Saturday, April 04, 2009

Sonic Boom's 

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, the Darkside and Spiritualized.

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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 ex-
citing. Perfect Prescription was—if you'll pardon the saying—exactly
what the doctor ordered. Like Fried-era Julian Cope, early Rain Par-
ade, and the now- defunct Opal, here was neo-psychedelia done up right. No sitars, backwards guitars, or hippie-dippy lyrical clichés. 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 hold of their first record, the grungy, heavily Motor City-influenced Sound of Confusion. Two more full-lengths followed: the slightly disappointing, yet ultimately 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 issuing 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 personality 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-sensitive 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 interviews with Lucinda Williams and Dinosaur Jr. Spectrum plays Neumos on 5/2. Images from the AMG and Wikipedia.

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