The Brian Jonestown Massacreleadered by Anton Newcombe, was born in the ’90s in San Francisco. Since they emerged, they raised a proposal that drew attention: in an era in which grunge emerged with force, with Nirvanaor Britpop, with bands like Oasis, they set out to resume the spirit of the ’60s and ’70s focused on the beginnings of The Rolling Stones y de la Velvet Underground. Those sounds intervened by Newcombe and a sonic aesthetic of the time are the combo that engendered The Brian Jonestown Massacre, which 30 years later released a new album and ranks among the best among its more than 20 albums. With this in april they will give a show in Argentina.
The name of the band plays with two things, on the one hand, the name of Brian Jones, the late guitarist of The Rolling Stones, and the “Jonestown Tragedy”, in which a religious sect killed more than 900 people in Jonestown, a city in Guyana. It could be thought that there is a “vintage” aspiration in the imagination of Newcombe who this year released an album titled “The future is your past” (The future is your past), but the creator himself told PROFILE the reason for that name.
The composition of a large part of the songs in “The future…” occurred during the pandemic that Anton Newcombe went through with his youngest son, then seven years old. “He had all kinds of quips, and among them came the idea of ’The future is the past,’” Newcombe explained. On the cover of the album, a medieval knight on his horse is illustrated on the one hand and on the other a kind of war truck and, according to the leader of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, it was a way of posing an endless combat that now even refloats the idea of a possible atomic bomb.
“But when you think of children, and in their way of reflecting, they just want to have fun and for people to be happy and it seems so simple to me”, analyzed the artist who based the baptism of his album on these elementary and powerful ideas: “In that sense the future really is your past.”. The horizon is not to lose that primary sensitivity and those desires for well-being for oneself and others.
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At this point in a life lived intensely Newcombe says: “I feel very lucky and blessed; in many ways i was as stubborn as a mule, because i did what i had to do and i worked hard. I don’t know where it’s coming from, I don’t know if it’s brain damage, mental illness or something I saw on TV or on a hippie poster when I was a kid, but I feel really blessed because I love making music and caring about people,” he stressed.. “I enjoy that we are there, together,” she emphasized.
Say! the documentary that kept track of the band for 7 years
In 2004 the documentary was released Dig! of Ondi Timoner that filmed The Brian Jonestown Massacre for 7 years – from 1989 to 1995 – and he did the same with another band of that time: The Dandy Warhols. The film received many awards for being the testimony of an era and for creating a kind of factual debate between succumbing or not to the laws of the music industry. However, as a kind of fable, the story seems to leave a moral that leaves Anton Newcombe in a not so pleasant position.
The complete film can be seen on Youtube and shows how both bands advance on a joint path until The Dandy Warhols launches in search of a hit and makes video clips to reach MTV, while Newcombe and his crew despise this “sale” of the art andsand plunge deeper into heroin and self-destruction. There are no winners at the end of the film, but in the dichotomy posed, some seem to be the rational ones and the other the lost psychedelics.
The film record of the moment, the degree of intimacy achieved by the filmmaker make the material a very valuable work as a testimony. It also includes very complex parts of Anton Newcombe’s private life such as a distant mother or overwhelmed by the behavior of her son and a father who decides to commit suicide on the musician’s birthday. A combo that can stagger anyone.
The future is your past
Between the date of the end of the documentary and an almost 3-hour recital uploaded to Youtube from the Nox Orae festival in Switzerland last year there is an abyss in which Anton and his group went through a sieve that allowed The BJM to achieve a polished sound, without losing its rough origin, but thickened by the years. That young wine mutated into a liquor for fine palates. And rockers.
“The future is your past” is an album to wake up: “Give everything you have, that’s the only way to live”, warns Newcombe in the song that opens the album: “Do rainbows have ends?”. “But I also want to be clear, I don’t mean ‘let’s get high’ or things like that, I’m not that kind of person. I think I care about people”, Anton Newcombe clarified from his house in Berlin where he hopes to start the tour.
Creation according to Anton Newcombe
“When I compose I don’t think too much, everything comes from my heart and, first of all, it’s for me, to remind me of me, “said Anton Newcombe. “There is a time for everything, a time to escape from a burning house and a time to mourn for things lost, it’s simple,” he recounted. “There is a moment when you have to be tough, like at a funeral, you have to try to be strong for your family and the people you love and then there is time to grieve and you have to focus on those things,” he analyzed. “If you tell the truth, you will find people, if you stay true to yourself, you will find the right place.he mused.
-What do you think is the difference between composing at 20 and now, 30 years later?
-Well, at first I thought “wow, people are going to go crazy with this idea” and it never happened the way I imagined, but, at the same time, I could go play a concert with all the songs from the early days of my band and people wouldn’t say “well this is 1990’s music”, on the contrary, they love it. I feel like I’m working on something very strange, on something out of time, which is the opposite of considering doing something for now, for right now.
-How is this tour planned?
– I’m excited to play because, on the one hand, I never tried to make a perfect recording, perfect records, correct mistakes. I don’t try twice actually. I don’t even think about it, but for live music, I try very hard to get it right. Sometimes the audience is surprised that I yell at a band member or ask someone in the audience to shut up, but I want it to be the best for everyone.
Fans of The Brian Jonestown Massacre treasure the band’s 2016 visit that played four hours at Niceto Club. This time “it will be better”, promises Anton. On April 18 at the Art Media Complex, the band will present their new album, but they will also review their long musical history.
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