ROCK The Jon Spencer Blues
Explosion Glasgow: The Garage, Tue 20 Apr.
Jon Spencer describes his songs as ’a shock of energy, just kinda like an electric spasm.’ He isn’t lying. With Blues Explosion compadres Russel Simins (drums) and Judah Bauer (second guitarist), New York-based Spencer has been testifying to the thrilling, whiskey-swilling power of rock ’n’ roll for eight years. Their sound is a cacophonous amalgam of hardcore punk riffs, down and dirty blues, West Coast keyboard licks and sleazy, sweaty soul.
Over the years, they’ve worked with soul legend Rufus Thomas, hip hop kings Wu-Tang Clan and RL Burnside, enigmatic bluesman extraordinaire. Fittingly for a band used to celebrity collaborations, the video for recent single ’Talk About The Blues’ features a trio of film stars playing the band. Giovanni Ribisi (Saving Private Ryan) is Bauer, John Reilly (Boogie Nights) is Simins, while Winona Ryder does a mean Jon Spencer impression. Disappointingly for such a vociferously anti-establishment outfit, the band had nothing to do
with the casting.
’It wasn't my choice for Winona,’ drawls Spencer. ’But I wanted a woman, so the director asked her to do it. I’ve never even met Winona Ryder, but I’d like to believe that she’s a fan of the Blues Explosion.’
Doubtless she is, for in their originality and attitude, the band are the quintessence of cool. They eschew convention, instead using their myriad influences to create music for themselves. Spencer is emphatic about the clearly demarcated roles within the band.
’Judah is a very serious musician, Russell is a larger than life socialite and me? Hell, I’m just very handsome,’ he jokes. ’But we share a musical language, an ESP, and that bond was clear from the start.’
For a control freak and a notorious musical dictator,
Flaming groovies: Sebadoh
’Flame’ on Top Of The Pops in January.
Ryder on the storm: Winona in the 'Talk About The Blues’ video
Spencer can be surprisingly humble. His speech is ridden with pauses and insecurity and he readily admits to having a stage persona: ’I know that I behave differently on stage than with the grocer, but I don’t lay awake at night worrying about the difference. I guess it's all part of me and who‘s to say which is more real? There’s room for us both.’
Eventually, Spencer would like to head for Nashville and make a country record. For now though, he’s content to tour Europe, imparting his own brand of music, his blues with a fuse. 'lt’s just about release, y'know?’ he offers. ’About shakin’ your ass.’
Sebadon's relationship with the press has always been strange. As one of the world's finest writers of twisted love songs, Lou Barlow interwev-rs are more like open-heart surgery than journalism Barlow, however, remains philosophical whatever is \‘rritten about him
your secrets to people if they can pull it
thing. rock 'n' roll is dead — ptano' I make it up each time, which can be really embarrassing But i think it’s important to be embarrassed.’
For sure. Not that he has much to be embarrassed about After all, he
'You shoot from the hip, yOu give
out of you I’m not into the sOundbite 3
Sebadoh Glasgow: 92, Thu 29 Apr.
If it’s the low down on Lo-ti Lou you're after or merely the secret of how to unbreak that achey heart, The List regrets to inform that you're barking up the wrong Sebadoh interView.
You are perhaps already familiar with Sebadoh frontman, Lou Barlow, cast variously as the Godfather of DIY Pop or the Last Of The True Romantics. Maybe you saw him performing ace Northern Spur meets alt rock single,
40 THE usr rs-29 Apr l999
But how about the garrulous Barlow who embraces jungle and pays equal homage to Black Sabbath and Hank Williams. Wouldn’t you like to meet that guy?
’Drum & bass and all that crazy beat stuff can be married to folk music at some pomt, but it totally hasn't happened successfully yet,’ he says 'l've never heard anything that made me think Otherwrse | read about it in the press and it sOunds amazing, but when I buy it I discover it's the most stilted piece of bullshit l‘ve ever heard.’
taught Michael Stipe everything he knows. An ironic Barlow explains
'I saw this iriterView with REM talking about the new tour and how they didn't even know what instruments they were going to play Anything could happen C'mon' They're doing it Sebadoh style and they don't even know it That’s the beautiful thing Our production has always been so horrible, they never bothered listening to our records but we've seeped into them I find rt very encouraging ' (Rodger Evans)
4—? Personal Stereo
This issue: Suzi Quatro
What was the last record you listened to?
Bryan Adams' greatest hits.
What was the last album you bought?
Celine Dion's. I love her vorc‘e.
Name a great new band you've discovered?
I've been working too hard to go to any shows.
Name a song that's an unrecognized classic?
'Rosie’ by Jackson Browne and Bob Dylan’s 'To Show My Love For You’. Which artist first made you want to make music?
Name a song you wish you'd written? Frank Sinatra‘s ’One More For The Road'.
As a teenager, which posters did you have on your wall?
Dr Ben Casey, a TV doctor played by Vince Edwards. Oh yes, and Bob Dylan. In the film of your life, what's playing over the closing credits?
'Que Sera Sera' by Doris Day.
Which of your own songs is your favourite?
‘Devil Gate Drive’
Name a band or artist who has influenced you that people might be surprised by?
Name a non-musical influence on your music?
Romances bad and good.
Who would be on your dream Top Of The Pops?
Eivrs Presley, Otis Redding, Nat King Coie, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin,
lat kson Browne, The Temptations, Dion and The Belrnonts,
What do you play when you're in the mood for sweet lovin'?
Nat Kllifj Cole or Frank Sinatra
What do you listen to when you're getting ready to go out?
Anything on Motown.
What do you sing in the shower?
Who would you be on Stars In Their Eyes?
Billie ‘rloiiaay or Otis Redding, believe it or not
Suzi Quatro plays as part of the Glitz, B/rt/ (\)' '/'Os‘ Hrt/ tour at Edinburgh Festival Theatre, VII/0U 28 Apr, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Fri 30 Apr,