Published Aug 16, 2007On Going Way Out With Heavy Trash, Jon Spencer and Matt Verta Ray muddle things up, expanding upon the vision of their infectious debut. Spencers best work in the Blues Explosion was such a thrillingly incoherent pastiche of punk, soul, hip-hop and blues that the band were doomed to run out of breath and need a break. When Heavy Trash was released in 2005, it was a relief to hear Spencer exploring such a wonderfully rendered and focused sound. True, rockabilly is an amalgamation of styles but theres something about that country/rocknroll feel that suits Spencer to a tee. Therefore, its somewhat disappointing to find Heavy Trash tweaking things and writing weirder songs. Theres great stuff here for sure, like the excellent "Outside Chance and the rollicking "They Were Kings, which features the Sadies, and near-ballads like "That Aint Right and "She Baby are nice enough. Jarring songs like "I Want Oblivion, the JSBX-infused "Double Line and the vivid "You Cant Win are just too postmodern though and seem out of place. God forbid that Heavy Trash should feel trapped within any genre but its their full-on exploration of rockabilly that makes them such a treat.
You recorded with backing bands like the Sadies. Why?
Jon Spencer: These are the bands that we played with live. When we made the first record, it was really just me and Matt in the studio. When it was about to come out, we thought we should play live and wed seen the Sadies with Neko Case. We had this crazy idea: "Why dont we ask the Sadies if theyll go out and be the Heavy Trash band? They were the first people we asked and it worked out great; its such a thrill to play with those guys.
Your songwriting remains unique. What inspires you?
I love rocknroll because its simple and direct, at least the kind of rocknroll that I like to listen to. Its almost like haiku, especially rockabilly. I like the wordplay and plain old sounds and noise in something like Little Richard, James Brown or Mark E. Smith of the Fall. I enjoy writing a song because its sometimes nice just to get something off your chest. Influences can come from everyday life and trying to get by in the world. (Yep Roc)