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2013/10/28

INTERVIEW : 2013-10-28 Joseph Arthur Remembers Lou Reed



Visual artist and poetic thinker Joseph Arthur has shared a lot of his free verse with us over the years. Here, the singer-songwriter behind The Ballad of Boogie Christ offers up a poem for the late Lou Reed, as well as a song he wrote entitled “Happy Birthday Lou.”

I don’t know where to start.
The first time I met him
We ended up eating ice cream
next to Dolly Parton.
Peter Gabriel brought him to my show
and it was overwhelming
meeting those guys,
playing for them.
He said,
“I like the song ‘King of Hide and Seek.’”
It wasn’t even called that but that was a line in it.
I can’t even remember what song it is now
but I was there chatting with my hero.
He brought DAT recorder (remember those?)
to record my show for Peter to bring back to the label and help decide if they should sign me.
He told me that night over dinner next to Dolly,
“Don’t ever sign away your publishing.”
Peter was offering me a publishing deal as well,
so it got awkward for a sec but then we all laughed it off.
I skipped home to my friend Jeremy’s place where I was crashing.
I had hung out with Lou Reed.
It seemed impossible
and my dreams were coming true.
Months and years passed.
I met him a few more times with Peter
and Annie O, publicist to both of them.
I think we went to some VH1 award thing together.
I was always just hanging on, not ever sure why I was invited or attending these things
but I just acted like I knew what I was doing and hung in there with ‘em.
(I remember once somebody who worked at Chelsea Piers was telling me what to do with my towel and then suddenly Lou was there and was chiming in with the employee.
I was using Peter’s guest pass.
I said, “Hey Lou, it’s me Joe, we met before.”
He seemed confused or surprised,
but then again, locker rooms are weird places)
and that’s how I would see Lou over the years,
from time to time
and always at a distance
and though I was privileged to know him,
we weren’t really friends
until a few years ago
when Jenni reintroduced us.
We exchanged numbers
and we began hanging out on a regular basis.
Every time, or most times I rode into the city
I would see if he wanted to hang
or go to a meeting or a movie.
I don’t know what changed
but there was an ease between us;
a love,
a real friendship.
And though I never lost sight of who he was, my hero,
he really did just become Lou to me.
A friend.
Sometimes a pain,
but mostly, just really great company.
Somebody I loved and could feel loved me back.
I remember riding bikes with him in the city–
not motorcycles but bicycles and his was a Brompton,
a fancy fold-up one.
We were looking around for a bike seat to replace the leather one on his bike.
It seems absurd riding bikes around the city with Lou Reed but these type of things
were actually surprisingly natural.
There was something father figure-ish about him for me
and I felt the need to look after him when we would hang,
even though he was always the smartest person in the room.
He would show up for you,
come see me play,
pick out certain things,
and give advice which was always deep and good.
“Play with this one,
don’t play with that one,” he would say.
“You played that one too fast on Letterman,”
he said about “Travel as Equals.”
I sent him the lyrics to that one and he congratulated me for it.
It was like getting a degree from a great college,
Lou Reed U.

Sometimes I would listen to his music
and text him about it because I could.
I would say something like,
“Sorry to fan-out, but the song ‘Coney Island Baby’ is the best song ever written.”
He would always answer nicely and graciously,
in spite of his curmudgeonly rep, he was really sweet and generous
and he would humor my hero worship and then allow for the friendship to return to a cool equilibrium.
He was really great that way.

He liked going to movies;
good ones
and bad ones,
art ones and blockbusters.
He loved tech and fancy headphones.
He played me some off his iPhone once and I was surprised to see that he was listening to or had a Van Halen one.
Lou likes Van Halen?
haha
He was open minded, so nothing was a surprise.
We watched Dexter together at Jenni’s once
and he loved it.
He was just a dude
and we shared a lot of love.
We even named our little group
Family Love.
Two birthdays in a row him and Jenni sang me “Happy Birthday.”
I was blessed.

Lou was really just a friend
but our friendship was rooted in sobriety
and a little over a year ago,
I started taking pills here and there.
At first, just the occasional Valium but soon that turned into Vicodin
and I was enjoying getting high again.
Soon after that I was in Paris and I started to drink.
News travelled thru our circle and soon I got a text from Lou saying,
“Don’t throw it all away.”
I was lost then and angry
and stayed drunk for a few months
and lost touch with Lou and others in my circle.
After a few months of being way out in the wilderness of substance abuse,
I sobered up
but I was somewhat embarrassed and ashamed and felt I let Lou and others down.
I wanted to really get strong again before I approached Lou and the group.
I had to prove to myself that I was serious about sobriety again
so it took awhile for me to reach back out
and when I did,
there was more distance than there had been,
and being an addict, I took all that really personally.
I didn’t realize what he was going thru with his liver.
I thought he was mad at me for relapsing
then I found out thru the news he had had a liver transplant.
I reached out and he reached back,
and soon after, he said he was doing great
and by now so was I.
I started texting him again trying to make plans to meet up.
The last one was in July.
I said, “Want to meet up?”
He said,
“I’m in Cleveland my friend”
I said,
“I’m sorry to hear that : ) ”
He said,
“x”
I said,
“x”

And that’s it.

I had no idea
he was gonna leave for good.
I regret not trying harder to see him sooner
but in my mind,
there was time for us to reconnect.
I’m trying now
to focus on the fact that I had him in my life;
that I loved him,
and he loved me,
and not think about the lost opportunity to see him again
and talk about what happened.
I would have loved to let him know that I was doing really well
and I would have loved to see him one more time
but that’s the final wall of death.
We can’t cross over
and we can’t come back
and those that go before us become one with the mystery of everything.
Lou was already and always of that mystery.

I remember
walking down the street with him at night in the city
and I asked him if he was ever gonna write an autobiography.
He said,
“Not a chance.
I don’t owe them a single thing more than what I’ve already given.”
And he was so right.

PS

I was lucky enough to celebrate his 70th birthday with him and relatively small group of his friends and colleagues. There was a small theater-like room in the city and we all got to present something,
tell a story.Jenni Muldaur and I sang a song I wrote for him called “Happy Birthday Lou.”


The lyrics go:

For our dear Lou
You rock n roll saint
Who painted the world
With rock n roll paint
Who plugged in the streets
And made the squares faint
Immortalities waiting for you

For our dear Lou
Our rock n roll brother
Whose song will be sung forever and forever
Whose dream will be passed from here to another
They said it could never come true

Family love
We love you
Family love
We love you
Happy birthday Lou

For our dear Lou
You rock n roll sage
If love was a book
You’d be on the page
That people ripped out
To free them from the cage
The boredom that life puts them thru

Family love
We love you
Family love we love you
Happy birthday Lou

(That’s where I ended the song but here were the other lyrics I left out:

For our dear brother Lou
The rock n roll cure
Which came from your vision
Both twisted and pure
Whose reason was all on its own

And still you’re ahead
Still they don’t know
How you take them on
And make a new show
Which they fight and cannot understand
But when they do
They praise you’ve been brave
Your body and song
Avoiding the grave
As you give the young
A roadmap of where they might go
If they follow no one
If they listen within
If they ignore critics
And purveyors of skin
If they go in deeper
Than those who have come before

For our dear Lou
You are the best
From an angel of mercy
Down to a pest
For our dear Lou
There will not be another
You are the daddy
And rock n roll brother

Lou is seventy
But infinity never gets old
Lou is seventy)

I got to sit next to him as friends and family celebrated his life
thru film
speeches
poems and songs
his sister talked about how he was an amazing brother
and handed him a photo of him as a teenager with the family dog.
Just a goofy kid really.
When I looked over the old man’s shoulder to see the young version of himself looking up at both of us, I wondered who could have known that he would change the course of rock n roll and invent it for so many of us.

That was another night when I skipped home,
not really believing how I came to be there.

As I mourn his death in sleepless hotel room at the base of a mountain in Austria,
memories are flooding me;
invitations I turned down for being busy (never be busy for those you love).

Another story I have to share is walking with a group of us
including Lou in NYC
in the early evening
and passing an apartment where
I heard them playing “Pale Blue Eyes” on the stereo thru the window.

I stopped Lou and said, “Come here and listen”
We stood outside and listened to his, and perhaps anyone’s, most beautiful song.

Then I urged him to knock on the window
I said, “How funny would it be if you did that?”
He smiled
a smile that said,
“Not a chance”
and kept walking.



2013/10/21

2013-09-05 - WTMD First Thursday, Vernon Park, Baltimore




Taped, transferred and seeded by billfloyd


Setlist :

01 Saint of Impossible Causes
02 The Ballad of Boogie Christ
03 I Used To Know How to Walk on Water
04 Black Flowers
05 I Miss the Zoo
06 Mercedes
07 Temporary People
08 Travel As Equals
09 Cocaine Feet
10 Out On A Limb
11 Currency of Love
12 Can't Exist
13 Honey & the Moon
14 King of Cleveland
       

Running Time: 1:04:55

Joseph Arthur: electric and acoustic guitars, vocals
Russell Simins: drums, background vocals

Notes from the taper :
This show was the last of the WTMD radio's free WTMD First Thursday Concert
series for 2013. A great concept, by a great radio station. Three bands playing
in a park with food and vendor stands, and a beautiful backdrop of the downtown
monuments and churches. Great weather and great music too. Nicely done, WTMD.

This show pairs the incomparable Joseph Arthur with drummer Russell Simins (Jon
Spencer Blues Explosion), featuring songs from Joseph's new album The Ballad of
Boogie Christ. It's an excellent album.



Some pictures of this event here : http://www.stuartdahnephotography.com/The-Music-Never-Stops/09052013-WTMDs-1st-Thursday/i-rqcVz25

Flac files available on Dime.


2013-09-05 Baltimore mp3




2008-06-20 - Emporium Galorium, Rouen



Many thanks to Thierry, a huge fan of JA, who filmed the entire concert in the vaulted cellar of the Galorium Emporium.
Joseph was very tired that night, he also wrote a poem about that day...







http://downloads.fastatmosphere.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=FASTATMOSPHERE&Category_Code=JA062008

The soundboard for 5 dollars only !!!


Ruined in rouen
 
I thought I was ruined in rouen
But their love brought me back from the dead
Hang on to this ride
Fuck the moment
Live in the moment
Its better when dreams don't come true
They push you harder to be more than u though u could do
I thought I was ruined in rouen
But it all came to me there
The next dawn of inspiration
I gotta protect like a seed
Bury it some place deep
We drove all the way from london
And caught a ferry
We barely spoke a word
I was sinking on the ship but it floated the whole way across
We were stuck on the highway in france
And in that small vw with my stuff crammed in the back I got in all sorts of various positions in order to obtain that rare dignity called sleep
The crossed legs up on the dash with the neck pillow holding up a hanging head
I thought I was ruined on the way to rouen
When we arrived
The place was tiny and carved out of stone
I ducked into the small enclave basement where a claustrophobic stage was made for me to sing my song
Newspaper articles about my arrival hung on stone walls
The whole thing was really weird but nice and strange and wrong and right
I wrote a new song at soundcheck
Based on new inspiration
And when we goto the hotel
The keeper had my picture there too
He called me sid
He called me lou
I was late for the gig
And dying for a moment to find some dignity
This road life
Is no easy matter
But then what kinda life is?

2013/10/20

2013-10-12 - Maison des Arts, Grand-Quevilly





Setlist :


blue lights on the rear view
ballad
i am the witness
akron skies
junkies & limousines
missy baba
i miss the zoo
out on a limb
"it's saturday night !"
black lexus





2013-10-12 Grand Quevilly





2013/10/16

2013-10-16 - Aftershow, Galerie Chappe, Paris


On Stage :

After the Paris show, Joseph played an aftershow at the Galerie Chappe.

With Bill Dobrow on rebolo.


Setlist :

you are free
exhausted
vacancy
black lexus
gypsy faded


Recording :

Thanks to mikeym1961 for the vidéos.



2013-10-16 - Le Divan du Monde, Paris


On Stage :

with Bill Dobrow on drums and Rene Lopez on bass


Setlist :

the ballad of boogie christ
saint of impossible causes
i used to know how to walk on water
black flowers
king of cleveland
i miss the zoo
chicago
in the sun
i am the witness
blue lights on the rear view


Recording :


The concert was not recorded "officially" for various reasons.

So we can thank Minoe54 for having the kindness and patience to film the full benefit of Joseph!

All the vidéos are available on this You Tube channel :  http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMCu_iVg_rUouBB-OtxnNofwfZ04gInW_






Review :

by Lebonair

Après 45 minutes de prestation d'Helena Noguerra et ses complices, on n'a plus qu'à attendre sur scène un des plus grands chanteurs et compositeurs américains folk/rock de la scène actuelle, Joseph Arthur. Pour info, son dernier album en date vient de sortir et se nomme The Ballad of Boogie Christ. 22 heures pétantes, ils sont sur scène à trois, Joseph bien évidemment, ainsi qu'un batteur et un bassiste. Je décolle d'entrée tellement j'ai plaisir à le retrouver et entendre sa voix éraillée que j'aime tant. Ils joueront pas mal de titres récents dont certains morceaux extraits de "The Ballad of Boogie Christ". Joseph arthur me procure énormément de plaisir et nous offre une démonstration époustouflante de ses multiples talents. Cela ressemble à un joyeux bordel mais avec son énorme expérience du live, sur scène Arthur est le roi. Il fait ce qu'il veut, tantôt calme, tantôt complètement déjanté presque dans le style Hendrix.

Faut voir et entendre comment il arrive à multiplier les prouesses avec sa Fender Stratocaster. Dès qu'il le peut, il déchire son morceau d'un solo de gratte à la McCready (le guitariste hyper excitant de Pearl Jam) et c'est jouissif. Mais plus que cela encore, on est scotché par sa manière, toute personnelle qu'il a de mettre en scène ses dons. Le voir peindre un beau tableau tout en chantant une chanson folk troublante de sa voix déchirée, croyez-moi, c'est quelque chose !

Il est chaleureux, comme d'habitude, avec son public qui a rempli la salle du Divan du Monde et en 1h15 de live, le père Joseph Arthur nous aura sciés, cloués au sol tant son talent est immense. Certes, c'est bordélique parfois mais avec ce bonheur devant nous, que dire de plus ? Si le concert n'avait pas été dans ce cadre de la Mama, Joseph Arthur aurait joué une heure de plus sans problème. Talentueux, un peu dingue, indomptable, cet artiste est un grand, assurément. Vivement sa prochaine venue, à bon entendeur !








2013/10/14

INTERVIEW : 2013-10-14 The Ballad Of Joseph Arthur (by Imelda Michalczyk)





Joseph Arthur at Heath Street Baptist Church in London on 11 October 2013 (Imelda Michalczyk)



Discovered by Peter Gabriel in the 1990s, Joseph Arthur’s musical pilgrimage since has seen him release ten albums, form ‘supergroups’ with high profile musicians, have his work covered by virtual household names such as Michael Stipe (REM) and Chris Martin (Coldplay) and be nominated for a Grammy. On a rainy night in north London, Joseph played a special, intimate show in an unusual church setting. Between soundcheck and showtime, Joseph took a break to talk with me about his latest album ‘The Ballad of Boogie Christ’, muse on the material dangers of creativity and let me in on some secrets about his next adventure in recording.

The new album ‘The Ballad Of Boogie Christ’ is divided into two ‘acts’. Why did you decided to present the album this way?

I mastered 35 songs for it and I was going to make it three acts and then I got it down to two acts. I went on a bike ride and I listened to the whole thing – it was a long bike ride. I liked it a lot and was proud of it – but I was kind of exhausted by it. The next day I went on a bike ride and did the same thing. ‘All The Old Heroes’ used to start Act Two and I got to that track and then I stopped and was like: that’s it, that’s the end of the album. I made it a single album, like it was Act One. I made it a concise album and I thought it really worked. I put it out in America and people loved it and it was getting lots of really hot praise. Then I knew Real World Records wanted to put out both acts. I thought that’s cool when they first said it. Then I started trying to talk them out of it. I was, like: I really think I’ve made a concise record – people think I’m nuts anyway, if we put this two thing out, people are going to just think I’m off my mind again or whatever! (Laughs.) Please let’s just keep it concise! They said no, we really want to make this. It was such a reversal – the record company trying to talk me into keeping a double album! It’s usually exactly the opposite of that. I’m really happy with the whole thing now.

I was never going to abandon Act Two or Act Three it was gonna just be like I’ll put that out later, it’ll be another record. But I don’t think I’ll put out Act Three next because I have this other record I’m working on that I’m really into right now. So, I think I’ll move on from Boogie Christ for a minute and come back to it later.

Can you tell me anything else about this next record that you want to do before you go back to record Act Three?

I haven’t really talked about it with anybody. Tchad Blake is working on it with me – he mixed Redemption’s Son and Come To Where I’m From. He does The Black Keys and has mixed everyone, he’s an amazing mixer. It’s a lot more back to my earlier records where it’s more modern, future songwriter with programming and real drums and those layers mingling together. Kind of like what I was getting after Redemption’s Son and Our Shadows Will Remain but almost taking it even further. All the songs were written on piano and none of the songs I’ve ever played live. So, it’s all completely brand new stuff. It’s another concept album too, but I’ll hold onto the title for now.

Has your approach to song writing changed over all the albums that you’ve made?

Yeah. Well, this album specifically, ‘Boogie Christ’, was words first almost entirely. I do that from time to time – write words first – but it would be like one or two amongst songs written from melodic content. Then creating words out of phonetic sounds, which the unconscious seems to find meaning in anyway. It’s cool, but it’s a little bit more of a laboured process. I write poetry but I also write rhyming poetry and the rhyming poetry I always think of like song lyrics, so I just decided to use those. But the whole thing got born out of a poem about a Boogie Christ. I thought that was such an uncommon, absurd title and funny and weird. So, I decided to spin the whole thing off of that – fit everything into the theme of this character that’s either megalomaniacal, or maybe he’s enlightened, maybe he’s insane, maybe he’s a little bit all that. Then thinking what would make a Christ figure and fitting all the songs into that context. Like ‘I Used To Know How To Walk On Water’ and ‘Saints Of Impossible Causes’ and then going in deeper, things like ‘I Miss The Zoo’. I was trying to flesh out the character. There’s a drunk pastor – ‘King Of Cleveland’ – OK, he was in Cleveland in high school, you know, thinking of it in terms of a character which is obviously loosely based on myself and my own story. But I took liberties and didn’t think it needed to be me.

You’ve used Christian imagery but it sounds like it’s more generalised human and spiritual themes and ideas you’re using – do you follow a Christian or any religious practise yourself?

I don’t. I don’t really have any clue and I wouldn’t tell anybody else what to believe. I definitely pray. Sorta. I believe in a creative intelligence. The older I get the less I know what that is. I think there is something you can definitely call god amongst us. I’m comfortable with that. But the minute somebody tries to tell somebody else exactly what that is, I think they’re out of line. They can suggest, they can recommend but when people start demanding that this is what it is and what you think is wrong, you lose me at that moment.

Was the selection of the church as tonight’s venue linked into the album’s themes?

No. But whoever booked it, it was a good idea. It’s the second time I’ve played a church in London.

When you’re playing a church venue, does that impact on the performance – the layout and the sense of reverence?

It does, yes! I think of life as a spiritual journey. I think of music and art in general as a spiritual practise, but also my livelihood and also just fun and my passion. I’m in love with it. I’m very lucky. So, yeah, I pick up on that energy. People come here with reverence, they come here to pray and I believe in the power of prayer. I believe in the power of intention. People put a lot of intention into a space like this and that resonates in the space. So, I think as an artist you can pick up on that and feed off of it and feed into it and give to it and take from it. So, it’s interesting.

Going back to songwriting – do you wait until you have inspiration or do you turn songwriting into a craft where you sit down and do it every day?

Songwriting I never try to make myself do. Other things I try to push myself to do, but not songwriting because I’m always backed up and I always kind of want it to pause. I try to talk myself out of it! (Laughs.) But it happens in waves. The album that I was talking about that I’ve been working on with Tchad Blake, I think I recorded the bulk of it in five days. I mean, there was no hurry for it – I could be spending months on it. I mean, Chad’s working on it, and we’re sending things back and forth – the process is going. But the lion’s share of it was recorded in my own little studio. It kind of hits you like a fever in a way. I think I had to go out of town for a while and it galvanised me into action. I spent five days just on my own doing all-nighters and I lost my bike. You can lose material possessions if you go completely into your unconscious – weird stuff will happen because you’re conjuring stuff. I lost my bike in New York City just making an album! You know, how can you explain that, it just wasn’t in my apartment any more? I live alone. I have no idea where it is and I wasn’t doing drugs or anything. I loved that bike, I’ve lost that bike..and it was due to making this record. It was just weird – I was getting ready to go see Glen Campbell play his last show at Carnegie Hall and I ride my bike everywhere, even if I’m going to Carnegie Hall – I live in Brooklyn – so I’m a major bike rider. I love it. And it wasn’t in my place. I was totally dumbfounded, I had to take a cab, I was bummed out. Anyway, I’m trying to illustrate that there’s danger in creativity, you lose your bike! (Laughs)

With your art is it a similar case that ideas just appear and you paint or is there a focused discipline with that?

Yeah, the other thing I was trying to say is I set a goal and started writing towards that goal – I wanted to make this album concept and I was writing a lot of songs and they just came it was like a flood. And then I wanted to finish it and then there was all this work that I had to do and I just wanted to get it done. And the same thing with painting. I have an art show in Paris and one in Marseille. I’m selling paintings on the road. I’ve been painting like crazy. I made three paintings today just in the ride over. Once you start spinning it off, that’s what you want to do.

I see you have a canvas on stage. Will you be painting tonight during the show?

Probably I’ll paint tonight, yeah.

Do you have an idea of what you’re going to do or is it whatever occurs to you?

Well I just have like a style and I kind of always do that. I’d like to try to change my style but it’s hard to. It’s like writing your signature or something.

Are you going to be doing any more work with your ‘supergroup’ projects?

I hope that both of those projects continue. Jeff (Ament of Pearl Jam) texted me today he’s like: can we go on tour with Pearl Jam? I definitely know that we’re going to make another record. We actually have kind of started it – we have some songs recorded. I’m sure we’ll do something again. And Fistful of Mercy recently recorded a new track and then made plans to make another record – then everybody went away on tour and we didn’t do it. But I hope we do it.




Joseph Arthur at Heath Street Baptist Church in London on 11 October 2013 (Imelda Michalczyk)


For this album you used Pledge Music to raise funds. I understand you have quite an optimistic view of how changes to the record industry affect artists – can you speak a bit about this?

I mean, it is impossible to have a career in music nowadays, but before I had a record deal in the mid-90s, that was also impossible. It was a different version of impossible. That impossible looked like this: you could make a demo cassette, which you could give to ten of your friends. The end. That’s the end of your reach for your music. Unless you get this magical record deal, which was like lightening striking. So, that was not possible then either. I got so lucky during that time. I was working minimum wage jobs and I was giving out demo tapes to my friends around Atlanta. My story is somewhat famous and it’s absurd – I gave my tape to a friend, who gave it to a friend, who gave it to a friend, who gave it to a friend, who gave it to Peter Gabriel. You can’t make that up! And that’s exactly how it happened. I signed a record deal soon after and I was making records at Real World recording studios and I got a record advance and I thought I was rich. I bought a fancy sweater and pretty soon I didn’t have any money any more. I don’t know how that happened. (Laughs.) I put out a record now and people receive it and I’m lucky. But it’s all relative. For Lady Gaga this would be like a cause for suicide. Compared to her, nobody’s heard my record. Compared to somebody who’s struggling in a kitchen somewhere, it’s huge. So, it’s very relative, you know?

I’m optimistic because I feel like there’s avenues for people now. You can kind of complete the circle is what I’m trying to say. I can put my record out, somebody who’s working in a kitchen somewhere can put their record out on the internet. And yeah, ok, maybe it’s not going to go huge, maybe you’re not going to be able to quit your job, but there’s this completion that happens. And also, it’s out there. You can always fantasise that in a hundred years, after you’re dead, people will discover it and everyone will love you. I mean, that’s how I get by. (Laughs.) But also, about the Pledge Music campaign – I had it cued up with them a few times and my prided kicked in. But I noticed that more and more artists who have fanbases even bigger than mine were doing it, so I started going: well they’re doing it, they’re bigger than I am, so I guess I can do it. The other thing is I realised it was an avenue for promoting the fact that you have a release coming up, which was the real turn for me. I’m an independent artist with an independent label – not only will it give me funds but I’d promote the fact that I have a record out. At that point it becomes obvious to do it – you’re silly not to, I think. The other thing is you’re not just begging for money, you’re selling stuff and it’s great that fans pledge, I’m really grateful for that. They also are getting a record or they’re getting a book they’re getting something for their contribution. And it’s a lot of work. I think until somehow you can make money from music again in a real way, that’s going to be how it is.

And lastly, what music are you listening to at the moment?

Kendrick Lamar‘s new record, Jay Z’s new record, Kanye West’s new record. I’ve been listening to a lot of hip hop. I was going to a the gym a lot before this tour, so you listen to hip hop music. I go through stages where I wished I’d just made hip hop music and I still go through those phases. (Laughs) I was listening to some NWA and Public Enemy, some old school stuff like that. I also listened to Miles Davis on this tour because I can read and listen to that.

As showtime draws near, I leave Joseph to get ready in the church’s blessed backstage area. He seems to be enjoying this tour and hinted he many be back to play more European shows in the spring. Amen to that.

‘The Ballad Of Boogie Christ’ is available on Real World Records.
www.josepharthur.com

The Ballad of Joseph Arthur
Words and photos by Imelda Michalczyk. http://www.rebeladelica.com/


2013/10/11

2013-10-11 - Midori house Session, Monocle Culture Radio, London


On Stage :

Radio session with Bill Dobrow on rebolo


Setlist :

Saint of Impossible Causes
I Miss The Zoo
Ballad of Boogie Christ


Recording :

2013-10-11 Session MP3






2013-10-11 - Heath Street Baptist Church, London


On Stage :

with Rene Lopez (bass and backing vocals) & Bill Dobrow (drums)


Setlist : 

still life honey rose
the ballad of boogie christ
saint of impossible causes
i used to know how to walk on water
black flowers
king of cleveland
temporary people
travel as equals
i miss the zoo (with painting)
almost blue / yer only job
in the sun
chicago
blue lights in the rear view
missy baba
redemption's son
i am the witness
don't tell your eyes
currency of love
it's ok to be young/gone


Recording :

The concert was officially recorded, and sold on CDr after the show.


Poster :


2013/10/08

INTERVIEW : 2013-10-08 Interview (by Jonny Abrams)






Fresh from the release of his magnificent tenth album The Ballad of Boogie Christ, Joseph Arthur is in the UK this week for live dates at The Musician in Leicester on Wednesday, the Grain Barge in Bristol on Thursday and Heath Street Baptist Church in London on Friday.

We fired yer man over a set of questions pertaining to his latest recorded triumph, the mystery of the“psychic pretzel” foremost in our thoughts…

You’ve talked of having grand ambitions for The Ballad of Boogie Christ. Do you feel you’ve accomplished what you set out to achieve?

In a way just getting it out feels like a big achievement. One can get bogged down and procrastinate something into non-existence but having said that I would say there is still a long way to go to fulfil my real ambitions for the project.

How much of the album’s instrumentation did you handle yourself?

Quite a bit, but I tend to make records where I play almost everything and this record was not one of those. It’s a record full of collaboration and input of others. It’s the sound of friends and even different generations coming together to make something hopefully bigger than the sum of its parts.


You’ve said the songs began life as poems. Did you write the poems with one eye on developing them into songs later, or was it more spur of the moment? Have you ever thought about releasing a volume of poetry?

No, I wrote the poems just as I have other poems and considered them separate from songs. However now that I’ve discovered this “word first” style of songwriting, I’m sure a certain part of my innocence is lost forever regarding poetry.

And yes a volume of poetry entitled I Miss The Zoo and other Poems is coming out later this year on EM press out of Chicago.

How far back do some of these tracks date? Roughly how many as-yet-unused songs do you have stockpiled, and do you plan to use them all one day?

I have vaults full of songs and getting them out is more difficult than it seems. I’ve tried many different ways to get them all out but they keep coming faster than I can set them free, so eventually they will bury me and then hopefully someone will try and dig me out of my song graveyard.

Or maybe I’ll just release them all at once in a box set called Song Graveyard. Good idea, thanks!

Have the lyrics of the title track upset anyone? There are some sensitive souls about!

Well I assume that they have but not as many as I had thought; at least I haven’t heard of any, but then again I don’t read reviews.

What exactly is a psychic pretzel?

well I think deep down you know
haha
but just think about it long enough and if the answer doesn’t come well
that’s your answer
and if it does
ask another question
and bake it in the oven
and then sprinkle salt on it!

You’ve received plaudits from some of the biggest names in music. Which have left you the most starstruck?

To be honest all of them, and really anyone that tells me my music has helped them in some kind of way. It’s always unbelievable to me that I get to do what I do

Do you have any more exhibitions lined up?

On this five-week European tour I have three art shows: one in Paris, one in Marseille and another one in Germany

I painted until hours before my flight and packed a suitcase with nothing but canvas and paper – it’s a helluva way to travel.

Finally, if you’ve had the time to be listening, which other albums from 2013 have you enjoyed?

Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city is a current favorite.

Joseph Arthur, thank you.





2013/10/05

2013-10-02 - LiveMeDo, France Inter, Paris




Amazing live session & great interview by Valli on French Radio.
With Bill Dobrow on drums & Rene Lopez on bass.


Setlist :

Ballad of Boogie Christ
Saint Of Impossible Causes
I Miss The Zoo
King Of Cleveland
Black Flowers
I Used To Know How To Walk On Water



2013-10-02 LiveMeDo




2013/10/03

INTERVIEW : 2013-10-03 Q&A (by The Mouth Magazine)


JOSEPH ARTHUR DESCRIBES BOOGIE CHRIST, THE CENTRAL CHARACTER OF HIS NEW ALBUM, AS “EQUAL PARTS INSANE AND ENLIGHTENED” – QUALITIES ARTHUR HIMSELF HAS DISPLAYED ACROSS NINE PREVIOUS DISARMINGLY WIRED, WEIRD AND WONDERFUL “PSYCHEDELIC SOUL” ALBUMS…

Released by Real World Records, long-term mentor Peter Gabriel says of Arthur’s distorted autobiography in double album THE BALLAD OF BOOGIE CHRIST: “Jo’s words rattle and rumble and prise open the cage”.
The unique New York (by way of Ohio) renaissance man works at a frenetic pace, whether in his frequently inventive singer-songwriting or in his distinctive painting, digging in the dirt to locate the essence of who or what he is – and exposing the resulting finds in all of their bloody beauties and crimes.
In this brief new Q&A, Arthur (who is about to embark on a three-show mini-tour in the UK – see below for dates) describes his approach to his work, reveals a little of the genesis of THE BALLAD OF BOOGIE CHRIST and discusses his exceptional recent cover version of Peter Gabriel’s SHOCK THE MONKEY…


WHAT IS THE BALLAD OF BOOGIE CHRIST?
It’s a story about Boogie Christ – a character who is equal parts insane and enlightened… The concept arrived while I was taking mushrooms and riding with my then girlfriend to Salem to look for witchcraft and salvation. I wrote it (the lyrics to BOOGIE CHRIST) as a poem on that drive. And the rest is history…

AS A SONGWRITER THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A PART OF YOU THAT YOU PUT INTO THINGS, EVEN IF YOU’RE WRITING IN CHARACTER, BUT IN THIS CASE IS THERE MUCH AUTOBIOGRAPHY?
Yes, much of it is based on my own journey. I feel that in many ways I’ve evolved through – and out of – much of what I wrote about on this record. Nevertheless, it all still feels vital to ma. And I’m not out of the woods just yet…

I WAS PARTICULARLY TAKEN WITH I USED TO KNOW HOW TO WALK ON WATER. THAT TRACK FEELS LIKE A SORT OF ANTHEM FOR THE DISAPPOINTED…
Yes! That’s one of my favorites too. It came from extreme disillusionment and actual pain. But now, as with all things – or most things – of that nature, I can laugh at it… and even at myself. The song has humour in it as well… as do many of the songs on the record.

YOUR SONGS TEND TO BE RAW – FEELINGS EXPOSED. DO YOU EVER LISTEN BACK AND FEEL LIKE YOU’VE PERHAPS PUT TOO MUCH INTO THEM? OR IS THAT JUST THE BARGAIN TO BE MADE WHEN YOU MAKE ART ..?
Well, in many ways it’s the point of art. True power, as Nietzsche said, is the ability to express yourself – so, in that way, is it even possible to put too much of yourself into it? I suppose for everyone it’s different, and it really depends on what or who you are doing this for…

WHAT KEEPS YOU ARTISTICALLY MOTIVATED?
Spirit and survival in equal parts. “I’m lucky but I’m not that lucky. And for that I’m really lucky”.

YOU’RE EXTREMELY PROLIFIC – BOOGIE CHRIST IS YOUR THIRD ALBUM IN THE LAST TWO OR THREE YEARS… I’M GUESSING THERE’S ALWAYS AN OVERLAP IN TERMS OF THE SONGS YOU STORE UP?
Yes, many are stored and few are abandoned…

… AND YOU’VE BEEN KNOWN TO BEGIN WRITING AND RECORDING A NEW ALBUM IN THE MIDDLE OF WRITING AND RECORDING ANOTHER… YOU MUST WORK CONSTANTLY, OR AT LEAST VERY QUICKLY?
Constantly, yes. And sometimes quickly. But I’m someone who is lucky to be able to sing for my supper, and someone who is lucky to not be comfortable enough to relax. The fire burns within and without. I gotta shake my moneymaker, baby ..!


YOUR PREVIOUS ALBUM – REDEMPTION CITY – WAS AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD FOR FREE, AND THE BALLAD OF BOOGIE CHRIST WAS INITIALLY LAUNCHED THROUGH AN ONLINE PLEDGE CAMPAIGN. YOU’RE OBVIOUSLY OPEN TO NEW APPROACHES TO THE MUSIC BUSINESS MODEL – BUT, AS AN ARTIST WHO’S SPENT TIME ON MAJOR LABELS, WAS THAT SHIFT DIFFICULT?
Well, anyone who has been in the music business from the mid-1990s onwards has had to get used to being comfortable with change and invention, you know? I love both of those things, and I’ve never been so successful that any of this change has freaked me out. Rather, I see the whole thing as one continual struggle to get up the mountain – and I’m still working my way up. I embrace the new paths and try many directions.

HAS THE NEW APPROACH FREED YOU UP, THOUGH? WORKING SO QUICKLY AND HAVING A LOT OF MATERIAL STOCKPILED, YOU CAN GET STUFF OUT THERE WITHOUT OPERATING AT THE TRADITIONAL GLACIAL PACE OF THE INDUSTRY CYCLE…
Yes, I believe there’s something deeply liberating about working without strict structures or guidelines… But, ironically, getting back with Real World Records has felt very freeing as well. Taking some of the stress of always doing it myself is a relief. It’s also just awesome to be back with the label that started everything for me.

YOU ACTUALLY LEFT REAL WORLD ABOUT TEN YEARS AGO, SO HOW DID YOU END UP BACK THERE?
Well, it started with them re-releasing my early records, and in doing that we were beginning to work together again. It felt good so I asked them if they’d be interested in putting out my new record. I wasn’t sure what they would say, but they came back with a lot of enthusiasm. It’s been better than ever, ever since…

YOUR ORIGINAL DEMO FOUND ITS WAY TO PETER GABRIEL, BUT WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN THAT MOMENT AND PUTTING OUT THE DEBUT IN 1997 ..?
That was almost twenty years ago… I can’t even remember twenty minutes ago, ha ha.

PETER’S IN THAT TOP TIER OF ARTISTS… SO WAS IT INTIMIDATING TO MEET HIM?
I was in awe, of course, yes… I’d worked at minimum wage jobs and here was not only a great artist but also someone who represented the possibility of my dreams coming true. And a true mentor… That being said, the surreal does become normal after it has become reality – and so then my brazen self-obsessed self kicked in… And freaked everybody out… Hopefully in a good way, ha ha.

COINCIDENTALLY ENOUGH, PETER’S AND I’LL SCRATCH YOURS ALBUM HAS ALSO RECENTLY BEEN ISSUED, THE ALBUM OF ARTISTS COVERING HIS SONGS. YOU’RE ON IT, OF COURSE, BUT HAVE YOU HEARD THE OTHER MATERIAL ON THERE – BON IVER, REGINA SPEKTOR AND SO ON?
Actualy, no, I haven’t heard it yet – but I aim to check it out soon. I’ll be seeing the folks at Real World in Bristol in about a week – so I’ll angle for a copy then…

YOUR VERSION OF SHOCK THE MONKEY, A SONG ABOUT JEALOUSY, BRINGS OUT A LOT OF THE ANGER IN IT. IT’S A REAL HIGHLIGHT…
Well, thank you! That was actually the first 45 record I ever bought, when I was a kid. I always really loved that song – for both the production and Peter’s amazing voice on it. It wasn’t actually until I started playing it myself, with my guitar feeding back, that I discovered just how dark a song SHOCK THE MONKEY actually is. I guess that’s what makes Peter’s songs so strong – the fact that they’re layered with many different emotions… hiding each other… and turning into revelations…

HAS PETER LET YOU KNOW WHAT HE THINKS OF IT?
Yes, he has. He wrote me a nice note about it…

FINALLY, JOSEPH, WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR, THE ‘CAMPAIGN’ FOR BOOGIE CHRIST?
Well, I’m actually in Paris as we speak – right at the beginning of a five week European tour (see below for UK dates). And then, after that, it’s more dates in America. And then, after that… well, we’ll just have to see… But that is a LOT!