Sunday, October 05, 2008

I am the record company!

I do love my Word magazine. Apart from peerless film and CD reviews and marvellous features and interviews, there will always be a few priceless nuggets of trivia that illuminate my life. This weekend, I learnt who brought Tony Hancock’s ashes back from Australia and earned himself an upgrade to First Class as a result. Somehow I feel a better person knowing this.

I watched Dig yesterday. Witnessing the differing career trajectories of rival beat combos The Dandy Warhols and Brian Jonestown Massacre proved fascinating. In many ways the BJM produce the more interesting and challenging music but appear to commit career suicide at every turn, aided and abetted by leader Anton Newcombe (pictured above), one of the most self-obsessed and disagreeable characters to ever stalk the earth. Managing to alienate band members, audience members and record company executives quite so regularly and wholeheartedly and on such a regular basis takes a great deal of effort but Newcombe doesn’t flinch from his quest to cause maximum offence to the greatest number of people. All of this seems a shame because the fellow’s musical skills seem tremendous and the clips of the band playing their soaring neo-psychedelic songs are truly captivating. I want to hear more of their stuff. By comparison, The Dandy Warhols play it safe, upset less people (although egos are present here too), produce less contentious sounds and, quelle surprise!, end up enjoying international hits, headlining major festivals and becoming rather large stars. It’s a compelling comparison. Brian Jonestown Massacre never ‘sell out’ I suppose but, considering Newcombe’s unseemly antics, I have little sympathy for the band’s lack of mainstream success. Dig seems to demonstrate an object lesson in how, and how not, to make it.

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