November 1988 – OffBEAT 3

Space Is Ace

Spacemen 3 want to start a revolution and they want to start by torching the OffBEAT offices. When I meet Sonic at Fire records (the label they recently defected to from Glass), he snatches up a copy of the last issue and points to Mystic Madge’s horoscope page “you’ll be disillusioned this month… you mean you really thought Spacemen 3 wouldn’t sell out? What’s that about? Have we really sold out? What do they mean? I can see if you really have Spacemen 3 and read that, you’d get a real kick out of it…”

Sonic is massively over-reacting to this flippant piece of nonsense and it’s not the first time. He was similarly incensed when a few months ago Peelie played their 20 minute interpretation of the 13th Floor Elevators’ Roller Coaster. After the first three minutes he put on another record then returned to Roller Coaster for a further three minutes and so on until the end of the record. Sonic thought they were being ridiculed so wrote him a stinking letter about how crap Peel’s show’s been the last few years.

Righteous indignation or dope-fuelled paranoia? Their very name suggests a bunch of drug-addled delinquents and they do produce a fiercely hypnotic slowly-evolving sound that can work to great effect, especially in their live shows. Their forthcoming LP, Playing With Fire, includes stage favourite Suicide, a tribute to the influential New York electronic duo, that tangibly demonstrates their live brilliance. But some tracks fail to work at all. I can’t imagine anyone even listening to How Does It Feel unless they were languishing in some semi-comatose drug-induced miasma. It’s like listening to a tap drip.

“Frankly that is just for listening to… I’ve never listened to it straight, never. But then again, I haven’t listened to any music in the last eight years when I’ve not been stoned, it’s quite an alien concept. We are making it for people who aren’t straight and if they can get into it when they aren’t straight then that’s brilliant.”

This is quite typical of Spacemen 3’s couldn’t give a toss attitude. It’s as if they go into the studio, jam for days on end, then dash off some words to go over the best 20 minutes so they don’t sound too much like Vangelis.

It’s hard to think of Spacemen 3 as revolutionaries yet they’ve got a single called Revolution just released, tieing neatly with the theme of their favourite new music magazine. What’s Revolution about?

“Shit! Oh shit, how many hours have we wasted in the studio? It’s about wanting to see a change, not people running around in the street with machine guns, it’s a resolution as much as a revolution, not bombs and hand grenades and Nicaragua, just a change and a dramatic change. Nothings going to happen overnight, it never did but we’re just voicing a discontent with society and the way it is and the way it affects us and also seeing there’s a lot of people that feel the same way.

“There’s something needed to shake up the whole system and that’s what I’m saying, ‘I suggest it’s about time…’, it’s giving people a prod. It shouldn’t have to be chic to use ozone friendly anti-perspirants but it is. Everyone should use ozone friendly anti-perspirants. It shouldn’t be a choice ‘do you want to look after the atmosphere or do you want to destroy it?’, you have to look after the atmosphere, it’s one of those situations where people shouldn’t be allowed the freedom of choice and a lot of situations like would you like to smoke a joint, something where people should have the freedom of choice. They haven’t. That’s where we need a revolution.”

Vachel Booth

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