Jean Encoule has been very paternal regarding the career path of mclusky - as they were one of the very 1st new school groups to appear in these pages. It was with great joy, then, that he recently 'caught up' with Andy mclusky to chitter chatter about the trials & tribulations of 3 hard years hacking away at the coalface, disobedient drummers & waging war on punters with shite taste - ooh - & their excellent new LP: "The Difference Between You & Me Is That I'm Not On Fire".
trakMARX - It's been a while since we last chatted - is the fire of intensity still burning bright at the heart of mclusky?
Andy - You make us sound like "The Temple Of Doom". The fire is nicely stoked and a little surprised to still be an occasional subject of interest.
trakMARX - Were you pleased with the reception to the 2cnd LP?
Andy - It was okay. I get a little pissed off when people refer to it as this seminal LP. I feel like saying: "WELL, WHY DIDN`T YOU SAY THAT AT THE TIME, FUCKHEAD?" Yes, in capitals.
trakMARX - What makes Steve Albini yr producer of choice?
The usual reasons. Great, crystal clear recording, a convivial environment and no interference whatsoever with production issues that don't involve him. It's difficult to talk about Electrical Audio without sounding as if I'm being paid to do their PR, so I won't, other than to say; "bands, go there".
trakMARX - Where there any different agendas involved in the recording of "the difference between me & you is that I'm not on fire" & it's predecessor?
Andy - "do dallas" was intended to be a straight-up rock album, and for better or for worse I think we succeeded in what we set out to do. There was no particular agenda for "the difference".
trakMARX - Did you suffer from any 'difficult 3rd LP syndrome' moments?
Andy - Many, especially with our former drummer. We had an unspoken desire to evolve our sound which proved difficult initially because `do dallas` was so simple. Initial song-writing was very much `do dallas` - mk.2 - and that would have been deeply unsatisfactory for everyone involved.
trakMARX - The new LP is heavier, darker & altogether more brooding. Was this intentional?
Andy - There was no game plan other than a desire not to repeat ourselves. The material just naturally fell out a little sinisterly and it would have seemed churlish to try and alter its character. So, we didn't.
trakMARX - What differences have you noticed during the last 3 years out there on the front line of cutting edge rock n roll - has the vibe altered at all?
Andy - Maybe it's a little more permissive and varied, at least from my perspective. Bills we've played on have been refreshing in that they've thrown together bands and audiences that normally wouldn't come into contact with each other, with some degree of success.
trakMARX - It must be difficult for a band like mclusky to challenge the champions of hype to a fair fight. Do you resent coming up against molly coddled constructs when ever you go anywhere the swill trough?
Andy - Really now, who fucking cares. These guys/guyettes are playing a different game to us so to despise them for giving people what they want seems a little unfair to me. I'd rather focus on the fucking idiots who keep buying their mediocre records. Having said that, we'd be taken far more seriously if we were American. That, my friends, is an indisputable wipe-the-drool-from-your-chin fucking fact.
trakMARX - Is the live arena still as an important an aspect to mclusky as it was a couple of years ago - the road can grind the spirit out of many a hardy combo?
Andy - Like the phrase: `hardy combo` - like it a lot. The road, to mine a cliché for a second here, is our bread and butter and I suppose we'll live and die on the strength (or otherwise) of our live performances. Y`know, it gets lonely, but if the shows are good enough, then that more than compensates.
trakMARX - Long hours on the road can be eaten up with a good book - what page turners have been entertaining the mclusky tour bus of late?
Andy - On this last tour, the two Eric Schlosser books, `Fast Food Nation` and `Reefer Madness`, the gorgeous `Love In The Time Of Cholera` by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, `Holidays in Hell` by noted Republican fucker P.J.O`Rourke (an alternative travelogue with fucking bells on), the Vietnam journal of Michael Herr (`Dispatches`) and biographies of Syd Barrett (`Madcap`) and Ian Curtis (`Touching from a distance`). If you're a fan, I'd particularly de-recommend that last one, there's shattering illusions and then there's skull-fucking them with the dismembered cock of an adolescent family member (I second that emotion - Lit Ed).
trakMARX - Seen any good films recently?
`They shoot horses, don't they?`. That Paul Newman one about Ice Hockey, the title of which I forget. Currently re-watching any/all Cohen brothers, particularly `The Big Lebowski` due to my recent ten-pin bowling fetish. In the tour bus we irked ourselves in our nostalgia-twats with `The Goonies`. `Spellbound` was really sweet. Even though it was a couple of years ago I feel compelled to tell everybody I speak to how much I hated `Requiem For A Dream` (surely, nothing to do with Clint Poppies soundtrack? - Soundtracks Ed).
trakMARX - What's been the high point of the last 3 years journey?
Andy - Reading wasn't the best show per se, but it felt like a small reward at the end of some fucking hard work. Personally, the high point for me is writing a new song - that beats everything except anal.
trakMARX - & at the opposite end of the spectrum?
Andy - The drawn out psycho-torture of the Mat debacle. I'm sure it'll be funny when recounted in fifteen years time over brandy and cigars on the QE2 but in the meantime it's as raw and as anger-inspiring as any topic I can imagine. Loyalty, it turns out, is useless - if applied to the wrong person!
trakMARX - Initial reviews of 'the difference between you & me is that i'm not on fire' have been very favourable - are the mainstream press beginning to take mclusky seriously?
Andy - In all honesty, I've no idea. A year or so ago I stopped reading the music press and I can't go back on that just because they've started being nice about us. I still collect some of it, mind, to show to the kids. `Daddy, what's a misanthrope?` is a question I'm particularly looking forward to.
trakMARX - What exciting new sounds/groups have you discovered on yr way round the world & what who would you advise tMx readers to keep an ear out for?
Andy - Jarcrew who are fabulous, especially live. Liars, despite it all. KaitO. I really like that new Walkmen album, though I've only heard it twice. I'm such a cunt, sorry!
trakMARX - What does the rest of 2004 hold for mclusky?
More of the same, I would think. We're doing a video in San Francisco for `she will only bring you happiness`, the single of that'll be released some time in September. Touring the US this month for three weeks or so - and later this year (October) - and also back to Australia in July. On a personal note, I'd like to get my bowling average up to 180 and keep my wits about me long enough to buy the second season of `The Shield` while we're in the States. Multi-region DVD players, don't you just love `em?
Jean Encoule - tMx 15 - 05/04