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Tom Burnett interviews Justin Welch
(Casaba Music)

Elastica released their much awaited and critically acclaimed second album in April. They are currently playing many of the major summer festivals. We caught up with Justin shortly after Glastonbury to ask about festivals, Donna, drugs and Napster.

Your set at Glastonbury went down well with both the press and the fans. Do you think that festivals bring out the best in bands or the best in fans?
Difficult question because I can't answer for every band. I would say that one think with festivals is that a lot of bands get really nervous because of the size of the crowd. This can be positive energy, like for us this time around. When we play any festival, we usually arrive really early and are able to build ourselves up. This time we arrived two hours before we were on so there was no time to really think about it and therefore we were straight on stage and did it, I thought Glastonbury was great.
Bring out the best in bands; I know that in the past we have had really bad festival gigs as well, we did Lollapalooza, which is like a festival every day. I know for a fact that we had some really shit gigs but I thought it was good and a lot of bands are really up for playing festivals. The imagery comes across I think. The audience is also important, if they are having such a good time. And the weather, if the weather is good everyone is going to have a great time. I love festivals, I love playing them. It's a shame you don't get a sound check but that's all part of it, you never know what is going to happen on that stage.

So, do you have a defining Glastonbury moment from this year then?
The only band I saw was Leftfield because we left at 3 or 4 in the morning after the gig. That was the only time I got out of the backstage compound because I had interviews to do after the gig. But there was a great moment when we went to Joe Strummer's camp. Joe always has his own little camp, this time he had bales of hay around a big fire, and loads of bands and kids running around - a real festival atmosphere. Apparently I kicked the tour manager in the head, I don't quite remember, but I have apologised since!

Since you didn't get to see to much, can we assume that by and large you kept yourselves out of trouble, bar kicking tour managers, and were as good as gold?
Good as gold, absolutely! Well, we ran out of booze very quickly but that wasn't totally our fault. By the time we got back on the bus, because there were so many people, our rider had been drunk by our friends so I went and spent 50 quid in the hospitality tent but even that didn't get very far!

Whilst on the subject of festivals, it must be quite hard for bands playing shows like the Carling Weekender, where you play three days in a row, in three different places.
Yeah, well we have quite a lot of festivals coming up. We have the Fuji festival in Japan in 2 weeks time which is a 14 hr flight to Tokyo, a 5 hr drive the next day and then do the show, straight back on the train to Tokyo and straight back to London. That will be pretty scary, a week later is one in Portugal and then Reading and Leeds before America.

You seem to be touring quite hard and doing a lot of festivals. After the first album you toured for two years and then there was that famous break. Are you going to take a proper break or carry on touring your arses off?
Well, no, what we intend on doing is getting another record together really quickly. Just before these interviews I was in a studio with Dave and a friend, Pablo, who was playing percussion at Glastonbury, trying to write some new material on our days off. After touring America, we intend on, coming back and trying to record some more stuff.

When can we expect to be hearing some of that then?
Hopefully towards the end of the year, that is what we are aiming for. In the past, when we have block booked a studio for like a month or something, it's not worked, so we just write 2 or 3 songs, go into the studio an bash them out. Like the way we did the first album, or half of it, using demos and stuff. Just do it in short spells rather than going into the studio for 2 months and record an album, it just doesn't work like that for us.

The first tours of America went down really well, how do you think you will fare this time?
It's difficult to say, at the moment, it's all MTV orientated R&B, rap and pop. Guitar bands are struggling but then, equally, anything goes over there! We are all really looking forward to touring there. I love touring in the states, I like Middle America which is really scary.
You never know what is going to happen, we always come back with a story though! I hope that we do really well but we are starting again almost, playing smaller venues that will be punk kind of gigs. Hopefully people will remember us from the first time around but it is certainly going to be a challenge and an eye opener. On the first album, we did 5 tours of America so it is kind of the whole rock n roll story, if you go to America and you tour it constantly, somewhere along the line, you are going to come out doing alright. We've sold 1, 000000 albums over there it was a lot of work but it was fun!

Donna appeared on stage at your Kentish Town gig in April. In a previous interview, Justine mentioned that she might be appearing at the Fuji Festival, is that happening.
She's definitely not appearing in Fuji so I don't know what Justine was on about to be honest! That was a real one off thing anyway, it was a spur of the moment thing. I didn't even see her afterwards! She broke 2 strings walking on stage for "Connection" had a guitar that was out of tune, didn't know the chords and had to ask for them and then walked off stage. A bit surreal! I was behind the drumkit and it was like "There's Donna," There's not Donna!" Donna won't be appearing with us again.

Elastica have always been perceived a quite a feminine band, when the first album was released, there were 3 women and you, now it's 3 of each! DO you have a problem with that?
No, I don't. A lot of it is to do with the fact that Justine is the front of the band. If anyone fronts a band then that is the main focus of it really. She does the majority of the interview and everything. Lyrically, a lot of them are seen through female eyes so that is why, I would have thought!

The music press, are determined with any article or interview, to mention Britpop. When the first album was released, it was quite punky and had very little to do with Britpop bar, obviously, Justine and Damon.
That's the British press for you! What can I say! They love their categories basically and they always go back on themselves for that. Britpop in itself was a bit of a farce really anyhow - a media invention. We set out to put a couple of records when "Britpop" happened and we were suddenly spearheading some kind of movement which had nothing to do with us!

It didn't do record sales too much harm though.
Well, that was the bonus side of it! I mean it was great for that for the time, it was all a bit mental a lot of bands were cropping up - you know - you have a couple of mates in a band and suddenly, the next week they have a deal. It is not as easy to a get a deal any more.

You're official website to link unofficial ones, even those with audio, do you not worry about piracy?
I think it is great that people can hear our stuff, the only problem is that people don't buy records as much as they did before the internet. Records sales aren't as high as they were, to chart now with a single, you only need to sell 30 000, a few years ago you needed to sell lots more than that. I think that the net is great, I'm on at home and I'm always logging on to our site. It's great, I'm really positive about the whole thing basically.

Belle and Sebastian seem to be quite popular on Napster, they spoke to one fan who discovered them on Napster and has now been out and bought everything that they have released. Do you think that music will go more that way, with people using the net like radio and then going out and buying CDs, or instead, people burning straight to their CD-Rs?
I hope it goes the first way but you can never tell. The internet is becoming more and more popular every day. You have to be positive about it; there is no point in being scared of the inevitable. If people burn it off, they burn it off but hopefully they will get the point where they think, " I want all the stuff" so they will go out and buy it. I'm not against it at all.

Let's face it, it is only the modern version of copying tapes, and we all did that!
Yeah, we still do! Or give it to a friend to burn onto CD!

What is the worst record in the charts at the moment?
That horrible thing by Coldplay! There're useless. They can't sing, they can't play guitar!

You are in a room; you have a gun and a bullet. No one is going to know. Steps, Boyzone, Britney, Christina and Be*witched in front of you. Which one gets it?
Steps. Line them up in single file and shoot from one end! I don't like them!
Britney Spears, I wouldn't mind a shot! My girlfriend has just bought a single to wind me up! No, no, Britney Spears!

Can't we expect any Elastica covers of Travis covers of Britney then?
No, no! Especially nothing by those two!