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Freeheat - Interview

  by Olga Sladeckova

published: 26 / 8 / 2006

Freeheat - Interview


After the collapse of the Jesus and Mary Chain, singer Jim Reid and guitarist Ben Lurie formed a new band, Freeheat. Olga Sladeckova talks to Ben Lurie about the group and their posthumously released debut album, 'Back on the Water'

The name Ben Lurie become known world wide in 1989 when the guitarist joined the famous Scottish band the Jesus and Mary Chain. That year the Mary Chain, lead by brothers Jim and William Reid, were touring with their third album ‘Automatic’. After that Ben became an irreplaceable part of the band. Beside playing bass he also started producing the band’s music and recorded the group’s last three albums ‘Honey’s Dead’ (1992), ‘Stoned and Dethroned’ (1994) and ‘Munki’ (1998). After that last album they split up. It didn’t take long until Ben and Jim, who was the group’s lead singer, started making music again. The duo expanded further upon the strong musical character, healthy but vigorous feedback and powerful song writing of their former band and began a new group called Freeheat. Freeheat also included Nick Sanderson (Earl Brutus) and Romi Mori (the Gun Club). Although Freeheat never a released full-length album during their lifetime and only occasionally surfaced with a live gig, they still gained huge support. Their British fans were treated to a five track EP ‘Retox’ while in the US Freeheat released a four song EP ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’. The band lasted for only four years and then disappeared. Ben moved back to Australia where he originally came from, Jim found a new home for his young family in Devonand plays the occasional solo gig and Nick and Romi remain in London playing in other bands. Pennyblackmusic spoke Ben Lurie after the release of ‘Back On The Water’ - the last trace of music left behind of the existence of the band. “The album came about because of Neil DelParto at Planting Seeds Records” Ben explains on the phone from Australia. “He kept e-mailing me if we had any new songs for an album. It kept bugging me and eventually made me go and have a look at stuff that we had recorded and try to put something together. Now that the band doesn’t exist anymore, the album is more like a document of what we had recorded. It is a mix of live tracks and some of the older studio stuff which we did.” The fact that the album features such a mixture of songs means that they were recorded over a long time span. For example the studio tracks such as ‘Keep On Truckin’’, ‘Everything’ and 'Get On Home’ were recorded as early as 1997 in the Jesus and Mary Chain's own London recording studio, the Drugstore. “That was after we finished recording ‘Munki’” Ben recollects. “And before it came out. Jim and I went into studio and tried some stuff out. And then, eventually, we started Freeheat.” The live tracks from the album come from a gig Freeheat played at the Paradiso in Amsterdam in March 2003. “We had someone to record the gig professionally” reveals Ben, “so the recording was good quality and we could use it for the album. I do have some other live recordings but they are terrible” he laughs. Among the live recordings is also a song called ‘Back On The Water’ which is what the collection of tracks is named after. The song is quite jangly in sound with rich feedback. It is quite a laid back song compared to the other songs on the album. Jim has also played the song many times at solo gigs since Freeheat split up. I wondered if there were any other tracks that the fans may have not heard yet. “No that’s pretty much it” admits Ben. “That’s why the album had a mix of live and studio tracks. We thought let’s just put it all on there.” The artwork is also Ben’s work. It shows a picture of sandy landscape with occasional desert-like plants. Ben explains where the idea came from. “I was thinking the album is called ‘Back on the Water’. Water would be too corny for the artwork so I thought of what would be the opposite of water - a desert.” The picture was taken in Grand Canyon National Park which is situated between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. After Ben moved to Australia he did some producing with local bands but then completely left the music world. “I work as a graphic designer now” he says. “I wanted to do something completely different to music. I am working in advertising at the moment. I have also done some book covers and some singles for bands. At the moment I am working on Linda’s album.” Linda Reid is Jim and William’s younger sister. The brothers and Ben have been collaborating on her debut album for her band Sister Vanilla. The album has actually been in production for a very long time now. “We started recording it probably around 1998 or 99.” Admits Ben. “But it will be coming out early next year. It will be released on Chemikal Underground who have rights for the whole world.” And this is pretty much all that there is to say about the existence of London band Freeheat. The musicians have gone different ways but the chance of them meeting up and making more music dies last. “I don’t think we are planning anything at the moment” argues Ben. “But you never know but then we will be too old by then” he adds and laughs.

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Freeheat - Interview

Freeheat - Interview

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