Growing older, learning from your past, and staying true to The Brian Jonestown Massacre

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Growing older, learning from your past, and staying true to The Brian Jonestown Massacre


If you’re a Brian Jonestown Massacre fan, loyalty comes easy. You’ve stuck through their joys, disappointments, ridiculed outbreaks and antics – their complete 18 albums – yet still, no other band gets to you quite like they do.

Loyalty is layered in its offerings, and it’s true that to grasp it proves complex. Brian Jonestown Massacre make it easy. By growing fearless with time, and continuing to unveil teachings from their younger selves, Brian Jonestown Massacre will forever make music to get lost, and found in again.

“Sometimes I’m desperate to not forget the things that I knew – that I understood – and those things I learnt as a younger person,” Anton Newcombe, frontman and maverick of Brian Jonestown Massacre says. “The world is certainly changing, and I knew a lot of this stuff would happen, and that I had to behave the way that I did in my life.” 

Brian Jonestown Massacre captured souls and the music-world in the early ’90s. Their revealing sound – described as “so retro and so the future” – exploded completely and became the topic of much conversation, particularly within the press. Their notoriety, whether deserved or not, is a topic worth exploring. 

They went on to create 18 albums, five compilation albums, five live albums, 13 EPs, 16 singles and two various-artist compilation albums. Each creation, although widespread over decades, remains true to Brian Jonestown Massacre. From a young age, Newcombe recognised the need for connection. 

“I realised about time travelling. I realised quickly that if I went to where my grandfather was laying concrete –  a driveway in the backyard – put my hand in the concrete, and remembered that when I’m an adult, if I walk back and put my hand over that, I’ll be communicating with the adult me right now. I knew I was going to do that, so I started treating a lot of things like that. There is a trueness in that. To a certain extent I want to retrain the form I’ve always had. At the same time, I’m very interested in being old if I can be, I don’t have a problem with it.”

Still today, Brian Jonestown Massacre readily sell-out shows without respite, and ignites a dedicated following – both old and new. And not once have they steered too far from their core. Newcombe finds that honing back to the purity – and morality – of lessons first learnt often brings him back to that core.

“The young-young me, with the first lessons I learnt, I had to ask myself these questions ‘Why are adults unhappy?’ Because they are not doing what they want to do – that is the only reason. I don’t want to be that guy, I have to be me. I only want to do what I want do in life.”

As the band continue to release new music – their newest album Something Else released in May this year – they take time to cherish their successes, but also to look forward and appreciate the everlasting. Because if there’s one thing Brian Jonestown Massacre will always be appreciated for, it’s the timeless quality that permeates their music.

“The things that are eternal are the songs that I wrote the first practice. We play them live, they are a part of our set, and there is no difference in the sound. It’s seamless with something that I have written. We have our own thing, this rolling motion, our own sound is just a natural sound, it’s not really a trick. I like the timeless quality – and it will serve me.”

By Georgia Spanos