|Summer Sonic 2011: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion interview
‘We’ve never been much on planning with this band…’
Posted: Tue Aug 09 2011
Suede, PiL, Death from Above 1979, The Pop Group, House of Pain, Bow Wow Wow, X Japan… The lineup for this year’s Summer Sonic is teeming with bands you probably thought you’d never hear from again. There’s room for debate about whether The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion ever really fit into that category, but for a few years during the past decade, it looked like these raucous punk-blues rockers might have exited the music business for good.
Not so, as the band’s eponymous vocalist, guitarist and theremin player tells Time Out. And the Blues Explosion can doubtless look forward to an enthusiastic reception when they return to the festival that they headlined way back in 2000 – the very first edition of Summer Sonic.
The band’s been inactive for almost six years: was the break intended to be as long as it was?
No; you know we didn’t have a plan. We’ve never been much on planning with this band. It just sort of fell together and we kept doing it because it felt good and then when we wanted to take a break, we took a break. After our last album, Damage, we were over in Australia doing the  Big Day Out and then sometime after that we figured it was time for a rest.
What spurred it?
I know for me I was interested in working with other people, making other kinds of music. I spent a lot of time in the past few years working with a rockabilly band called Heavy Trash – you know, we toured Australia last year.
So what got you back together?
About a year ago we began working on this reissue project because the rights to all the albums had reverted to the band. They’d all gone out of print and we wanted to make them available again, cause I think they’re great records. So I think the reissue programme is kind of what’s spurred us back into action.
And you’ve gone back to the full name of the band?
We’d always called ourselves the Blues Explosion – I mean, that was always what I would yell, I never used the full name of the group – but you know, I think that just making it official, the way in which we did with Damage, this name shortening, simply confused people even more. So it was maybe not the best idea. There were good intentions; I think it’s kind of a show of solidarity and really digging into the trenches, but it didn’t really go over so well.
So are you drawing from across the catalogue for this tour?
Yeah, we play songs from the entire history of band, but some of the songs we’ve created new arrangements and we’re actually messin’ around with some new songs as well. As far as song selection there are some things which we definitely don’t touch.
What sort of stuff?
Ah… um… well… things which seemed relevant or a good idea when they were written that don’t work now. I have reasons.
Well… OK, for instance, on the album Extra Width there are songs which directly addressed issues that were going on amongst the band at the time. Like, ‘History of Lies’ was written to specifically address drug abuse and how things were spinning out of control within the band. I don’t really want to play that song today. I don’t know if that’s the best example, but there’s an example.