Monday, 17 December 2012

EXCLUSIVE: Michael Des Barres interview (Part Three)

I always enjoy talking to Michael Des Barres; he has a ridiculously hectic schedule, and does some fascinating things, but his underlying philosophy is very similar to mine. The other afternoon I had two film directors here, they were talking to Corinna and me about a film project based on our monthly webTV show On The Track. In the middle of this my housekeeper Helen and her irrepressible daughter Jessica (to whom I have been Uncle Jon for most of her life) arrived, and then - with all this madness around me - I telephoned Michael.

By the way you can read Part One here and Part Two here.

JON: You and I have always had the same attitude about rock and roll

MICHAEL: Yes it’s anarchic because we were there when rock and roll bands didn’t have the technology to clean everything up and make it in tune.  We were raised on the incongruities and the idiosyncratic versions of these songs live.  You know there is nothing more exciting than sitting in clubs hanging in a club rather, sweating listening to a band being in the moment.  You know that is what we… I really do believe that we captured that on this album.  And the other thing that Rob was so clever about, was he said, ‘Michael, you know, most people might know you from acting. So therefore we need to create a catalogue, we need to create a substantive body of work which is what I’m about, you know I’ve got so many plans for future songs – my next song is going to be a Valentine Day’s song called Intimacy and of course the nuance is Into Me you See.

JON: That is brilliant, man.  I like what you said, I think it was on your Facebook page fairly recently about how your next lots of songs are going to be – and I’m paraphrasing here – they were going to be responses to particular times and places

MICHAEL: Yes absolutely, and Valentine’s Day, you know, it’s always predicted in a skipping along in a meadow and floating down a lovely river with swans and things.  The fact is no-one has every written a really full-bodied physical Valentine’s Day song.  It’s always so airy-fairy so I want to nuance that.  Any time, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, what a New Year really means and shit like that.  And also with Stop in the Name of Love, I want to address conflict and catastrophe.  Every song that I write from this moment on is going to be solutionist.

JON: That is really good.  Again that goes back to John Sinclair and the beginning of the MC5 live album

MICHAEL: That’s right.

JON: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem

MICHAEL: That’s right, that’s exactly it.  That is, I think today, a much more attractive notion than it was then.  Then it was seen as almost a violent white panther revolution consciousness, but that didn’t work.  The revolution is within, you know. We have to spiritually change in order to make change in a physical world and that’s what I  am about, I mean, that’s it, there’s no point in doing any art any more that doesn’t convey positive fun, carnal, joyous music for people to dance and act. And react and activate

JON: I agree totally Michael

MICHAEL: There’s no other reason for doing it man.  I’m not interested in seeing Guy Ritchie gangster thrillers of people being nailed to the floor nor am I interested in seeing Jesus nailed to a cross.  I want to see nails building houses, in homeless areas in third world countries. Where they have fresh water and the chance of a good life.

JON: That’s brilliant man.  I like that a lot.  Something else I was going to ask.  You’re doing the Rolling Stones tribute aren’t you?


JON: What songs are you going to sing?

MICHAEL: I’m going to do Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Brown Sugar to close the show.  What else could I end with?  You know what I mean?

JON: I know if it had been me I would have wanted to do No Expectations

MICHAEL: I love it, but remember I’m in a little club in the east side of LA and that I just want to kick ass.  I don’t want to come down with the acoustic and go ‘There are no expectations……’ The facts are that I have incredible expectations for what can happen. So maybe I should sing Oh Come all ye Faithful like the Stones, I don’t know.  I did it because I love that club – the club is great and thing is you know we have to support each other here.  There’s got to be a sense of community that doesn’t require earthquakes

Let’s face it the music industry is dead.  Up to us now to start again and do something better
Absolutely. The digital apocalypse. It’s over, all that crap.  And the hustle is over.  People respond to finding out who you are made by you.  The product – and I loathe the word – is really just a manifestation of who the artist is and if they have a connection or relationship with that artist then we are going to involve them, in what he or she is doing.  Rather than selling products, you are merely communicating who you are. And if people like that, then they will like what you do. It’s as simple as that.

JON: That’s fantastic Michael. When does the album come out?

MICHAEL: I just emailed Rob this morning.  It will depend on whether he wants a DVD because I shot four songs live which are incredible, and I shot the rehearsal too with us talking and creating this music. And it’s funny and informative and I want to do a DVD and I want to do a collage somewhat similar to Exile on Main Street’s cover which is just impressions ‘cos we take a lot of photographs which you probably know and I want to use not just live shots but  also shots  that I’ve taken over the past year or two that are relevant to what and where I am, spiritually as a band, you know.  And what we’ve been through

JON: That sounds like a fantastic idea

MICHAEL: Yeah I just want to let people in on the diary of the last year.  Because it’s been insanely interesting. I’m 65.  I started a rock band. And you know people … and the interesting thing is it gives hope to people of our age, but it also gives … it’s really a goal for the 22 year olds that come to see us play because 80% of them are pretty young. 

And that's it for today. We shall be back with part four tomorrow.

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