To coincide with the release of Primal Scream’s new album, Chaosmosis, I thought I’d dust down an old interview with Bobby Gillespie which originally ran in Uncut Take 134.
The interview took place in 2008, at a time with Gillespie was reconciling the challenges of fatherhood with his duties as a rock’n’roll frontman. There were other issues, too, that seemed to sit awkwardly with him – tabloid coverage of his wedding, a modelling assignment and reports about his apparent objection to a local pub’s application for a late license.
All told, I think it made for an unusually revealing interview with Gillespie – benefiting from additional perspective brought by Paul Weller, Robert Plant and Irvine Welsh.
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“Why be embarrassed by your dream?” Bobby Gillespie pauses and shakes his head. “I hate those interviews when people go, ‘Oh, we had such a hard time making this record.’ People have a hard enough time in their own lives without some cunt moaning away, some multi-millionaire talking about how hard their life is. That’s what I love about our band, it’s fucking ecstatic! We’ve still got two songs left to mix on the new album and I’m already thinking about the next one. I don’t have any fears about what we can do next, because it’s always exciting…”
Historically speaking, there’s two different Bobby Gillespies you might encounter in an interview. There is “Bad Bobby”, prone to surliness and sarcasm, dismissing certain subjects with a flash of something feral in the eyes. And then there’s “Good Bobby”. Which is the Bobby Gillespie we get today; warm, engaging company, happy to chat passionately and intelligently for close to two hours.
Arguably, Gillespie is, these days, a mellower figure than in the past. He has two young sons – Wolf, six, and Lux, four – and he clearly seems to have taken the responsibilities of fatherhood seriously, particularly in terms of limiting his taste for rock’n’roll excess. One national newspaper even claimed Gillespie wrote a letter last summer to his local council, protesting at the noise from his local pub, and it’s not unusual to see him walking his kids round the parks of north-east London at 11am on a Saturday morning. In 2008, Bobby Gillespie, it appears, is more Sesame Street than Desolation Row. But he’s still fanatical about the mythology of rock’n’roll, and in particular the dream he’s lived out now since 1981: Primal Scream.
Certainly, there’s some dignity to be found in rock’n’roll, as people settle down and grow old in a profession notoriously high on casualties. The Stones and Nick Cave, for instance, have proved it’s possible to move into middle age and beyond with a certain grace and a curbing of their recreational proclivities. Gillespie, now 46, appears to be following suit.