Last week I had the distinct pleasure of being hung up on by notoriously shcizo rockstar Bobby Gillespie, frontman of legendary Scottish band Primal Scream – a music journalist right of passage if there ever was one. It’s the equivalent of having your ear bitten off by Mike Tyson if you’re a boxer, or a pair of panties (or lack there of) flashed at you by Britney Spears if you’re a paparazzo. Here’s how the interview (or lack there of) went.
Hello. How’s it going?
– Ah-ray-ht. Ray-ht. Fay-hn.
Okay, do you like doing interviews?
– Yeah. Duh-yu? Ah would-knee fahkin be he-ur uf ah dhudn’t.
What’s the one question you always get asked that really irritates you?
– I can-knee remhaym-bur, ahm ah werk-her, ah just kah-rea ohn.
“You-siff, I’m sorry, but you’re gonna have to keep the interview music-related,” a pretty-sounding English accent interjected…
– Yeah. In-tah-vew terrum-inehted… *click*
And that was that… Welcome to the weird world of Bobby Gillespie.
“If we got horrendously rich and fucked up and died then I suppose that might have stopped us, but we’ve still got a hunger in us.” – Bobby Gillespie.
Along with the likes of The Stone Roses, New Order, and Happy Mondays, Primal Scream are British rock royalty – the kind of “drug rock” band that features on soundtracks like Trainspotting and Human Traffic. And this month, the aging rock band released their ninth studio album, Beautiful Future, and Gillespie is up to his usual short-fuse, explosive-personality, sales-increasing antics.
Click here to watch the official video for Primal
In 1986, forced to choose by his The Jesus and Mary Chain bandmates, Gillespie quit playing the most minimal drum-kit in the world and chose frontman of Primal Scream, the band he’d started in 1982. Over the years, the experimental Scottish rockers fused dance, punk, indie, and good ‘ol fashion sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, and have become true icons of British rock.
Primal Scream started out playing punk-inspired indie rock, but soon developed a taste for acid house music, raves, dodgy sunglasses, psychedelia, and doing copious amounts of drugs. In 1991, under the influence, the band released their seminal, and most revered album, Screamadelica – for all concerned, Primal Scream’s finest moments. That, and XTRMTR (2000).
Click here to watch Primal Scream playing
It’s been a wild two and a half decades for The Scream. And along the way, Gillespie has had a series of well-documented blowouts. He’s outspoken to an absurd degree: to the point of being a character. A rebel. An oddball. An impatient drug addict with a tendency to fly off the handle. And even though he was a rude c**t on the phone, in a world saturated by boring musicians, I love his unpredictability.
Perhaps Gillespie’s most celebrated outburst is his 2005 display at the Glastonbury Festival. According to reports, Primal Scream were called in at the last minute to replace Kylie Minogue. And during the show, Gillespie was said to have been “playfully abusive”. Even going as far as making Nazi salutes, and saying “we’re a punk rock band and you’re a bunch of fucking hippies” to the crowd. Hysterically, when ex-Stone Roses bassist Gary “Mani” Mounfield started up a Stone Roses bass line, and the crowd cheered, Gillespie added “Do you want to hear the Stone Roses? Well you should have been here fifteen years ago, you lazy bastards” and “Coldplay are the reason Radiohead are so miserable.” The band were eventually forcibly removed from the stage, after blasting through a reportedly fierce set. Asked afterwards why he’d behaved like such a nutter, Gillespie replied, “Some fucking hippy stole all my ale.” All in a night’s work.
On June 7, a few weeks before my scheduled and rescheduled, and eventually aborted interview, Gillespie did a phone interview with UK DJ and TV personality Lauren Laverne that ended with him shouting “mind your own fucking business”, and slamming the phone down on her. The guy’s a kook. An Iggy Pop-like whirlwind persona. A genuine rock ‘n roller.
By all accounts, Beautiful Future is Primal Scream’s take on a pop album. It’s softer, and more straightforward than usual, yet still straddles genres without a care in the world, and has that distinct Primal Scream, driving bass guitar, we’re-gonna-have-a-good-time-tonight-no-matter-what sound. It’s by no means their best work, and there’s only one track that really jumped out at me: track one, “Beautiful Future” – and that went on too long. I quite like the single though.
Primal Scream are no fools. They’ve been in the game long enough to spot the talent. And production on Beautiful Future was handled by Björn Yttling, of Peter, Björn and John fame, and Paul Epworth, who produced Bloc Party’s 2004 classic, Silent Alarm. Which gives the album a washy modern sound, yet still maintains the fuzzy rock, bass heavy, Gillespie purging sound of old.
It’s an album that’s going to fly over a bunch of young peoples’ heads, but for the die hards, Beautiful Future is a solid effort that won’t dissapoint. I can’t really see myself popping it back in the CD player anytime soon though.