Sonic: “When we started our ambition was just to put out a record as it is for most bands. Of course, once you get your first record out it’s very easy to get into this repetitive recording/album/tour, etc… There’s all this terribly creative people who live a very monotonous life. It’s kinda of a real blank canvas to work on. Gigs and meeting people all over the world have probably been high points. Our original dictum was taking drugs to make music and the best was to get a response back from fans saying that they had enjoyed it. Greg Shaw (Bomp rds) is not sure if ‘Pet Sounds’ (Beach Boys) or ‘Transparent Radiation’ is his favourite. ‘Pet Sounds’ has always been one of my favourite records; for someone else to think of our records next to ‘Pet Sounds’ means a lot to me!”
Rugby was a comfortable base for the Spacemen 3 to start from. It was very central, no town would be too far for them to play. It had its pros and cons, so did their music back in 82-85…
S: “When we signed our first deal in 85 our music was totally unacceptable. It was hard to get gigs, and our early reviews were bad. Now there’s lots of bands aping us but no one was doing that in 82. We’ve been going on as long as Sonic Youth and have been in some ways as innovative as them but in the UK they don’t recognise us like them!”
Sniffin’ Rock: Do you think that indie labels are an essential part of the music industry and that it is a natural progression for a band to start on an indie and then step onto a major?
S: “Most indie labels run exactly the same as the majors, they just don’t have the money! That’s why I’m starting an indie label: if the bands stay on the label they get 50% of the profits, it they leave they can take 55% ‘cos I don’t need any of that money to put it back into the next record. I’m trying to do a label where the bands want to stay on it. I don’t see any proper indie labels that are needed for bands to put out a record and start getting a bit of interest before they sign a big money deal. Indie labels signing bands for 8 albums that’s a lot of years gone! How long has it taken Suicide to put out their third album! One by one record deals are better so they can show people with money that they’re worth signing.”
You can beat the odds but you can’t beat the Spacemen 3. The buzz around the band has always been present, whether victim or master of the odds. The Spacemen 3 drone has a long-lasting effect feedback that is still ringing in both punters’ and various bands’ ears.
S: “There’s a lot of bands that have heard us and said: “Hey, we can work around that” in the same way that we heard the Velvet Underground and thought that we could take it one step further. These bands try to take it one step sideways, further or backwards.”
SR: What is so essential in the music you play that it deeply influences lots of other bands?
S: “It’s all to do with the sound that captures feelings. Each of the songs was inspired by a feeling they were meant to convey. Also it’s very hypnotic and minimal; every track has a drone all the way through it. Finding the lowest common denominator that goes all the way through it has always been my speciality!”
SR: Would you consider using your drone in an acid house way?
S: “On this new LP I’ve been applying the acid house type drumbeat to a Spacemen 3 song. Taking a drone-type riff and putting a real strong beat with it is a field I’ve never really worked in, we’ve always had quite a drumless feel. But I’m a big fan of the Happy Mondays, there’s so many parallels between their music and ours and also what they sing about, like for instance drug experiences. I think that lyrics are here to reinforce the feeling. You can’t say definite things without lyrics. You can get into very strong and definite moods but you have to finalise it with words.”
SR: How minimal could you get?
S: “I’ve been as minimal as I could get on my solo album! I can get it back and forth but I’m always working within that area. I had a lot of songs and I wanted to work with other musicians on some of them. I kept a lot of good stuff for the Spacemen 3 LP and I put all the sad songs on my solo album ‘cos I wanted the new Spacemen 3 release to have a good up vibe.
“I think the music of the 90’s is going to be a crossover with a beat. The 90’s are going to be wild, it’s going to be a big party comparing to the 80’s which were dull and oppressive.”
Still, the Spacemen 3 were a success story in the 80’s, drawing out the expectations out of “bored and oppressed” kids and making it into a revolving dream. Are we going to be kicking out the jams in the 90’s then, brothers and sisters?