Good for the soul
E's biography may make harrowing reading, but he wants his band Eels to look on the bright side of life.
Words: Alastair Mabbott
‘1 read one review of our record in America that didn’t like it because it was not harrowing enough. basically . . . I mean. there is a place for harrowing stuff — and I've got a lot of it. I think — but I just didn‘t want to be such a dead end.”
Even if he‘s best known for an anthernic plea to be numbed from the outside world. Top Ten single ‘Novocaine For The Soul'. Mark Everett doesn't like dwelling on the bleak side. Under the foreshortened soubriquet and with his buddies Butch and Tommy in Eels. he only wants to make life-affirming music that spreads a little happiness as it goes by.
Their fine album. Beautiful Freaks. an eccentric but compassionate and poignant one that injects unexpected samples and little MOR touches into the slacker sound of the 90s. has made unlikely stars of the band. Already. they’ve been lumped in with Pavement and Ben Folds Five as some new wave of ‘nerd-rockers‘. And while most bands with any sense would fight against being classed as part of a movement. E disarmineg takes the other tack. ‘I guess I‘m honoured.‘ he laughs. ‘I haven‘t read any of this. so I don‘t know what they're saying. but I‘m honoured if it means we‘re in with smart people. If nerd-rock means smart-rock. I'm okay with that.‘
Since Beautiful Freaks broke big in the US.
46 THE usr 2—15 May 1997
Is it worth trying to take the stigma out of therapy if it’s only going to feed the hip myth of the dysfunctional rock star?-
The Eels: always looking on the bright side of life, perhaps
they've been on tour constantly. By the time Lollapalooza rolls around. they'll have been on the road for a year. And then after that. there are the summer festivals in Europe. No new songs have been written. Everything’s such a rush that compromise is the only option. E‘s looking back wistfully to the pressure—free days when he pumped gas and shovelled horseshit for a living. before the life of a full—time touring rock musician. ‘lt suits me better than any other kind of life. I guess. but ultimately I don’t know if I'm strong enough for it. You have to be pretty strong as a person. you have to have a real foundation within yourself to withstand a lot of the pressure.’
He’s starting to regret the frankness with which he's discussed his troubled life — growing up in an abusive and alcoholic environment. getting into drugs at thirteen. his sister’s suicide — and seems uncertain as to whether it‘s worth trying to do his bit to take the stigma out of therapy if it‘s only going to feed the hip myth of the dysfunctional rock star.
‘I have to be careful with what I do in interviews because I don‘t want it to be that kind of sickening Oprah feeling where you feel like someone's up there selling their pain or something. I never think about it like I‘m marketing something. I've been naive. You hear somebody asking you these questions and you tell them what's going on and then you see it in print and it seems very trivialised. I kind of regret that I’ve been so open in the press. I think I‘m gonna close off a little bit there.‘
Anything can be reduced to a selling point. it seems. ‘Yeah. I don‘t think that confessional music should be thought of as a fad. and I know that it is. To some people. it‘s. “Oh. here's the latest 90s thing. confessional rock.” That’s very sad to tne. If that's trendy. then it‘s a good trend and it should be around forever.‘
Eels play The Barrowland, Glasgow on Fri 2 May.
More rock ’n' roll pearls to ponder during those sleepless nights.
’I can remember, many years ago, throwing the furniture out of my hotel window. It suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t have anything to sit on. Or if you do something stupid like filling the bath with fish. All that means is that it ends up being impossible to have a bath. The first couple of times you do things like that, it seems great fun. But the feeling soon wears off.’
Aerosmith’s Joe Perry relives the glory days when rock stars genuinely believed that the televrsion got a better reception when thrown in the swimming pool.
'A lot of kids try to find out about the gang by writing in, and that’s not the way to do it. You gotta be down. You gotta be a ninja!’
Jill Cun/iff of Luscious Jackson tells you how to get real girl power.
’The tabloids must have so many 3 things saved up on me about drug busts and politics. They did it with The Housemartins — they said we were all gay and had no right to be socialists, because we came from rich families.’
Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, has mixed feelings about hitting the limelight again.
'Blur, much more intelligent band, make much better music, lost out to Oasis. But I think people will get bored with it, all these bands rehashing the past. But if I can make the best record I’ve ever heard then fine, I can go down happy-'
Sci-Fi Steven reckons that the future is bright, the future is 8/5
’60 to Europe and people don't want to know about Blur or Suede. t They want to know about the new electronic bands — people like us, Underworld and The Prodigy. That's what excites them, that's what’s starting to excite the UK and that’s what America will go completely fucking bonkers over eventually.’ Rollo of Faithless reckons that the future Will bleep
’With Take That it was always "the lights”, "the dancing”. No one ever mentioned the music.’
Gary Barlow prepares to change all that With his debut solo album, Open Road,