Volume 92, Issue 21
Thursday, October 8, 1998
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Brian's Massacre in our town
Photo by Mick Rock
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE WORLD'S FIRST ONE-MAN FIVE PIECE BAND. The Brian Jonestown Massacre hits the stage at Call the Office Friday night as the first siamese quintuplets.
By Aaron Wherry
Brian Jonestown Massacre the mere name evokes morbid, tragic images and thoughts. Any band that goes by such a moniker most definitely carries with it some negative baggage.
But that may not be the case, or so says Dr. Anton A. Newcombe, lead singer, composer and instrumentalist of the BJM.
"My major preoccupation is love. But that doesn't mean I'm a pacifist," says Newcombe, who along with Matt Hollywood on bass, Joel Gion on tambourine, Dean Taylor and Jeff Davies on guitar, have made a small name for themselves.
This non-pacifist attitude might explain the BJM's lengthy rap-sheet which includes being banned from the Middle East, threatening a former manager at gun point, flicking lit cigarettes at fans and fighting on stage and off, with the audience and themselves.
"I'm a real person and in the course of living my life these things happen," explains Newcombe. "I'm not concerned with it. I'm just concerned with the music. I don't want to hurt people. I'm just out there to entertain."
It is difficult to ignore their rather wild reputation, but the music is the main focus. With seven albums in the last three years and another due out in a month, there's more than enough music to focus on. The bulk of this work is reminiscent of '60s folk, psychedelic rock, the Rolling Stones, the Byrds and the more recent Brit pop, but the prodigious work ethic seems completely unique in today's music world.
"I wanted to enjoy the ideas while they were out there, instead of waiting until I'm 30," Newcombe says. "I don't think about it posthumously."
Nevertheless the BJM has not been blessed with mainstream success. "Ultimately, as a body of work, it's more important than say, Third Eye Blind. We take more risks," Newcombe states. "I think we'll have our day in the sun. I mean, how long will the music world continue to scrape the bottom of the barrel?"
The self-described "warrior poet" Newcombe, who claims himself a doctor of spirit and deeds, seems determined to continue onward not only with the music but also with higher goals, in a music world he views as resembling the wild west.
"You've got to be a little like Jesse James, have a little Bonnie and Clyde in you," Newcombe says. "I think a lot of people want to see us fail but that just propels us. It's reality people are assholes. I want to make music that I'll listen to. I'm interested in opening the channels of communication."
With relentless touring as well as a documentary chronicling their adventures, Newcombe and his bandmates may be nearing the breakthrough they've been seeking.
"They've left the backdoor open for someone to come in," Newcombe says. "When we play live, people become excited about us. There aren't a lot of bands out there like us."
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