Having played nearly everywhere this summer – from shows with The Stone Roses to a host of festivals around the globe – Primal Scream are heading to Ireland next Thursday (27 September) as part of Guinness‘ Arthur’s Day, their annual celebration of the stout’s founder . With new songs creeping into the setlist we spoke to frontman Bobby Gillespie about the gig (probably in a pub or a brewery, well they do make beer, though that’s not the appeal for The ‘Scream: “The only reason we’re doing this is I thought it was Arthur Lee Day,” jokes the singer) the new songs and plans for an album. Plus see below to win tickets to the first ever UK leg of Arthur’s Day in London’s Senate House.
How the devil are you?
“Good thanks, man.”
You’ve had a busy summer from supporting The Stone Roses to festivals…
“We just love playing live, we’re good at what we do and happy to play for anybody, whether it’s in a pub or in front of 60,000 people at a festival, it’s fine. We just do what we’re going to do: make people feel good.”
Well talking of playing any where, you’re playing as part of Guinness’ Arthur’s Day next week (27 September) and one of the venues they’ve used in the past is their brewery in Dublin. Every played a brewery before?
“I think we did, yeah. We played a brewery in Stockholm a couple of times. The first time, Warren Ellis from the Bad Seeds told me he was there – I don’t remember this – and he said we walked out onstage, I’d had a bottle of wine, and just fell into the orchestra pit. And that’s before the band even played the first note. I do remember vaguely people coming backstage with sad looks on their face, it obviously hadn’t been a great gig. We returned there with the Screamadelica last year and it was a great fucking show! I don’t drink alcohol so it doesn’t bother me playing in a brewery or a temperance hospital or a church. It can be anywhere, man. I’d play on top of a hot dog stand.”
You played a few new songs in the summer, any chance you’ll add some more to the set?
“We learnt a new song yesterday and we’re playing throughout the month so what we’re going to do is introduce more and more new songs. We’ve got an album that’s recorded and mixed, it will be released early next year. We’re really proud of this next album, it’s a strong selection of songs so we want to play them.”
Can you give us a sense of what this album will be like?
“It’s a rock’n’roll record, but modern rock’n’roll. Pretty psychedelic rock, it’s kind of guitar-driven but we use guitars in an orchestral way, not in the normal way people make rock records. I think we do it in a more interesting way. We weave the guitars in with electronics and other acoustic instruments to make the core sound. This record is really sophisticated in terms of the production, the instruments we’ve used and the arrangements. The songwriting has got better! Live we’re a guitar rock’n’roll band but when we make records… it would boring if we just made guitar records, we’ve got our own way of doing things. It’s Primal Scream music.”
In terms of people, who have you worked with this time?
“We use different people for different things. If we’re recording in LA we might use a drummer from LA, it just depends who’s around and who’s right for the song. I was thinking the other day, every single Primal Scream record has got different people on it. It’s like we’ve never had the same rhythm section on every album, there’s always some kind of change somewhere. We don’t make records like normal bands.”
But whoever the players are, there’s always “the Primal Scream way”?
“You can look at it like this: we’ve got our studio that we’ve had for a long time so we can approach making records the same way artists approach making art. You go in the studio and you mess around with something, you chip away at it, you sculpt it, try it a different way, add different colours, take them away. It’s not something as simple as sitting down and writing a rock song, we try to find the essence of the song and the correct way of going about recording it so it can realise its maximum potential. We use musicians the way… how can I put it? It’s an art thing! We might work on a song for a year and a half, just going back to it, adding bits, taking bits and then finally getting there. It’s hard to explain your process, we have different ways of approaching stuff.”
So the process itself changes each time too?
“This new album we wrote and recorded in a different way to anything we’ve done before. We’ve been working with David Holmes as a producer so that’s been really good, but it’s too early for me to talk in detail about it. We’ll do that next year.”
Ok, back to the gigs. Having done your Screamadelica shows, is it nice to vary the setlist a bit again?
“Yeah, yeah! It was great doing that but it came to the point where we needed to do something else. I loved it but I don’t want to be doing it for the rest of my life. Also we’d knew we’d written some songs that were belters and I think to keep yourself relevant as an artist you need to write relevant contemporary music. You need to have something to say and you’ve got to say it, otherwise you’re just doing stuff you did 20 years ago. I don’t think that would fulfil me artistically. It was good when we were doing the Screamadelica stuff because we knew we had this album up our sleeve. We knew we’ve got something to say and we’re going to fucking say it!”
To be fair those shows weren’t a verbatim recreation of Screamadelica…
“We messed around with it. I think we made it modern, we made it relevant. It wasn’t a nostalgia trap, we brought it up to date.”
A few of us were a little disappointed you didn’t do the same thing with XTRMNTR…
“You never know. I’m sure we’ll get asked at some point to do something. But then again it might be fun but I don’t know how much interested there would be in that record compared to Screamadelica, I really don’t know.”
A lot of people said they enjoyed Screamdelica but would love an XTRMNTR show.
“Really? Well there you go, see you in three years! [laughs]”
For more head to Primalscream.net.
For more on Arthur’s Day head to Facebook.com/guinnessgb.