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After five years, Elastica reconnect
(RollingStone.com) By Jolie Lash.

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 officially back.

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 circumstances.


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 scene?


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 here...


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 of attitude.


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 again?


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 with.


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 basement?


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.


JOLIE LASH
(June 16, 2000)