Primal Scream - Something Primal This Way Comes
Although they’re still hoping to be here for a good time and not a long time, Primal Scream, the Scottish trippers who melded rock, rave and an appetite for self-destruction, have largely mended their evil ways. 3D’s Steve Tauschke hears from guitarist Andrew Innes.
Notorious for their Hoover-like drug and alcohol intake over the years, Primal Scream have garnered almost as much attention for their backstage exploits as they have for their euphoric peak-period albums Screamadelica and Give Out But Don’t Give Up in the ‘90s.
The insider stories are the stuff of legend, most memorably a heated band argument one evening over whether to order Chinese, Indian or Vietnamese.
“Why don’t you just settle for burgers-” interjected a bystander to which came the terse reply. “It’s heroin we’re discussing – not food!”
For the band’s London-based guitarist Andrew Innes however, those decadent days are over. Now middle-aged and sober, he says the group has moved on from their Stones-ian acolyte status and re-discovered the pure joy in writing and performing, unhindered by drugs and dramas.
“You’ve got to make it fun because we’re in our forties now and if it’s not fun then what the hell are you doing it for!” says a flu-addled Innes in a thick Scottish brogue. “It’s the same with these live shows, they’ve been the most fun in years these last couple of tours. It’s been great, the band is reinvigorated again.”
Despite a multitude of personnel changes and plenty of experimenting, both musically and narcotically, Innes and founding singer Bobby Gillespie have remained Primal Scream’s guiding hands, seeing off the acid house, grunge, punk and electronica movements while remaining progressive throughout.
“Rock ‘n’ roll has just been great to us,” says Innes. “It picks you up when you’re down and it’s just fantastic to be able to keep going in music and get paid to do what you love. Playing a concert with 2000 people singing your songs – what can be better than that- We’re lucky we’ve managed to do it for 20 years now.”
The veterans’ ninth album, last year’s Beautiful Future, produced by Bjorn Yttling of Peter Bjorn and John, finds the quintet playing with a renewed vigor and melodic optimism found lacking on 2006’s disappointing Riot City Blues.
“I thought this was quite a pop record,” offers Innes. “It quite like Uptown which is sort of a beautiful disco song, we enjoyed making that. Suicide Bomb, I liked that too. It’s just different every time so long as you keep changing and moving and keeping yourself interested.”
Having previously collaborated with big names such as Robert Plant, Bernard Sumner and My Bloody Valentine guitar maestro Kevin Shields, Primal Scream also used Beautiful Future as an opportunity to build on their already extensive studio guest list, inviting Josh Homme, CSS’s Lovefoxxx and folkie Linda Thompson into the fold.
“People like Bernard Sumner and Robert Plant are our heroes,” says Innes. “Robert Plant’s got a house near our studio and you see him in the post office and in the pub and he just talks to you for hours about music. He’s a real music fanatic and he likes ‘60s psychedelia like we do.
“And he’s quite self-effacing, he doesn’t tell bragging stories, he just likes to talk about Skip Spence’s LP or Syd Barrett. We asked if he wanted to come around and play with us and he said ‘of course I will’.”
It’s anyone’s guess who’ll join Primal Scream on Australian stages this month, their first visit here in nine years. For Innes, he’s just hoping some balmy Aussie weather will dry out his lingering cold.
“I’ve not been out of the house in a couple of weeks with the flu so I can’t wait to get to Australia and get some sun, some heat,” he says. “And we’re coming for a good time - we want to be out there having a good time. We’ll be playing a few songs from the new record and playing a lot of our favourites as well.
“There are so many songs now that we sort of jumble up the set every night, depending on how we feel. When we played Glasgow we played for nearly two hours so it’s great - you can play songs you haven’t played for years.”
WHO: Primal Scream
WHERE: Play the Forum / Playground Weekender
WHEN: Wednesday 4 February / Saturday 7 February