“I WASN’T THE KIND OF CHICK THEY KNEW”9 Nov 2007

Broncrop Satire starlet Eleanor Bron’s first real film role was opposite “some strange pop group with funny haircuts”. Subsequently, she stepped out to dinner with John Lennon and remained impressed by The Beatles ever after. In the week of Help!’s reissue on DVD, she treats MOJO’s Danny Eccleston with her memories…

Click MORE for the full-on “Bron”…

What do you remember of the process of being drawn into Help!?

I had just come back from working in America for over a year with The Establishment, Peter Cook’s satirical nightclub. We did an exchange with a Chicago group called The Second City, then we were taken to New York to do a stint at The Strollers Club where we were visited by all sorts of people: Jackie Kennedy and Dizzy Gillespie and all those people. Those who didn’t come for the satire, came for the jazz.

I’d done the pilot for That Was The Week That Was and then left for America, so none of The Establishment people were in TW3. When I came back we did [Another David Frost-presented, Ned Sherrin-produced TV satire] Not So Much A Programme, More A Way Of Life, which was different because it was three days a week live – I’ve never known anything so terrifying. That’s where [Help! director] Dick Lester saw me.

Anyway, when we came back there were photographs in the papers of some strange pop group with funny haircuts. But we didn’t know who they were because we hadn’t been here.

You’d been culturally insulated.

Insulated. Exactly.

How did The Beatles strike you initially, when you started working with them?

Well, there was a different ethos in those days regarding girls and boys. I was a kind of a “chick”, I think. It was my first film, so I was very bewildered by the whole process. Dick had to tell me to stop blinking because every time he said, “Action”, I blinked. I had to cure myself of that.

So anyway, there were four of them and it was rather daunting to be quite honest. I was, and still am, quite shy and they kind of moved as a mass really. But I did have a chance to observe how appallingly they were treated by people who should have known better – people who sort of looked down on them.

Oh really? Meaning who?

In the Bahamas for instance [where Help! was partly filmed], people old enough to be their parents would come up and be very rude to them actually. Taunting and dismissive. And it did bring on some bad behaviour. They would rise to the occasion and give as good as they got – or better. People resented them actually. They resented these young whippersnappers being made such a fuss of.

You mean the establishment felt that these young working class boys weren’t allowed to rise in this fashion, and they would try to find a way to put them in their place?

That’s right, yes.

But did you also feel a kind of kinship with them in terms of being part of the satire wave? They seemed so simpatico in a way with that.

No, no, not at all

Really?

No, there was no possibility of kinship with them because you know they were chaps and I was a chick, and I wasn’t even the kind of chick that they knew. I mean they were very nice, I’m just saying that a kinship would not be the word to describe it. I admired them increasingly afterwards because I was immensely impressed by the fact that they kept on wanting to learn new things. The whole thing about going to India – for which they were much derided – seemed to be part of the not settling down and giving in to the things that surrounded them which were so awful. They were constantly surrounded by screaming girls and security and so on. It’s no way to live.

You mentioned what a maelstrom it was around the Beatles in ’65. How did that affect you in terms of being on set? Dick Lester told me that he felt that the press treated you especially poorly.

Well I wasn’t really aware of how the press usually behave. I didn’t feel it in cosmic terms in those days - I wasn’t able to put it in any context. You became like someone who had touched gold in the sense that you had been in The Beatles’ presence. The press tried to whip up stories a bit. There was one famous photograph in the Daily Mail of a girl in a bikini with Paul. The implication was that it was me.

Did you hang out with the Beatles much? In the evening or anything?

I think John took me out to dinner one evening, which was very nice of him. We didn’t hang out a great deal, no; as I say, I was very “un-clued up”. I wasn’t in that world. I think that John had this thing where he always wanted to learn. He was attracted to women who knew more than he did or who were older whom he thought he could learn from.

What was dinner like with John Lennon in 1965? Were you both in disguise?

No, someone had done research for him and we went to a tiny little restaurant where he was only just not recognised. But at other times, like leaving the studio, girls would throw themselves in front of the car and scream and scrabble against the windows with tears streaming down their face. It’s no way to live really. Its also a tremendous thing to cope with. They were very young. I was very young.

What did you think of them as actors?

Well that was the other thing that impressed me. They were not very accomplished – I wasn’t very accomplished either! – but they wanted to learn. They wanted to do it properly and I thought that was very impressive. They had no need to. They could just have pretended that they were terrific but they never did that. They made a joke of it but they were serious actually. They tried very hard and did something that is very hard to do - which is to translate your personal way of being onto the stage. They were actually very true to their personalities.

Their version of cool is very prominent, I think. They are to the side of events, commenting upon themselves being in this film at the same time as being in this film.

Yes, yes, absolutely. That’s very true. And that’s not all that easy to do.

One of the first scenes is you and Ringo leaping into the sea – which was probably a kind of film baptism for you both, because I’m not sure either of you swam…

No, I swim, but I was wearing a black cloak and as soon as I dove in the cloak came up and covered my head so I couldn’t see anything. It was really quite alarming.

But Ringo was quite game until finally he pointed out that he couldn’t swim.

Yes, well he did try to please I think. He was very jokey and probably quite shy. Paul was the most socially adept but they were all very nice. They didn’t know what to make of me I think and I didn’t know what to make of them.

Paul was the most socially adept? In what respect?

Well he would make an effort to be kind of…

Friendly?

Well I’m talking from my own utterly middle-class usage. He would make an effort at conversation. Sometimes the others didn’t. Perhaps they found me rather alarming (laughs).

Did you have any interaction with the Beatles after the premiere? Have you bumped into them over the years?

I bumped into Paul. I went to Los Angeles and I went to a party that they were having but I didn’t really keep in touch with them. It became impossible to. That’s what happens with people, it just becomes very difficult to get through. I didn’t really make that much effort and nor did they - they were very busy. I was quite busy too.

How did you feel about the finished film?

Well I’ve always thought it was kind of wonderful actually. Again I was tremendously impressed with Dick and everyone because they didn’t just set out to do the same thing that they had done before with A Hard Days Night. It had made a lot of money, it was very popular, but they didn’t just try and do the same again.

It was a great British comic ensemble: with Victor Spinetti and Roy Kinnear and John Bluthal…

Oh, wonderful! And the other thing is that The Beatles adored them! They just thought that Victor and Roy, quite rightly, were simply wonderful. They loved them for what they could do and for their experience and for their knowledge of the business. That was a great quality. That is not often mentioned and it is part of their greatness. They didn’t want to just stand still and bask. They were really keen to find out and move on.

Enjoy Eleanor’s deadpan demeanour opposite the Beatles as they deliver You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away…

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BEAUTY LIES IN THE EYE OF KIM GORDON8 Nov 2007

Kimcrop Sonic Youth bass mistress Kim Gordon has another string to her bow. Trained in the visual arts before being drawn into New York’s art rock scene in the ’80s, she continues to paint and make conceptual art. She’s just entrusted a batch of luminous watercolours to her London agent, Electra, and spoke to MOJO’s Danny Eccleston about the differences between daubing on and rocking out.

Click MORE to see the pictures and read the interview…

Kimgwatercolour

MOJO: You’ve mentioned these watercolours as being reflective of your experience of looking out into a rock audience. Is this how you see us, as these ghostly presences?

KG: Well I’ve always been fascinated with the relationship between performer and audience. It’s not visible but you can feel it. It’s kind of like a shared compliance or illusion that they’re there to see somebody believe in themselves… for them. It’s almost like you’re an extension of them or what they might want to be.

So in the watercolours the faces are only appearing because there is light reflecting on them, and there’s metallic ink as if there was a light show. Sometimes, if there’s light coming from the back, like from a projector or something, there is this kind of glow around the heads of people. Sometimes it can really take you out of what you are doing – especially if the person right in front is looking really bored (laughs).

Well, they are transfixing faces and you really fall into the eyes. It made wonder if this was your perfect audience member: someone intensely connected to what you’re doing?

I guess so. Maybe that’s very narcissistic! I also like the idea that when you see them all together they kind of catch you and you can’t get away from them.

And of course the other thing is they all seem to be girls.

Oh no, they’re not all girls. Sometimes they look like dogs! I love dogs in paintings – playing poker, playing pool… (laughs)

So is this your first exploration in watercolour?

No I mean I’ve always kind of done watercolours or worked with acrylics and tried to make them look like water colours. It’s not my area, really, but I always feel there’s something wrong with something if it’s too easy. Everything else in my life has always been kind of a struggle, so…

For those of us who know you exclusively through Sonic Youth, can you talk us through your art background?

Yeah, well, I went to art school in Toronto for a year and Santa Monica College for a couple of years and then I graduated from Otis [College Of Art & Design] In LA.

So what kind of artist were you when you graduated?

Definitely more of the conceptual kind. I was influenced by writers like Robbe-Grillet, doing minimalist stories that were almost like poems. And then when I was first in New York I was doing some work that was kind of similar to Richard Prince’s – blow-ups and ads from the real estate section of the newspaper. And I was doing some installations that were based on an idea called “Design Office” which was me going into people’s homes and being somewhat of a psychologist and an interior decorator and altering something and writing about it and reprinting it in a magazine.

Did you get a lot of takers for your, er, service?

I talked a lot of friends of mine into doing stuff! I did something for this alternative space in L.A. I had a monogrammed kind of baroque phone cover made for their telephone.

When was that?

Oh, like in the early ’80s. I use to write articles for Art Forum and a couple of other magazines.

So what was your stance as an art critic? What did you champion?

Well I was trying to analyze things in a faux Freudian way - in terms of sexuality. I wrote an article about “The New Passive-Aggressive Male Artist”, and the influence of David Bowie on artists like David Salle. My technique was to come up with an absurd premise and try to prove it! (Laughs) It was toying with the intellectualism of the art world. And I started playing music as an art project. I was investigating the rock band for a project about male bonding, and somehow I just got caught up in it.

What’s your regime in making visual art? Can it be compared to making an album? Like, you build up a number of ideas, then it’s time to hit the studio and get down to production? Or are you making art all of the time?

Well it’s a little of both. It’s good to be able to make it without having a reason to make it. But if you have an idea - that’s the best. Because my time is so divided up I kind of need a reason to do it - to actually get it done.

But with these watercolours, it’s hard to imagine you saying “Oh I want to do something about an audience and the way light falls on them and I think I know how to do that…” It seems to me that you’d have to put the paint on the page before you realised its potential.

Yes, in that sense of being intuitive it’s kind of like making a record. You don’t know exactly what you’re going to do but sometimes you have an idea. Some things are experiments and that’s how they start. You know, a lot of “good ideas” are bad ideas. “Good ideas” often makes really bad art (laughs).

So do you think you paint like a member of Sonic Youth? What links can you perceive between the processes or the ideas? Or do you feel they are independent?

Well, as a musician I’m much more primitive, and I’ve kept it that way. Music is something which I know less about so it’s easier to be free.

So you’re more sophisticated as a visual artist?
I guess so. They each have their benefits. It’s nice to work on something by yourself. You don’t have to ask three other people’s opinion. Democracy and all that – it’s quite frustrating to have that all the time!

Kim Gordon’s watercolours can be purchased from Electra Productions

To see more paintings, click here

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HELP! PART 2. VICTOR SPINETTI REMEMBERS...1 Nov 2007

Victorcrop2 Yesterday he watched Ringo nearly drown, and his New York fanclub recruit the Beatles. Now we follow Victor Spinetti – Help! co-star and world class spinner of yarns – into the the high echelons of Bahamanian political society, where he witnesses John Lennon put the boot into the colonial snobs. But what exactly was Spinetti’s role in the John v Paul rift, and did John really “marry a privet hedge”?

Click MORE for the answers, as told to Danny Eccleston...

Could you tell me about your experience of writing with John?

The Old Vic were going to do a production on stage of John Lennon’s In His Own Write [this would eventually open on June 18th 1968], and this young girl playwright [Adrienne Kennedy] came to see me and asked if I’d be in it. And she’d taken the pages of John’s books and rearranged them into another book, with stage directions that read things like, ‘Christmas tree turns into a horse and gallops off.’ I asked them if they had John’s permission and they said they hadn’t, so I rang him up and asked him what he thought. “They must be fucking mad,” he said. I told him I’d thought of a way how to do it, and he said: “Well, I’ll give you the rights, then you can do it.” I said, “Wait a minute, we’ll do it together.” And we did.

So we got together and started to write it. I was in a flat at the time on Manchester Street [London] and John and I worked on the script one morning, quite late, near the end of ’67. John said, “Let’s go somewhere warm.” I thought he meant another room – we ended up in Africa (laughs). We got hold of a car and ended up in Marrakech, North Africa. And that’s where we went to continue writing.

What was he like as a collaborator?

The genius of the man was that he had no ego. People think of John as this egomaniac; well, he was arrogant, but he did not have ego. I asked him once: “Will there by a drawer full of songs discovered when you’re gone?” He said: “No, I just ring up Paul and say I think it’s about time we wrote another hit, and we’d get together and write one.” Picasso said, “I do not seek, I find,” and John was the same: he found things, and out of that a song came. He didn’t have a preconceived idea about things – which is ego. Ego means you can’t make a mistake, and that’s what kills most people or makes them brittle, like china.

John was able to find a thought when he got there, or something would strike him and he’d put it down. There was no question of pre-planning, like with some composers. Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, whom I worked with, I asked them what came first, the music or the lyrics? And they said… the cheque! (Laughs.)

Did you not see John as troubled?

Well, Help! was the song. Those lyrics, “I need somebody, not just anybody…” He really was desperate.  He said: “I married a fucking privet hedge”, not about Cynthia, he meant the house. It’s all in the song I Am The Walrus – that’s a man sitting in the middle of life thinking, Is this it? Sitting on a cornflake? Getting breakfast? It’s all in there. That’s what that song’s about. Dissatisfaction. Is this it? Where do I go now?

You had a brief role in Magical Mystery Tour, too. By then, you must have noticed even more changes. They’d packed in the touring, and…

(Interrupts) They were in the studio. I remember John saying to me, “Come up to the studio, we’re recording”, and I said “John, I don’t want to bother you.” He said: “That’s alright Vic, only the fucking bores turn up”.

You said that you’d talked to them briefly before they went off to Rishikesh; did they ever talk to you about the experience afterwards?

No, never. They did introduce me to the Maharishi, though, at the Plaza Hotel in New York. They said to me, “You’ve got to meet him, Vic,” so I went along. All these New York ladies were there to see him. He was on the stage giggling away as they threw flowers in front of him. This one woman said to him, “Tell me, your Highness, how does one teach children the principles of transcendental meditation?” And he fell about laughing and said: “My dear lady, they invented it!”

And what did you think of Magical Mystery Tour?

Now, this is the thing that annoyed me. It had dreadful press, but if you look at it, Magical Mystery Tour predates Monty Python. It must have been something that gave Monty Python the idea of doing what they did. Look at it again. The guy shovelling spaghetti into someone’s mouth with John Lennon as the waiter? That ridiculous sequence coming down the stairs singing Your Mother Should Know? All that stuff was pure surrealism.

Of course, it was all attacked because we like to knock them down. I was asked “What do they talk about, these pop people?” I said, “Well, on the set yesterday, we discussed the Freudian interpretation of dreams, as opposed to the Jungian interpretation.” If they’d been to Oxford or Cambridge and had decided to do their rooms Chinese for a year, and dress in Chinese clothes, and eat only Chinese food, then that’s OK. But if The Beatles did that, who the fuck are they? It’s a class thing, and it’s still prevalent today. I can’t bear it.

Were you at that dinner party with the Governor of The Bahamas? Did you hear John’s outburst?

I remember everything. That morning, we were filming in what we thought was a disused army barracks. John said to me, “Hey, Vic, come and have a look at this,” and he opened this wooden shutter in this corrugated iron-roofed building. The smell in there was awful, and they’d thrown all the ill and old people in there. We were shocked because we thought it was a deserted building.

That night, at a dinner given by the Minister Of Finance in his marvellous house, with plates of caviar and gold service, John said: “Hey, excuse me, we were up at what we thought was an old army hut and it turned out to be full of old people and children with disabilities – how do you reconcile that with this?”

Well, the next day in the press it was all: Beatles Insult Governor. But, I mean, these people were appalling. They’d say stuff like, “Which one’s Ringo? Oh, it must be you – you’re the one with the nose,” and, “Is that hair real?” It was awful. We started playing up to it, saying things like, “Oh, what are these? Knives and forks, you say?” Then the governor’s wife would say, “Look, they don’t even know about knives and forks!” but we were putting them on. But that’s the remark that John made and I’ll never forget it.

I’m looking after Paul next week, at the Q awards. Any message you’d like me to give him?

Well I used to take messages to John from Paul when they weren’t speaking. But please give him my love and tell him that I’m still alive! I wrote to him after the business of the divorce and I got a sweet letter back. Of course, I don’t say, ‘Here I am!’ but certainly say that I said hello.

“Vic says hi…”

Tell him I’m still in love with them more than I ever was.

Victor, so much for talking to us.

A pleasure. Now I’ve got to go to speak to a guy who’s writing a book about [legendary London theatre impresario] Binky Beaumont. Cheerio!

Posted by Danny Eccleston at 05:48PM | Leave a Comment (0)
VICTOR SPINETTI ON THE JOY OF HELP!31 Oct 2007

Victor_crop The Beatles’ second feature film, Help!, emerges for the first time ever on DVD next week, and to augment a revealing piece by Director Richard Lester in the current MOJO magazine, we have a rip-roaring interview with Victor Spinetti exclusive to MOJO4music.com. Read the Beatle-endorsed actor-raconteur, as he tells MOJO’s Danny Eccleston how the first scene filmed was nearly the end of the band and – gulp! – what he really thought about Yoko...

Click MORE for the interview, and come back tomorrow for Part 2!

42 years on, what does Help! mean to you?

Help!’s been very good to me. Recently, I was invited [to Las Vegas] as a guest of honour to go and see the musical Love, and then after that I was asked to attend a Beatles convention for three days, at which I gave a talk on what it was like to be in those films. I was paid and there was first class travel, and then the same thing happened to me in Chicago – I did three talks there. It’s taken me three times on the QE2 (laughs).

So, what are those fan conventions like – a bit barmy?

Oh, they’re sweet; the Beatles ones are sweet.  They’re the nicest people. There are people in their early teens, to people who are 80 or 90. They’re so polite. You see, the thing is, those songs were like a reservoir of poetry and melody that flooded all over the world. And so the people who plug into that, don’t plug into any of that rap hate stuff.  There’s no hatred in the music, and there’s joy in it.

What was it like being back with them again?

When we got on the plane at London to go to The Bahamas, you couldn’t hear the engines because the screams were so loud. We didn’t know it was taking off. On the way to the Bahamas, we landed in New York to refuel – we weren’t allowed to get off. This policeman came on the plane and said: “Is there a Victor Spinetti on this plane?” And John said: “They’re deporting you, you fucking wop, you’ve been thrown off!” (Laughs) The policeman said: “Will you come to the door of the plane, please, your fan club are at the airport...” (Laughs) And it was true! I walked to the door of the plane and I received jelly babies and teddy bears, and The Beatles were absolutely astonished. The Beatles and Brian Epstein became card-carrying members of the Victor Spinetti Fanclub Of America (laughs).

What was different this time?

Well, the accommodation was different. In the Bahamas, we were all split up. The stars and all the top rank people, and their families, went to the posh places, and the actors went to various dumps. It didn’t last long because I complained bitterly and we were moved (laughs).

Surely, Equity would have something to say about that?

I remember poor old Roy Kinnear [who played Spinetti’s assistant] saying “Don’t make waves, don’t make waves”, and I said, “Oh fuck off, we’re filming tomorrow; they’re lying around by the pool.”

The first scene shot was you, Roy, Eleanor Bron and Ringo on a yacht…

…And it was nearly the end of The Beatles! It’s when Ringo had to jump into the water and I, as the mad scientist, was meant to try and cut his finger off to get his ring. He dives into the water and comes out all shivering because of course it was cold and there were shark nets – very dangerous. So they dried him off, and then they said “action” and Ringo dived off again. The third time he was being dried off – no private dressing room, just a hair drier – and he said: “Oh, Victor, I don’t want to do this again.” I said, “Why”, and he replied, “I can’t bloody swim.”

How did you rate The Beatles as actors?

Well, they never thought of themselves as actors.

No?

Acting was too interpretive; they were creative. I mean, to sit around all day on a set to go and do ten lines is tedious for most actors, but we’re being paid and we sit there. But when you’re creative, rather than interpretive… I don’t think they would have liked it too much. They might have done it occasionally. I mean, Ringo in A Hard Day’s Night was marvellous, when he was just walking along. And I remember the opening night of Help!, at the end of the Ticket To Ride sequence, the audience just burst into applause. I remember saying to them: “It’s because you have the [ring] of truth – you don’t look like liars.”

Was honesty the key to how they came across on screen?

I think so. Certainly in A Hard Day’s Night, they were just themselves, with four or five cameras running at once, observing them. With Help!, it was much more structured – much more of a proper movie. But they still didn’t look like liars. They might have looked self-conscious. John said to me once: “Whenever the director shouts ‘Action!’ all the actors change but you stay the same. Does that mean you’re as terrible as we are?” (laughs)

Did it surprise you that Ringo was the one who went onto have a film carrier?

No, not at all – look at that face. I remember one interviewer asked him why he didn’t smile more and he said: ‘I don’t have a smiling face.’ He’s in there, looking out. That’s why he didn’t appear to be self-conscious. Like Lawrence Olivier said: “I never want to know who’s out front. Because if I know who’s out front, I’m up there watching me instead of doing it.”

Are you fond of Professor Foot, your mad scientist character? You seemed to have a lot of fun with him?

I did, indeed. Although Dick [Lester] said to me: ‘You don’t appear to be doing anything with this one,’ and I said: ‘I did my lot in A Hard Day’s Night, I’m calming down a bit.’ (Laughs) But it was a good combination of Roy and I because we’d worked together on stage before, so we were used to each other and that came across.

Had The Beatles been changed by another year of the crazy fame?

They hadn’t changed; the people around them had. In the middle of this great whirlwind of Beatlemania, there was this still, small centre where they sat. In the middle of it, you felt like you were sitting in the kitchen, do you know what I mean? The others were in the sitting room, or the drawing room, or the front room, but if you sat with them in the kitchen, they were just the same. The constant putdowns between each other kept everyone sane.

They were as down-to-earth and approachable as they were in the previous film. But, like I said, the people around them were causing tension. I remember driving along in a car – they were all given loan cars on The Bahamas – with their hair flying in the wind and George singing, “When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high!” They were the same. What changed them eventually was the split when, you know, there’s somebody else there who doesn’t say hello or smile at you. She’s smiling a lot now, I notice…

Meaning who?

(Pauses) You know who I mean.

You mean Yoko?

Don’t mention her name! (Laughs)

Was she not very friendly to you?

Well, she didn’t speak! Alright, you come into a room, OK, and then someone says ‘This is my new girlfriend’ and they just look at you and they don’t say ‘hello’ or ‘John’s told me so much about you.’ Nothing. And she made John defend her all the time.

Tune in tomorrow for more fireside Beatle chat, Spinetti-style. And on Friday for an exclusive tête-à-tête with Eleanor Bron.

And here’s a reminder of that Ticket To Ride sequence...

Posted by Danny Eccleston at 01:30PM | Leave a Comment (0)
EXCLUSIVE: DYLAN AT NEWPORT - WHO BOOED?25 Oct 2007

Dylannewportsepia1

Next week sees the release of Bob Dylan: The Other Side Of The Mirror -Live At The Newport Folk Festival 1963-1965. The new DVD charts Dylan's unstoppable transition from traditional, acoustic folk master, to fully-formed, electric warrior. In a MOJO exclusive, filmmaker Murray Lerner recounts the events of that legendary summer's evening.

Click MORE for MOJO's exclusive Q&A.

42 years ago, Bob Dylan took the stage at the annual Newport Folk Festival with a harmonica around his neck and a Stratocaster in his hand. Three songs later, and with the amped-up help of his new, electric band, folk music's most beloved figure had become rock 'n' roll's newest, most controversial hero. For those that witnessed the event live, the memories remain vivid. Luckily for the rest of us, one man captured it all on celluoid...

MOJO: Did the festival organisers know that Dylan was going to ‘go electric’ in 1965?

Lerner: "[Master of ceremonies] Pete Yarrow knew of course. He was at the rehearsal but beyond that, Pete Seeger and Yarrow were both managed by Al Grossman. Did Pete Seeger know? I don’t know. I would imagine he was surprised. I caught the rehearsal [and] I’d got excited about electric music through Paul Butterfield, but I didn't put two and two together until Dylan came on stage in the leather jacket."

Apart from ‘Just keep filming’, what were the words going through your head while Dylan was on stage in 65?

"I really thought, not in retrospect, that this is a new threshold that we’re crossing here, a gateway to some new world, a different kind of culture and I didn’t know whether it was for good or bad but it was mesmerising and hypnotic and I liked the sensation it created in your body. It pulled you into it like hypnosis. I still think that that’s the power of electricity in music."

There’s been a lot of debate over the years as to who exactly was doing the booing and who were they booing? Dylan, the organisers, the shortness of the set?

"It’s a good question. When we showed the film at The New York Film Festival [in October] one kid gets up and says, ‘About this booing… I was sitting right in front of the stage, there was no booing in the audience whatsoever. There was booing from the performers’. So I said, Well, I don’t think you’re right. Then another kid gets up and says ‘I was a little further back and it was the press section that was booing, not the audience’, and I said, Well, I don’t think you’re right. A third guy gets up and says ‘I was there, and there was no question, it was the audience that was booing and there was no booing from the stage’. It was fascinating. People remember hearing what they thought they should hear. I think they were definitely booing Dylan and a little bit Pete Yarrow because he was so flustered. He was not expecting that audience reaction and he was concerned about Bob’s image, success creatively and commercially since they were part of the same family of artists through Al Grossman. But I absolutely think that they were booing Dylan going electric."

For more from Murray Lerner pick up a copy of the January issue of MOJO - on sale December 1.

In the meantime, here's a reminder of what all the fuss was about:

Bob Dylan - Newport Folk Festival, July 25, 1965


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FRAN HEALY ENTERS MOJO POLL24 May 2007

Fran_healy_crop There’s still time to contribute your thoughts to the MOJO readers’ Records That Changed The World, your chance to put the musos right who voted in MOJO 163 and decided in their wisdom that Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti and Kraftwerk’s Autobahn were more epochal than Ray Stevens’s The Streak. Get in the mood with Fran Healy from Travis, who drifts into a reverie at the mere mention of Music From Big Pink by The Band (Capitol, 1968). “It’s bonkers,” says he.

Click below to read his fervid appreciation…

Fran Healy: The Band’s Music From Big Pink still sounds at odds with music the way it did back when it was released. With America’s counter culture peaking, it was a rebellion against rebellion. The songs sound like they’re from the 19th century, when the pioneers came over, before there were buildings. They used old instruments, and grew beards! It’s bonkers, too, because at first the guitar sounds drunk, the Hammond has a weird tone, and there’s loads of trombones, but it’s so accomplished and original. For starters, you can’t open an album with a slow song, but Tears Of Rage is the slowest song ever! It really sets the tone for breaking some sort of mould and convention.

“For me, the key song is The Weight: everything coalesces, and it’s a pop song too, which uses religious overtones to tell another kind of story. The Band are a great role model because they did everything in such a noble, cool, proud way. Because they’d been together for eight years before Big Pink, they’d made all these contacts, and through them became a band’s band. Every band around would have bought Big Pink, The Beatles included. Look at The Last Waltz – the film is a who’s who of the world’s greatest musicians: Clapton, Joni, Dylan, Neil Young, Neil Diamond! Without Big Pink, I certainly wouldn’t be in a band. It’s such a pure record that it encourages you to be true to yourself, to just run with what you do naturally in music, and don’t be afraid to do something that no-one else has done.”

Nominate your records that changed the world (remember, singles and albums are equally eligible) below, or by mailing Mojo@emap.com.  Travis's  fifth studio album, The Boy With No Name, is out now.

Posted by Danny Eccleston at 10:34AM | Leave a Comment (2)
MARK KOZELEK’S LIFE OF CRIME23 May 2007

Mark_kozelek_crop Remember Irish crime writer John Connolly and his MOJO obsession? Say hello to Mark Kozelek, the former Red House Painter and Sun Kil Moon mainman, whose music features on a compilation CD that came with the former’s last novel (wonder where he got that idea?). Connolly describes Kozelek as his muse and audio equivalent; Kozelek repays the compliment in this interdisciplinary interview with Mojo’s Andrew Male.

Click below for interview…

When did you first become aware of the work of John Connolly?
Mark Kozelek: I was contacted by his publisher. They told me that Red House Painters’ Summer Dress was one of several songs that inspired characters in his novel The Black Angel and they were looking to put Summer Dress on a compilation that coincided with his book.

What was your take on his books?
Eerie, cozy, seductive. He has a way of moving in and out of tender and violent, of warm and cold, like I haven't seen before, and the way he cuts from characters and settings so rapidly, it keeps you on your toes. His characters will seemingly have no connection, each chapter beginning like a new book, then it all ties together. It's masterful. He describes and writes like a poet. Each paragraph ends with a trail of magic dust behind it - the details are so rich, vivid, nothing is left out. What's also fascinating to me about John is his grasp of American culture - the landscape, the politics, everything. I wouldn't guess by his writing that he wasn't from here. The way he'll describe a New York neighborhood or an island off of Maine is 100 per cent accurate and totally fresh. He's incredibly knowledgeable historically, culturally, on every level.

Have you met him?
Yes, we met when I played in Dublin in 2005. He gave me a signed hardback of The Black Angel. That was so thoughtful... how he and his girlfriend Jennie had made it out to the show, stayed until the bitter end and found me. I found him very kind and genuine. Coincidentally, I’d just seen someone reading The Black Angel on a plane on the way to Europe for that tour. Then after meeting John, I noticed it in the bestsellers racks at airport bookstores. That's when it all came together that this guy was a fiction heavyweight. That's how it all connected. I'm 40 so I'm not finding information online, I don't come from that background. How I discovered John and what he was about happened in a real way. It really meant something.

Do you see parallels between your music and John's books?

Yes, mostly in the elaborate, poetic description. I agonize over detail and John is also unusually descriptive. There are also parallels in the contrast between light and heavy. In my music, in songs like Duk Koo Kim or Salvador Sanchez, there's a lot of brutality, but in songs like Brown Eyes or Summer Dress, there's a lot of tenderness. Musically, if you listen to early RHP records, I can't think of a better example of the sudden jump from gentle to violent. John’s novels do that too - they use the same kind of dynamics. One minute someone is lying in bed, in a soft, serene setting, then CUT to a hooker being slapped around in an alley.

Has he influenced you in the way that you have influenced him?
Not in an obvious way, but he has inspired me. When a guy like John praises your work, it makes you feel like you're doing something right. John just has a way of tying words together that makes you pause, causes you to crack a smile at how great his writing is. He's very lyrical. For me, being aware of other poets – one’s that are good at it - it keeps you sharp. And it doesn't hurt to know that guys like John are listening.

How do you feel about influencing him? His books are quite creepy...
I’ve always been interested in true crime, watch tons of Court TV, A&E and horror films, so I've got a tough stomach and am very much at home with that side of John's writing. Plus, in his books, the violence is intermingled with the supernatural, which softens the blow. As far as me influencing him, that is unbelievably flattering. I tend to meet mostly musicians who I’ve influenced, which is nice, but can be boring, like school teachers meeting other school teachers - not much to learn there. But when you meet an author like John, and they're inspired by your music, that has a special place. That's the ultimate praise, when an artist from a different medium, like writers or directors, are inspired by what I do. Growing up, skipping school and playing guitar all day, I would have never guessed that one day I'd have an influence on someone as acclaimed and talented as John Connolly.

Mark Kozelek’s book of lyrics, Nights Of Passed Over is published in July by La Mano 21. He will be playing a solo show at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire, October 29th. A live Kozelek track, Have You Forgotten, features on the soundtrack to the August-released documentary, The Trials Of Darryl Hunt.

A new compilation CD – featuring a brilliant mix of acts including Midlake, Sufjan Stevens and MOJO’s own David Sheppard – comes with hardback copies of Connolly’s new novel, The Unquiet. It’s called Into The Dark; find out about it here…

Or find out about Voices From The Dark, the comp that came with The Black Angel and features Red House Painters’ Summer Dress…

Posted by Danny Eccleston at 11:36AM | Leave a Comment (0)
CRIME FICTION NABOB VISITS MOJO!14 May 2007

Johnconnollycrop First, Peter Robinson, author of the Chief Inspector Banks novels, came calling in 2005 and ended up setting his subsequent bestseller, A Piece Of My Heart, in and around the MOJO offices. Next, Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbo revealed that his boozy detective, Harry Hole, was a MOJO subscriber. And last week John Connolly, best-selling Dublin-born author of the Charlie Parker detective novels popped in – to discuss his new book, The Unquiet, which comes with a free CD of music referenced in his novels: Midlake, Low, The Delgados, Espers and Sufjan Stephens – and explain to Andrew Male why crime writers have such a good taste in music (and music magazines).

Why do you think music plays such a big role in crime fiction?
John Connolly: In terms of contemporary writers like George Pelecanos, Michael Connolly and Mark Billingham it’s a reflection of a generation that grew up with music as easily transportable. Gradually you see people being able to soundtrack their lives in a way they previously couldn’t, so it’s not a big step for people to incorporate that in their books. But lots of crime fiction is tied in with place, period, culture. Even if you go back to Raymond Chandler there are references to the bands of the day, there’s always stuff going on in the background. Crime fiction is very conscious of time and place but it’s interesting that it’s only the men. Ian Rankin did a programme for the BBC about a year ago about crime writers and music and he really struggled with women because women didn’t use music in their books in the same way, Men define themselves by music much more. I’m tempted to say it’s a geeky thing.

Do you judge a person by their book and record collections?
I do. Judging people by their books and records is actually not a bad way to pick up on what makes them tick. It says something about the way they look at the world. It’s a reflection of something in your self.

You regularly quote band lyrics and songs in your books. What is the reason for that?
I tend to pick lyrics that will reflect something of the action. The songs are chosen very carefully and also a lyrical reference will sometimes explain something about a character in a very subtle way. It’s a reflection of me. Books and music are the two things I don’t consider to be vices.

Hardback US copies of your 2005 novel, The Black Angel (and signed copies of the UK edition) came free with a CD featuring music referenced in your novels. You’ve just put out Volume II with hardback copies of The Unquiet. Why? 
Well, it’s difficult to seamlessly incorporate music into the novels so the CD was a way of saying, Here’s the records, go and check them out. What I love is that people would come up to me and say I went out and bought a Go-Betweens album after hearing them on your CD. You feel like you’ve done some good in the world. Charlie Parker’s tastes are the same as mine, all over the place, and the CDs are a reflection of that. I couldn’t have him listening to something like Michael Bolton.

Does music help you write?
I don’t listen to music when I write but I have used music when I’ve been in trouble with a book. The music works like a trailer for the book in my head. I was listening to that Nickel Creek song, When In Rome when I was working on The Unquiet and that’s why that lyric [“Where can a dead man go/a question with an answer only dead men know”] was chosen as a preface. It kind of encapsulated the feel of the book.

Are there artists who you keep coming back to?
Sometimes it’s quite surprising. When we did the first CD we had to leave off Sunflower by Low and they had this new album coming out, Drums And Guns, and there were literally five tracks that were going in the same direction as the book, like they were soundtracking the thing. It was fascinating to listen to. I’m also a huge Mark Kozelek fan and I’ll go back to Red House Painters albums and feel there’s someone with my sensibility and there’s a line where it blurs a little. It’s always music with a slightly mournful sensibility.

When can we expect to see the Charlie Parker novels adapted for TV or Hollywood?
I’ve been very protective of the Parker books. I think crime fiction is quite hard to get right for the screen because so much of it is introspective. Of course, if Steven Soderbergh, David Lynch or Tim Burton called up and they had George Clooney penciled in, maybe.

Have you thought about who would play Parker?
No. I’ve never described him, I’ve no idea what he looks like. I just know he’s taller than me. Those descriptions rarely work. There’s that famous example in The Da Vinci Code: “He looked like Harrison Ford in tweeds”! A little part of you dies when you read that.

Terrible question: if the Charlie Parker books were a band, who would they be?
Dear sweet god! They’d probably be The Red House Painters. With a touch of The Triffids in there as well.

The Unquiet, complete with free ‘soundtrack’ CD is out now in hardback by Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99. For more information go to www.johnconnollybooks.com

Posted by Danny Eccleston at 03:36PM | Leave a Comment (0)
EXCLUSIVE: PAVEMENT MAN GOES GREEN9 Mar 2007

Stephen_malkmus MOJO can exclusively reveal that Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks have confirmed that they’ll play the Sunday night headline slot at this year's Green Man Festival, August 19.

Green Man is the MOJO-endorsed mecca of nu-folk, head rock and good vibes held at Glanusk Park, Brecon Beacons, Powys, Wales over the weekend of 17-19 August 2007. Acts confirmed so far include Bill Callahan (of Smog fame), Dead Meadow, Gruff Rhys, Vetiver, The Earlies, Vashti Bunyan, Richmond Fontaine, Euros Childs and Tunng. Joanna Newsom and Robert Plant headline on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 respectively.

Click More button for exclusive Stephen Malkmus interview, plus ticket details…

Stephen, where are you right now?
We’re in Fort Lauderdale, this suburban sprawl just north of Miami. We’re on this hippy festival bill. I’s called Langerado, related to Bonnaroo. It’s this big, hairy, soap-dodging mess. It’s spring break, too. So it’s kids off university doing Jell-O shots and trying to get laid. Great if you like drugs and the hairier girl.

Are the Jicks a good soundtrack to picking up hairy girls?
Of course! That’s why we’re playing Green Man. We hear it’s the Welsh way.

How’s your knowledge of Welsh culture? What’s the national plant?
I can see it, but I can’t name it. I wanna say hemlock…

Here’s a clue. It’s like an elongated onion…

Aaaah, I’ve got it! It’s a leek. I know some Welsh music. There’s this guy called Meic Stevens, who made a record called Outlander on Sain, which you guys should really do something on – it’s brilliant acid folk-type stuff.

What’s new in Jicksworld?
We’ve got a new drummer, Janet Weiss [ex-of Sleater-Kinney and Quasi]. We’re making a new record at the end of May with an engineer called TJ Doherty – a cool kid who worked on the Wilco record. We’re doing it in Montana, which is new for us. We’ve pretty much got it all worked out, bar lyrics. We’re ready to go.

What can you tell me about the new songs, without having to kill me afterwards?
I don’t know how to make it sound very exciting, but I like to think it manages to polarise and bring together at the same time. There are some really long songs – which some people like – and some short songs – which some people seem to hate. There are no guitar solos!

How does it compare with the last album, Face The Truth [2005]?
That was quite a scruffy record, 80 per cent of which I did at home, screwing around, embodying the DIY spirit. Perhaps a bit too scruffy in parts. This will be more rehearsed.

The difference between The Jicks and Pavement seems to boil down to: Less Chaos, More Rocking.
That’s true. We just played Maxwell’s in New Jersey the other day and Joanne [Bolme, bass] was taking the tube back to New York and there was a drunk guy saying, “I liked Pavement better.” And my friend is like, “Well did you ever see Pavement?” “Er, no” “Well that’s why you think that.” Pavement could be great or we could be horrible, then we got to be great for a little while, then we ended up as kinda… band-on-tour. But the chaos thing, yes, I don’t see that in a lot of the kids’ music these days.

Are you still rocking the Frank Zappa moustache?
It’s more trimmed than his. It works, I think – kind of a hipster thing. If you go to Brooklyn these days every guy’s got facial hair. For me it’s like, I’m pushing 40, I may as well try something different.

Green Man will be a big jungle of facial hair.
You British have been pioneering it. Nothing says, I’m a bit artsy and a little bit sexy quite like it.

Tickets for this year's event are available from the Festival website thegreenmanfestival.co.uk and from Ticketline UK on 08700 667799.

Adult weekend tickets cost £98 including on-site camping and parking and entry is free for Under 12s. There will be an additional cost for those wishing to bring a live-in vehicle.

If you would like any further information about tickets please email info@thegreenmanfestival.co.uk.

Posted by Danny Eccleston at 06:13PM | Leave a Comment (0)
PETTY, STEVENS PICK BEST BEATLE TRACKS30 May 2006

Tompetty_2_160x120_1

This just in from Tom Petty: "For me it has to be I Want To Hold Your Hand [single, 1963]. The Beatles were hyped to be the best thing ever, but they actually were better than that. Just the *sound of I Want To Hold Your Hand is thrilling. Even today when I listen to it, it doesn't really sound like people singing, it sounds like it could be Martians or something. I was just a kid when it came out. I went and bought the single with that picture of them on the cover in those great collarless suits, and then I immediately set out to get a guitar. I've read that guitar sales boomed after that."

Sufjan_stevens2_1

And a late entry from Sufjan Stevens: "Even as a child, I knew Strawberry Fields Forever [single, 1967] was a song of incarnation. John Lennon's sobering voice, pitch-shifted down, Ringo's bombastic beats, George Martin's gregarious string and horn arrangements, the tape-splicing, the mood swings, that weird nautical alarm clock in the third verse, the jam-out, the fade out, the fantastic coda. It was serious and silly all at once. At the time, I took it literally: Yes, of course, let's go down and pick strawberries with the Fab Four. Why not? Years later, in college, my friends cued me to the drug references. But now, I'm not so sure. The multiple variations released on the Anthology albums indicate something much deeper. To me, it's a song about John working it out, shrugging his shoulders, letting it go, returning to an idyllic place from his childhood now lost in memory. In the process he also happened to create one of the most gorgeous psychedelic revelations in pop music."

Now vote for your favourites, to be compiled in a forthcoming Mojo readers' chart...

Posted by MOJO at 09:19AM | Leave a Comment (2)