Radio 1 Evening session interview
(BBC Radio 1)
How are you?
Justine: Very well.
We should start off, I suppose, by trying to fill in some of the gaps, cos' it's, what, spring 95 since the album came out.
Justine: Yeah, it's quite a while.
And to a certain extent I suppose, you disappeared from view, although obviously you went away and did a lot of touring.
Justine: Yeah. We were on tour basically for about, a good 18 months, 2 years. Obviously lost Annie on the journey. She hated doing videos and she hated doing press, and I think she hated all the kind of side of being in a band that she felt was superficial. Which, and you know, it did turn out that she was right, because in the end it was what kind of really did us in for a while.
So she was just the first one to...
Justine: She was just the first one to go down basically, yeah.
So when you came back, did you just want to flop out?
Justine: I had a real problem getting back into being in England, I think it was just a real big culture shock. It's a very strange thing touring round the planet in such a short space of time, meeting that many people, seeing that many places. You kind of expect to be playing a gig every night and you're sitting at home, you've not seen your mates or your family for, like, 2 years…
Your answer phone has got 5 hours of messages...
Justine: Yeah, yeah. And, it is a weird thing, and we got home to the UK with no bass player, I kind of stopped writing on the road, I just got lazy and, it was weird. It was a very weird time, yeah.
So what happens next?
Justine: Well, then it just sort of occurred to us that we had to start writing the next album, we'd kind of forgotten about it. You know, it was like the first album was such a sort of roller-coaster ride, that I think we kind of made that classic mistake of forgetting that you just have to actually keep going, and keep all, just keep yourselves to yourselves enough to just carry on functioning as a working, writing band. One of the positive things about this kind of immensely long gap for me is that it's actually gone back to being just us lot again, and noone really interfering. You know, we're doing all the artwork ourselves, we're doing the video ourselves, cos' you know, we've got no money left.
You're telling me you're skint?
My round. How difficult was it then recruiting somebody new into this gang?
Justine: It was very difficult. I mean, we were looking for a new bass player before we found Sheila for about 6 months.
Did you audition loads?
Justine: We auditioned loads of people. And people were turning up from Canada, saying 'You've got to let me audition, cos' I've just flown in from Canada.'
Did you have any good heavy metal ones?
Justine: We had some fantastic slap, funk, bald headed, people from hell. There were quite a few strange people who turned up, and it was a weird thing, it was like, very, very hard shoes to fill. And Donna had met Sheila, I think, in a toilet in at a gig, and she had a nose bleed from stage diving. And Donna phoned me up and was like, I found this fantastic girl, and she was really cool.
On the floor.
Justine: Yeah, well, the nose bleed over the sink. We met up and she seemed really cool, and we'd found Dave by then, and I guess that was the end of '96. The first load of stuff we went in and did in the studio, just demos and stuff.
Cos' you did an Evening Session as well around about that time...
Which seemed to suggest at that point that you were heading off in an almost machinic way.
Justine: Well Donna and I saw New Order at Reading, and it was one of the most amazing gigs I've ever seen, and we both walked away from it going, 'we've got to change, we've got to start doing things that are a bit slower, a bit more ambient, and, more subtle'.
I think its about then, or a little while later, that the rumour mill really goes into over drive.
Donna Matthews was going to leave the band every 2 weeks.
Justine: Well Donna threatened to leave constantly from when she first joined, really I mean she threatened to leave three times during the making of the first album, and I never really took it seriously cos' she always has been a very volatile person and it's part of her charm really, and I think what happened was Donna just started thinking that she'd learnt everything she could from me really. I mean, that's what she actually said to me. And when I first met her, she was quite naive and innocent to a lot of things, and, you know, learnt very quickly indeed.
What, you saying you led her astray?
Justine: Well no, I don't think I did, but I think London life took its toll really, and it was quite a lot further down the line before we realised that just we couldn't work together anymore. But it was a sad moment when we realised that, you know, it was.
Then we get to the second rumour, which is obviously fuelled by the fact that the record doesn't arrive when its supposed to arrive. Everyone's talking about Elastica and drugs. If you were to believe all the stories, then Elastica's rehearsal room would look like a scene from Trainspotting.
Justine: No, I think the band has always been fairly rock and roll in its behaviour, and it was probably inevitable that people were going to say that. There were always elements to the band, of the kind of party animals, and that was something that we were known for. None of us would be alive if that kind of behaviour was going on.
How did you react yourself, because everywhere, well not everywhere, but in a certain clique of music industry people, were all going around basically coming up with stories about you: 'Justine's lost it, Justine's on smack, Justine's doing this, Justine's doing that.'
Justine: I wasn't that aware of it to be honest, in fact I wasn't really aware of it until kind of later. I was keeping myself to myself and it was actually quite a weird scene in London at that time, because hard drugs were very fashionable, there's no question about it, and I think there are always going to be casualties from that, you know, but it was probably more wide spread than a lot of people realised for a while.
So where does it start again?
Justine: Well it was actually a lot to do with getting Annie back, to be honest. Because I absolutely love playing with Annie and Justin, and it's the old thing, you don't know what you've got 'til its gone. Basically it got to a point in the band where it was just so slow and so painful doing anything, that I just said to Donna, 'Look, I'm getting to a point where I'm going to have to call it a day with what we're doing.' And I couldn't really have imagined working without Donna when Annie wasn't around. But, with Annie back, it just sort of dawned on me that maybe the wrong person had left in the first place and it just started happening again. You know, the songs were working and it was suddenly fun to rehearse again, and I think everyone was quite relieved to just have a new start.
We're talking to Justine from Elastica upstairs at The Ship with all the various and many pot plants. So, we'd better talk about this EP. Because why opt for the 6 track, EP option rather than just a single?
Justine: Just cos' its so boring watching everyone do everything to the same kind of set pattern at the moment. I mean, I'm just a bit disappointed what a massive gap there is between sort of, you know... Blur, Suede and Pulp and Radiohead and Manics...
Justine: Yeah, premier league. And Add N To (X). You know what I mean, there's just like nothing kind of bridging the gap at all, it seems like there some people involved in music at the moment, people like, erm, Mogwai and Leila and Add N To (X), who are all doing something kind of challenging and interesting and kind of doing it for the love of doing it. And then there's this kind of, you know, quite grim sort of slog that's going on, which is just major record companies, loads of money, lots of exposure, 5 singles off an album. And it's just, I just don't want to be doing it that way. I can't be bothered to do it that way. Life's too short, basically.
So you're just awkward now aren't you?
Justine: Yeah, yeah.
Just awkward. Which I suppose is quite good in a way then, it makes sense, that you have Mark E. Smith on the record. Lord of awkwardness.
Justine: I was actually so frightened about meeting him, cos' he's just always been such a hero, that I was gripping a pillar while the others were trying to pull me out going 'This is ridiculous, you've got to meet him, he's outside.' And I was properly frightened, you know, I was properly star struck when I met him, my knees were knocking.
Apart from The Fall, obviously, and 1 or 2 other bands which have been influences along the way, is there anything, do you see traces of other groups which have influenced the latter day songs?
Justine: I think everything that goes in comes out, in some form. It's probably not as obvious as it was on the first album.
But you had, obviously, a big selling LP, and it was just in the period before everything goes huge. But ever since this really quite successful record, it's almost like you've spent the rest of the time trying to wriggle out of being a commercial pop success.
Justine: Yeah, maybe. I mean there is an element of truth in that, and I think it's because all the sort of effemmre of pop commercial success is actually soulless and depressing. Just seeing your own face in the papers and reading what you've said through somebody else's eyes is a weird business and for me it was particularly weird because I was surrounded by people who were also in bands, which is a very unnatural situation, and I was always quite uncomfortable with the basic egomania that goes with being a front person in a band, you know, it seems very male to me that. And I always thought there was another way of doing it, and I kind of hated myself for getting caught up in being a popstar.
And is that what, I suppose now you're going to say that this was all like this huge gap that was just a matter of timing then, wasn't it.
Justine: No, I'm not going to claim that, but I mean, basically, personally I definitely feel like it took me a long time to actually want to be doing it again.
So everything's going really quite well, and you're back, you're back rehearsing and you're about to put records out and then all of a sudden you end up in the press because you and Damon split up.
Justine: Yeah, yeah. That was a bit strange. I wouldn't personally have chosen that to have been the case, but that's the way it went.
And was it weird because it almost felt like you were being written about as if you weren't there.
Justine: Well I wasn't there. I mean, there's an awful lot of things that I don't think Damon would have said if I'd had been in the room, you know.
No, but I mean, there was no sort of reply, there was a lot of your life being written about.
Justine: You get used to that though. I mean, it's always been that way. That's one of the shocking things about doing press when you start, you realise that you don't really have a right to reply.
Was part of the reason the pressure of having 2 bands in 1 house, almost. Cos' you've got 2 careers going on side by side.
Justine: Erm, I think it's an awful lot of things. It's impossible.. I think the sad thing about talking about it in the press, it just ends up being, kind of, sound bites and, you know, everyone knows in a relationship, what goes on behind closed doors is so complex. And especially something that lasts that long, eight years, it's a long time. You cant sum it up in 1 line. I wouldn't even attempt to.
Written any songs about him?
Justine: You'll have to wait and see darling.
Oh, no... Ok, its Reading and Leeds for you next then, as you just mentioned, have you worked out the set?
Justine: Yeah. We know basically what we we're going to play. There's kind of our favourite ones from before and our favourite ones from now really.
We'll play fantasy set list in the week running up to it. Is the album finished, I should ask as well. The EP's here, but the album?
Justine: Yeah, the album is finished.
Did you just sigh with relief when it was finally done.
Justine: I saw it as a kind of personal triumph, I have to be honest actually. Cos' you know, it was hard this album, it was the classic 'very difficult second album.' But I think one of the cool things is that it is a reflection of the whole thing of what we've been through. And some of that's dark, and some of that's not dark at all. You know, some of it's great. Into the darkness and back into the light.
And looking ahead from here, have you already started writing stuff and do you now see that there's a third album, a fourth album?
Justine: I'm not even going to talk about the third album.
Yeah, what year is it now?
Justine: Yeah, really.
Justine thank you very much.
Justine: You're very welcome.