The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Rolling Stone: Random Notes / Track x Track (PRESS, US)

November 1998 Rolling Stone
These articles originally appeared in Rolling Stone but were later included in a press release sent out by Matador Records to promote The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion release Acme. Also sent out with several other photocopied articles/reviews and a 10″ x 8″ black and white band photograph.

The first article is a short piece about the Talk About The Blues video from the Random Notes section and the second is a brief explanation of some of the tracks from Acme.

Article includes the incorrect spelling of Cristina with a ‘H’.

Random Notes by Anthony Bozza

A lot of people who see it ask, “When’s This Movie Comin’ out? This looks like a good movie,'” said Jon Spencer of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s video for “Talk About The Blues.” The clip is a switcheroo on the tedious soundtrack-video-as-film-trailer shtick: Actors play the band, while the band appears in “footage” from a “crime drama.” Giovanni Ribisi (subUrbia and the upcoming Mod Squad remake; above left), Winona Ryder and John C. Reilly (Dirk Diggler’s sidekick in Boogie Nights play, respectively, guitarist Judah Bauer, Spencer and drummer Russell Simins (below, from left). “I definitely wanted a woman to portray me,” Spencer said. “Who wouldn’t want a woman to play them?” Winona was no match for the Blues Explosion: “The Blues Explosion’s acting is really gonna blow people away. I don’t want to give too much away but we play Russian ganagsters.”

Track x Track

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Acme

Jon Spencer is tired, darn tired. Despite the spontaneous gutbucket brilliant of Acme, the latest Jon Spencer Blues Explosion album, Spencer says that “all aspects of making it were a real struggle.” But Acme isn’t his only production – Spencer and his wife, Boss Hog frontsiren Christina Martinez, recently had a baby boy.

Though fans may be surprised by the “fatherhood” songs, they won’t be disappointed by Acme’s mashing of hip-hop and techno terror into the band’s trademark punkabilly strut. “We kind of did the album like a remix record,” Spencer says. To that end, the Blues Explosion – which includes drummer Russell Simins and guitarist-vocalist Judah Bauer – enlisted co-conspirators like producer Steve Albini, Dr. Octagon beat but Dan Nakamura (a.k.a. the Automator), Atari Teenage Riot’s Alec Empire, members of Dub Narcotic Sound System and others to stir up Acme’s lethal cocktail. Here, Spencer gives the low-down on the album’s down-low grooves.

“Do You Wanna Get Heavy?” “The Automator gave us a loop that we just improvised over – it was this five-minute noodling thing. Months later, we added the rock part in the middle and had a vocal group come in to do backing vocals – these guys from Brooklyn that sing on the subway. This might be the first time that ‘pretty’ acoustic guitar (if that’s what it is) has appeared on a Blues Explosion song, but it’s radical because my vocal style is so different – that is, intelligible. The subject of the song was also something new. That’s one of the ‘fatherhood’ songs: ‘Heavy’ is heavy”

“Talk About The Blues” “I looped up samples taken from us fucking around at the old Dub Narcotic studio. I sat there playing them manually and free-styling; then the Automator took it and made it really dope. It was done right after I did an interview for Rolling Stone. I was nervous because it was for the blues issue [RS 787], and we’ve gotton a lot of flak for being called the Blues Explosion and doing what we do. Lyrically, I set the record straight: ‘We don’t play no blues – we’re a rock & roll band.’ Like Nixon used to say, ‘You need to make it perfectly clear for people to understand.'”

“Bernie” “Bernie’s a friend from the scene, man. He follows us from show to show, flying all over the country. He’s a powerful executive at IBM or 3M or something – big, strong-looking guy and a real music fan. It’s just a song about fuckin’, and it’s not really about Bernie, though he’s a very sexual guy. We had the ladies [Martinez and Boss Hog drummer Hollis Queens] sing on it and bring their sexy-girl energy. Originally it was called ‘Get Down With Brian’ for this Dub Narcotic guy, but Albini called it ‘Get Down With Bernie.’ We shortened it as a tribute to him and to the friends of the Blues Explosion.”

“Attack” “This was Alec Empire and the Automator fighting an earsplitting battle across the mixing desk. Judah and Russell witnessed it and said it was violent. Albini’s original had this amazing hi-fi quality, and Alec just trashed it, pushing the mixing equipment to its limit while the Automator added big beats and scratching. Originally it was another response to criticism of the band, but it turned into a typical ‘Yay! Blues Explosion!’ cheerleading song. People said, ‘Don’t put that on the record, I’m sick of that Blues Explosion shit.’ Fuck ’em – we put it on.”

– Matt Diehl “