If you have been following my countdown of the UK’s best indie singles from the golden age of the chart, then I’m sure it’s apparent how important the ‘C86’ scene is to me. Seven bands from that colossal compilation made the list, and none ranked higher than Close Lobsters. When I read a few weeks ago there would be new music from frontman Andrew Burnett and his mates, I was filled with excitement… and some anxiety. Let’s face it, after decades away, this could easily go wrong. I needn’t have worried. Without any fear of sounding sycophantic, the new “Kunstwerk in Spacetime” EP fits in nicely next to “Just Too Bloody Stupid” and the rest of the work they left us in 1989. It’s not every day you get to contact one of your heroes, and I want to give special thanks to Mike at Crashing Through Publicity for making this happen.
Linear Tracking Lives: How do you think Close Lobsters would have played out without your appearance on NME’s ‘C86’ compilation?
Andrew: This is undecidable. An unknown unknown, to quote the sole contribution to mankind from [Donald] Rumsfeld.
Linear Tracking Lives: Cherry Red is about to reissue ‘C86’ as a three-disc box set. What are your thoughts?
Andrew: Very happy to contribute. We were also invited to play in London at the ‘C86’ show but unfortunately couldn’t make it on that date.
LTL: In recent years, quite a few of your peers, such as the June Brides and Primitives, have reappeared on stage and in the studio. Are there any old friends you are excited to see and hear again? Are there others from that period you wish would return?
Andrew: June Brides were monumental in Glasgow recently, as were The Wolfhounds at the NYC Popfest last year. I always really liked McCarthy a great deal. I wonder if they would play at all? JAMC [The Jesus and Mary Chain] playing again is of course to be welcomed very much.
LTL: A couple of years ago while visiting Scotland I popped into a little shop in Edinburgh called Elvis Shakespeare. I was chatting with the owner, David, and I told him I was searching for the 12″ of “Let’s Make Some Plans.” His jaw dropped, and he preceded to tell me I had just missed some fellas from the band. I spend a lot of time writing about the thrill of the record hunt, and all I really wanted to know was what was bought at Elvis Shakespeare that day. Assuming you don’t remember such things, what elusive records keep you popping into the shops these days? Do you have some favorite record shops at home and abroad?
Andrew: It must have been an imposter! Having said that it was probably Stewart [McFayden] or Tom [Donnelly]. Who knows. I dream of setting up a record store in Paisley to replicate the old ‘Listen’ that used to service our punk rock needs when growing up. This store would sell only underground music with no mainstream stuff. I remember getting The Clash “White Man” there on the day of release. It was one of those key moments in life. Record shops are brilliant places.
LTL: I’m really enjoying Close Lobsters’ new material, and we’ll get to that in a minute, but I’m wondering, at all of these Popfests you’ve been playing around the globe, what are the moments in your shows that seem to most excite the fans? Does the answer vary from Berlin to New York to Madrid to Copenhagen? And what’s your favorite song to play?
Andrew: Every time we have played, the response has been wonderful… Madrid, Berlin, Glasgow, Hamburg, NYC, Copenhagen… each with their own distinctive feel. Most times “Let’s Make Some Plans” is received with gusto. We hope to visit France and Italy and Spain and the USA again in the near future, if fate permits.
LTL: Ah, the ’90s, the place where great jangle bands like yours went to die. Am I exaggerating, or just how bad was that bloody decade?
Andrew: The ’90s I spent cocooned in underground house music. The popularisation of indie or Brit or whatever looked like a car crash to me.
LTL: So, Close Lobsters have a brand-new seven inch coming out on May 27.* It’s your first new music since 1989. Listening to it, I’m struck by how it sounds like no time has passed at all. It’s the perfect followup to ‘Headache Rhetoric’ and ‘Just Too Bloody Stupid.’ In fact, just hearing the word “stupid” sung in the opening line of “Now Time” is such a smile. What’s the story behind that song and “New York City in Space?”
Andrew: The new single “Kunstwerk in Spacetime” is aptly titled. The gap between the last recording and the new is like a black hole. Space and time collapse into “Now Time,” or Jetztzeit, as Walter Benjamin once put it.
*Note: Due to a printing issue with the sleeve, “Kunstwerk in Spacetime” has been delayed until June 17. However, preorder the 7″ directly from Shelflife Records, and you will receive a digital download of the new songs today. Check out “Now Time” below.