A Conversation with Robyn Hitchcock (continued)
PM: And I think Spooked is a fantastic record.
RH: Thank you, indeed.
PM: Having made as many records as you have, how do you feel about it, and what's its place, as it were, in the overall discography?
RH: Well, it's very difficult to assess something that's just come out, because you don't have the perspective on it when you've been producing things over a long period of time. You always love your new baby, but you really don't know where it's going to be at, how many stars it will merit in fifteen to twenty years time, which I think is the important thing. I really enjoyed making it, and I'm very pleased with the cover art. I don't think you even have it with the cover art.
PM: Well, I've seen the cover art on a computer screen. I couldn't get the album in Shanghai fast enough, so my partners uploaded it for me, and sent it to me cut by cut. So I've seen versions of the art and it's beautiful. Who did it?
RH: Me. I did the painting.
PM: It's great, love it.
RH: Thank you so much. My partner, Michele, took both of the photographs and we stuck it together in a way that we thought would look good. But it's coming out in a few days, actually, and I believe there will be some in your--how far away are you, 3,000 miles?
PM: Well, in my neighborhood, what there may be, sadly, are instant copies thereof. No one much sells records here, per se. They appear in a different market, and they're copied here and sold for a dollar on the corner, mostly.
RH: Well, I mean, if they do that to mine, I would be greatly flattered, because that means one must have some kind of profile and I certainly don't have much of a profile in Shanghai. So if you find a cheap Chinese bootleg--
PM: I'll let you know.
RH: Send one to Angie at YepRoc.
PM: Yeah. I'll ring you up and say it's here.
PM: "You've arrived; you're copied in China."
RH: Yeah, yeah. Well, that's great. I'm sure R.E.M. are copied in China.
PM: Oh, rest assured.
What is this record saying, though, about where you're at currently that's perhaps different from the last one or the ones before?
RH: Well, in terms of music, it's playing with Gillian and Dave that sets it apart from my other records, first of all. We've listened to each other's records over the years, and have both tapped into a lot of the same scene. We have a lot of the same records in our collection. I mean, they're more ostensibly country. They've got all the old records by the brothers--the Stanley Brothers or the Louvin Brothers, the Mackerel Brothers, and that sort of tapering off into Appalachian infinity. But they were also sort of Hendrix fans, and we're all big Velvet Underground fans, Dylan freaks particularly.
PM: Yeah. And that's where you really hit a deep common ground.
RH: Well, we did. We recorded about seven Basement Tapes songs on the first day we got in to Woodland Studios.
PM: Could you tell me what other ones you guys laid down?
RH: We did "Mighty Quinn" and "Lo and Behold," which went into "Life During Wartime" by Talking Heads.
RH: We did "Tears of Rage," a very good version of that--
PM: A fantastic song. Good stuff.
RH: --with Dave playing his unique adaptation of Robbie Robertson's guitar playing.
PM: Did you sing that one, "Tears of Rage"?
RH: Yeah, I sang it and Gillian harmonized. We all sang on the chorus. What did we do? We did "Please, Mrs. Henry." I think we did that live. And we did "4th Time Around", I believe. And we obviously did the one we kept, which is "Tryin' to Get to Heaven."
PM: Oh, that was from that first session?
RH: Well, most of the stuff was done in the first whatever it was, five days, six days we were in Nashville.
PM: At Woodland. [Woodland Studios is a great recording studio on Nashville's East Side that the IRS shut down a few years ago, and Gillian and David bought it a while back, so I'm told.]
RH: Woodland, yeah. They just invited me down for a weekend to cut some sides, but the whole--the animals ran out of the box really fast, and the beasts were hollering. Hollering in a quiet way. We didn't--they didn't drink, so I was abstemious likewise, uncharacteristically.
PM: I didn't know that--I don't drink either. They don't drink?
RH: No, no, no. They went crazy in the summer when they came into Britain and they brought a cigar around to the house. I think Dave had a glass of wine. But they're very temperate people. When they stop playing music, they just play a bit more. I mean, other musicians go to the pub, or they start drinking while they're playing. I never drink in the studio, but I'm very fond of having the guitar at parties. And as you know, I consider the television to be an insidious drug, so I suppose I prefer sitting around with alcohol than sitting around with a TV. continue