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A Quietus Interview

Vitamin Gee: Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie Sees The Light
Julian Marszalek , April 30th, 2013 11:02

Julian Marszalek talks to the Primal Scream frontman about their new album More Light, the state of rock music in 2013 and living in post-Thatcher Britain

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We've only been together for just over a minute when Bobby Gillespie slips his hand in to his jacket pocket and pulls out a small but clear plastic bag full of pills. Peering inside the bag his fingers, their nails bitten down to the quick, rummage around the variously coloured contents before selecting an orange tablet.

"Ah, this is the one," he murmurs. Then, holding out the bag in the direction of your scribe, he adds: "You want one?"

What? An offer of pills from one of Britrock's most notorious consumers of interesting substances? The prospects for a conversation based on altered states of consciousness are indeed tempting. But hey, we’re nothing if not pros here and this being lunchtime, the Quietus politely declines and questions whether it's not a little too early in the day for, ahem, that sort of thing.

"No," laughs Gillespie. "These are my vitamin pills. Vitamin D. You sure you don't want one?"

Given the extraordinarily long winter that's been suffered round these parts, one suspects that a simple dose may be too little, too late to stave off a potential encounter of rickets.

Indeed, Gillespie's reputation of hard-living is given a severe beating as he variously offers to share with the Quietus anything from rice cakes to green olives.

"I've got to keep my energy levels up," he says by way of explanation.

However, as evidenced by Primal Scream’s new album, More Light, the band’s tenth studio album, the energy levels exuded by the group are the strongest since 2000’s XTRMNTR. Reunited for the first time in over a decade with DJ, producer and curator of film soundtracks David Holmes, Primal Scream once again sound hungry and musically adventurous as they channel their anger and fury of an increasingly polarized country into the music that makes up this epic outing.

The album finds Primal Scream operating their open-door policy that sees a number of collaborators including The Pop Group’s Mark Stewart and Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant among others adding their talents, and the results make for a renewed sense of purpose that hasn’t been in evidence for some time.

The Quietus meets Gillespie at his record label’s offices in Marylebone the day after Margaret Thatcher’s funeral. As well as proving to be a genial host, Gillespie is in a talkative mood, not only about More Light but also the legacy left behind by the most divisive figure in post-war British politics and he’s visibly moved when talking about his trade unionist father. But first off, there’s the matter of the new album…

It’s been five years since the release of Beautiful Future and during that time you revisited Screamadelica and played it in its entirety. What were the artistic benefits of doing this and did they have any influence on More Light?

Bobby Gillespie: The benefits of doing the Screamadelica live shows are that we sold out gigs everywhere all over the world. We were getting great slots at festivals worldwide and it put us back in the public consciousness. The record got re-released but you know, had the record got re-released just without any touring I don’t think… it got some good reviews but the fact that people could come and see us play the album live was quite a big deal.

It was good for the band. It gave the band a renewed sense of confidence and it’s always nice to feel loved. It was great to get back out on the road and do gigs again. So all in all it was a good experience.

But did that have any bearing on More Light? What did you take from it? For example, Jason Pierce said that revisiting Ladies and Gentlemen… played an important part on Sweet Heart, Sweet Light.

BG: Not really. If anything, we spent a long time arranging the Screamadelica songs for the live concerts and some of the songs were 16 minutes long – like ‘Come Together’ and ‘Higher Than The Sun’ which were in three sections – and maybe sub-consciously we discovered that we could make music that long and interesting and intense and the sense of space on the Screamadelica songs may have had some kind of influence, but it wasn’t a conscious thing. We were already writing the songs for More Light around the Screamadelica tour. We hadn’t recorded anything but we were starting to get some sketches and ideas.

It doesn’t sound anything like Screamadelica so I don’t know if it had any influence on it, to be honest with you. The influences on it are current culture and the sum total of your life experiences, really. That’s influences on the record. We’re never influenced by anything that we’ve done before; we just try and move on. Or we go sideways, sometimes. Which is OK because sometimes it’s hard to keep moving forward.

What impact did Mani’s return to The Stone Roses have in terms of the dynamic and the chemistry within the band?

BG: It was never going to affect the songwriting or the creativity. Mani was like a brother and we love him but we were always going to make this record. We don’t make records like other bands. We don’t make those kind of records, you know? We’ve got a different approach to songwriting and recording.

Records like Beautiful Future and Riot City Blues were like live-in-the-studio conventional kind of rock & roll records whereas records like Evil Heat, XTRMNTR, Vanishing Point and Screamadelica are completely different. It’s just a different way of working. Sometimes there were only two people in the studio, building on ideas and sculpting. It was like creating an artwork or a collage. It’s not like five people together, jamming it out in a 60s-type Beatles kind of way. It’s like a different approach, really.

When do you know when to stop? Isn’t there a danger of over-egging things or creating too many layers?

BG: Oh, no. We record way more than we use. Like when we did ‘If They Move, Kill ‘Em’ and Kevin Shields remixed that, he didn’t add any music to it. He just used what was there. But he probably used a lot of stuff that wasn’t on the album mix. It’s like making a movie. If you shoot a movie, I’m sure directors shoot a lot of scenes that they don’t use because they’re trying stuff [out]. They shoot a lot more than they use and eventually they’ll edit that down to a narrative that makes sense to them and they tell the story they want to tell. That’s what we do with music; we do the exact same thing.

David Holmes was the DJ on your XTRMNTR tour and you worked on his Bow Down To The Exit Sign album in 2000. Why has it taken so long for you to work together again?

BG: I guess when he was doing Bow Down To The Exit Sign he was in a different place and we were in a different place. With Bow Down To The Exit Sign that was his album and we wrote ‘Sick City’ for that record and did some other stuff on it as well but around that time he mixed two songs on XTRMNTR but life takes you off in different directions but we kept in touch.

When he did his last solo record, The Holy Pictures, I heard that and thought it was great and I got the idea that Holmes would be a great producer. Because in the past what we would do is record stuff and get people to mix it but this time we decided we would work with David from the very start and make and just see how that went. We felt that David was one of us and that he understood us. He’d been a friend for a long time and that, more importantly, he had built up a real wealth of experience working on film soundtracks in Hollywood but he was more of a master in the studio. He was more experienced than he was in 1999 when he did Bow Down To The Exit Sign. He was stronger. We felt that we could trust him so we gave him a try and it’s worked.

We went to Belfast – Andrew Innes and myself – and we did a five-day exploratory writing session where he would play his records which would suggest a mood or a rhythmic idea to pursue so I would say that he kind of provoked us into playing songs. Innes would play a six string bass with a drum loop and I’d be singing and that would be the basis of a song. Then we went back to Belfast a couple of months later and did the same thing and got some ideas. Then we took those ideas to our studio and when we weren’t doing Screamadelica we’d work on them and add to them and subtract from them and we’d record them and the scrap them or keep them and it would slowly take shape and eventually certain songs like ‘Walking With The Beast’ and ‘Tenement Kid’ would come up and emerge from that process. It was a long process.

But as I say, the way we work is not conventional. It’s almost like artists making a collage or a hip-hop sound collage kind of approach. It’s conceptual but it’s not five guys in a room. Although sometimes it is, it can be that as well. The band in this was me, Andrew, Jason Faulkner on bass and Darrin Mooney on drums.

To these ears, it’s your most focussed album since XTRMNTR. Was that the intention? Did you look back over the last 13 years and was it a reaction against that because there’s a feeling about this album that’s been absent since then?

BG: I agree. I totally agree. I think there was a real focus and intensity. Andrew and myself had a real intent to focus, which we never really spoke about but we were both in a good place and a better place than we’d been in a long time. By that, I mean we hit a purple patch where we were writing these great songs and working with David. We built up this relationship and working methods with David that just worked. And the songs were all good and I started writing words and stuff was coming out of that. It was pouring out of me. It just felt right and I think it was more focussed but you look at any artist’s career, no one does great album after great album after great album. Nobody fucking does that, not even the fucking Beatles. People take right turns, left turns, they go backwards. Even Neil Young, you know? You’re not going to love everything Neil’s done but you’re going to find something good in it. Like Miles Davis – and I’m not putting myself up with these guys – but everybody’s career who’s been doing it for a long time, you’re not going to like everything they’ve done and if you do then you’re fucking insane.

I think we’ve made a great record and I can’t explain it. I can’t sit here and pretend that I know how we did it. But you’ve always got something to prove. I think the thing is, is that we’ve got something to say, musically. We wanted to make a statement and make it more psychedelic, more experimental, we wanted to mess around with time signatures, jump cuts and make it really dreamy, beautiful but direct and emotionally hard-hitting. I think we’ve become better songwriters.

You’re a band that’s very much characterized by the collaborators that you pull on board. Why do you feel it necessary to bring in external influences rather than doing it just yourselves?

BG: We are doing it ourselves. We play everything ourselves, we write everything ourselves and then we might bring in a guest guitar player or a guest singer because why not? The Beatles did with Clapton on ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ and that added something to them that they never had before. We’ve always taken the Parliament/Funkadelic idea. People like Miles Davis always changed bands. We’ve never been the same band. We’ve always used different rhythm sections on every album. The rhythm section on Screamadelica was Andy Weatherall and Hugo Nicolson. On Give Out But Don’t Give Up it was the Muscle Shoals. The rhythm section on XTRMNTR was Mani on bass. We’re always different. We’ve never said it’s five fucking guys but it always sounds like Primal Scream.

Andrew Innes is the main guitar player in the band but for ‘2013’ we needed a bit of an extra bit of fairy dust so we asked Kevin Shields because he was live guitar player for us for eight years. He was a member of the Scream and he’s still a member of the Scream, really. We’re just trying to make great records. In the 60s, when they were making an Aretha Franklin record you’d have the Muscle Shoals rhythm section and the Memphis Horns and Duane Allman on guitar. So basically you’re making records. There’s this whole model of what a band should be and we’ve never really aspired to that. Live, we’re a high-energy rock & roll band; that’s what we do. When we make records it’s a different thing. You’re making art and not trying to serve people’s egos. When you do that you don’t make art. Let me tell you, it doesn’t work. Because really, we make music. Me and Andrew write the songs, we’ve always written the songs and we make the music and whoever we get to play on the record that’s who plays in the record.

Don’t you ever get overawed? Don’t you think to yourself, "Fucking hell! That’s Robert Plant!"

BG: Oh yeah, but that’s a really amazing thing! But when we bring people in they’re not writing the song for us or with us, we generally bring them in right at the end of the process to add just a wee bit of fairy dust and that wee bit of sparkle and magic to make it beautiful. With ‘Elimination Blues’ we had the song written but it wasn’t arranged at that point. It was recorded and it had the vibe but it was missing something and it was missing Robert Plant. It was missing that high, lonesome vocal. Which tried with girls singing beside me, we tried me singing high notes but that didn’t work but it had to be a guy and it was Robert. So no, not overawed. Honoured but not overawed.

Sometimes collaborations work and sometimes they don’t but we’re just trying to have fun making records. We did ‘Culturecide’ and we had [The Pop Group’s] Mark Stewart singing on it and Mark’s voice gives it that other thing. I can’t add that and nobody in the band can, either. If you did a Dion album like Born To Be With You, Phil Spector gets the fucking gang in and makes the record and that’s what we’re doing sometimes with our records. I’m not saying that we’re like Phil – we’re not that good – but you don’t listen to that and think, this guy played bass or this guy did that, you’re just hearing the record and that’s what we’re trying to make art, make great records.

More Light sounds like Primal Scream’s State Of The Nation address. Is that a fair assessment?

BG: I don’t know about that. That’s maybe a bit too grandiose. It’s got a lot of pain in it, that’s all I’m going to say. I’m not going to explain any of the songs but there’s pain in that record and that’s all I’m going to say.

Well, a lot of those seem self-explanatory anyway, like ‘Culturecide’ and ‘River Of Pain’ has great narrative driving it and it does convey a lot of the hurt there. Thematically it reminds me of Richard Hawley’s Standing At The Sky’s Edge where people are on the edge…

BG: I have an empathy for other people. The thing is, there’s empathy for people’s pain and situations and suffering and the album is more that than a State Of The Nation [thing]. It’s more like, things are bad in our country and we do have an extremist right-wing government, I think, but we’re just writing about the culture. That’s it. We’re writing about what affects us and we get an empathy for people. I don’t really think about, I write songs. It’s inside you to write about that stuff and you’re obviously feeling it.

That’s why you make art; you want other people to feel your pain. Or you empathise with other people’s pain. You’re trying to describe reality. You’re basically trying to describe your reality or some kind of reality where you’re trying to make something beautiful out of an ugly situation. You’re trying to transform or inspire people and you can connect with them so it’s a really interesting process I think. It’s a powerful thing. You’ve just got to try and hope that people will listen to the songs and they can relate to them and write about their lives and they can feel it, you know? That’s it.

I interviewed Mark Stewart last year and his take on things was that it was an artistic responsibility to engage and connect with society on different levels. He went on to say that it takes good men to do nothing for evil to prevail. Conversely, when interviewed by the Quietus a couple of years back, Bob Geldof reckoned that music as a force for cultural change was dead and that musicians should either put their guitars down and engage in the political process or fuck off and make a hit record.

BG: My dad devoted his life to politics and trade unionism and the working class struggle. I’ve devoted my life to rock & roll but I’ve got a political consciousness or class-consciousness or whatever way you want to describe it. I’m an artist and I’ve devoted my life to trying to be a good songwriter and a good artist. I’m trying to express myself using any means possible to try and make some kind of connection, to get something out there. I love rock & roll, I love being in a band, I love being an artist but I’m going to write about the things that trouble me, bother me, and affect me.

I know what Bob Geldof is saying and I know what Mark says. Mark’s right but I know that you can’t be an artist and a politician. You can’t be an artist and an activist because you’ve got to devote your life to one thing or the other. Nobody’s got enough energy to do both. I don’t think music is going to change the world but I think what it can do is, as an art form, your music can heal people, it can make them feel less pain, it can give them joy, it can inspire them, it can make them dance, it can bring them together, it can make them feel less alone, it can do a lot of powerful things. It’s a magical force when it’s done properly. Also, you’re allowed to say anything in your songs, whatever you want to fucking say.

I don’t think ‘2013’ is going to dislodge the current Conservative-Liberal administration but I know that thousands of people probably feel the same way that we do about what’s happening and just that little connection and understanding that somebody else feels like you do is a powerful thing. It makes you feel less alone, it’s a connection and I think music can work on that level.

Two good points. My dad was an activist, he was a trade unionist and he was a Marxist and he was always involved in that struggle and it took up his life. It’s a lifetime commitment being a revolutionary and really that’s what you are if you do that; you’re a fucking revolutionary. You’re trying to change society for the better and that’s what he was trying to do. I think it’s a great thing but sacrifices are made but I took different path. I got into rock & roll but I still think we’re putting great energy into because people need music. People can’t just have it one way where music is espousing the establishment or power structure values. People also want music that’s outsider music, that’s non-conformist, that’s anti-authoritarian but it’s also glamorous and sexy and high-energy rock & roll. They need that. I need it. I need to see certain bands to get that level of excitement and fucking charge, you know? I think that playing rock & roll is a noble thing at its best. If you’re sincere about it and you’re great at it you spread love and you put it back into the community and you make people feel good because a lot of the shit out there is making people feel bad.

That’s what I really think. That’s a long answer to your question!

How healthy is rock & roll in 2013?

BG: I don’t think it holds the cultural gravitas that it did in the 60s but we’re all too young to remember that. We’ve only got received history from other generations but it did seem that The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix were messengers of a different way of thinking. It was anti-conformist, anti-establishment, it was anti-war, it was anti-racist and even Lennon became anti-sexist. Lennon was a powerful guy who became a revolutionary and a feminist and even Harrison got into stuff like Eastern religions and it was a non-aggressive, peaceful way of thinking. So these guys were like the heads of youth culture. You look at how powerful that stuff was but did it really change anything? Our song touches on that – punk rock came and went – and it touches on this idea that music is this revolutionary force but really it’s been co-opted by capitalism or the establishment or whatever you want to fucking call it but really, does it change anything? I think it does.

It think that personally, for me, I was touched enough by punk rock: to come from the background I came from – my parents didn’t have the educational or artistic frame of reference, really, but my dad had loads of books – I left school at 15, got a job in a factory so basically the highest hopes they could have for their son is that he’d get an apprenticeship and a job for life. And that’s when you could get jobs for life! But a creative life was not on the agenda for me. Through punk rock I slowly discovered that I could be a creative person and actually have a creative life and earn a living being an artist. That only happened because of punk rock. Rock & roll did affect and change my life. I can honestly say that. If it hadn’t have been for Johnny Rotten and The Sex Pistols and The Clash… they had such a huge influence on me.

I think rock & roll can really affect individual people, people who have a sense of being different, of being on the outside, who don’t fit in, who are basically counter-cultural but don’t know it. Because when you get into punk rock you’re suddenly ostracised by the community you grew up with because they don’t understand why someone should be buying records by these bands. As soon as I got into punk, the guys I was playing football with were suddenly really weird towards me and they were threatened by this. They fucking threatened me over this, believe or not so I had to make a choice at 15: I either go this way or that way. I either go with the gang or I go on my own. I went on my own. I can’t relate to those people any more. Punk rock made me see them for what they really are which was bigoted and small-minded and conformist. And because I wouldn’t conform they kind of forced me to take sides. So it’s lonely doing that but then it’s worth it because if I went that way, where would I be? This is the thing; it actually made a huge difference to my life.

Bob Geldof says that stuff but guys like me and Mark Stewart are artistic-minded, creative, rock & roll kids. I actually think we’re good human beings. I think that to be a politician on the level who actually makes big changes to society, I think you’ve got to be a different kind of creature. We’re like a different species, you know? Guys like us are not politicians, we’re on the outside and we could never be like that, I don’t think.

The album is arriving just about as Margaret Thatcher is departing. How do you view her passing and legacy?

BG: Listen, right, she died with a smile on her face because the policies and the philosophies that she brought to this country and put into motion have been carried through by successive governments: John Major, Tony Blair and New Labour and now the coalition. They have all followed the path that she set in motion. I was like, "she’s dead. Great. Fucking horrible bitch" but I didn’t think it was a new day and that suddenly everything was going to be egalitarian and re-distributing the wealth. I just thought, "big deal – she’s dead" but she’s been low-level and out of the picture for years; she doesn’t count. What counts are the bastards that are currently in power. They are her children. Someone once asked her, "what’s your greatest achievement?" and said, "New Labour". Whoah! So it doesn’t matter that she’s dead. Big deal. She may as well been dead ten years ago. Since she hasn’t been Prime Minister it doesn’t matter because it’s still been the fucking same.

You know, Tony Blair said he was going to change her policies but [also] build on them - classic fucking doublespeak. These bastards in power are finishing off what she started.

It seems to me that the only people responding to this on a musical level are…

BG: …older people! I know, it’s true! And I’ve got a good answer because I think about this. About 2003 I went to see Suicide and it was quite near the beginning of the Iraq war and Alan Vega was just raging! "These fucking motherfuckers! I fucking hate them, man! You’re young – take to the streets! The world is yours!" – it was better than that but he was railing against the Bush administration and it was real anger. A couple of years later I went to see Patti Smith and she played Horses live and it was the same thing, she went into some rants as well. And of course Springsteen’s been writing those records like Wrecking Ball and it does seem to be people from an older generation that are raging. Even people like Merle Haggard were making speeches against Bush because they see their civil liberties being eroded while these gangsters run their fucking country.

I don’t know if that comes from age or experience but then people like Patti or Bruce or Suicide are all really children of the 60s and that was radical time. Those humanitarian and socialistic ideas were around in the culture then. You can also go back to The Beatles and John Lennon and the politics of liberation – they wanted to see people liberated. That’s what the hippy counter-culture was all about; it was about human liberation. They had that concert at the Roundhouse, The Dialectics of Liberation, that had R.D. Laing, Allen Ginsberg, all those counter-culture guys, poets, philosophers, psychiatrists and it was all about human liberation. It was kind of left-leaning because it was more about the collective.

I think people have become more de-politicised, they’re just not interested. People have been taught that politics has got nothing to do with their lives. You know, get in a fucking taxi and talk to the guy about politics and he’ll go, "ah, they’re fucking crooks, mate, I’m not interested, yeah? What team to do you support? Celtic? Yeah, Glasgow boy, yeah?" I know loads of people that aren’t interested. They think their lives are always going to be the way they are and that it doesn’t affect them. I guess I was lucky that I grew up in a political household because of my dad but even before that I guess I was against bullies. I was always went with the outsider kids like Jewish kids, Pakistani kids and Catholic kids and I always had empathy for people on the outside of things and I think that if you’re a socialist then you’re basically a humanist.

You don’t really hear that music anymore. You had the post-punk thing with bands like Gang Of Four and The Pop Group and they were all older than me and they’d been informed by the 60s thing as well. Bands like Gang Of Four and Au Pairs had all been to universities and they’d all been taught by fucking Marxist professors. Because Marxism’s fucking huge in intellectual and academic circles and it went through into the 70s. A lot of these post-punk bands met at uni or art school and they had tutors who were more free-thinking and had radical ideas and that fed into the music. Also, it was of the times. Young people would join the SWP or the Communist Party and society was more politicised.

Thatcher divided people. She was always, "you’re either with us or against us" and the 'Enemy Within' and all that shite but she successfully, by de-industrialising the country, de-politicised it.

There are a lot of parallels between now and the 80s. To me, 1985 was a real watershed year – the defeat of the miners and riots across the country – and one that hammered in the final nail into the coffin of the 60s.

You’re right about the death of the 60s. When she came in ’79, they’d already decided that we were going to defeat the trade unions and the way to do that was to defeat the miners because they could stop the country by turning the power stations off: if they withdrew their labour then the country would shut down so let’s close down the mines, take out the NUM because they’re the most powerful regiment in the trade union movement and then we can fucking devastate the rest of them and then eventually the working class would be powerless. And that’s the stage where we’re at now.

Thatcher would’ve loved to have put through these austerity cuts that the coalition are doing now. But she couldn’t because there was too much of a powerful opposition standing against her. The trade union movement was much bigger and much more powerful and people were more politicised. People would stand up and say, "I’m not taking this shit so we’re going to withdraw our labour." The laws of the land were such that you could withdraw your labour and they couldn’t replace you immediately with someone else. All them rights that people had fought for since the industrial revolution all came to fruition in the 60s and 70s, I think, and then the elites around the world started clawing it back around ’73, ‘74 and they started taking more power back. That whole thing that you’ve got with America and outsourcing - they think, "let’s close the factories down in Detroit because we pay the workers too much money, they don’t work enough hours. Why don’t we open the same factory in Mexico? We’ll get them to work all the time but we’ll give them shit and they’ll be happy to take it because they’re in the Third World." And the USA became de-industrialised – they started closing the steel works down in America and Thatcher did the same thing here.

They disempowered the working class. When Thatcher left, 60% of the British workforce was unskilled. She totally fucked the country. With the miners’ strike it was a total class war. She went, "right! It’s us against them" and they were going to destroy the last freedoms. Basically, the right-wing hated the 60s because you had gay rights, black rights, working class empowerment, feminism and all these politics of liberation had started to come into fruition and the working class were strong and powerful. I really think they hated that. But the thing with the 80s was that the full force of the State was used against the miners and I don’t think that even Ted Heath would’ve done that. She had the army in there, MI6 – I read The Enemy Within by Seamus Milne and that’s a good book about the miners and how Arthur Scargill was framed post the strike. I think it was pretty clear-cut and it was obvious that things were going to get harder. They were like, "you bastards in the working class have had it too good for too long. This ends here." I knew that when the miners got defeated, the working class were defeated.

Successive governments have been able to take away rights in the workplace. People don’t have any long-term job security. De-regulation means that you don’t have any fucking rights. The boss now has the same power he had in the 19th-century. We’re going back to the fucking 19th-century.

You’ve come in for some online criticism recently over the video for ‘It’s Alright It’s OK’ for using 60s imagery…

BG: Well, Douglas Hart made the video but what are they fucking criticising?

The criticism levelled at you is that, on top of using that sound, you’re using imagery from the 60s and 70s. Why not use more current imagery of say, the Arab Spring or other images of contemporary unrest?

BG: But we’re not trying to make a comment. This song is like a love song. It’s an angry, sad song but it’s not a political song. Douglas Hart made the video and he chose to put that footage in because he thought it looked cool. He’s made a cool rock & roll video and there’s all that Situationist stuff. We’re having fun. It’s a cool rock & roll video. We’re not trying to make a political point with that video. You know, ‘2013’, yeah, and that’s using imagery and symbolism and maybe people will get that but ‘It’s Alright, It’s OK’ is a band video and you can see we’re having fun. If you listen to the lyrics of the song… I don’t understand what people are on about there.

We’re not writing songs about the Arab Spring. I’m not an Arab. We’re British and I’m writing about me. I just don’t understand it. It sounds like a fucking moron who wrote that criticism. We’ve made a rock & rock video, that’s all. You know, I was in the Jesus And Mary Chain with Douglas and we’ve got a similar aesthetic. We recorded the song and left the video up to Douglas. It’s a great video and he wanted to be put the Situationist stuff in and all the slogans and it’s beautiful. I just think people are fucking idiots sometimes, you know?

The reason I do what I do is because I looked at other people and thought, I could do that. I wouldn’t criticise people but you’ve got to do it yourself. The problem is that they’re spectators and we’re actually participants. We’re doing it and they’re criticising it – what have they done? We’re making the art and getting it out to the people. It’s an uplifting song. I’m not going to explain what it’s about but it’s not like ‘Culturecide’ or ‘2013’ which is a critique of the culture.

Fuck ‘em. I’m on the 6 Music playlist. Where the fuck are they?

More Light is released on May 13 via 1st International

Ben
Apr 30, 2013 3:23pm

For a man who claims to be so dissatisfied with the conservative status quo in Britain at the moment he doesn't half make shockingly dull and conservative music most of the time. That's while continuing to trade off a record that came out twenty-two years ago.

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Apr 30, 2013 4:20pm

In reply to Ben:

have you listened to any of his music?

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Apr 30, 2013 4:20pm

Great interview, really excited to hear this record.

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DavidN65
Apr 30, 2013 4:52pm

Great interview! The last David Holmes album is good; it will be interesting to hear what he has done with Primal Scream. Looking forward to this one!

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RobW
Apr 30, 2013 7:30pm

I'm surprised at the criticism of the video to 'It's Alright, It's Ok' and not the actual song itself, which is fucking awful. '2013' was at least interesting musically, and seemed like a return to form.

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John Doran
May 1, 2013 7:47am

Dear angry comment-leaver whose post I had to delete: using the word 'allegedly' after a libellous story doesn't make it any less libellous. Feel free to post again without making stuff up.

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Brother Lee Love
May 1, 2013 8:03am

Are you saying that Gillespie should check and double check then possibly triple check who the party invites are connected to, who the clubs are run by, who's friends with the owners etc etc before he goes out the door? Music and fashion have always been connected haven't they, and he moves in those circles, his wife is in that industry in some shape of form. Up above in the interview he says he's not a politician. Admittedly his ramblings, and he's rambled plenty in the past, can come across as daft at times, and it is a sticking point for a lot of people with the Scream. I used to be a huge fan but my interest has dwindled over the years, mainly due to the music but also because of his rambles/actions/contradictions. He seems genuine in this interview and passionate about what he's saying, I think. He comes from a political background and punk rock and that went with it was his life changing calling card. He's a clean living family man now, bills need paying, mouths need feeding, profiles need raising, so I can imagine in that music/fashion world attending parties or whatever gets you seen and gets you paid. Maybe. I have no idea really, just a thought though. At the end of the day the music should do the talking and from what I've heard so far of More Light (2013, It's Alright, Invisible City) it's kind of OK but not amazing or as ground breaking as Gillespie likes to think. Hopefully the album will have some real gems on it as David Holmes is a great artist and producer and his 'fairy dust' could prove magical.

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chris
May 1, 2013 8:06am

Ive been a big scream fan in my day (seen them 9 times) so i feel i can speak with some authority. The new songs, like their last few albums, in my opinion, are muck.

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art damij
May 1, 2013 9:41am

saw the'creation records story' recently,enjoyed it,having not really taken much notice of any of the bands apart from j&mc early on,& mbv..saw primal scream support the butthole surfers(!) in'88,never been a fan really,but enjoyed gillespie's interview clips in the film,so read this..and again,i find him interesting and honest,seems to know his stuff,comes across as genuine to me..enjoyed this interview.

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Brother Lee Love
May 1, 2013 9:42am

My comment was in reply to the one removed so it now looks like I'm referring to an imaginary person in my head, which isn't the case. Honest.
His comments were the usual "I hate Gillespie, I hate the Scream, but I may not have heard their music, but I do hate Gillespie" variety.
As for the new songs. Something seems to be missing, whether it be danger, surprise, sex, elevation, who knows, but they certainly don't excite me like they once did. Relativity sounds amazing from the youtube clips I've seen.
At least they're on the 6 Music Playlist though ;-)

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jk
May 1, 2013 11:19am

primal scream make me feel so old. i used to get so excited about them, around the mid 90s, like they were the coolest fucking situationists on the planet. but they're more akin to paul weller nowadays, for better or worse.

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Kris
May 1, 2013 2:40pm

It's always confused me why these guys flip flop back and forth between great stuff like Swastika Eyes and dull sub Black Crowes Rolling Stones rip offs. I thought they'd left that stuff behind until I heard the new single.

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Marty diBergi
May 2, 2013 10:51pm

"The review for More Light was merely a two word review which simply read More Shite."

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