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"Everybody's Fucked.."

Primal Scream are back with a banging new single, a bunch of cool collaborations and a fierce new attitude: Paul Benney speaks exclusively to the band, hears half of their new album and finds out why they're so bloody angry. Shooting from the hip: Simon King

It's September 1999 and Jockey Slut and Primal Scream are hanging out in the band's compact Primrose Hill studio, listening to tracks tram their new album. There's pictures at Maradonna and The Sex Pistols on the mall and military headgear sits on tap at the mixing desk. Bobby's milling about chatting, Innes is pushing buttons and Mani is knocking up Mancunian-strength spliffs. All seems relatively calm in the Scream camp, a band obviously confident in their work and enjoying the recording process. And then something happens that changes the mood entirely. The phone rings. "That'll be the Tuesday posse", says Bobby, "all coming back fromm oblivion otter the weekend. People seem to think that this studio is tar parties rather than for making music. Sometimes I'll be doing a vocal and someone will burst into the studio and say 'Wasn't that a laugh at the weekend!?' right in the middle at it! I'd never dream at bothering people when they're working. Let's get out at here before they all start to turn up."
spacer Primal Scream, the 1999 version, is a very different beast than accepted Scream wisdom would have you believe. The band's seminal Screamadelica album was synonymous with their immersion in acid house and the E-drenched nights (and days) that went with it; their ill-toted 'Give Out But Don't Give Up' album was a journey to the heart at rock'n'roll with a total commitment to the cliched excess that's a part at the package; and 1997's excellent Vanishing Point sounded smacky whether the rumours were true or not. Today, music is the only drug the bond are interested in. They've done it all and now find the very idea that Class A narcotics could aid the recording process ridiculous. "You can't do yourself justice it you're in the studio off your head" says Mani. We've got to remain faithtul to ourselves, there's a time and a place for everything and the studio ain't it. "Drugs are just a means at control anyway" adds Bobby in his distinctive Glaswegian drawl. "It's a control virus that we're all susceptible to."
spacer Since Vanishing Point the band have hardly had a break, doing the festivals and touring the likes at Japan in '98 with Bobby taking one holiday - to Columbia! - before locking themselves in the studio to work on an album due early next year.
spacer There's little pomp or circumstance with Primal Scream. They may believe in the power at music but otter nearly fifteen years in the game they see the music 'industry' as exactly that - a game. There's no restrictions on the length at the photo shoot or interview, no pop-star attitude, just a group at cool blokes who want to make music but realise photos and interviews, although mere fluff, are usetul tools for selling it.
spacer This is their first press call for well over a year and Jockey Slut suggests that it might take them a while to get into pop star mode tar the photos. What do you want us to do? asks Bobby while Mani rolls another at those spliffs . (Innes never has his photo taken and Duffy has just decided to disappear). "Shades on or off?" he says holding up some classic mirror numbers. "Shall I wear this T-shirt let says 'Let it Rock' on the front and 'Let it Roll' on the back! or shall I go back and get my black jacket? Ahhh fuck it, just point the camera at us and we'll blag it." Within half an hour they've thrown shapes, looked cool and generally performed for the camera. Total professionals.
spacer We wander up Primrose Hill to do same more photos, Bobby and Mani saying 'hello' to various people along the way. A lady pushing a pram asks them when they will be gigging again! We find a suitable location and the pop star cool goes out the window -Bobby and Mani ore two mates mucking about in a park. Mani shouts out a playful 'guten tag' to two blonde girls, although they pretend not to hear. With the photos done, we wander back to the studio to tind the rest of the band, but use the back streets so as not to walk past the pub for fear at being dragged in! "If I lived in London I'd die" says Mani!, "there's always somebody trying to get you to do this or that."
spacer With Innes and Duffy on board (Throb, although Jockey Slut is assured he's very much still a part of the band, isn't here, perhaps because he has just become a dad!) we move to the Russian Tea Rooms around the corner. Coffee, mineral water'and all-day breaktasts ordered, the tape recorder goes on and everyone shuts up. We're out at practice laughs Bobby.
spacer Jockey Slut has heard five tracks that will be on the new album, described by Innes as "A lot harder, more up, fiercer, angrier". It is an angry record continues Bobby. "We're angry at ourselves and angry at what we see. We're just trying to describe our surroundings. Lyrically and sonically it's about what it's like to live in a modern city, it's a hard, concrete fucking sound. We just want to make a record sound as hard and angry as the world. It's music that sounds like it was made in a city. Not in a studio out in the fucking countryside!"
spacer 'Swastika Eyes' 'co-produced' by the Chemical Brother's - Innnes doesn't believe in the idea of a remix, "A 'remix' is an insult. It just sounds like some guy's taken 6,000 and sent you back their new drum machine!") sounds like Dave Clarke sampling the bossline from 'Block Rockin' Beats' with Bobby's vocals adding a political dimension - like on angry 'Out at Control'. Jockey Slut suggests it sounds like 'punk-techno': "It's not techno, it's punk-disco" shouts Innes. "It's Sylvester meets...oh I hate all these sub-genres. As far as I'm concerned, it it makes you dance and feel good then a dance record and that's all that matters."
spacer 'Exterminator' (co-produced by Brendan Lynch) has Bobby repeating the phrase 'No civil disobedience' over and aver until it degenerates into simply 'fuck, fuck, fuck...' from what sounds like sheer weariness of tighting. "I love that track" says Bobby. "The chorus just sums up British culture. People ore just happy to exist and take whatever shit they're given." This track, along with other newie 'Insect Royalty' has most in common with the sound at Vanishing Point.
spacer 'Pills' (co-produced by Dan the Automator) is possibly the first time you'l hear Booby rap on record and unsurprisingly sounds like Dr. Octogon who the Scream are big fans of; "'Woke up, still drunk, throwing up, pissing blood, sick guts, sore skin, bunged up, pulled in, fade away...' It's a hangover record but...it's funny" explains Bobby giving us an impromptu rap in the process.
spacer Most startling though is 'Blood Money' - a seven minute bassline-driven, fucked-up, jazz-punk mantra that has even greater mind-altering effects than the ex-Stone Rose's aforementioned roll-ups. We were working on this strange jazz instrumental thing says Bobby, that was quite filmic and soundtracky and we thought that maybe David Holmes might be right to do some good work on it. And he was.

My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields will also be on the album and Holmes' engineer Jagz Kooner will be doing an alternative mix of 'Swastika Eyes' for the flip-side of the single. Cool collaborations are everywhere in '99 and Bobby's involved in most of them. He can be heard on the two best albums around at the moment, contributing backing vocals to The Chemical Brothers/Bernard Sumner epic 'Out of Control' and singing on Death in Vegas' 'Soul Auctioneer'. "It was nice to be asked" says Bobby amiably. To collaborate with friends who are doing goad work and good music to come out of it is the greatest thing in the world.
spacer Primal Scream's new single 'Swastika Eyes' is the first four/four record the band have put their name to since the Screamadelica years, yet they claim never to go to clubs. "I don't go out much because if I do I don't get home for two days, but the other reason is because I don't like the music" deadpans Bobby. "You don't have to go to a club to listen to disco anyway" adds Duffy.

"'Swastika Eyes' is about the new world order, American international terrorism" explains Bobby. "The Americanisation of the world. It's about control. It's a great image, a great insult 'You've got swastika eyes' - it applies to any authoritarian figure; a politician or a policeman - you see them everywhere." The Creation press officer has told Jockey Slut that the title is going to change. "No, the title isn't going to change" insists Bobby firmly. 'She might have said that but she works tar the other side."
spacer If there is one identifiable theme to Primal Scream '99 its got to be 'control'.
spacer "Wasn't same DJ (Judge Rules) trying to ban light-sticks or something" spits Bobby. "What the fuck's all that about? Who the fuck is he to tell some kid who's paying his fucking wages for playing somebody else's records not to wave a lightstick? I'm all for it. Great. All power to them, that's what I say. And those old bastards trying to spoil it for them...fuck 'em."
spacer However that doesn't mean that The Scream have been won over by the joys of ATB/Binary Finary etc. Innes currently rates Asian Dub Foundation, Death in Vegas, The Chemical Brothers, Tricky and Mogwai but always ends up going back to Gorecki and Stockhausen. Bobby's been listening to lots of Miles Davis live, Sly Stone and James Brown and Mani is currently enjoying the virtues of Public Image's Metal Box and Joy Division. Again.
spacer "I don't think there's any bands - rock or dance -making any statements any more" says Bobby returning to the point. "Rock music is finished, it's dead. it's over. Who's taken it any further than people like Public Image? I don't even care any mare anyway...East Timor - that's funded by Britain. We sell Indonesia all the arms. The fact that we can bomb Iraq every single day and nobody cares...1 don't know, maybe this isn't the right place..." Bobby tails off. "Britain's part of the American empire, we're just an aircraff carrier for America. We're not even saying that we can make a difference, we're just saying what we feel. We can at least say that we're not part of that culture but we don't think any further ahead than that. We're not an anarchist cell. This country's the shit hole of Europe, it's fucked. The drug dustbin...everybody's smacked up or coked up...everybody's fucked, We live in such a negative culture that there's nothing better to do than take drugs." Everyone erupts into laughter. Not because the band aren't serious about what they're saying but they know there's nothing worse than preaching in a music magazine. "It's better than talking about a fucking new drum machine or something though," asserts Bobby.
spacer Is there anything good about England? "Yeah, what I've just had - a cooked tucking breaktast!" shouts Mani.

What the band are really looking forward to is playing live again but it's unlikely to be until next year; "We're always shit at the beginning of a tour so we're playing Australia first," they laugh.

"The live shows will be angry but they're also going to be celebratory," enthuses Bobby, "they're not going to be confrontational - we're not trying to fuck everybody off. Playing live, it's a pleasure, it's a joy. It's going to be up - we want the ladies dancin', it's not guys' music. We're different from everybody else because we're trying to do something new, something powerful that means something. Something emotional."

Later in the pub up the road, Mani is bouncing around from person to person like a social pinball, Jack Daniels in hand. Innes is happily sinking pints, chatting too member of Asian Dub Foundation about a new band called Invasion ("I'd definitely go and see a band with a name like that" he says). Bobby has an orange juice and apologises that he has to get off to see his girlfriend and Duffy says that he's got to go and see his mate off at Heathrow. "You've been seeing him off every night for a week" laughs Innes, 'and you just turn up the next morning with a massive hangover and your mate still back at your house!' Maybe the Scream haven't changed that much after all.
'Swastika Eyes' is out Nov 1st on Creation.

David Holmes on working with the Scream...
"I rang Jagz (Holmes' engineer) up and he was walking in the park with Bobby and he passed the phone to him. I told him what I was up to in New York. I had this club in like a bunker, playing Funkadelic, Public Image, the Stooges, Tamla Motown and experimental records to about fifty peo- pIe He was really enthused about where I was coming from. We have very similar influences. He asked me to do a track - 'Blood Money', it's 134 bpm jazz-punk with Mani doing a Jah Wobble-type bassline. It turned out fucking amazing. They let me hear the demos to another track, 'Keep Dreams', which I asked to work on too. It's like 'Sunday Morning' by the Velvet Underground. I've also mixed 'Swastika Eyes', it's twisted, heavy, hi-nrg with army boots on.
spacer It's fucking amazing working with them. There aren't many bands like Primal Scream around any more. There's too many bands playing it safe. The Scream wear their hearts on their sleeve. They've zero tolerance for anything negative. It's pure punk. They don't give a fuck. They've got a vast knowledge of music - it's quite an education working with them."JB

Andrew Weatherall on not working with the Scream
"I don't want to get into that one, to be honest. People change and their musical tastes change. It just seems a bit too obvious. It's just luggage, you cast your mind back and you'll have certain benchmarks in your mind that'll affect you in the studio. I couldn't do them justice. They seem to be doing alright without my influence. Keith's ITenniswood) been working with them - one Lone Swordsmen is befter than none!" TM

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