Features - Interviews

Love and War: An Interview with Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe


As their average fan will happily tell you, Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe isn’t as much outspoken as he is nail-on-head, uncannily on-the-money about pretty much everything he cares to discuss or pass comment on. To say, then, that he “gives a good interview” – no matter how brief – would be a fairly towering understatement. With two eyes on the horizon, Newcombe talks to Robert Higgins ahead of the release of BJM’s fifteenth album, Third World Pyramid, touching on creativity, sobriety and imminent war.

You’ve always been a prolific songwriter, but the past year has been busy even by your standards. What do you contribute this burst of creativity to?

I love making music and being creative. I write everyday or at least work on ideas, even if in my mind, but I don’t share everything. Usually I will show a friend some things and they will say god this is beautiful you have to put it out – otherwise, it’s kind of like I see whatever I see in an idea because I’m not shooting for mega hits, I’m just being myself – then part of me wants to raise a giant finger to the world that thinks art or creativity is limited to an age or a phase to be vital.

At your Dublin gig this past summer, there was an issue with someone in the crowd where you had to step in and have him ejected, does it happen often that people come to your gigs looking for some sort of reaction?

I dunno, let’s focus on the fact that we have a planet of idiots doing shit online that you would get battered for on an estate or pub. People need to back the fuck up and cool their boots.

What is most important to you these days?

Many things. There will be a big war soon. I think it’s important that people understand that clearly.

What is least important to you these days?

What Babylon is up to – western culture is dead… create your own culture, be helpful, be simple.

What do you prefer about living in Berlin to the US and would you ever consider moving back?

I might go junior jet set and live many places at once.

You’ve previously said that Dig misrepresented the band’s relationship with the Dandy Warhols, would you ever consider letting cameras in again to see your life now?

There is talk of that but I really don’t care – my life speaks for itself, I have nothing to prove and can do anything I want.

You’ve done the soundtrack for Moon Dogs as well as the Musique de Film Imaginé project, is this an area you’re looking to work more in?

Yes indeed, I want to make great films better in Europe.

You’ve been sober and clean for a long time now, has this helped your songwriting or did you ever find the use of substances conductive to your creative process?

I wrote under every state including drugged and drunk but I am enjoying life, it’s not an AA thing, it’s a life thing. I just stopped.

Do you feel you’ve had an influence on newer bands such as Tame Impala and are there any that stand out for you?

Sure but I am not done.

You’ve had records titled We Are the Niggers of the World, Blue Order/New Monday and Who Killed Sgt Pepper? Have you ever intentionally played the provocateur?

Haha… who me?

You’ve said before that you never wanted to be a rockstar. What did you ultimately hope to achieve through your music and do you feel you’ve done so?

I wanted to influence people to create their own culture.

Third World Pyramid is released via a recordings on October 28