With yet another awe-inspiring album to their name and one of the best live shows imaginable, SPIRITUALIZED make the rock’n’roll game look so damn easy. We quiz head honcho Jason Pierce
on just how they do it. littt;t'.t(:.'.' Mark Robertson
Are you looking forward to playing live again?
l'or sute. It‘s where the whole tltittg works at its best. Whatcyer we pttt ill a record is only a tcntlt ol‘ what's going oit iii the room. l.i\e is way more dynamic and electric.
Between Spiritualized and Spacemen 3 before that, you’ve been in bands for over 20 years now. Are you surprised to be still making records today?
I kind ol' knew tltat as lottg as l was arotmd I‘d be doing tltis. ln trutlt. it‘s mote abottt wanting to play liye. ()ne tltittg he always ntade quite clear is w e‘rc not on tour to promote a particular album, w c're on tour because our albttttt pttt tts there attd that‘s the pay back.
It gives you an excuse. Absolutely. It's where everything starts to work attd where there‘s nothing else like tts.
Is that why you went through so many differing line-ups? .\'ot really. as I can‘t lault anytltittg that's happened with the band members as such. it’s tnore abottt getting people to stay the cottrse. We're not gonna cash tltis in. it‘s not going to be an e\ercise in tnoney tnaking. And that doesn‘t agree with eyeryone tttay be.
Throughout both bands you seem to have successfully operated outside of fashion. Are you proud of that?
We hayen‘t done it will'ully saying ‘ll' it’s hip we ain't going there' bttt l tltink tlte tttost important thing is where you‘re coming from attd what you're saying is honest. attd lashion is so ntuclt about people copy ittg other peoples style and outlook and saying ‘lhis is in. this is where it‘s at now?
I think rock'n’roll is about payittg your dttes. being there and going through it. It's not about peeling on a pair ol' leather pants and cotnbing your l'ringe down btit yott catt sell both. In tact. you can probably sell tnore ol' the guy who's jttst pill the trousers on who‘s copying the lltoy es but people see through it eventually. they see the holes lll things. seeing things ain't for real.
Have Spiritualized developed like you imagined it would?
I think yott can see how each record builds on eaclt that has gone below it. I think it's so informed by the making ol' tlte record before it attd we‘re cotttittg to this with tlte knowledge we're not sayittg: ‘()h. we went wrong there so we should strip down or move back‘. It‘s so ttot about that.
I just lose that kind ol~ punk thing where you get a guitar round your neck. hit a single note attd go: luck. this is exciting. this is what I want to do.‘ I like that attitude itt music. it shouldn’t have a snobbery about it that says: 'lhis is high art and you’re not intelligent enough to understand.‘ (ireat music I think just slices through that.
We aim to make nttisic when w c'rc out ol’ control. as wltcn you
get in control its like cabaret. We try attd always operate outside ol
wltere we know we‘re coml'ortable where we know what w e're doing. 'l’hat's the magic ol’ it w hen yott end tip with something that’s outside yottr esjwctations.
You did a CD as prescription drug for Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space and now with Amazing Grace you’ve come up with yet another novel way of packaging an album: three 12” in a box released a week apart with the CD a week later. Why?
Because they‘re lk‘ttttlll‘tll. 'lihis record sotltltls seriously good on \ inyl and also I got this dumb idea that once you drop a needle onto \inyl you know exactly wltat you're doing at that moment in time — listening to music A where hitting play on a (‘1) player eyery 7t) tllllltlles loses the locus it little. More so. l think the lio\ sets are gleat objects to own.
22 THE LIST -'- r»;
You leaked your own album onto the internet didn’t you? [laughs] It was a reaction to people talking about music onto the internet saying: '()h no. ottr record‘s been leaked?‘ It‘s like. lay that on me again'.’ You make masic and it‘s leaked out and now people can ltear it'.’ Where's that at'.’ It's bad it you‘re mum to hoodwink' people. you can driye ottt a couple of great reyiews. throw a lot ol~ money at it and get people to btty it.
'l‘he tnaitt problem is when people ptit high prices on their heads. llow cyery download is Sll) lost cash. So what are they wonlt'.’ $2 Ittilliott‘.’ 5-1 tttilliott'.’ ll‘s otlt of control. I think that is loosely where the idea behind these l3" cattte lrom.
Why would people say this was a garage record?
Because it's being completely obsessed over like everything else I do. Some people has e been saying this record is a garage record bttt it‘s way too elegant to be that. I made a record with Spring Heel Jack earlier this year and their method is to record eyerything. all the incidentals the shul'lling led. the squeaky valves on the trumpet. the lingers on the strings that giyes you a real sense ol' phy sicality ol' someone playing an instrument and that led into this record.
I introduced the songs to the band the day we were going to record them instead so that we could capture the moment in time where they were still expressing every way you could go with the songs. We tried to capture the moment just before they learnt how to play them. When you learned how to do things you learn how to make things easier lot“ yourself. You leartt how not to make mistakes with it attd that’s kind ol'dill'erent.
The music changes when the action becomes automatic. You don‘t have to learn a whole load of other processes to lind ways to make it work. And I just wanted to bring it back to one beautil'ul moment in time before that even kicked in.
During the playback on the day. we weren't listening to hear it their part was good enough or iii time or in tune. We were going 'Jesus! Is that us‘.” because everything was new. It was like 'Hey. I could do this.‘ ttot ‘()h. this is the chorus. I‘d better get ready with my part.' The energy in the sttidio went through the tool. we knew we were getting something down that was unique. that couldn't ever be done with this material again.
It’s like old Robert Johnson or llowlitt' Woll' albums where they stick the mic as close to the action as possible and you get that. It seems to make sense for our music to sound like that at the moment.
You seem content to let the music do the talking. ll. l can.
Is that because of lowest common denominator journalism?
Yeah. and I'm not prepared to sit and talk about families and relationships all the time. I had to lend ol'l' questions about rehabilitation. desperation and looking for solace alter writing a song called "l'he Twelve Steps’. The song was pointing the linger at rehabilitation and this world that says it you've been through it you're allowed to bored everyone about it and wear it like a badge ol’ honour and l lind that so apparent in the lyric. It‘s like talking about the straight and the narrow. People put the story down before they ask the qttestion sometimes.
Is that a product of the growth in celebrity culture?
Yealt. People are being sold the whole musicians as celebrities thing. the idea that they are little more than eoun jesters and of course in some ways that‘s true bttt it’s kind ol‘ not about what‘s going down in the music.
Spiritualized play the Liquid Room, Edinburgh, Thu 1 1 Sep. Amazing Grace is out Mon 8 Sep on Sanctuary.