Saturday, April 04, 2009

Sonic Boom's
Revolution

An Interview
with Pete Kem-
ber: Part One


In honor of Sonic
Boom's upcom-
ing Seattle appear-
ance, in his Spec-
trum incarnation, here's an edited version of an interview which debuted in KCMU's Wire in 1991. Around the same time, I also interviewed Pete "Bassman" Bain and Jason "Spaceman" Pierce. The latter two had just left the "3" to form

their own outfits: respectively, the Darkside and Spiritualized.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

I discovered Spacemen 3 in 1988. It was at a time when
I hadn't come across anything new in a while that I found
particularly original or exciting. Perfect Prescription was—if
you'll pardon the saying—exactly what the doctor ordered.

Like Fried-era Julian Cope, early Rain Parade, and the now-
defunct Opal, here was neo-psychedelia done up right. No sit-
ars, backwards guitars, or hippie-dippy lyrical clich├ęs. This stuff
sounded retro, contemporary, and totally timeless all at once.
I was an instant convert to their guitar-as-god religion.

I immediately got ahold of their first record, the grungier,
heavily Motor City-influenced Sound of Confusion. Two more
full-length releases followed: the slightly disappointing, yet ul-
timately more eclectic and experimental Playing With Fire and
their latest—and last—Recurring. Perfect Prescription is still
my favorite—possibly one of my favorite albums of all time.

Spacemen 3 broke
up just before issu-
ing their final long-
player—and with a
major label, no less
(RCA). Various art-
icles and interviews
published earlier this year in the British weeklies would lead one to believe that the split was due primarily to major personal-
ity clashes between singer/songwriter/guitarist/solo artist Sonic Boom
and singer/songwriter/guitarist/Spiritualized founder Jason Pierce.

Regardless as to the reason—or reasons—for the break, the
fact remains that the band is dust. While Recurring isn't their
best record, it isn't their worst either. Side one is credited to
Sonic Boom and side two to Jason. Surprisingly, the two
halves fit together quite well—proof that their differences
probably were more personality-related than musical.

This spring, I got the chance to speak with Sonic Boom long
distance from the offices of Dedicated Records, the last label
Spacemen 3 recorded for in the UK (ironically, Dedicated
will be releasing both Sonic Boom and Spiritualized projects).

Although I decided against asking about the possibly still-sensi-
tive issue of the group's demise, I asked just about every other
question I've ever had about Spacemen 3 and/or Sonic's solo
career. For the most part, I found Boom, i.e. Pete Kember, to
be friendly and forthcoming—contrary to British press opinion.

Click here for part two



Endnote: This piece was originally published as "Focusing
on Sonic Boom's Revolution." Click the links for my Wire in-
terviews with Lucinda Williams and Dinosaur Jr. Spectrum
plays Neumos on 5/2. Images from the AMG and Wikipedia.

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