a guilty guy. He tries to rationalize it.
Now, the police acknowledge it was murder. He was the best swimmer of Cheltenham County. He was the best youth swimmer, and he drowned in a pool you can stand up in. You know what he was going to do with the Rolling Stones money, which he owned one fifth of? Chas Taylor came to him and said, "I want to put out this guy Jimi Hendrix." He went to the office and Mick and Keith were like, "There's no fucking way you're putting out someone better than the Rolling Stones as our first release on Rolling Stones Records!" So he was like, "I'm out of here. I'm buying a really expensive house with my money."
You still have your own record label, of course.
A Recordings Ltd. It's cool. People will find out very soon. I would love to talk Jeff Suthers into putting out that Bright Channel record. Make a vinyl or something. You know how I met them? I was deejaying for some other band's party, and they were playing, and not to be mean, but they captured me. Like, "This is the shit right here." It was so bad, coming out to DJ and support somebody, make it a good party of whatever. It was at Larimer Lounge.
It was absolutely real. It transcended his influences. Him chasing Albini or whatever and being into Sonic Youth and all these different things. It was fucking real and haunted. Shannon Stein is just like such a fucking imposing bass player. She reminds me of the girl from Serena Maneesh. They're like two peas in a pod. You want them in the Viking boat with you, because it's gonna get rough. Without saying a word, she's way more badass than Courtney Love could ever be. It was inspiring, and the drummer was excellent.
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