Some various Rev stuff from 1999

[Thanks to Alien for pointing most of these out.]

Here's a story from the BBC1 Web page.....

Chemicals Team Up With Mercury Rev

The Chemical Brothers are spending the New Year in a South London studio recording the follow-up to the massively successful 'Dig Your Own Hole'.
It's due to be released in the summer. Ed and Tom are working with Noel Gallagher again on the record after teaming up with him on 'The Private Psychedelic Reel' track.

Mercury Rev have recorded a song with the Chemicals too and singer Jonathan told The Net they're huge fans of each other's music: "They had rung and said that they were fans of my band and would I be interested in doing some work with them. Of course I said 'yeah'. Their new stuff is sounding out of this world. So I was in the studio with them making some crazy sounds with some crazy folks".

Ed and Tom returned the favour too remixing their new single 'Desert Sun'. So are we about to see the bizarre spectacle of people in clubs DANCING to Mercury Rev?: "I would hope so", says Jonathan, "If anybody knows how to get people on the dancefloor, Tom and Ed do".

Here's one from Rolling Stone online...

Mercury Rev Get Some Self Esteem

Considered against the world's most influential music, Mercury Rev albums lie somewhere between the Shaggs and the Beatles White Album. They've noodled and rocked and spaced-out and popped without ever quite making it into the mainstream. Even after ten years of orchestrating glorious guitar gems and cinematic surrealist rock, the group is still searching for stable ground, treading in obscurity and refusing to compromise art for the sake of popularity.

But with the release of Deserter's Songs last year, Mercury Rev are finally homing in on their niche. Moving out of the city and their former major label home at Sony, permanent Rev fixtures Sean "Grasshopper" Mackiowiak and Jonathan Donahue have divested themselves of rock & roll's debilitating trappings (drug abuse, nervous breakdowns, in-fighting), and have delivered to the public a handful of inspired, eclectic, psychedelic songs that comprise an undisputed classic album. Singer/guitarist Grasshopper spoke from his home in Kingston, N.Y., about the long and winding road that led Mercury Rev to the Other Side.

Deserter's Songs is winding up on countless "Best of 1998" lists. Ten years after you formed the group, why do you think people are just getting into it? What has changed that has solidified the band with the revolving door policy?

We changed labels, we moved upstate. And we've just gone through a lot of stuff, like relationships with people, some of our friends passing away. Going through that, we were just trying to keep our chins up and keep making music. You know, the hope of the music -- and life -- to keep on going.

You guys have always been revered as an influential band, though Mercury Rev's never been the most popular of groups. Is that something that you strive for?

I mean, we try to do music that's timeless and that we like. With this record we just tried to make an honest, romantic, heartfelt record in our own world and to make our own music without too many expectations. It's great that people are starting to get into it. I think a lot more people would like it if they got a chance to hear it.

One sign of popularity is hooking up with name-brand producers. And you guys have worked with the Chemical Brothers a couple of times, right?

They had seen us play a couple of times in London and one time they saw us we had quadrophonic sound -- we had speakers in the back of the hall, so the sound was all around. They dug that, so they started doing it. Their manager called us after See You On the Other Side and asked us if we wanted to play on one track on their new record and so we did that. And when we finished Deserter's Songs we sent it over to them and asked them if there was anything that sort of caught their ear, so they remixed the "Delta Sun [Bottleneck Stomp]" song.

There were periods before Deserter's Songs when you went into a monastery. What was that like?

It was weird. You would have silence for long periods of time. It was a settling experience. You can go there for like a month and just go to seminars and teachings every day, and people come from all over the world and sort of give lectures and stuff and you do chores. Everybody helps clean up the food and everything. Long periods of silence. You meditate a lot.

Do you feel like it simplified your life or made it more complex?

Both. It definitely simplified it, but there was a lot of time to think about things. I sort of pushed a lot of things out of my mind. I was forced to come to grips and work things out.

Do you think that silence sort of translated into the spatial, atmospheric stuff on Deserter's Songs?

Yeah, I think it's that and being up here in the Catskills mountains.

You seem totally into nature. I know the beginnings of Mercury Rev stemmed from you and Jonathan making soundtracks to nature films and other shows on television as a hobby. Do you think that's where the sort of theatrical aspect in the music comes from?

I think so. We didn't know technically about music and how to talk about it so much. So Jonathan would try to communicate with a picture or some kind of visual thing. We'd draw up these charts to songs -- what visual images to put in to each part. And his words would get very visual with their images.

You said you wanted this album to be timeless and romantic and heartfelt, so what sort of things inspired you?

The experiences that we'd been through.

They seem like they've been somewhat painful.

Yes, they were. And some of the record is emotional and there's pain in some of it, but you try to turn it into beauty.

Are you going to do anymore solo work?

I'd like to at some point. I want to do sort of record like "Grasshopper Plays His Favorite Standards."

Like jazz standards?

Some. And some older songs and stuff.

That's funny that you'd say that, because I read that your old label told you that the song "Everlasting Arm" would be a hit if it were 1940. Who introduced you to all of this old music you're into?

I had an uncle who worked at Atlantic Records. He used to give me a lot of stuff, a lot of [John] Coltrane and Ornette Coleman and Miles Davis records. Books by Jim Carroll. All kinds of stuff.

So, what's next?

I'd love to write a book. I'd love to be in a film. And we want to do a lot more soundtracks and stuff.

Go back to your roots.

Yeah, but on a much bigger scale.

HEIDI SHERMAN (January 7, 1999)

live online chat with Grasshopper, Jeff, and Jason
Fri, 14 May 1999

The following is from a live on-line chat with Grasshopper and company on Top of the Pops website....enjoy

saria asks: "Why did you decide to issue cover versions on the B sides of the singles on the current album?"

Grasshopper says - "Cause they're songs that we enjoy by other artists and we played them on radio show. We thought it would be nice for our younger fans to hear."

Jason comments: "If they hadn't heard Neil Young or someone then they can hear it now..."

Jeff says - "There may be some songs that some of the guys weren't familiar with, but it was nice digging back into the archives."

Grasshopper says - "Plus it's our interpretation of the songs."

Charley asks: "Is it hard to recreate the sounds from Deserter's Songs live?"

Jeff says - "It can be a challenge. Our goal in a live performance isn't to replicate the album correctly. Just because it was on the album that way it doesn't mean it's the only way that song can be. A song is always in a state of flux and as you play it more an more you want to change it."

norm the norm asks: "How was the UK tour?"

Grasshopper says - "It was brilliant."

Jeff says - "Especially Liverpool - it was a really good crowd there last night.On the tour for this record every city has been receptive to the set."

Grasshopper says - "There's a wide range of people especially on this tour. When we first started there were a lot more guys there but now its about half and half which is much more pleasing to the eye."

Archibald asks: "Caught you at the L2 in Liverpool last night - Holes & Frittering blew me away. Why isn't Dave Fridmann touring with you & where's Suzanne?"

Grasshopper says - "Dave owns a studio that we record at along with the Flaming Lips and Mogwai, so he doesn't like to go on the road because he's recording all year round, plus he has family links which means he doesn't like to tour. Suzanne lives in Albany, NY and she didn't want to tour either. We've had to commit a year of our lives to this tour, which is a long time to be on the road."

Rupert asks: "Did you choose Sparklehorse as your support for your US tour - or wasn't it your decision?"

Grasshopper says - "We wanted to play with them, we'd played in South By Southwest with them in Austin and had a good time. I've known their manager for a number of years."

Suge Man asks: "How come the Mercury Rev lineup is always changing?"

Grasshopper says - "Because....(long pause) I dunno. Some people don't like to tour, but it's always been a loose thing from the very beginning, lots of different musicians in the group - and long may it continue, or maybe not."

greg holmes asks: "Do you use the internet and are you involved in putting together the Mercury Rev website?"

Jeff says - "Yes we use the internet. It's the only way I can talk to my mother on a regular basis."

Grasshopper says - "We have some input on the website. It's just started a few weeks ago. We're making certain changes at the moment, we want to change the photos at the moment. I think we're going to give away some live tracks on the website. We're sorting that out at the moment."

Jeff says - "I've seen the bulletin board on imusic which was good."

Grasshopper says - "I've seen a college student's fansite which was pretty cool."

Jeff says - "I donated my spleen..."

Donny asks: "Is it true that you once made money by taking part in medical experiments?"

Grasshopper says - "That was in the early years when Jonathan was in Oklahoma. I did this thing at medical school where I got paid to take various drugs they were developing. You're in this controlled environment for 3 days and they give you all these drugs then suddenly stop then watch you suffer."

Marlon asks : "Which festivals are you playing at this summer?"

Jeff says - "Tons. In England Glastonbury, V99. In Scotland, T in the Park. Rockway festival in Athens."

Grasshopper says - "We're playing in a tent for some of these gigs which is cool cos we can do our light show. It's tough playing in daylight."

speedtrap asks: "Who is the Goddess on the Highway? Is the song based on a real person... and is it a particular road?"

Grasshopper says - "I think Goddess on the Highway is about a person in the dark. It's also about a dog. The road is Route 9W."

MWW asks : "How mad would it have been if you'd been on Top of the Pops with Chasing A Bee Inside A Jar?"

Grasshopper says - "Quite mad. It would have been strange back then. We did a little bit of TV back then, but not much."

Nick B asks: "Do you think mainstream success would harm your credibility?"

Jeff says - "I certainly hope not. I don't think anyone's about to compromise the music for the sake of mainstream attention. The music is coming from the heart. You don't have a lot of control over the popularity of the music. So long as the motivation is the same I don't think success matters."

Grasshopper says - "A few guys have remixed stuff, perhaps to make it more popular, but we didn't like it. There was one version of Opus 40 that we didn't like the remix of."

topper asks : "What are the Rev's plans for the millennium?"

Grasshopper says - "I want to sequester myself in a quiet place. If all Hell breaks loose I'd rather not be on stage."

Jeff says - "I'd like to find a pretty girl and spend an evening with her - in a platonic sense."

Grasshopper says - "I'm going to be reincarnated as a grasshopper."

boliedover asks: "What was the best moment of Bowlie for you?"

Jeff says - "For me the night that we played after we were done and all the shows had wound down. All the bands were hanging out and playing guitars. All the bands were having fun and playing their own and other people's song - it was really relaxed and nice. We got there Saturday morning and played on Sunday so we saw a lot of bands."

Grasshopper says - "It's all a blur to me."

Paula Pope asks: "A question for Grasshopper - will you ever work with Luna again?"

Grasshopper says - "I dunno. I'd like to. I'd like to work with Dean again. I didn't get to see him play at the Bolie, but we hung out afterwards. It was nice to talk to him, but there's no plans."

D Bradley asks: "What's the most unusual place you've sampled a sound from? What sounds were you after on your sampling trip to Cape Canaveral?"

Grasshopper says - "The most unusual spot was in Times Square. All the grating on the street above the subway used to make this weird sound. We took a DAT player and used the smaple on See You On the Other Side. We were after sonic booms and rocket noises at the Cape. We went in and took a tour."

Syringe mouth asks: "Any plans to release The Slow Delta Sun?" Jeff says - "Like we were doing in January? No, no plans - we're already doing a different version of it. We've done four different versions of the song. The version we're doing now is more straight-ahead then the slow country version we were doing early in the year."

Grasshopper says - "We probably have tapes of the slow version somewhere."

Archibald asks: "This is going back some years but what was Robert Creeley like"

Grasshopper says - "He's a really intelligent, gentlhen you worked with him? I took some classes with him and he was just a really nice guy. If you know his history he was a pretty angry young man, hanging out with Jackson Pollock and Kerouac and getting drunk. I think there's going to be a retrospective of his work in Buffalo"

Dave Apen asks: "Do you think going to University so close to Canada had an effect on your band?"

Grasshopper says - "I dunno about the band."

Jeff says - "I grew up really close. I don't know how it manifested itself in the music but in everyday life the influence is there."

Grasshopper says - "Canadian radio is really good. You could pick up CNFY in Toronto which would play obscure stuff - B sides, album stuff. They were willing to take chances. I grew up listening to French Canadian AM channels. When you're young that makes you dream of other places, not just stuck in smalltown US."

kilkenny asks: "Which girl/boy band had the most inspiration on you when you were writing Deserters Songs?"

(The band chuckle.)

Johs :"What does Opus 40 mean, and why the long fingernails in the vid?

Grasshopper says - "Opus 40 is a place near where we live. It's an amphitheatre. It was built by this one guy in the 60s but he died before it finished. It's also about a woman. And long fingernails."

Jeff says - "Less to do with the song and more to do with the character that was chosen. The Vampire. Working with Anton was great. He's very knowledgeable about the music, we went out for dinner with him and he was a really easy to get on with type of guy."

Grasshopper says - "He contacted us and told us that somebody had bought him the album for Christmas so he contacted V2 and they hooked it up." says: "I'm afraid that's all we've got time for. Many thanks to Jeff and Grasshopper of Mercury Rev for chatting to us."