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It's been a scream
Bobby Gillespie looks back on the dirty life and times of Primal Scream. Words Eamon Sweeney
Eamon Sweeney, 13 Nov 2003
Bobby Gillespie personally penned the press blurb for Primal Scream’s Dirty Hits collection. It’s a perfect summation of all the madness and magic that makes them one of the funniest bands in the business. It begins, “Car crashes, near fatal stabbings, death threats, drug overdoses, bar room brawls with broken bottles in Texas, jammin’ with George Clinton, commander in chief of the Parliament/Funkadelic Mothership, duetting with the beautiful Kate Moss on Lee Hazelwood’s psychedelic psycho sexual cowboy classic ‘Some Velvet Morning’…” As you probably already know, there is a hell of a lot more to the Scream Team career than a string of hit albums and singles.
“Aye, it’s been a fucking blast,” a chipper Bobby Gillespie agrees. “It’s really strange and wonderful to be in this position now. Time has caught up with us. I always loved it when a great band has a good Greatest Hits record, like when you look at the track list of a Rolling Stones best of and you love every single track. The Story Of The Who is a big one for me too. To be able to do that now is amazing. Not every band has enough good songs, so we’ve been very lucky and privileged.”
They’re also lucky and privileged to be alive given their hair-raising hedonistic history. For starters, what’s this about car crashes?
“I’ve been in two crashes,” Bobby says matter of factly. “One involved me and a friend while driving from New York to Connecticut. Mind you, he was going silly fast. Another one involved the whole band in Massachusetts. It was scary, but we were OK. The guy took a wrong turn and the weather was mad - thunder and lightning and dreadful visibility. Next thing you know, we take a left and then we are literally turned upside down with amps and guitars on top of us. It was like a one van pile up! No one was hurt, which was another miracle.”
Whatever about travelling between gigs, the shows themselves have been carnage.
“Last time we did Ireland was mad,” Bobby continues. “Like what were the bookers thinking? First they send us to Sweden, then Norway, then Glasgow and then Dublin for Witnness. Add Liam Gallagher to that equation and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. We weren’t so hot at Witnness ‘cos we were so knackered and frazzled.”
All time best Scream gig?
“Gosh, there are a few. Personally, just a few weeks ago in Spain with the Rolling Stones. Obviously, it’s an amazing honour to play with them, but in front of 70,000 crazy Spaniards was something very special.”
While Primal Scream have gained most of their notoriety because of drugs, drugs and ahem, more drugs (this is the man who said, “next to tourism, drugs are the world’s second biggest industry”), there is a tender, reflective and soulful side to the Scream which is often ignored.
“Och aye, I know exactly what you mean,” Bobby interjects. “That’s exactly why we put ‘Long Life’ and ‘Cry Myself Blind’ on this record. I think they are two of our best tracks. We’ve lived a lot and been close to the edge, so we value our lives, relationships and friendships.”
Bobby recently became a father when his partner Katie gave birth to a baby boy called Wolf.
“He is a beautiful boy,” Gillespie gushes. “Being a father has made me a bit more tolerant. Knowing what I can be like, that’s a good thing.”
Asides from hanging out with his boy, Bobby loves music as much as ever.
“The Kills are my favourite band right now and I adore Black Rebel Motorcycle Club,” he enthuses. “Although I have to say that my single of the year is ‘Crazy In Love’ by Beyoncé. Three or four years ago, it was all Fatboy Slim. Now there are loads of young guitar bands to go and see. That’s far more interesting than watching some cunt sending emails onstage.”