Big ups to Lazybeth for typing this and posting it to bbs.beck.com.
Here's what she says:

This interview by Paul Lester is in the current (Dec.) issue of UNCUT
magazine. There's nothing earth-shattering, but Beck expands on subjects
he's been addressing in other recent interviews and says some
interesting things about his music and life, so I thought it was worth
typing up.



UNCUT: The forlorn orchestral folk of Sea Change is a radical departure
from the postmodern funkadelia of 1999's Midnite Vultures.

BECK: Midnite Vultures was an aversion to becoming too respectable. That
was the 17-year-old in me. It just didn't give a shit. It wasn't trying
to fit into the hierarchical ideal of what important music should be
like. It was wilfully unimportant, which I think is healthy. I like to
fake people out every once in a while.

U: You seemed to setout your stall for this record during a recent NYC
concert where you performed versions of the Stones' "No Expectations,"
the Velvets' "Sunday Morning," and Big Start's "Kangaroo."

B: Yeah. I had a room-mate who played "Kangaroo" all the time. It's
haunted, it's got a beautiful melody and the lyrics describe something
incredible. It's got a sense of the sublime, a feeling of grace. When I
hear it now I always think of that movie Jesus' Son, when he sees the
girl who's going to be his tortured undoing at the party. It's such an
intense, romantic moment.

U: You're not known for exorcising your demons on record. Was Sea
Changes as much of a genre exercise as Midnite Vultures, or was it truly
ripped from your soul?

B: I don't talk too much about my personal life, but I would say it was
ripped from the soul. I don't think I would bother to try to do
something like this otherwise. When I hear the songs, there's definitely
something going on in there.

U: Did the problems you faced in our personal life mean you couldn't
record the songs straight away? [In 2000, just before he began writing
Sea Change, he read an email from a member of LA band Wiskey Biscuit to
his fiancée, Leigh Limon, prompting a split.]

B: I don't think I could have looked at them at that point….Does it make
for uncomfortable listening? That's why I waited a couple of years
before recording them.

U: After the cut'n'paste approach of Mellow Gold (1994) and Odelay
(1996), Sea Change is a coherent album with a singular, consistent mood.
Is this the real you?

B: Everybody has different sides to them. A well-rounded person has a
sense of humour from the beating they've taken in life, but they also
have a reflective side, an extravagant side, a more aggressive side, a
shy and inhibited side….These are all aspects of people.

U: But surely this is your most "authentic" record?

B: I think it's a good part of me. It is a bit more melancholy, but it
also has a redeeming, haunted beauty. Is it my least ironic record? It
has the least sense of humour. I'm on a continual debate about the irony
question. Irony can denote a distaste for the thing you're making fun
of. Usually, I'm making fun of myself. But sometimes the more extrovert
aspects of my music represent how I am as well. In my life, my happy-sad
ratio would probably be about even. Well, hopefully a bit more joyous.
With melancholy being the lowest point. I mean, everybody's been ruined
by something, whether it's the loss of a loved one or a relationship not
working out…

U: Are listeners being given an opportunity to experience the pain you
went through recording this album?

B: It's not really pain, it's more a longing. The art allows the
listeners to transmute the pain into longing. I think it will be a
break-up record for some people, yeah. I have a few friends who have
divorced recently and they came down to the [NYC] show and heard "Lost
Cause" and it was helpful for them. Music should be cathartic. It
articulates experiences. Certain songs capture a situation—it can be
satisfying but almost painful, you know.

U: Are you afraid of exposing yourself?

B: Of course not. I'll go up onstage with a white feather and fan myself
for half an hour. I need something in the performance where I can break
the plastic covering off the situation.

U: That surprises me. I can't think of anyone in rock who has revealed
less of themselves, on record or in print. But then, maybe that
heightens the mystique…

B: I guess. I don't read a lot of interviews. I don't know what people
say about themselves. I don't care.

U: Your mother used to hang out with Warhol at the Factory in the late
‘60s, your father, who arranged the strings on Sea Change, was a busker,
and your grandfather was an avant garde artist. Presumably, the
rock'n'roll lifestyle is no longer an attraction.

B: Well, I'm not from the suburbs. I grew up in the street. Families
ripped apart. Depravity and poverty. When I was young we had a nicer
house, but by the time I was 12 we were a little more down on our luck
and living in rougher areas. So I don't have that much romance built
around that. The Velvets were a real inspiration to me, but I think the
depravity was just auxiliary.

U: You grew up in LA's barrios surrounded by Mexicans, but you were
brought up Jewish, weren't you?

B: Yeah, but I wasn't bar mitzvah'd because we didn't have the money. My
mom would talk about it all the time, and she'd send me to synagogue or
I'd go stay with my best friend's family and go with him to Hebrew
school, and we'd play dreidels…

U: And your father, who divorced your mother when you were young, is a
Scientologist.

B: He's been a Scientologist for 35 years. I grew up around it, so
there's things I know about it. It's hard to speak about it broadly. If
we had an hour to talk about just that, I could do it justice. In terms
of its practical applications, it has affinities with Buddhism.

U: And your grandfather was a Presbyterian minister.

B: Sure. I liked staying with my grandparents because they gave you
cookies and you could watch kids' shows and get away with certain
things. MY parents were very young, so they were more like
contemporaries; we hung out as friends and equals. It wasn't the usual
parent/child dynamic. My mother was very direct and communicative. She
wasn't into punishment. It was more, "You did so and so, how did that
make you feel?"

U: Outrageous punk rockers like Darby Crash were regular house guests,
which must have been weird.

B: There were some interesting people around. It was like, whatever,
there's strangers in the house. I was fairly used to it. We'd just play
badminton with them or they'd chase us round the park.

U: What were you like as a teenager?

B: I wasn't the most popular kid. I was more of a loner, doing my own
thing. I was kind of the way I am now—just there. My brother and I
didn't have many friends. We hung out with people 10, 15 years older. We
didn't do typical teenage things, going to the mall or keg parties. We'd
stay out late, but nothing too illegal. Although we did get into trouble
once for spitting on people at an amusement park from one of the rides.

U: The Flaming Lips are going to be your support and backing band on
your forthcoming US tour. Why them?

B: I've been a fan of theirs for going on 13, 14, years now. They have a
sensibility I can relate to, a sincerity in their songwriting, as well
as an appreciation for spectacle and the absurd. What I also like is
that they're pushing it harder than a lot of the younger bands. I love
the idea that getting older doesn't have to mean getting more
conservative and safe.


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