Published Mar 10, 2010"Believe it or not, we all miss each other something fierce when we don't see each other for a while," confides a surprisingly sunny Matt Hollywood.
Much to the bewilderment and delight of their followers, Brian Jonestown Massacre have welcomed Hollywood back after a near decade-long absence, with the guitarist back onboard for the band's latest release Who Killed Sgt. Pepper?
"It feels good to be back," says Hollywood. "Everyone's so talented and funny and interesting to be around — it's been a laugh riot!"
A riot is what springs immediately to mind whenever Jonestown's name is dropped. And justifiably so considering the impact of Ondi Timoner's acclaimed 2004 documentary, DiG! As the film unflinchingly showed, Hollywood and BJM bandleader Anton Newcombe had their differences. That the bruised, bloodied, and bullied Hollywood is back doing guitar and vocal duties in the band is something nobody could have predicted.
"People who've seen the movie used to come to the shows to egg on Anton," Hollywood says, "but it's died down. People who normally would never come to the shows did because of DiG! and I don't think that's a bad thing necessarily. Maybe Jonestown infected some of those people with something in the music that turns 'em around, you know?"
Hollywood, a talented and at times touchy songwriter in his own right, gives pause for a moment. On the cusp of a lengthy international tour that will be hitting North America in late May, could it be that Hollywood has hesitancy?
"As for this tour," he continues, "well, people have worked through various types of difficulties and learned to put the music first, and get along with each other. Things are working pretty smoothly, for the most part.
"I think we're disappointing a lot of people by not having a riot on stage every night. We're not all punching each other out anymore, and from my perspective, that's a good thing. Anton is feeling better than he has in a long time. He hasn't been drinking for about a year now and he wants to have a good time on this tour."
As far as the band's 11th studio album, Who Killed Sgt. Pepper?, is concerned, Hollywood says that on the surface it may look like a departure to some fans, but at heart it's still very much BJM.
"What we set out to do is make the kind of music we want to hear and I think that we do that pretty well," says Hollywood. "Sgt. Pepper is definitely different but, at the same time, Anton has been doing electronic music since I've known him. So yeah, this album might surprise some people. Some of it was supposed to be set to films that didn't get made so there's a lot of atmospheric stuff."
And with a rejuvenated Jonestown, what else can fans expect during this new series of live dates?
"We've got a special guest joining us on stage for this tour," teases Hollywood. "On the tour bus — and this goes back for years — people have been saying stuff like, 'We need things to make sandwiches with, we need champagne, we need cigarettes, but what we really need is Billy Dee Williams!' So, we got him."
Lando Calrissian — administrator of Cloud City, renowned gambler and connoisseur of Colt 45? How could this be?
"Well, we don't really have him, but we've got a life-sized cardboard cut-out of him. See, we're all pretty close in age and got hit by the Star Wars thing pretty hard when we were kids, and there's always been this undercurrent of it in the band — not so much in the music — but, we're using the force, you just don't know it!"
Brian Jonestown Massacre will be making Canadian stops in Toronto (June 2), Montreal (June 3) and Vancouver (June 18). For a complete list of tour dates, click here.