Anton Newcombe - His Bloody UndergroundWritten by Dean Cavanagh
What I want to do is enter the popular lexicon. Like Jimi Hendrix. That's my goal. Not to sell soap. Not to say, 'Look like me, dress like me, sound like me.' Not to get a supermodel girlfriend. None of that shit. I want people to come away from what I'm doing and look at it as a gift. - Anton Newcombe
I haven’t wrote about music since the last century. 1997 was the year I stopped writing for the NME, Melody Maker and i-d and started concentrating on screenplays with my partner in crime Irvine Welsh. I couldn’t imagine putting digits to keyboards to rhapsodize about music ever again. Contemporary music was boring me to distraction and I threw myself back into the Northern Soul, Garage Rock, Reggae, Punk and Psychedelia of a bygone age. And then...well then I found The Brianjonestown Massacre and the mercury started to rise again. Scrub that! It shattered the fucking thermometer!
Anton Newcombe is The Brianjonestown Massacre and The Brianjonestown Massacre is Anton Newcombe. Fundamentally a cosmic one man band; many orbit the dogstar Newcombe, few land and stay. The Brianjonestown Massacre is an energy that defies definition and exists in a kind of Schroedinger’s Cat universe: dead and alive at the same time and tuning in to the medium of rock & roll to communicate.
You know why Guns n' Roses aren't a good band? Because no black people listen to them. - Anton Newcombe
Anton Newcombe is a dying breed. He is quite simply a genius. The fact that he isn’t recognized as one by the masses is indicative of a mediaocrity that celebrates the passive, the half hearted and the artificial. You want truth, brutality, beauty and passion? You get it in spades in Anton’s music.
In Their Satanic Majesties’ Second Request, Thank God For Mental Illness, Strung Out In Heaven or the most recent My Bloody Underground, Newcombe has proved the ability to disseminate the magical elements of rock & roll, mix them with his artistry and produce idiosyncratic masterpieces that sound like nothing else out there. A funk of despair here, a roll of euphoria there, highs, lows, mainlines and flatlines, Newcombe’s albums take you on journeys that only truly reach their destination once they’ve been tattooed onto your grey matter. Everything makes sense once you’ve let them become part of your psyche. If this sounds “dramatic”, it’s meant to.
Interviewer: Is it important for you to be understood?
Anton: That would depend on the context of your question. If I was speaking to a doctor, for instance, and describing a medical condition, I would surely want to be understood. On the other hand, if I was creating a secret code, depending on the situation, then I would hope that certain people would not understand anything
Newcombe lays out the corpse of Robert Johnson, gets busy with the scalpel and searches for the place where Johnson’s soul once resided before he sold it to Beelzebub at The Crossroads. Anton’s the avatar of 21st Century Schizoid rock & roll. He’s forever sculpting the metal and making new shapes and sizes out an archetypal template forged by the Delta Bluesmen. The Brianjonestown Massacre music is art wrought from the collective consciousness and it speaks directly to your heart and mind.
Anton Newcombe the man is notoriously outspoken, individualistic, pioneering and driven. A legend has built up around him that could be built on truths, half truths or downright lies for all I care. It’s not important. What’s important is the picture I build in my head of the man when I listen to his music. What’s important is the connection. What’s important is that my rock & rollers deliver. I like my rock & rollers to be shrouded in mystery, disinformation and dichotomy. I want them to be unpredictable, savage and fascinating. I don’t want them to try and save the world, feed the hungry or pontificate on the political climate because I want them to be honest with me. I want my rock & rollers to make music that can’t be made by anybody else but them -- music that makes you feel a little less alienated -- music that ultimately lays bare the soul of its creator...in Anton Newcombe we have a creator of music who puts truth before anything else. Do yourself a favour and (re)discover his work.
©Words – Dean Cavanagh/ ZANI