BJM, The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Miss Fliss 09/02/2010
Brian Jonestown Massacre Interview Part Two.
In which GIITTV deputy editor, Miss Fliss, broaches the subjects of creativity, self-discipline, being 'insane', and originality with notorious Brian Jonestown Massacre frontman, Anton Newcombe - whilst Bargain Hunt is on the hotel TV.
You've got a very active mind. You're very creative, and you've got lots of ideas, it seems, but how many hours a night do you sleep?
Two to four? My whole life.
Because your mind's overworking?
I know. That's why alcohol lent itself to keeping me - like, a self-medicating thing. So bad, so bad…
It helps you sleep, or it doesn't?
It keeps me on an even keel. I wouldn't take a pill or something to control it. And it's not a problem with focus - it's not attention deficit disorder. I'm just some sort of mental spazz, I guess.
You seem to have unlimited ideas and thoughts. How do you discipline your mind, control it and focus and get it all down in time?
It's kind of a clockwork thing. I have long-term goals, medium-term goals. “I've got to do this now, it's exciting!” Some things I kind of want to do, and some things I am working towards accomplishing in the longer term. I try and -
[We're distracted by the hotel TV] You're favourite's on - Bargain Hunt!
I know, it doesn't matter. Ting! Um, well, you know with ideas, I kind of encourage other people to steal, borrow from, use my ideas as concepts, so I can see them accomplished.
Creative people tend to be more emotional than other people, and perhaps more prone to depression. Do you get down?
Yeah, that's the interesting thing about not drinking. I have no worries. And, really, I get to do what I want, it pays for itself. I employ my friends, I live where I want in the world, all that kind of good stuff. So when I feel blue, I know that it's biochemical, and I just go: “Oh, that's okay.” and I can tell the difference. I have no worries to solve, only problems, like everybody else. I did suffer from what I thought was depression for a long time - in the 90s one of my friends, who's very intelligent who's passed away, Greg Shaw from Bomp! Records, said: “You're not depressed. You've got problems, and you deal with them better than anybody I've ever met, in terms of accomplishing your goals with nothing.” He said: “Your real problem is that you mistake that for depression.” I thought I was depressed - you know when you're fretting, but really it was over something. The television will tell you that that's depression, but that isn't depression that's having problems and being stressed out about it. It's not depression, but people mistake those two things. A pill can't cure that in the first place. It can only make you buzz or make you think, or whatever. So since then, I don't know that I've been depressed. I have problems and I just have to deal with them.
I've always liked the title “Thank God for Mental Illness”…
Isn't that great?
I always wondered: is there a meaning behind it?
Because everybody my whole life said “You're insane”. and I'm blessed with my life, right? So, I was like: “Thank God”.
Because it makes you creative?
Well, whatever. If you say I'm crazy, Well, Thank God. I'm not worried about being downsized, outsourced, any of it. So, that's what that was about. Thank God for that.
Your mindset is quite different to other people, so how do you relate to other people in that regard?
Yeah, but I like it that way. Originally, when I was a little kid, I felt that I couldn't really compete or measure up how other people were effortlessly doing things - popular or good-looking or whatever it was, you know. I didn't measure up. So I redefined the rules - so that I felt comfortable with myself. I made my own world. I decided what was expected of me, how I should relate civically within my own world. And then I guess the rest of the survival instincts. Instead of being a punk rocker, having a studded jacket, and some kind of crazy hair, I learnt to be really non-descript, non-grammatic, not about an image, just go about my business. Urban camouflage - that it what it's called, actually.
You just said other people regard you as insane. How do you feel about how people perceive you in that way?
It doesn't really matter to me, because the world is absolutely nuts, isn't it? Everything is completely out of perspective, isn't it? The city of London - anybody would be hard pushed to rebuild this hotel; it would cost you billions of dollars to do anything. People make billions of dollars. Everybody that works at Goldman Sachs has got a million quid. Happy holidays. For ethereal things. But in pressing a button, and screwing everybody on a percentage rate, holding off on compensating people and all that stuff. But you couldn't build another Buckingham Palace to a level of quality unless you had billions of dollars now. People are making billion dollar bonuses, then Mercedes and Rolls Royces should be: “Okay, fine. This car is four billion dollars, then.” They're gonna have to re-equate it. Everything's ridiculous. We could go on with perspectives. Really quickly: the mayor of New York, the Mayor Bloomberg just changed the constitution of the city to allow him to get re-elected and spent $143million of his own money for a job that only pays $1.2million a year. What's going on there, when America only puts in $100million dollars for Haitian release? 311million people could only get it together to give $100million when this guy is putting $143million in to his job that only pays a million a year? What's gong on there? What's not being said? Right? Who gives a shit who I am or what people think of me. There's a lot of people that are hungry, there's a lot of important things. I'm okay. I'm sorry. Not to snap at you.
Do you think you'd ever write an autobiography, though?
I'd just like to write books. I don't think it's important to say my case. Jordan, going on “I'm a Celebrity Get me out Of Here”? Win the British people over to my perspective?
Would you ever write about your life, I mean?
Maybe. But right now, I'm busy living it, you know.
How would you like to be remembered?
I would be happy if I were just remembered at all.
Do you feel mortal? Do you feel life is short or time is running out?
But who would want to be young right now? You're missing out on partying with Jedward?
Do you feel there is a limited amount of time to get your ideas out?
No. I'm kind of excited. Me and my friend from Iceland are gonna do some art, some multimedia art. I'm kind of excited. I look at people on these shows and stuff, and it looks like their time is running out. I'm still motivated to do interesting things. I mean, whether it's your style or not, I'm not taking up anybody's space. With this record, I think it's interesting in its own right. It's a unique thing. I like it. It's not all I am. I'm not copying anybody else at all…
Although, you said you took those drumbeats?
That's not copying. What's house music? Going “Boom boom boom”. That's not the emphasis. All music is four/four - I'm not using four/four. Everybody else is exactly the same. Listen to the radio for one minute - everything is exactly the same.
You said you had the Youtube videos up and played along to it…
I just had the drummer play the drums. Well, what do you think anybody else did? It's mathematics - it's like saying, “Well, you should come up with a new way of adding two plus two.” music is geometry and logic, it's numbers. There's so many numbers. And I already do that. I make up my own tunings. That's already eliminated… You can't go into a studio and make an album like I just made. Very few people… There's not a pedal for the sound that you can step on. Its something I made up. I set 'Let's Go Fucking Mental', a footie chant to a tune. Go on Youtube: listen to all the different versions, renditions of that song. I set it to music. Millions of people sing that or know that, from footie matches. I am the only person that has set it to a tune that's worth - I made that up. that's pretty clever. We'll see what the Chelsea fans think. It's a street culture phenomenon - I own this now. It's kind of funny.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre's tenth album Who Killed Sgt. Pepper? is due on February 23rd