A few nights ago, while drunkenly searching for some of my old heroes on Twitter, I came across Anton Newcombe of Brian Jonestown Massacre, who is now living in Berlin. I quickly tweeted at him, asking if he'd be interested in answering some questions. I didn’t expect a reply. Then, 20 seconds later, he wrote back: "ok, let's do this." The internet is so fucking fresh sometimes.
I quickly tore through a few of his old interviews where he was asked the sort of vanilla questions illustrated in this tweet by Mississippi seer/musician, Dent May. Newcombe ripped into a couple of the interviewers for asking such boring questions, and rightly so. Afraid of asking similarly bland and idiotic things that might give one of my favourite musicians a reason to chastise me, I decided to conduct my interview differently.
I'd tried this one time before with the writer Edmund White, and it turned out fucking solid if I do say so myself. So I did it again here, via email, with one of my few still-living idols. As you'll see, Newcombe's vision is as fascinating and pure as ever. The man's relentless.
VICE: Is there anything greater than love?
Anton Newcombe: Gil Scott-Heron singing "Home Is Where the Hatred Is".
How long do you give civilisation?
On the macro or micro front? It's high time for a radical rethink of all things Western, regarding capitalism and its fan club.
Wolfgang Gotthardt Newcombe.
What doesn't matter?
Popular culture, Get Kony 2012, Glee, Pop Idol, The X-Factor, Scientology, Alex Jones fans' fears, one-world government.
What doesn't matter even more?
FEAR. He who fears death cannot enjoy life.
What's the difference between a visionary and prophet?
A prophet has to be realised. A visionary can go about changing the world, unnoticed. The foundation of the pyramid is under the desert sand, never seen a starry sky.
What are some people doing right?
Holding the torch high so others might see the path. It's the duty of youth and the pleasure of old age.
What makes you hopeful?
I'm not filled with hope or worry. All things must pass, so let us watch this parade pass.
What do you think when you hear someone say, "Do you believe in God?"
I am more interested in what God thinks of man than of what man thinks of God.
What do you think when you hear someone say, "There is no message"?
It's a conversation killer.
What happens when we die?
It depends on who or what you are. We are made out of stars. I imagine we find our way to the centre of a black hole, then come squirting out of the white reverse of the same and become new stars.
Why are we here and what should we be doing?
We should be pressing every button, pulling every lever until we figure out how to work the machine or at least turn the fucking thing off.
What distinguishes Anton Newcombe from the rest of the world?
I am an individual.
What do you share with everyone?
Wisdom and folly, in equal measure.
Do people change?
Reptilian shape-shifting puzzle piece party cheaters.
Have you seen that movie After Life? It's about a way-station after death where you get to choose one moment in your life that they recreate and film, and then you spend eternity with that memory. What would yours be?
Sitting at the feet of God singing the praises of the holy creation forever.
Who do you miss?
Trish from Broadcast.
What do you miss?
People with soul being on TV. Music with soul on the radio.
What are you waiting for?
Revolution to catch up with the victims of this insanity.
What are you not waiting for?
The next homoerotic Disney moment.
What is beauty?
Something I love.
A fact of life.
Is it possible that our bodies have been getting in the way of connecting and that the internet is where our minds and spirits and ideas will all truly meet?
That explains the vast wasteland of Facebook. Fuck the internet. Ideas are where it's at, not virtual hangouts and mindless chatter.
Fuck, Marry, Kill? The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost.
My god created the devil, and my god will deal with the devil.
Do you see artistic expression as an emptying and filling up of the artist?
Sure, if I am thinking about that stuff... Most of the time I am busy being an artist, not busy thinking about what it means.
Is everyone capable of anything?
If you could intoxicate yourself with one thing and nothing else for the rest of your life, what would it be (if anything at all)?
I would pass on the one thing thing. If you are stoned all day, it becomes the way you are, and nothing. I like to mix it up.
What do you want to say?
It's time for Total Revolution. The banks don't work, the governments all owe money and have failed, the wars suck… all of it is a failure – it's time to upset, big time.
Care to leave us with one of your lyrics that you feel best encapsulates the point?
silver rings and
should not know
are rotten seeds
the kind that never grow
you put them in the ground you know
what you will become?
i'll tell you son
she traded life for happiness
with no regrets at all
it left a rotten emptiness
it left her feeling small
it left her nothing left at all
except something she despised
you see it in her eyes
she traded love for liberty
a bold pursuit of fun
she gave away her sanity
and found that she had none
watch quickly now as she becomes
something that she despised
feels it in her
she's living in a lie
and she's the centre
she gave away her life
she's not a sinner
Thank you, Anton.
P.S. Make sure and check out Dead TV International. It’s some kind of internet headquarters for Newcombe's mind.
Follow Giancarlo on Twitter: @nytyrant