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The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion Hang Out All The Dirtiest Hits
Jack Mills , February 25th, 2010 09:21

March sees the set trashing, voguish desert nihilist Jon Spencer rejoin in rejoice with the Blues Explosion after six years of atypical calm and “hiatus”. Dirty Shirt and Rock ‘N’ Roll: The First Ten Years draws on a panorama of tracks tracing as far back as their eponymous debut in 1992. Label it a greatest hits if you want, but it’s a defiant call to arms for those claiming the band’s demise. To punctuate the return, the Explosion have informed The Quietus that plans for scattered dates and staple festival performances are confirmed for this spring and summer.

Those Heavy Trash (Spencer’s prolific mid-hiatus solo stint) gig attendees longing for the frenetic proto blues-punk of ‘Chicken Dog’ or ‘Bellbottoms’ are in for a real treat. To top it off, the Explosion will soon be re-releasing editions of their first six LPs in deluxe format. God loves a cheerful giver…

Dirty Shirt will be released on Majordomo Records (a tiny label, home to The Von Bondies, Earlimart and one or two others).

Did the Blues Explosion have a falling out with Matador upon the release of 2004’s Damage album, released eventually on Sanctuary?

John Spencer: "Well I wouldn’t describe it as a falling out. I think at the time there was some other band that was gonna come out with an album in the fall…Interpol I think it was. And they said that they’re gonna be spending a lot of time working on their second record [Antics]. I think the band were frustrated, I was frustrated because we’d worked so well together for the past couple of records [the band released albums 2-5 on Matador]. It was friendly, amicable, but they simply weren’t going to have time to work on our next record so we went with someone else."

You’ve got a new Solex project coming out on April 5th, a collaboration with your wife Cristina Martinez and Elizabeth Esselink. How do you feel it went?

JS: "Well we were fans of Elizabeth a little bit and ran into her a few times on tour and around Europe, and then she DJd and a couple of Heavy Trash nights in Amsterdam. After a while we ended up talking about what a collaboration would sound like. Cristina encouraged her to get in touch with us as we were eager to find someone to collaborate with. I ended up getting involved as well - this was a couple of years ago now [communications with Esselink began in 2006]. She sent us a few ideas to check out at first and we ended up simply adding some ideas to the recordings. The record just sort of took off from there really."

You regularly work with your wife on creative projects. What methods do you use to avoid arguments?

JS: Well Elizabeth had already written a bunch of songs, and she presented them as sketches that we could work and build on, so it was easy to avoid conflict. The premise was there, in the main. Cristina and I went to Amsterdam where Elizabeth lives and we spent that time doing more writing and more recording and then Elizabeth took down the material. Before we knew it we had a Solex record.

How have the deaths of influential musicians in recent times affected you? I can imagine both Rowland S. Howard and Lux Interior were inspirations?

JS: Well I was mostly very sad, y’know…it was a great loss. Those guys meant a lot to me and it was a real shame to see them go so young. Another guy passed recently, a legendary Memphis musician called Jim Dickinson. But there are a lot of current bands that I would call inspirations: from Finland there’s a group called The Micragirls, three of them who play really good garage rock’n’roll. From Germany I’m really fond of a band called Cobra Killer who play really rich electronic music with a strong sense of rock’n’roll. From Brooklyn, I like The Fiery Furnaces.

Would you ever reform Pussy Galore?

JS: No.

Blues Explosion’s Dirty Shirt Rock ‘N' Roll: The First Ten Years will be released on March 30th on Majordomo Records and Solex vs. Cristina Martinez & Jon Spencer’s Amsterdam Throwdown King Street Showdown is set to be released on Monday 5th April on Bronzerat Records.

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