Photos and Interview by Kevin Neal.
Obviously the new record is a recall back to the raw guitar centered sound of your earlier records – was that an intentional decision or did it just happen naturally in the writing process?
Serge: It was an intentional writing thing, to do it really quickly in a short space of time. A couple of months and just make a kick ass guitar record with like, sort of the Ramones and Stooges in mind. And then even sort of like The Talking Heads and ESG sort of street disco-y thing mixed with this sort of punk rock-y thing. That felt like a reason to make an album. And to really focus on structure & great pop records. All those punk records, they follow the sort of same rules as all the great Motown stuff.
Tom: I guess just to make a great rock pop record—it’s simple. Instead of being experimental and all that we just went back to Serge doing all the songs on a guitar, that’s why playing them acoustic is so easy to do. [Laughs] I think it’s our best album. I always say that on every fucking record but—it’s just a natural thing, that’s real rock & roll isn’t it?
On the track “You’re in Love With A Psycho” one lyric stood out, “I’m like the taste of macaroni on a seafood stick.” That seems like a real unsettling feeling, maybe referencing a personal experience?
Serge: [Laughs] No, it didn’t happen. I just flowed that song. That song was written in five minutes and for some reason I just sang that line. But it makes sense cause it’s wrong isn’t it? It’s the wrongest feeling. And you know what it’s like when you’re in a relationship sometimes and you’re just like “Fuck, you are just the worst thing I can imagine right now.” You are madly in love with them but there are times where you fucking hate them. It’s that feeling.
The artwork features your longtime roadie Rick – how did that come about, and was he apprehensive towards having his face plastered on the cover?
Serge: It reminded me of those old late 70’s fan zines, And the idea of putting a 70 year old man on the front cover of your album, weirdly enough is quite controversial with the record label. They were sort of against it, they were saying “no, no, people aren’t going to understand it.” I said I don’t care- the people that do understand it, they’re the people who will find it really funny. They’re the ones I want to buy the album. It’s a little in-joke. He also gets a load of hassle, which is quite funny for me. He has to do loads of autographs now.
Every record since the first has hit number one, did you guys feel a certain pressure when writing to continue that streak?
Tom: We just make music. Pressure’s being in the army or being a doctor. Pressure is having a 9 to 5. This is music & we’re grateful we do it, y’know? We’re grateful for what we do. I mean… there’s that voice saying “Are we still cool? Are we alright?” now and then.
You’ve been together for 20 years, has there ever been a moment where you said to yourselves “This is it, we’re probably done?”
Tom: Never to that stage. My attitudes changed in the band a lot. And it reflects on the other members, without going into details. I mean I wasn’t horrible, I was just in a bad way. It wasn’t like “we can’t tour if Tom’s like this anymore” y’know what I mean? It wasn’t “we’re done,” we never got near that. But I think we’ve had a rebirth and we’ve been through so much together. As long as we enjoy what we’re doing and we keep making great records and people want us we’ll fucking around until our hearts stop. That’s our aim. It’s not a job, it’s our lives.