Saturday, 2 August 2008

Psychopedia Interview: Jay Reatard

Jay Reatard

No words. More actions.

A lot of people have a lot of things to say about Jay Lindsey. In fact so many people have so many things to say that the inches spent conjecturing on a young guy who, by choice, calls himself Jay Reatard almost outway the mile high stack that comprises his tireless discography. Say what you will about the kid: he doesn’t stand still for a second and he prefers to do and get done than stand around talking about it.

Reatard began his recording career in Memphis at 15 on Eric Freidl (formerly of the Oblivans)’s Goner records. Already restless and wanting to get going Jay cut a record calling his band simply ‘The Reatards’. Except that it wasn’t really a band at all. It was just Jay playing a guitar with as much distortion as possible while he hit an empty bucket to create a beat.

While most of his contemporaries were busy getting on with high school and being ‘teenagers’ Jay had already completed his first European tour with the Reatards and had begun to focus on a synth punk outfit called The Lost Sounds, a band he would later reckon to be “the thing I was most proud of being in”.

Throw in stints with the Angry Angles, Final Solutions, The Bad Times, the brilliantly named black metal outfit Winter Coffin and production credits for everyone from Reigning Sound to Brutal Knights and it’s easy to worry that finally hitting a solo career and a solid label deal might slow Jay down.

Nope. His move to Matador has already seen a slew of 7”s with an album promised in the not too distant future and the summer has seen a furious live schedule. Hot on the heels of the Toronto incident ( that called Reatard’s stage demeanor into question we caught up with the band at ATP in sunny Camber Sands.

Psychopedia: Hi Jay, how are you finding the UK compared to the reactions you have been getting in the US?
Jay Reatard (vocals, guitar): You know, every night is different.

Billy Hayes (drums): We played a pretty furious show at a pub in London the other day. I think someone threw the air conditioner out of the window and it almost landed on someone.
Stephen Hope (bass): We’ve got a house show lined up when we get back to London as well. They are always fun.

Would you not worry in a house show environment that the crowd may get too confined and ruin your gear as has happened recently?
Jay Reatard: That was totally different. That was people being jerks. If people want to come to a show and have a good time, that’s cool. Just don’t come and be a jerk.

How have you found ATP? It is a pretty strange setting: seeing bands in a rundown British holiday camp.
Billy: Yeah it has been weird. But it is sunny and people seem to like staying up late and having a good time and stuff. We pretty much played so that we could just hang out for three days.

Whose chalet has had the best party?
Billy: There seemed to be a lot of people at the Deerhunter kids chalet last night. I dunno.

In comparison to some of your earlier work the more recent singles have quite a pop feel to them. My buddy Ben reckons you sound like Screeching Weasel.
Jay Reatard: Fuck that man. That is just demeaning. We sound like Husker Du with Geddy Lee on vocals.

Would it sound the same if you ditched the flying V’s?
Jay Reatard: I don’t know. Probably.

At this point the interview began to trail off. Jay seemed agitated and pretty unhappy being in a straight q&a situation despite in general conversation being polite, eager to ensure that we could see the show and happily discussing topics that weren’t his own band or his bands music with ease.

Later that day we witnessed Jay and his band whip an apathetic, sunburned, early afternoon audience from near-snoozing to a whirling, thriving throng thirsty and baying for more when the twin flying V’s were finally put down.

Who really needs words when your raw, garage punk is one of the most crucial noises that you can currently pay to hear pour out of vinyl or sweating and bleeding on a stage in front of you?

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