Primal Scream, the iconic alternative rock band from Glasgow, Scotland, are coming to town for a show at the Belly Up in support of their new album, More Light.
It’s funny to think of Primal Screams's frontman Bobby Gillespie being told by the Jesus and Mary Chain to pick between the two bands, since, at the time, he was playing drums for them. I love the Jesus and Mary Chain but was glad he chose to focus on Primal Scream all those years ago. I recently had the chance to talk to Bobby on the phone about the upcoming tour and the band's stop at the Belly Up on Oct. 15. The local psych-pop band Wild Wild Wets will open.
Bobby first visited San Diego back in December 1985, playing the North Park Lion’s Club with the Jesus and Mary Chain at a show put on by Casbah owner Tim Mays. It was the first time the band had toured the states; San Diego's own Tell Tale Hearts opened. He has fond memories of the gig but wouldn’t visit San Diego for many years, until a show with Primal Scream.
Primal Scream broke through in 1991 with the release of Screamadelica, amid the growing acid-house scene. He speaks fondly of the times, embracing the rave culture, which was drug-heavy. We discussed influences and what to expect at the show here.
American vs. British bands:
“My favorite artists just now are Deerhunter, Kurt Vile, Allah-Las, Psychic Elves -- you know, there are a lot of good American bands that make good records, way more than you see in Britain. I don’t buy any British f---ing records. If I buy anything, it’s coming from the States now.”
What bands inspired you and the band?
“The first band I ever saw was Thin Lizzy, and then I got into punk rock. I was really obsessed with the Clash, Sex Pistols, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Buzzcocks, the Jam, Subway Sect, Generation X, and then I loved the Ramones, Richard Hell and Voidoids, and the Dead Boys. Punk was a thing that really blew my mind. You know, before punk, I loved glam rock. I loved Gary Glitter, T. Rex, Alice Cooper -- I loved all that stuff, but the thing that really got me right in deep in my soul was punk. And also post-punk Public Image Ltd. and Joy Division. When we started Primal Scream, we were really into the Doors, Love and the Byrds, because music in the early and mid-'80s was so bad -- rock music was so bad -- we started to look back and discover the psychedelic stuff from the '60s, bands like Thirteen Floor Elevators, Chocolate Watch Band, the Seeds, Electric Prunes, Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd, and, you know, that was the bigger influence on us when we started, especially Arthur Lee & Love from L.A. and Jim Morrison of the Doors, but also the Stooges and MC5. All of our major influences are American, and we love to play the States.”
What can people expect at the show here in San Diego?
“We’ll play selections from everything, really, back to Screamadelica, Vanishing Point, EXTRMNTR -- we actually worked up a version of 'Autobahn 66' from Evil Heat today that sounded good. You know, we play a little bit of everything really, some More Light, and we always play the really high-energy rock stuff, like 'Country Girl Rocks' and 'Jailbirds.' We’ve got a good mix of stuff -- 'Loaded,' 'Higher Than the Sun' and 'Swastika Eyes are on the set list, too.”
The now-sober Bobby Gillespie --which is quite the accomplishment considering Primal Scream's notorious drug consumption -- promises a show to remember. Look for me: I will be right up front!
Tim Pyles, a longtime local who grew up in La Jolla, is the unofficial mayor of local music who hosts The Local 94/9 via FM94/9 every Sunday from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. He also books local acts at the Casbah, hosts the weekly Anti-Monday League, books/hosts the monthly Maryjane's Underground at the House Of Blues and is an entertainment writer for Pacific San Diego Magazine. Check out his website thelocalpyle.com and and follow him on Twitter @thelocalpyle. You can reach him directly here firstname.lastname@example.org