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Lire cette interview en français / This interview in french

Godflesh played at Magasin 4 in Brussels last Monday. An event Shoot Me Again couldn't have missed.
Justin K. Broadrick was kind enough to take the time to answer my questions after the gig.

How are you doing ?

Justin K. Broadrick : Great, yeah ! Earlier I was so tired I thought it would be hard to perform but the adrenaline of the night and everything else made it really good. But I barely slept last night. I got a two-year old son. He's only two and he kept me awake all night and I knew, because I'd leave for tour, it was just obvious that my son would keep me awake all night.

So you were home yesterday ?

JKB : Yeah. But by the time we hit the stage to perform, we felt like in another world. So I'm doing good... For now. (laughs)

When you announced the reunion show at Hellfest in 2010 you insisted on the fact that it would be a one-time thing.

JKB : Did we ? (laughs)

Yeah !

JKB : Oh yeah, I'll tell you what that this. Before we did it, we said it would be one time.

So what happened ?

JKB : It was terrible. It was a disaster, a complete disaster. And I think, because it was a disaster, we wanted to do it again. And when we did it the second time, which was our hometown, in Birmingham, in the UK obviously, where I don't live anymore at all, but we played a festival called Supersonic, it's a classic festival. That was our second reunion show, and that was amazing. So after that show, we were like "God, if it would have been great at Hellfest, would we have just finished or would we have wanted to do it again ?". So basically it gave us the incentive and the inspiration to wanna do it all the time. It felt so exciting that we couldn't help but say we're gonna do again until we're too old to do it, which is basically how we feel now, I'll do it until my voice finishes, which will probably be when I'm 50 I imagine, then I'll give it up then. I'm seven years from 50. I'm 44 this year, so I got six years, then my voice RRRRR. (laughs)

So you played several festivals and now more like a proper tour...

JKB : Yeah, sort of, a small tour. We're only capable of doing small tours now I think.

You don't want to live in a van anymore ?

JKB : Nooo ! I hate it. Precisely, that's it, that's the issue.
I mean I first started touring when I was sixteen - seventeen, so I spent a good amount of my life touring. And like for most touring musicians, it becomes so repetitive that you end up drinking too much alcohol which I don't anymore, doing too much drugs, not looking after yourself, being totally unhealthy and I became really ill because of all the touring stuff. Basically I had to readdress my life and get healthy again. Now I just feel like touring musicians really have to look after themselves or they just end up dead basically. And I really value my health, particularly since I had a son, you know what I mean ? It gives me more of a will to even more want to exist, to have a child.
So yeah, this will be interesting because this is the first tour I've done since 2007 I think, with my other band, Jesu. It will be interesting to see how we survive, because now I'm looking after myself, whereas before I was drinking all the time, doing all the drugs and everything. I've had that shit for most of my life.

And you still enjoy playing live and touring without the booze and the drugs ?

JKB : Yeah, absolutely ! Now I play shows completely sober which I had never done in my life until when Godflesh reformed. Suddenly I'm not smoking those spliffs, I'm not doing those drugs, I'm not drinking before I go on and I actually play completely sober. I think at the age I am now, I just couldn't be that sort of guy. I spent years being that guy.

Tonight you played mostly old stuff from the first records. Why the focus on that old material ?

JKB : For us it feels like the purest form of what we were. We think those first few records is what's most natural and most unaffected. After that, the band became bigger and sort of became affected by so many things which might be the music industry, the press, all sorts of things that seemed to affect what we were. And somehow we're going back to the core of what we were and essentially why we formed. We probably will go on to maybe play more songs off other records but for now we feel that's honouring what we truly were, what the real Godflesh sort of was. It's not about the conveying, really, but I think when we started using drummers and things like this, I think it became... I'm too tired too think of the word. I'm not being very literate, I'm really tired... Sorry. I think I've probably summerized it, yeah.
The first few albums were just done in such an instinctive way that they feel like the most natural form of expression. I mean my other band Jesu was extremely natural and is expression as well, but those early Godflesh records feel really ultra natural because I was a really confused, frustrated, angry, hypersensitive, fucked up young kid, you know what I mean ? When we made Streetcleaner and stuff like that, I was like nineteen - twenty years old, and I was a complete chaos, a mess. Everything was too much for me. It's recapturing that. Because I still feel the same now essentially, but I feel mature about it and I can articulate it better and I can deal with it. But back then, I couldn't. So those records were the way of dealing with it. They wouldn't get rid of these feelings, it would just be a way of immersing myself in it without feeling completely annoyed by it. But I still feel the same, even at this age, when I play this music. I feel the same sense of frustration and anger and all this emotional overload that there is in those records.
I'm not sure as in went on if I was trying too hard to convey the same emotion. That maybe makes some sort of sence. (laughs)

That's interesting because most musicians who are in their forties will tell you the stuff they made twenty years earlier is crap and you're just saying the contrary.

JKB : Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, for me, it gets back to the feeling of being a child. That's something for me that's so precious. And the innocence being spoiled as a child is something for me that I'll never forget. I still feel like that same child. How I was affected as a child is something that... I don't think you ever lose those early... I find that a shame, like you said, when a lot of musicians are like "It sucks, it's all shit, man !", and it's usually the best records these people made, you know. And it's like "Mmh, but what are you doing now ?" It's not like that. I'm not saying people in their forties can't make great records, but you capture something at that age which is genuinely fucked up because you have no real clue and I think that's the magic of those records. It's the confusion, the frustration. It's not just angst or whatever, it's way more than that. It's childhood, it's all this stuff. Like I said, inside I still feel like that same confused kid and I love holding on to that.
With my own son now, it's like every day I see him and he grows. I think "This isn't forever, nothing's forever, life isn't forever". Grasp it while you can.

I read somewhere you were planning to release a new album in November.

JKB : I hope so, yeah. It will probably be January though,.. 2021. (laughs) No, it will happen. We've written half of it. We've got half of the album.

What can you tell us about it ? Because you're not playing anything from it on this tour...

JKB : No, no. Nothing is finished whatsoever. It's really minimal, unforgivably brutal, but really psychedelic. Erm... I think ultimately, it's just really minimal. It's just reduced. It's like the early Godflesh records where it's essentially heavy metal reduced of all of its bullshit. It's heavy metal strict to its absolute basic core of just pure rhythm, without any of the attitude, the ego, the fulliness, the progressiveness, none of that. It's just utterly reduced to blocks of sound and for me it's getting back to the roots of why I made this music. Because it's not based on any form of technical ability, it's not based on some fucking Judas Priest record. It's trying to capture something pure again. Reforming Godflesh like I was saying, is mainly getting back to feeling like that confused child again, which I have done all the fucking time, but it just reminds me of how important it is to make something that feels like it is so connected to you and so a part of your entire physicality and everything in your head.

Since the Godflesh reunion you've played less with Jesu...

JKB : Yeah, but we are about to come and do more stuff.

So you will keep both projects running.

JKB : Absolutely. Doing the Godflesh thing really did consume me again. But I spent two years doing a new Jesu album. And I've just finished it, literally finished it the weekend before coming on this tour. I finished it on Friday. Now it's about to go into press in the next three weeks I think. And that will come out in August.
The great thing is that it's really distant from Godflesh even more. It's even more melancholy, even more sad, even less metal. It sounds more like Joy Division, which is what I intended it to be from the start. Now that Godflesh exists, I can make Jesu even more like a post-punk band. And it sounds like a post-punk record. After the first album, it is like post-punk. I even got an Italian guy who plays a whole orchestra on it, which is just amazing. It's the boldest Jesu record.
And we are gonna come in tour and play Belgium in September. So we will come and do a small tour again.

And you you know yet where that will be ?

JKB : No idea yet. I'm still waiting for the agent to tell me where it's gonna happen, but it'll probably be here, I imagine.

Good !

JKB : Yeah yeah yeah, because this is a great place. So hopefully it will be here.
So it's been inspirational to do Godflesh and immerse myself in it and then go back to Jesu and rethink the whole thing and think how I really want Jesu to be. It doesn't need to have as much of the heaviness anymore, just the heavy mood.
Some people say the first Jesu album is the most impressing but this new one is the most impressing record I've ever made. The title is a long one, it's Every day I get closer to the light from which I came. So it's just my preoccupation with death basically. (laughs)

So do you have a last word for people reading this ?

JKB : If you got this far, thank you for reading my bullshit ! (laughs)

Met dank aan Fleur.

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image 19-05-2013

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