probably 1987 or so and I’ve been living in Berlin for a
while really busy with the Bad Seeds and reacquainting myself
He’d been doing his solo band and touring for Wildweed
and I’d done Fur
Bible and then started doing Nick
Cave and the Bad Seeds and our paths crossed a lot
times and we started up our friendship once again. And he called
me one night and said he was thinking of doing The
Gun Club with Nick and Romi from the solo band and
would I be interested to do it - and I was really interested to
do it. I thought enough time had passed. The reason that we split
in 1984 was just complete exhaustion and frustration. So I thought
this was a great idea. I discussed it with him and he was telling
me he was thinking of getting Robin
Guthrie of The
Cocteau Twins to maybe produce it and a friend of
ours, Richard Thomas, had suggested managing us. And he was telling
him that this would probably be a really good idea – to
do The Gun Club again. And so we started talking about it.
had been doing a lot of recording at Hansa (Studios - Berlin)
with Nick and I’d done some stuff with Die
Haut and Neubauten
in there. And Diamanda
Galas had recorded there. It was really a great place
and it was really economical and I thought the atmosphere would
be really good to make a Gun Club record there. He thought it
was a good idea too. For me it had a lot of historical value because
M had recorded there - my favorite - and also David
Bowie and Iggy
Pop had done The
Idiot, I think some of Low
was there. U2
had done some stuff – maybe some of the stuff with Eno
– there. People knew that Berlin was a great atmosphere
for a certain type of sound and Hansa has a live room that’s
a giant old ballroom and it’s a really great live room and
it was also economically sound compared to the places we’d
recorded in London.
idea for the record really was to make it sound like a Gun Club
record – because we’d been doing things trying to
sound a different way. And we’d had enough distance from
The Gun Club sound to want to go back to it. The thing is, that
when me and Jeffrey do stuff together, it’s a certain combination
and it comes out sounding a certain way. And there’s something
about the mix that always makes a certain sound – the mix
of my style and Jeffrey’s vision. Jeffrey had done that
Wildweed which he tried to do a more songwriter-y sort
of record, more modern or whatever kind of record – I don’t
know what kind of record he was trying to make. I’d done
the Fur Bible. I was going through a big experimental phase in
the Bad Seeds. Just doing different kinds of experiments. What
we though we wanted to go back to was a kind of stripped down
sort of sound. We just felt we were different people than we were
when we left off and that was a good starting point for making
a new record. And in Romi and Nick we’d found a really good
Las Vegas Story
we’d gone into a sort of a dark pit – but a nice one.
But for The Las Vegas Story we’d done a lot of
dual guitar interplay – that kind of Television
spiral sound. And what we decided to do was make The Gun Club
and make a really strong rock sound and make a rock album. I think
I flew to London and we rehearsed for a while. We’d actually
made some demos with Tony Cohen who had done Tender
Prey in London. We moved back to Berlin where
I was living and recorded the album at Hansa studio quite fast
– I think within two weeks.
decision to get Robin was another perverse decision to do something.
Through Romi Jeffrey had discovered the Cocteau Twins and really
loved the lushness and the dreamy quality. When people asked him,
“What kind of music is The Gun Club?” He always called
it “surrealism and blues.” Robin got this kind of
surrealist sound. Actually Jeffrey had met Robin at a Ramones
concert in London. He met Robin and Liz
Frasier and they were sweaty in the front row of
the Ramones concert dancing and they started talking and he was
like, “Oh! You’re the Cocteau Twins!” And found
out that they were big Ramones and Stooges
fans and they liked The Gun Club and actually were quite big rockers
– Robin especially. So they befriended each other and then
the idea between the two of them came out to work together.
sound was definitely very thought out. What me and Jeffrey had
really talked about a lot for this album was going back to music
that we heard coming out of garages when we were teenagers in
East LA – the kind of rock music of the 70s we heard coming
from garage bands – which was always a mix of soul music
or hard rock – it was a weird, very unique sort of sound.
We were actually going for an East LA sort of sound in Berlin
with the Cocteau Twins producing. So it was a little bit of a
culture clash. But I thought that’s what we were always
about – we were always about experimenting and mixing up
stuff like that that seemed incongruous. Robin had a big hand
in producing it. And his version of what rock sound is different
than our version was and we actually quite welcomed that.
there was the fascination between Jeffrey loving the Cocteau Twins
and I quite like the Cocteau Twins too. I really liked that big
swirl of sound they had. Jeffrey really wanted to make a song
that, if we were going to use Robin, we should use him for what
he does best also. He would not only pervert himself and do rock
music but we were also able to pervert ourselves and do Cocteau
Twins music. (“The
Breaking Hands”) was a very conscious effort
to make a Cocteau Twins-sounding song – which I think turned
out really beautiful with Jeffrey singing and us playing slide
guitars. Romi played the lead melody guitar on that. It was a
very experimental collaboration.
the cover was done by our friend Claus
Castenskiold – A Danish-American painter. We
had met him through The
Fall – because he had done a lot of The Fall’s
record covers and he’s a unique character with unique artwork
– this expressionist painting. And Jeffrey actually gave
him a paparazzi photo of a Japanese pop singer and she had just
won some big Japanese Grammy award and here husband was somewhat
of a brut and he got drunk at a party and punched out the paparazzi
and grabbed her by the hair and threw her in the car and they
were driving away and the paparazzi were taking these photos.
There’s this photo of this big Japanese thug driving the
car and she’s in the car in total shame covering her face.
were very into film and very into the subconscious. A lot of Jeffrey’s
lyrics come from subconscious thought or thinking about what people’s
subconscious thoughts are. And that’s what his lyrics are.
In that book, Go
Tell The Mountain, he said that one thing that
stuck with him was that a friend of his, this guy Don
Waller, who was a writer for Back
Door Man, said, “You should always write
about what people don’t want to hear.” Jeffrey kind
of took that philosophy and the songs usually have that theme
Rhino put it out in England and I think we had licensed it out
to a lot of different people. And that was OK and good because
it was a very successful record, but in the end it wasn’t
very good because they went bankrupt.
that point Jeffrey had totally transformed himself and become
a health-fitness freak. And he dropped a whole lot of weight and
went back to his natural hair color of brown – dark hair.
He’d gone through this weird health regime but mixed at
the same time with really heavy drinking. It was kind of a strange
time. I remember I was heavily drinking at the time. He was really
starting to get ill at this point. Even though he looked great,
really what was happening was that he had cirrhosis of the liver
and it was diagnosed as far back as Miami.
band was really strong. We played a lot of really fast hard rock
songs. It was a very intense show. Definitely the first Mother
Juno tour we were, especially Jeffrey, really pushing it.
And he would come offstage and collapse on the floor. I don’t
know how much of that was that he was over-exhausted because he
was ill or how much of that was that he was really putting forth
everything. And that was how we were going at the time.
did an American tour – and I think it was kind of a typical
American tour for us. It was really good in the big cities –
but we played a lot of cities. And I think we had started on our
debaucherous ways again on that tour.
in Los Angeles was really something quite bizarre because the
last time we had played in Los Angeles had been before leaving
on Las Vegas Story (tour) - before we moved away. The
Las Vegas Story came out and our last gig there we probably
played for fifty people. When that album came out there was no
hometown fanfare for us or anything which was totally different
than in San Francisco or in New York or Chicago or anywhere where
we had sell-out shows. We played The Ritz in New York but in LA
we were still playing small clubs to fifty people – half
of the people we knew - were friends of ours. So when we went
back to play on the Mother Juno tour we played a huge
theater that was completely sold out. So it was kind of a strange
were actually received like a European band in Los Angeles. By
the time we did that American tour we’d been living in Europe
for five years or so. So we basically were seeing things through
European eyes and had become quite European. We had international
people in our band – Japanese and British. Our way of thinking,
our approach, had kind of always been that way – further-reaching
than a local Los Angeles band and our interests were in different
cultures. And so we came back and were received like a European
band – playing to a full house at a theater in Los Angeles.
then it was another situation of being in a band with a couple
– which I had swore I would never do again after The Cramps.
That’s only because you’re stuck in a van, and you’re
stuck backstage together. And if they have an argument it’s
really bad for everyone else because you can’t get involved
in it and, if you do, it does you no good.
we did more touring.
played this festival in Greece – a two-day free festival.
The first night was going to be the Triffids from Australia and
Public Image, and the second night was The Gun Club and Jesus
and the Mary Chain. And so the first night we got
to Athens the promoters took us to a restaurant on a hill overlooking
the site of the festival. And you could see the stage and the
entire audience at this restaurant on a hill. The
Triffids had played and Public Image was set up.
PiL was set-up to do their show – which we also were all
they started giving word that people were climbing all in the
light towers, all over the PA, I think no barrier or anything.
People were smashed against the stage and it was really a big
mob-scene. Suddenly what we heard was that some anarchist group
had come. The mayor or governor or whoever had announced this
as a gift to the people of Athens and they were having none of
that gift charity from them. And so they showed up to start a
riot. They came with fire and Molotov cocktails. And Public Image
delayed and delayed and delayed because their security people
were saying it was unsafe for them to be there. And that just
started a complete riot. That was all they needed. The audience
got really prickly and their blood started boiling.
these anarchists started throwing Molotov cocktails at the stage
and a complete riot ensued where they quite literally burned down
the stage. People had big poles and baseball bat kind of sticks
and started smashing everything. The entire sound booth that was
out in the middle of the thing got smashed to the ground. All
of the equipment was smashed. People were running for their lives
because it was getting really hairy. And so we were up above and
watched the whole thing unfold and happen. It was really quite
astonishing. It was a
crazy crazy riot.
this was the thing – I’d been through some riots in
Greece before at our concerts. When the Bad Seeds played there
was a big riot outside. I think stuff gets oversold and people
can’t get in and they’re very passionate. I would
assume they are. Another time The Gun Club played this club gig
and people couldn’t get in – or maybe they just didn’t
have the money to get in or whatever, some people came and maced
the security people and kicked in the doors and everyone came
running in. That was a kind of electric experience.
yeah, it was kind of crazy because then we
lost all of our friends in The Triffids and we didn’t
know where they were and they’d gone running for their life
and trying to save their equipment and the promoters were crying
and it was a mess – as you can imagine. So we went home
the next day and obviously there was no concert the next night
with The Gun Club and Jesus and the Mary Chain.
York Night Train would like to thank Hellione for
thegunclub.net the photos.
"Black Hole": The Gun Club Pt 4 (1989 – 1996)
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