Anton Newcombe's startling musical proficiency may never overtake his well-engrained Jesus complex. His band, Brian Jonestown Massacre, crams the Rolling Stone's late Eastern-influenced guitarist and the mass death of 914 cult members into a name that perfectly encapsulates its frontman's dichotomy. Newcombe would rather you listen to the musical anthology he and the more than 40 one-time bandmembers have assembled. But his mouth keeps writing checks his music can't cash.
BJM -- the name is a counter to the early '90s influx of one-word shoegazer bands like Ride and Lush -- began as a neo-psychedelic outfit with a garage backbone. From that base, Newcombe's taken the band on byways and highways through country, folk, blues, shoegaze, drone and world music phases, influencing bands like the Warlocks, Beachwood Sparks and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club along the way. His Dylanesque lyrics resonate by being both straightforward and poignant -- take "My face explodes teardrops into tears/And every second I'm not with you/Well it seems like years" from the song "Stars" off 1996's Thank God for Mental Illness.
His music is so compelling that the 2004 Sundance-winning documentary DIG! set out to chronicle the divergent paths of his band and another that he recommended, the Dandy Warhols. What the movie accomplished was to elevate Newcombe to rock infamy. The Dandys became merely a contrast to the drug-addled, prolific and peripatetic context that Newcombe provides. His music proves more accomplished, his antics more grotesque and his aesthetic more compelling than the Dandys'.
BJM has just released a Celtic-inspired psychedelic mini-album titled, in natural Newcombe hyperbole, We Are the Radio. The attention from the film, however, is muting the music. Probably to have some semblance of control, Newcombe is only doing e-mail interviews; for instance, when I asked if he had reaped any increased attention or indirect financial gain from DIG!, he replied, "I nurse myself from the tit of a wild beast." With comments like that, it's unlikely that his music will ever overshadow his press. Here's a collection of noteworthy utterances the profoundly talented -- and opinionated -- Newcombe has let slip over the years.
ANTON ON DIG!:
"What insight did you gain from watching an edit of a film that's a sub-edit? I am not a fucking film. ... That's just one small aspect of a personality, one fucking fingernail in a pantheon of a fist." -- The Guardian (U.K.), 2005
ANTON ON POP CULTURE:
"Look at the covers of fuckin' Walt Disney-owned Rolling Stone. There's Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson. I don't care if I'm not in the paper because I don't know that Chicken of the Sea isn't chicken. ... Or Paris Hilton. Don't you think that if you were a fucking millionaire-heiress-teenager, that if you're gonna make a porno, you could have made a higher-quality one? ... She's still on Fox, so you can literally have some big pigs fucking the shit out of you all over the Internet and still be on TV!" -- Westword, 2004
"What's really funny is all the Vanilla Ice-looking people with the FUBU. They're all, 'Shit, yo! Don't make me bust a cap on your ass!' I'm intrigued by it." -- Free Williamsburg, 2001
ANTON ON THE WHITE STRIPES:
"Honestly, I could give a fucking good god-damn about them or any other band. ... Being obsessed with something as meaningless as say, the life and times of some 'gimmick' pop product would be pethettic [sic]." -- as told to Creative Loafing, 2005
"All these people ... have gotten a lot of notoriety recently with garage stuff -- the Strokes, the White Stripes, all these bands. I wanted to do shit that they aren't capable of doing." -- Massachusetts Daily Collegian, 2003
"There has been a revolution. Do you hear the White Stripes on the fucking radio? There's a big difference, 'cause when I started, it was Pearl Jam. ... I played a part in opening that up." -- DIG!
ANTON ON THE MUSIC BIZ:
"We've taken a brave and egalitarian stance on file sharing in respect to the fact that we have placed all of our music online and for free. 19,000,000 downloads later, think about it." -- as told to CL
"There needs to be an Abraham Lincoln with an emancipation-of-recording artists kind of thing. Everybody gets bought and sold: Take Meat Loaf, who sold 35 million copies of Bat Out of Hell and never made one penny off it. ... The business is set up to screw you over." -- Westword, 2004
"I'm technically not doing anything wrong by sharing music. ... I'm not asking to sue the world for their desire to appreciate art. I'm not asking to sit around like some old fuck in Sweden like Lee Hazelwood and have everyone pay my way everywhere, all the time." -- Vendetta, 2000
ANTON ON HIMSELF:
"I was tested in kindergarten with a 180 IQ and I know that I'm a lot smarter than that, and most of the time I have to basically be focused so that other people can understand what it is that I'm trying to say." -- The Guardian (U.K.), 2005
"I can speak a sentence without non-sequiturs that is, like, 75 words long and makes perfect sense and have old ladies from the Oxford dictionary go, 'Right on.'" -- Entertainment Weekly, 2005
"I don't respect people just because they make a lot of money. So do drug pushers, gun dealers, hookers and pimps: They all make a lot of money. The Mafia makes a lot of money. People who sell kiddy porn make a lot of money." -- Free Williamsburg, 2001
"I'm doing exactly what I want. I'm a good, law-abiding citizen. Realistically, our band breaks fewer laws than Congress, easily. ..." -- Alternative Press, 1996
"None of this effects [sic] the price of tea in China." -- as told to CL
"Don't drink water, fish fuck in it." -- Boston Weekly Dig, 2002
All 80s movies want you...
Their show with Chris, Lord about 3 years at the Unicorn was the best.
I am a connoisseur of this real soul music like the comment above I'm glad…
You've got a few of my faves listed here, plus a bunch I've never heard…
This is such a cool idea and the performance is great (I've been twice) but…