Justine Frischmann talks about
the long-overdue return of Elastica
"In many ways it does feel like
we're starting again," begins Elastica frontwoman Justine
Frischmann, speaking from her home in London. "I wouldn't have
put this record out if I thought it was the last thing we were going
to do. I feel like this is a cool starting point for whatever we're
gonna do from now on."
So there you have it. On the verge of signing a new worldwide
record deal, with their second album The Menace expected in
August (it was released in the U.K. in April), Elastica are
Took them long enough. Back when Oasis' cocksure arrogance had
songs to back it up, Elastica were the frontrunners of the British
pop invasion. Three black-leather-clad women -- the ever-sneering
frontwoman Frischmann, doe-eyed Donna Matthews turning a frenzy out
on guitar, rough and tumble Annie Holland pounding out bass --
together with token bloke Justin Welch backing them up on drums, the
quartet smashed their way on to American radio and MTV via early Buzz
Clip "Connection" and set a tone their Britpop brethren
never really re-achieved. But five years is a long time, and it's not
just Elastica's lineup that has changed.
So what took you so long?
We were touring off and on for about two years. We'd been out
of Britain for a long time and people here were going, "Where's
the next album?" We spent a lot of time and money in the studio
and nothing really came out of it. And then in like '97, Donna and I
decided that it really wasn't happening. There was about a year
period where it looked like Elastica weren't actually gonna continue,
and I carried on writing songs in my basement, not thinking that they
were gonna be for an Elastica record. Then in '98 I bumped into our
old bass player Annie, and she said she really missed doing stuff,
and we decided to book some rehearsal time and just see what
happened. We had nothing to loose and we felt like the pressure was
off. Donna decided she didn't want to continue with it, so I called
up Paul Jones who I'd seen playing with Linoleum, and we just did
some rehearsing and it worked really good so we decided to book the
Reading festival in the August of '99. I asked a friend of mine, a
girl called Mew, to come in and do keyboards and vocals, and
basically at that point, the band were jamming really well and the
material was sounding better live then what we'd recorded so we
decided to go back in and spend our last ten grand and recorded the
record in six weeks.
How much money did you end up going through on studios?
A hell of a lot. Quite a lot of it went on salaries as well,
but we spent a stupid amount in expensive studios, expensive
producers when the band shouldn't have been recording at all because
it just wasn't working. We're pretty broke now. Basically when this
American deal is sorted out we should have a bit more money to play
with. But at the moment we're broke. The band aren't on salaries.
Everyone's signing on [for state support]. It's kind of cool 'cos I
think it brings it back to basics -- it's like starting again. It's a
great antidote to being spoilt and having too much money to spend on
studios. The only recording we're doing now has to be incredibly
cheap and very quick and I think we're actually better under those
America's changed a lot since you were last here. Do you
think Elastica will still fit in?
Probably in the same way it has in Britain. Pop has taken over
really and I don't think Elastica fits into that pop thing at all.
But I wouldn't want to. I think we can only exist in a more
underground way at the moment, but I'm quite happy about that. I'd
rather things don't go ballistic like they did last time. There are
definite problems from having so much success so quickly, and it puts
pressure and strains on the people in the band and our relationships
with each other.
Looking back, do you feel you sort of paved the way for
Blur and Oasis, when you came out as frontrunners for the British
I honestly don't know. I don't think that many people realized
we were British when we were over there last time, which is quite
good in a way. I didn't want to come over there in a kind of in a
blizzard of hype. It's quite irritating for people in America to have
to deal with that. It's fair enough that people wanna make their own
minds up about a band and the best way to do that is letting people
see you live, and I think Elastica's a really good live band. I think
we're better live than on record.
You didn't come across with what a lot of people see as a
sort of British arrogance. At the height of Britpop Blur came over
and said some nasty things about America and then Oasis come over
With a lot of attitude. I think for some reason British bands
are encouraged to have a lot of attitude and say, "We're the
best band ever!" and I've never really gone in for that. I think
it could be something to do with being female, but I just don't
really feel the need to blow my own trumpet that way. I don't think
it's a competition. I think it's kind of childish really, that kind
Do you think that attitude hurts British bands like Travis
or the Stereophonics, who may not say those sorts of things, but
still have to bear the burden of what has been said by others?
I think Travis and the Stereophonics represent quite a sad
turn in the British music scene, because they're very, very
traditional guitar bands. And I'd like to think that Elastica are a
bit more spiky and odd sounding.
[Blur Frontman] Damon Albarn brought up a lot of personal
stuff about your [romantic] relationship in the press when Blur's 13
came out. You've said in the press you didn't think it was
appropriate for him to have done that, are you still upset?
I'm not really upset about it. I don't think it was completely
his fault. People want to write about it because it sells papers.
Having gone through it myself with this record, I really went out of
my way not to talk about Damon, but people still concentrate on that
side of things, and I realized he probably actually didn't really
want to concentrate on it at all but he was kind of pushed into a
corner by the press.
How is your relationship with him now, are you friends
Yeah, we're definitely friends. We always will be.
There's been a lot of talk in the British press about
Elastica and drugs -- what happened?
I think a lot of it was exaggerated. The British press will
always concentrate on more "rock & roll" parts of the
story, which is fair enough. I think it's kind of stupid though 'cos
I actually think talking about drugs really does glamorize them and I
would hate for anyone to try drugs because they thought that I had.
So it's something that I'm not really comfortable talking about. It
is something that went on, but I'd say that's kinda over and done
So what is your weakness now?
I've got really into swimming. I find it keeps me sane. It's
my big joy at the moment. I've really been getting fit and just
enjoying being healthy and together. I used to do backstroke in
competition at school, so I'm pretty good swimmer.
Do you think the band will continue on, or are you still
harboring ideas to go solo and take the stuff you were doing in your
No, I would never go solo. It doesn't interest me.
Or start another band?
At the moment what we're doing seems kind of fresh and
exciting. While it's still fun to do it, I'll carry on.
(June 16, 2000)