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Interview

The Brian Jonestown Massacre 

Anton Newcombe Interview

added: 13 Feb 2013
interviewed by: Tadgh Shiels

The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Anton Newcombe Interview - Printable version
Many artists and bands claim to have an eclectic range of influences and many use this to create music involving unusual or innovative fusions of genre. Others fail miserably in deviating from their signature style while attempting to incorporate divergent influences. However few can claim to have covered as much ground sonically and with such great success and ease as the nonchalantly arrogant leader of American band The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

In a career spanning over twenty-five years and twelve full-length albums Anton Newcombe has forged a unique place within underground American music, blurring the boundaries between noise rock, psychedelia, electronica, folk and world music. Since the band’s inception in 1988 it has undergone many changes of musicians, with Newcombe remaining the sole original member for many periods throughout the band’s existence. Anton recently took some time out to talk to music-news.com about his philosophy of music creation.

“I try and explore how I feel at any given moment musically speaking, tap into my perception of the vibration or colour mood of the moment,” said Newcombe, 45. “I view it as conceptual art as I compose and produce, performance art as we play for people together, and as spiritual meditation and work.”

“I honestly think that people have not heard every single thing I have to offer idea-wise; not even close,” he added.

However, despite this self-proclaimed myriad of ideas, when asked why such a diverse range of material worked on the bands latest album, Aufheben, he replied: “I could get heavy and tell you I used Mozart’s masonic golden ration while smoking weird f**king Chinese insects or something…You don't really need to know how something works to enjoy it, right?”

Over the last decade electronica has been an area of musical exploration which has become more prevalent within the band’s music. However Anton sees electronic instruments such as synthesisers as just another means of expressing his ideas which has always been present in his music. “I’ve always used a synth as an instrument as a part of the studio or group...as Phil Spector or Brian Wilson played in the studio to express their vision,” he said. “It's been there non-stop except when I present acoustic ideas. Otherwise organs and Korgs and Moogs figure into the mix.”

In recent years Newcombe has taken to recording away from his native America and has recorded in locations such as Iceland and Germany, where he currently lives and owns a studio. “I like writing and recording music anywhere...Iceland is beautiful and I love my friends very much,” he explained. “I was living for several years in New York, but did not record very much at all. Maybe I was too drunk - who knows.”

In 2004 The Brian Jonestown Massacre were the subject, along with The Dandy Warhols, of the controversial documentary “Dig!”. As a result Anton came to be viewed as unstable, drug-addled and bent on self-destruction. However many claim that the film is an unfair portrayal of the band and Anton has now even given up alcohol [1][2]. However when I asked if there has been a negative stigma since the film he responds simply: “not really...no.”

Newcombe also seems reluctant to express how he has developed as a musician, and why his music is important, saying that it’s “too soon to comment on what any of it means”, but promising “many splendid things” in the future.

“I am grateful for everything I have including a connection with others through music,” he added.

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