01 July 2022 15:34
Jason Pierce agreed to do the Zoom interview, but without the video. For this reason, only his voice comes from London, delicate and shaky, tried by the years and by various health problems. The leader of Spiritualized, the historic British psychedelic rock band, is known for his shy nature, but is surprisingly kind and helpful. By his own admission he lives a little out of the world and does not read the news every day, as if he wanted to preserve a purity of spirit. But when he talks about music, about himself and that of others, he struggles to hide his enthusiasm, even if he never gives up composure. british.
From his words comes all the pride he feels for his band’s new record, Everything was beautiful, released on April 22. Perhaps because inside him he knows that this is one of the best albums of his career, at times able to touch the intensity of the 1997 masterpiece. Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space. It is no coincidence that the two albums begin in a similar way: with a track where the title is read by a female voice, who this time is Pierce’s daughter, Poppy. And even the graphics of the booklet, reminiscent of a box of drugs, refer to the pills that were on the cover of the 1997 record. In addition, the first piece, Always together with youwith its twirling pace, it seems the pacified version of what it opened Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space.
“I didn’t really know what to put in the beginning, and as soon as my daughter said those words I was enlightened: it was the right way to start everything, to immerse the listeners in a journey outside the earth’s atmosphere” , says Pierce. “These songs had been in the drawer for some time. The original idea was to make a double record, but I couldn’t figure it out. Also Matthew Johnson, the founder of my label, Fat Possum, doesn’t like double albums. He convinced me to publish And nothing hurt in 2018, which contained the first group of songs and then I took my time to finish these. By the way, if you place them side by side, the disc titles form the phrase ‘Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt’, which is taken from Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut, one of my favorite writers ”.
Many songs on the album, like Best thing you never had and the homage to Iggy Pop Let it bleed (For Iggy), have a dirty, but at the same time layered sound. “Immediately Everything was beautiful it had to sound like a live record. In general, I want my music to always make you think of large spaces, as it happens in The mainline song, which is inspired by the US railroad. I like to create apparently immobile pieces, based on the repetition of some simple elements, but which actually make you travel far away ”, explains the musician born in Rugby in 1965.
Pierce, who at times draws his words but still gives the impression of being very lucid and weighing them very well, has always pursued simplicity. His music feeds on a few repeated chords and psychedelic atmospheres – his first group, Spacemen 3, had a motto: “Drug yourself to make music to get high”. But Spiritualized don’t just make dark and obsessive music, quite the opposite. They often cross over into gospel territories and chase catchy melodies in the choruses. “Many genres, like rock’n’roll, are based on two or three chords. Sometimes even on just one, as in the case of John Lee Hooker’s blues. Even when I was with Spacemen 3 I was not interested in learning many chords, it didn’t take much to write songs. And I’ve always liked the major chords more than the minor ones. Hearing a full-blown guitar repeating the same note for five minutes is still exciting, I like the brutality of simplicity. I think I’m not a great songwriter and I’m fascinated by people who write great pop songs with seemingly mundane phrases like I will always love you o Be my baby. It seems such an easy thing to do, but it’s not like that ”.
Over time Pierce has also gone through difficult times. After years of addiction to alcohol and drugs, in 2005 he contracted a severe form of pneumonia for which he went through a near-death experience in the hospital: his heart stopped twice. In 2012 he had to be treated for a tumor and has been struggling with severe liver dysfunction for years. But today she seems like a person at peace with herself. Even the pandemic and the lockdown do not seem to have affected her serenity. “At that time, things were easier than expected, because I was able to work at my natural pace. I wrote a lot during the lockdown and I have a lot of material on my hands “. And what will he do with it? “Hey, I have no idea! The record has just come out, let me rest for a while ”, she laughs.
With the publication of Everything was beautiful Spiritualized are back on stage after a two year hiatus. And in the next few months they could also arrive in Italy. “We are trying to schedule dates in your area. But it’s a strange time, all the musicians are on tour, there’s a bit of crowding and confusion. We want to wait a moment and understand how things are going, ”says Pierce.
Everything was beautiful ends with a dark ballad with rnb hues entitled I’m coming home again: in the piece Pierce lets himself go to a stream of consciousness that is both a journey into darkness and a hymn to life. It sounds like a survivor’s song. Without being able to see him, just listening to his voice on Zoom, I imagine him like this: tired, worn out by the years; but with a clear, almost messianic vision of the past, present and future.