Album reissues and the power of pop
At first you were doing DIY singles, and on the 4 sides A liner notes, there is a complete breakdown of the production process, including studio and manufacturing costs. Fast forward a few years later, and you’re in some really expensive New York studios to record Cupid and Psyche 85, working with studio pros like David Gamson, who you’ve worked with so many times, and Paul Jackson Jr., who played on Polar and was part of David Letterman’s house group at the time. Have you had moments of “I lived in a squat.” How am I here?
CTÃ GUARD: I am brought to remember that I spent a lot of that time making this album with an incredible feeling of inadequacy and anxiety and a lack of self-confidence, but it was the record that I really wanted. do. I wanted to make a point of making pop music. I was so lucky to be introduced by Geoff Travis of Rough Trade to David Gamson. He thought David and I would get along, knowing that I wanted to make, for lack of a better word, a contemporary R&B inspired pop record. David had the sophistication, the understanding, the empathy. It was a terrifying time, and I felt completely overwhelmed, having only a year or two of post-punk, but absolutely convinced that was what I wanted to do.
When you check Emmanuel Kant’s name or use the word hermeneutics, do you feel like you’re getting away with it?
CTÃ GUARD: Not at all. You are always aware that you could and should do better. I thought any attention given to me for whatever reason was deeply undeserved, and I would never have felt happy or comfortable with anything that I did. I certainly wouldn’t have had a moment of self-congratulation along the way.
You had already had success with “The sweetest girl,” corn Cupid had several successes in the UK, and for a while you were a bit of a celebrity, and even a pin-up. Did you enjoy it all? Do you have any confirmation that you were good from this experience?
CTÃ GUARD: No, I hated it, absolutely hated it.
I’m sorry to hear that, Green.
CTÃ GUARD: I had a little breakdown and went back to Wales and wrote this thesis, an argument about why switching to pop was the most interesting move we could make, and all the reasons for it, leaning on other post-structuralist writers and the whole group read it, and I think they thought it was a good idea, but it kind of broke this first one down. training.
And from this, the second formation was born. There were many reasons, from the outside as I was, to find this process politically, culturally and creatively interesting. But there was a lot of bullshit and stuff that seemed degrading, stuff that seemed undeserved. I felt very, very uncomfortable with it. I had already had some sort of breakdown with the first Scritti line-up, and I think that precipitated another. So I had another spell away from making music for a long time.
So there is a pop hit, and that’s one thing. But it’s quite another thing when one of your songs is covered by Miles Davis, the greatest musician of the 20th century. What did you think when you first heard it covered “A perfect way“?
CTÃ GUARD: I was usually like, “What was that already?” It was extraordinary. All I thought about was, “Well, how the hell did Miles hear that?” When we invited him to come and play, it was an amazing experience working with him, and an amazing experience visiting him at home as well. I expected him to come surrounded by an entourage, but he came completely alone. I was very, very scared of what that would look like, but he was very sweet and introspective, and he was very kind. He was perhaps a little elliptical in his practices and his reasoning. As for me, the experience of working with Roger Troutman of Zapp, who was someone whose music I had loved for a long time and who had a terrible desire to work with him, and he was another person whose character and character. musicality were phenomenal.
So you took a long break after Provisions and you have said openly that you need to seek treatment for your anxiety and other mental health issues. I remember when I was young people would say “Why is Eddie Vedder complaining about being famous?” Being famous looks awesome. But then you learn that, in fact, being famous is probably not good for your sanity under the best of circumstances. No pressure, Green, but what do you feel comfortable about as to why you had to take those breaks and why you couldn’t shoot for a long time?
CTÃ GUARD: Well, I’m not at all embarrassed to talk about it, but I find myself veryâ¦ it still makes me uncomfortable. When people who have the privilege of having known success and a certain degree of assured material comfort or something, and people who put themselves in front of the public, but then complain about it, it’s … yeah, it squeaks a little. I wouldn’t make a meal of it, but I would just say I’m a little surprised that there are people out there who are still comfortable with the idea of ââmaking themselves famous. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to do all the work it takes, all the compromises it requires, all the debasement it demands, all the depreciation.
What happened in your life between the long break between Arrangement and Anomie & Bonhomie?
CTÃ GUARD: There was no group. I broke with management, I broke with record companies, I broke with my partner. I didn’t want to see anyone and I didn’t see anyone. I went to live a solitary life in a country cottage in my native Wales. I saw an old school buddy or two for a beer and a game of darts a few nights a week. The rest of the time I walked around the countryside. I had all my musical equipment in one room in the chalet, but I didn’t even want to see this equipment. It’s strange, if I opened the door to the room where all the gear was, even the smell of guitars and synths would make me sick.
The only music I was happy to listen to at the time was East Coast hip-hop, which had become more and more important to me over the years. I would sometimes jump on the train for a lonely trip to London or Bristol to buy vinyl records. I liked DJ Premier so much.
The same way I wanted to know what it felt like to do high-beat pop music – it’s silly, but I wanted to know what it felt like to make a Premier beat, or how he went about it. And so, little by little, I took the equipment out of the music room and started programming beats. My sister attracted me to London. By this time, back in the country, I had gone back to listen to John Peel, as there was no other radio station to listen to. Which meant I was listening to guitar again, as well as hip-hop, towards the end of my stay in Wales.
So I had written a bunch of songs with therapy and drugs and just the boredom, I guess, of being so isolated. I had a handful of songs and I got in touch with David and said, “You know I’m emerging, and would you be willing to get involved in making another record, and it will be a very different kind of recording. It was a pop record, but it wasn’t a Top 40 pop record. He wasn’t aiming in that direction, he was just expressing some interest in the influences that I had at that time in Wales. And then we made this record, with Me’Shell Ndegeocello and Wendy Melvoin and Abe Laboriel Jr, and it was a very, very happy moment.
I don’t think anyone particularly heard it. The week it was released, I had a very unhappy relationship with a new manager at the time, which was massively ineffective. And the week it was released, Geoff Travis, who I hadn’t spoken to in years, contacted me and said, “I think you made a really good record, but you’re on the wrong one. label, with bad management, and I think you should come back to us. And I was so relieved to get that call. I think this record was super personal. If it served a big purpose: it brought me back to Rough Trade.