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Interview:
Pere Ubu at the Magic Bag, 3 Things To Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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It’s been 20 years since Pere Ubu came back together after a five year hiatus, continuing a career as an edgy, underground rock outfit that combines style in an arty but still visceral mix that’s made the Cleveland collective something of a legend.

Led by frontman David Thomas, Pere Ubu has sustained over the course of 16 albums, including the new “20 years In A Montana Missile Silo,” though it’s only placed one single, 1989’s “Waiting For Mary,” on the Billboard charts. Nevertheless, the band and its shifting membership remains active and highly regarded, and Thomas’ bottomless creativity seems likely to keep Pere Ubu going for quite awhile longer...

• A self-confessed mad scientist in the recording studio, Thomas, 64, approached “20 Years...” with a specific agenda for the album’s production, which included recording all of the band members in isolation and then building the recordings from their individual parts. “No two people ever appeared in the same room at the same time,” Thomas acknowledges by phone. “It’s about maintaining the mystery of the production. Alfred Hitchcock always said the problem with making movies is the actors, they ruin everything. I’ve long taken that to heart. I subscribe to the idea that everybody has a direction they think a song should go and they will often contaminate other band members with their ideas, which aren’t necessarily the way the story should plot out. So it’s a way of keeping everybody working on isolation and I’m sort of the guy at the center who’s really the only one who knows what’s going on.”

• The new album’s provocative title comes from Thomas’ fascination “with the notion of a guy who worked his whole life in a missile silo. He’d come home every night to the wife and kids and then eh comes out after 20 years of service and he looks around at the screwed-up world he lives in and thinks to himself, ‘I spent 20 years of living hell for this?’ That was sort of the beginning point. I was just interested in how a person would have to balance so many different things in his life as a man, his obligations and all that sort of stuff. So I just began to think about that, and other songs evolved from that.”

• “20 years...” introduces a three-guitar lineup for the first time in Pere Ubu’s career. “A long time ago, one of the earliest decisions that shaped the band was I said there’s only going to be one guitar in this band, and that had certain ramifications,” Thomas explains. “I’d been working with Keith Moline for a long time, then Tom Herman came back in the band for a third time and I began to think about if I could combine these two guys into a sort of Frankenstein’s guitarist, like the ultimate guitarist in the world. That didn’t work out (laughs) but that’s been my intention for awhile. So I guess we really skipped the two guitars and wen from one to three, but I really like the expansiveness of the guitars that we got on this record.”



If You Go:

• Pere Ubu and Mindbeast

• Friday, Nov. 17. Doors open at 8 p.m.

• The Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale.

• Tickets are $20.

• Call 248-544-1991 or visit themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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