Frischmann from Elastica
Menace' marks the return of Elastica. It's the second
album from Justine Frischmann and her band - original members
Annie Holland (bass) and Justin Welch (drums), plus
newcomers Dave Bush (keyboards), Paul Jones (guitar)
and Mew (keyboards/vocals). Five years in the making, the
record contains 13 tracks and was recorded just after their
appearance at last year's Reading Festival.
up with Justine to talk about the making of the record, the
new band, and their forthcoming tour.
Can you tell us a bit
about 'Human' (from the album)?
It comes from a period of time
when Annie wasn't in the band. Donna wrote it when we were thinking
about trying to make music that was quite different to what we'd done
on the first album. I think there was kind of a sense of isolation
going on within the band and I think that comes across in the song.
The song was actually re-recorded with the new band lineup for the
How did that change the recording from the
It's quite a sort of bass-heavy version now, because
Annie's playing on it, and I thought it worked better like that.
you said, the song brings over a sense of isolation; it's a heavy
song, seemingly about a relationship that's gone cold. Would be this
be an accurate description of it?
Well, Donna wrote the
lyrics, so it's difficult for me to sort of comment on her lyrics,
but for me it's about falling in love with a drug rather than a
human, with the space that a drug can take up almost being like a
Do you reckon this has got anything to do with your
and Donna's relationship?
I think in a way Donna accused me of
not being totally human before, when we weren't getting on, so yeah,
Can you agree with her in any way about that?
I was extremely misunderstood by her. I don't think that's true at
all, I think she saw me trying to just get through the whole
situation, keeping the band on tour. I think with all the touring on
the first record, I was just focusing on trying to keep on keeping
on. While other people were cracking up around me, I was presenting a
together face, despite what was going on inside, and I think that was
what Donna was reacting to.
You toured loads during and
after the first record. Has your approach to this record changed
because of your initial experiences the first time around?
music industry's quite a different place for guitar bands than it was
the first time around. I think we always saw ourselves as a more
underground band than other people saw us, and I don't think we were
ever that comfortable in the mainstream. I was certainly never that
comfortable with the notion of celebrity and certainly extremely
uncomfortable with being in the tabloids. I think that this time
around it's weird trying to get the balance, because I certainly
haven't missed being out of the spotlight, but we've made a good
album and I'm proud of it, and I want to give it the best possible
chance for people to hear it. But on the other hand I'm slightly
dreading the press coming out, and being in the press again.
last time around, there was a big focus on you, and there were a lot
of photo shoots in which you were prominent. Have you made any
conscious efforts to present the band all together on this one?
think that's always a problem. People always focus on the front
person. I think in a way with Donna gone, it's actually worse than it
was. No one wants to speak to a drummer, and Annie wasn't involved
for a whole period of time, she left and then rejoined, and I don't
think people are that interested in speaking to the new people, in
terms of hearing the story, so in a way it's actually worse for
people focusing on me, but there's not really a lot I can do about
Are the new guys interested in talking to the press,
to get their experiences over?
I think they're fine about
doing it, but there's a limit to how much they can actually say.
Paul's only been in the band since last year, and the same with Mew,
so it's probably a bit tricky for them.
How's it been with
the new members? How have the dynamics within the band changed?
been really, really good. We're all a bit older, which is really
nice. Mew's an old friend. She was a friend before she joined the
band, so it's great to have her around. I think in terms of the
chemistry, it's been really good. It just works as a group of people,
and I feel like the band are my mates more than anything, which is
how it should be, and how it started off being in Elastica Mark 1. In
many ways we sort of feel like it's a new band. We've got a lot to
prove and absolutely nothing to lose, which is kind of a good
You played at
the Astoria in January, which was like your big London comeback gig.
How was that?
It was actually a really fun gig. Normally
London gigs are quite difficult, and I think we've always felt that
London's quite hard to play. People are standing with their arms
crossed going, "Come on, impress us!" This time round, it
actually felt like the audience were willing us to be okay, and to do
it, and for it to work out. It was great, and it was true of all the
gigs we did around the country, not just the London one. The audience
reaction's been very encouraging.
Did you feel nervous
being on tour again?
Well for me, the biggest hurdle was
Reading last year, because that felt like a comeback gig more than
the Astoria. The band's sort of in place now. The Reading gig was
quite nerve-racking. Obviously the first date we did on that little
tour was the first date we did for three years, and I had absolutely
no idea how I was going to feel. If anything, I felt more relaxed
that I ever have, and I felt more like I could be me and I didn't
have to put up a front really, which was a good feeling.
you anticipate having that feeling?
I had no idea. I couldn't
imagine what I was going to feel like, and I was also just sh***ing
myself that I wouldn't be able to do it any more. It was weird, it
felt so exciting and such fun again, and I think part of the problem
with all the touring with the first record is that I found myself
just doing it parrot fashion, almost like a robot, day after day
after day. Having such a long gap made it feel really fresh
There must have been a point where you didn't care
about what anyone felt anyway, as long as you enjoyed it?
was quite a lot of that; I think that's a lot to do with getting
older, and the thing of feeling like it's been so long, there isn't
really a lot to lose. I think generally I feel I give a sh*t less
about what people say about me than I did. It used to matter to me a
lot, and it used to be something that I found quite difficult to deal
with. One of the good things about stepping back and not doing
anything for a while is that I now realise there will always be
people who will have a go at you, and there'll always be people who
are sympathetic, and that's just life really.
kind of attitude, some people might say that this record is way less
commercial than the first album. Do you agree with this?
think the album is a lot more commercial that the EP. The EP was
basically demos. This album, although it was recorded quite quickly -
in the end we recorded it in about six weeks, after Reading - I think
it's well recorded and fairly well produced and accessible. I was
quite determined to not be worrying about singles and the pressure of
that, because it's something that drove me a bit mad in the end. It
was one of the reasons why we found it so difficult to write when we
got back from the end of the first world tour. I just felt like we
had to get on and do whatever we wanted, and just get it done, get it
out and move on. Since the album's been finished, I feel creatively
and personally like a huge weight's been lifted, and in a way it's
almost weird to be doing interviews about this album. It was finished
before Christmas, and I really feel like we've moved on a long way.
We've been recording, and we're hoping to put out completely new
You've been recording since Christmas?
since we've finished the album, we've been writing and recording, so
I suspect that the new single's going to be something completely new,
that we're not going to put out a single from the album.
this talk of putting 'Mad Dog' out is not going to happen?
not really sure. We're kind of talking about it at the moment, but I
think it'd be really good for us psychologically to put out something
completely new. It's been really exciting again writing and
recording, and it's the only way we're going to get over talking
about the five year gap.
You've talked about being a bit
more experimental with this album, with programming and in the
studio? Have you tried any different approaches to writing and
Yeah, putting songs like 'My Sex' and 'Miami' on
this album. I'd have never dreamed that they would be songs for
Elastica. I do feel like my attitude's more open at the moment. I'm
happy to work in whatever way does work, and it doesn't have to be
necessarily a band set-up, a band playing a song. I've been writing
with Loz (Hardy, ex-Kingmaker and Justine's flatmate), and I've been
writing with Paul and Dave. I'm just happy to do whatever works
really, I don't feel like I've got such a set idea about what we have
to do anymore.
Going back to 'My Sex', it seems that that's
the most emotionally exposed song on the record. Did you feel
comfortable putting it on there?
It was written during the
period of time when I didn't think Elastica would continue, to be
honest. It wasn't written for Elastica, it was kind of written in my
basement, with Loz Hardy, who's my flatmate. It was like therapy
doing that track. I didn't want to play it to anybody, and then a few
people heard it and gradually more and more people heard it, and I
was really encouraged, because they loved it. There were a lot of
people saying to me that it should go on the record. I do think it's
like an important part of the process. The Menace is a pretty
accurate description of the whole passage of time and all the
different headspaces, and I think 'My Sex' is an important part of
that. For a while I found it really hard to listen to it in front of
anybody else. I'm not really used to bearing my soul in songs, it's
not something I do, it's not really where my music usually comes
from, so it was kind of a new experience for me. When I first played
it to Mark Waterman, who helped us record the album, he just totally
took the piss out of me about it. It's a weird one. It got played on
Radio 1 during that documentary, and there were a load of people at
my house listening to it. I had to leave the room while the song was
What did you think about the documentary?
thought it was really good. I thought it was quite Spinal Tap, but I
guess we are quite Spinal Tap really!
Do you reckon there's
one particular song on the record with sums up its whole ethos?
I really don't think there is, and I think that's part of the
difficulty in choosing a single. I really don't think there's one
song that's representative of the whole thing, because there were so
many different phases of writing the album, and that's probably why
I'm tempted to not put a single out from the record, because I don't
want people to hear one thing and think that's what the record's
like, because it's so varied.
You worked with Mark E. Smith
on the record - do you have any plans to work with him again?
wasn't actually a pre-arranged thing. Dave Bush bumped into him in a
pub and asked him to come down. Working with Mark E. Smith's always
going to be a pretty spontaneous thing, to be honest.
you enjoy working with him?
Yeah, it was great. He was totally
charming, absolutely brilliant, and very inspiring to have around,
like a kind of whirlwind of ideas in the studio. I really enjoyed it.
It's very hard to meet your heroes, and I'm a huge Fall fan, but he
totally lived up to what I'd hoped he'd be like.
find him intimidating?
No, he was very friendly. I was
intimidated by his reputation more than anything else.
you learn anything from him about writing or recording?
Smith's whole thing is to just get things done quickly, and I think
that's something that I kind of knew anyway, but I'd forgotten.
you admire the way he's handled his career, and is it something you'd
like to apply to Elastica?
Yeah, I love the way that he just
carried on doing his thing, whatever the weather, whatever's
fashionable or popular, he just carries on doing his thing. I think
he's got a lot of musical integrity, and in that sense, that's
something I'd like to bring to Elastica.
PROJECT ELASTICATED: Not complete unfortunately – the last page
of the interview is lost.