Airport, car, dressing room, stage, hotel, repeat. Life on the road can be gruelling and mind-numbing at the best of times, and it seems only the most fiercely prolific of artists can curb the boredom of travel and be creative in seemingly uninspiring conditions.
The 176 page work, titled The Sick Bag Song, is described by the singer as sitting somewhere between The Wasteland and Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. It is available via Canongate from April 8th via thesickbagsong.com only.
Watch the trailer for The Sick Bag Song below and return to Cave’s website over the coming weeks to watch five short films, produced by the film makers of 20,000 Days On Earth, in celebration of the book.
The Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends
It’s been a while since The Flaming Lips seemed absolutely vital. Probably the last time they could have been considered essential listening was back when Yoshimi was battling those evil robots. Some might argue that The Soft Bulletin was the high point, and others might even dig further back to Clouds Taste Metallic or …Satellite Heart. Whatever, it’s fair to say that Coyne and chums have been a little off the boil of late. Embryonic was a move towards a filthier, darker, more overdriven sound, and although it might not have been a grand success, it did seem as if The Lips were getting back on track.
Heady Fwends is probably not the best release by which to judge the state of The Flaming Lips’ collective consciousness, it is after all yet another one of those little diversions that Wayne Coyne seems to like taking his band on.
Discounting Wayne’s own distractions (twitter seems to be taking up a fair amount of his time) the band itself seems to have been content with messing about over the years. There was the Boombox Experiments, the 4xCD lunacy of Zaireeka, the Gummy Skull (with USB inside), and their foray into the world of covers courtesy of their take on Dark Side Of The Moon.
Indeed it is that particular release that rather sets the precedent for Heady Fwends. It too was released for Record Store Day initially, and it featured an occasional guest spot for the likes of Henry Rollins. Taking the guest spot to its logical conclusion, Heady Fwends is an album created by the collaborative efforts of The Lips and whoever they could convince to take part. The overall impression that Heady Fwends gives is that it’s more of a knockabout than a serious attempt at an album. If it’s taken in that spirit, then overall it’s pretty good fun, if slightly flawed.
It all kicks off in suitably wonky fashion with Ke$ha’s effort, 2012 (You Must Be Upgraded) which sounds like Yeah Yeah Yeah’s channelling early Ween – only not quite as good. There are other let downs along the way, the collaboration with Lightning Bolt I’m Working At NASA On Acid should have been a mind bending collision of noise, but when they hit the chaos section it all seems a bit contrived and a missed opportunity. Meanwhile Supermoon Made Me Want To Pee (with Prefuse 73) just seems like an exercise in boredom at the mixing desk. Helping The Retarded To Know God (with Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros) is a bit of a dawdle too with could do with a hefty edit. Not that there aren’t some fine flourishes to be found in the vocal melodies or the heavenly tacked on coda, but it drags quite dramatically.
There are some high points too however (as an aside, Coyne seems at pains to explain just how high/fucked up constantly). Children Of The Moon takes Tame Impala aboard the honking mothership from Close Encounters for a woozy and quite wonderful rustic jam. That Ain’t My Trip (with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James) sounds like an outtake from Embryonic, and is a suitably over-driven bundle through choral chants and earsplitting amp terrorism. The funereal space-scream of Is Bowie Dying? occupies similar territory, combining noise a Twin-Peaks guitar twang and existential dread. Nick Cave turns up and puts in an archetypal Cave performance, for some reason he sounds like an intensely sarcastic David Thomas at times, but it works. Finally, the epic sprawl of the cover of First Time Ever I Saw Your Face is genuinely affecting at times, with the unpleasantness that kicked off between Coyne and Erykah Badu in the wake of that video unable to cast a shadow over it.
So plenty to like, but also a fair few missed opportunities. Hopefully The Flaming Lips will return to concentrating on making music without the distraction of their Fwends for the foreseeable future. The world needs another vital Lips album.
There are so many bands with the word Black in them that are in my record collection thesedays, it’s a joke. The funny thing is though, most of them are all dead good and that includes the likes of Black Mountain, Black Sabbath, Black Lips, The Black Angels, Black Breath, Black Helicopter, Brightblack Morning Light, Black Flag, fuck, I could go on and on here but the point is, after seeing a few links about the web, I clicked into Black Moth’s bandpages and realised within one tune that this latest band with my favourite colour was going to join the elite and get rinsed just as much.
Black Moth’s lead singer, Harriet Bevan answered questions other than what her favourite colour is, so get stuck into discovering another arse-kicking band from the Leeds scene in England who are ripping speakers apart right now with their own fine dose of stoner rock and psych metal.
So, how long has the Moth been Black for?
Black from the womb to the tomb! But our sound really blackened around about 2010 when we ditched our old 60s garage punk band to form this dark, weighty incarnation.
Location wise, where did the Moth first take flight from?
I suppose we bust out of our cocoon in Leeds, but our first flight was with That Fucking Tank in Bradford. Super sweet first gig.
How long did it take the Moth to transform from maggot to winged beast?
Well there’s a grotty little maggot still in each of us but we transform into winged beasts whenever we’re in the same room as each other. We were gradually writing heavier and heavier songs with our last band until we realised it was a fuckload more fun playing the gnarly, riffy stuff live… so within a few months, we’d ditched anything remotely pleasant and the rest is history.
What other band names were in circulation and in the mix before you chose your current band name?
Oh there were some dreadful ones… choosing a name is possibly the most infuriating thing about forming a band. I can’t remember many but I’m sure we toyed with both “Goatsucker” and “Bellend Sebastian.” We went with Black Moth in the end because it sounds badass. The idea is rooted in evolutionary theory of ‘industrial melanism’- where nature gets blacker and blacker in response to pollutants darkening the landscape. I have always loved the imagery of the moth though, particularly in Tennessee Williams’ poem “Lament for the Moths,” where the moths are the artists of the world that are downtrodden by mammoths. Kind of a battle cry to kick against the pricks and all that.
How do you write/rehearse?
We all write together. There’s no band hierarchy. One of us will show up to practice with a riff and we thrash it out and all throw something into the mix.
How many times do you strike a riff together in any given month and just KNOW it’s the best feeling ever?
Honestly, every time we’re in a room together with our instruments. At least once or twice a week. Playing heavy music is best feeling- there is nothing else like it. Whether were rehearsing or playing gigs, its always a lot of fun, and a surprisingly effective hangover cure.
Is there a better feeling than when it all just clicks in a rehearsal room and you thrash the living crap out of a track or riff knowing it’s a monster?
In a word, no. You put the words straight in our mouth there but frankly, why would anyone go through all the ridiculous shit being in a band involves if it wasn’t for addiction? Addiction to that mindblowing feeling when it all comes together. It’s sometimes unbearably frustrating having to wait until a riff is completely crafted into a song before playing it out to people.
What do Jim Sclavunos and Dave Sanderson bring to the band in the studio?
We were completely stoked to have Jim producing our album alongside his studio engineer Dave Sanderson. Their creativity and energy led us to experiment with different sounds with wild abandon, which has led to such an interesting record with multiple textures.
Jim has an enormous wealth of knowledge and experience as a musician (Grinderman and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) as well as a producer. He totally “got” what we were about which is very important. Dave is one of the most talented recording engineers we’ve ever worked with. He really knows his stuff technically as well as musically and this made the whole recording process go smoothly and enjoyably. Couldn’t recommend Dave and 2Fly studios enough.
Are there any instruments on the forthcoming record that you have had to pay more attention to get the right sound you require?
During pre-production we really examined every part of our sound to make sure it was right for the album. But even still when we got into the studio lots of things were revised and changed. I’d say the guitar sound is the thing we played about with most, using different guitar/amp set ups for every song to make sure it sounded chunky as hell whilst complimenting the feel of each individual song.
Who complains the most whilst in the midst of the recording process and who is most chilled?
As a band were pretty chilled in general. We’ve been amazingly resilient in some of the most stressful situations imaginable (E.G. making daisy chains on the side of Das Autobahn next to a royally pooped out van with only a few hours to get to a gig and nobody in the band able to speak German). There’s no stonking great egos in the band to worry about and everyone is down to earth so there was no real complaining. Complaining is never helpful and we’re more than capable of entertaining ourselves in the duller times…
Would you kill for each other?
We would, we could and we have. Quick, next question.
What’s the nastiest thing you have ever done to each other?
Generally we tend not to abuse each other too much. However sometimes whilst on tour after a lot of booze, shit can get ugly. Incidents include our bassist attacking our drummer following a brave attempt to coerce him away from the lamp post where he was provocatively pole dancing for a confused huddle of pensioners. I think he also pushed over an 8 foot goth at a club in London in a rage after she stole a load of our rider… but he apologised about 100 times after. We’re very nice people really… peace out brothers and sisters.
If you had to take out 3 local Leeds bands as part of a life survival test, who would you maim and how would they fall?
I would cut “Cut Yourself in Half” in half, pull “Pulled Apart By Horses” apart using horses, and get my mum to beat the living shit out of “Mother/Destroyer.”
Any of you been arrested?
Dom has a few times for scrapping and cannabis possession as a young scallywag.
Best puke story?
Oh Christ knows we have our fair share of those. Every time I’m face-first in a service station toilet after a gig I wonder if I will ever learn. Probably the most dramatic vomcident was when we had an organist for a brief period. We were playing an totally sweet gig at White Trash Fast Food in Berlin when halfway through the show he had to run as fast as his legs could carry him through the restaurant, sending hotdogs flying, to projectile in the car park. The mess was astounding!
Worst jobs you have had to do to earn a crust so far?
For some of us it has just been the experience of working in an office environment, hunched over a computer, staring at a spreadsheet in an artificially lit room with the blinds down on a sunny day … that’s about as grim as it gets. Dom says it made him want to gouge his eyes out with a spoon. Jim and I used to work at Kwik Save which should have been hell on earth but actually ended up being pretty funny chucking tins of beans at each other and skidding up the aisles on spilt fabric softener – needless to say the store closed soon after.
Best band story to date…
When we were on tour in Europe last year, our van broke down no less than THREE times, yet miraculously we made every single gig. To elaborate on the aforementioned autobahn incident, we we’re eventually picked up by a very confused young punk who didn’t speak a word of English, and by this point we’d watched so much Alan Partridge we weren’t making much sense either. So we had to resort to a phrase book. It wasn’t much help, so we decided to craft our own helpful phrases such as “would you love me more if I was an accountant?” and “please use contraception” which had him in stitches. We ended up getting drunk on Baileys with him in an apocalyptic scrap yard of smashed up cars, while we waited for our taxi to arrive. That’s right, he somehow convinced our insurance company to pay £500 for a taxi to get us to a gig, which we got paid fifty quid for.
The tour culminated in being towed all the way home to Leeds from Dover, but we knew the metal gods were looking out for us when we climbed, weak and battle-weary into the cab of the pick up truck only to find that our third knight in shining reflective gear who rescued us had Ozzy Osbourne on the Sat Nav.
You have 3 records to store before life is wiped out. What 3 records would you put aside and discuss your reasons for the choices.
Purely off the top of our heads because this is an impossible question:
Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath. To us, this is pretty much the most important album ever made. This is the album that started doom, and really paved the way for dark, heavy music to come afterwards.
Electric Wizard – Dopethrone. The heaviest album ever made. Eight tracks of sludgy, skull-crushing horror.
The Stooges – Raw Power. If the previous was the heaviest album ever, then this is probably the filthiest. Brilliant from start to finish. My heart still skips a beat every time I hear the opening chords of ‘Search and Destroy.’ Music to break into a sweat to.
Any of you skateboard?
Jim used to skate. Some of us used to get high down the local skate ramp and we all used to play a lot of Tony Hawk on the Playstation as kids, does that count?!
That’s should do it yeah. What about the local skate scene in Leeds as it’s one of the best in the country. You must know some rippers from around town right?
Well our pal Dougie McLaughlan from Gentlemans Pistols is a bit of a pro I think? And his girl Sami Graystone is a brilliant illustrator who designs for A Third Foot Skateboards. She’s also in a great band called Solid Gold Brass. Gentlemans Pistols are our local heroes. An awesome live band we have had the pleasure of playing with and working with as James Atkinson produced and released our first single with us on High Magick Records.
Dougie rips. Good call on the Pistols, we should have them in here next. Right then, what’s your Top 3 stoner rock bands of all time?
Sleep and Kyuss are the obvious ones for us. Thirdly I’m gonna go for Acid King, simply because Lori S is my kind of lady.
Lastly, let us know when we will expect the long playing Moth record to land in our ears and why the fuck should we buy it?
Our debut album ‘The Killing Jar’, produced by Jim Sclavunos of Grinderman and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds will be released on 7th May through London label, New Heavy Sounds. Here’s a teaser. You should fucking buy it, because its totally fucking gnarly and awesome and you’ve bothered to read this fucking interview so you may as fucking well now, right?!
Look out for Black Moth on the road and note that the first 500 vinyl copies of this album will be a deluxe package with full colour gatefold sleeve and awesome cover illustration by Vania Zouravliov that you can see on this page.
The vinyl will be pressed on 180g heavyweight (natch) transparent white vinyl, with a lyric sheet and a free download of the whole album. Go get it.
Live shows coming up at:
May 04 Sheffield with WET NUNS Audacious Art Experiment
May 05 Live at Leeds Festival
May 06 Camden Crawl, London
May 11 Great Escape Festival, Brighton
May 12 The Windmill, Brixton, London
May 18 Psychomagik at the Shacklewell Arms, New Cross, London
May 19 LEEDS ALBUM LAUNCH PARTY at Santiago’s
Nick Cave has announced his band Grinderman will release a remix album.
Grinderman 2 RMX will feature reworkings of tracks from the Grinderman 2 album bu the likes of Josh Homme, UNKLE, A Place To Bury Strangers and Grinderman themselves amongst others. The album will be released on March 12th through Mute Records. The full tracklisting is below and you can stream the remix to Bellringer Blueshere.
Super Heathen Child (Grinderman/Fripp)
Worm Tamer (A Place to Bury Strangers)
Bellringer Blues (Nick Zinner)
Hyper Worm Tamer (UNKLE)
Mickey Bloody Mouse (Joshua Homme)
When My Baby Comes (Cat’s Eyes with Luke Tristram)
Palaces Of Montezuma (Barry Adamson)
Evil (Silver Alert ft Matt Berninger)
When My Baby Comes (SixToes)
Heathen Child (Andy Weatherall)
Evil (Factory Floor)
First Evil (Grinderman)
Mental breakdowns and crises can occur at any point in an existing person’s lifetime, most commonly when confronted with the concepts of existence, or indeed a limited time in which one can be alive and exist. Shit, I’m constantly surprised that we’re not in a constant state of anxiety-ridden madness, I know I’m flirting with the idea just writing about it. And listening to the latest disc of fuzz-fuelled fantasy and anti-serious garage rock from Nick Cave’s Grinderman project almost tempted me to indulge in a balls-out illicit affair with insanity.
That is not to say that Grinderman is Cave’s outlet to just lose his shit; though shoving on some Roman garb and thrusting lasers at the earth while a wolf circles a girl in a bathtub would almost have you thinking otherwise. And I’m certainly not going green-text imply that The Bad Seeds isn’t the music he truly wants to make. What Grinderman 2 is, is an informed soundtrack of celebration for the natural impulses that linger in our sub-conscious that make us occasionally want to thrust lasers from our dick while wearing armour and shout ‘HERE COME THE WOLFMAN’ while walking into a cinema. It’s the reason why we celebrate Halloween.
Musically, it’s bitter, gorgeous and somehow more sonically expansive then the first collection of impromptu sleazy, visceral rock. Cave’s absurdist saturation of sexual, violent, hilarious lyrics penetrate harder than ever as he scowls on Worm Tamer, ‘My baby calls me the Loch Ness Monster, two great big humps and then I cum’ while the perpetual bass fuzz makes you want to just get up and throw shit. One can only imagine how fun the Grinderman recording sessions are as they surf through high and low culture on an impossibly badass selection of bluesy riffs and guitar noise that can only be made by the monster that lives in the garages of tacky US horror flicks.
So dive in and embrace the wonderful breakdowns that are imminent when listening to one of the most raw albums you’ll hear in 2010. And if you thought your big husband would protect you, YOU WERE WRONG.
Attention reader: you are all to stop what you are doing and watch the new Grinderman video. Even if you aren’t too keen on Nick Cave’s grimey and groovey garage rock troupe you should spare five minutes of your time to enter the batshit insane world of Heathen Child, a video directed by John Hillcoat.
Imagine a topless voodoo dancer, some wolfmen, a wolf, a hair-monster, a dog composer and a gun-totting, lazer shooting Roman warrior version of Cave and his crew collectively taunting an eerie girl in a bath that’s seemingly possesed by a director with ADHD. Now try to pretend you’re not excited to watch it.