Primal Scream Predict A Riot

Primal Scream Predict A Riot
Cocaine’s a hell of a drug. So are speed, Ecstasy, heroin, ketamine and LSD. You name it and Primal Scream have tried it… many times. And yet, their excessive and indiscreet drug consumption has never drastically hindered their musical output; often times their chemical dabbling enhances their records and has even defined a generation. But drugs are only one fascinating side to Scotland’s greatest export. Throughout their 23 years they have been resilient revolutionaries who never back down from speaking their minds, be it about their bluntly leftist political views or their constant strife in dealing with record companies. As musicians, they are not so much a band as they are a gang of passionate chameleons led by the inimitable and uncompromising front-man Bobby Gillespie and unsung hero, studio wizard/guitarist Andrew Innes. They are always exploiting their will to explore new boundaries either through collaborating with dance and pop music’s finest producers to innovate, or looking to their influences to recreate. One thing the Scream always are though is rock’n’roll. In a conversation with journalist/DJ/Scream comrade Kris Needs (author of authorised biography The Scream: The Music, Myths & Misbehaviour of Primal Scream), the always outspoken Gillespie perfectly summed up Primal Scream’s objective: "We just want to keep going like this, pushing ourselves as far as we can in terms of experimenting. We’re not fucking scared of anything now. We’re not in competition with anybody. We just want to make music. Nothing else has any relevance.” I scream, you scream, we should all scream for Primal Scream.

1962 to 1976
Robert "Bobby” Gillespie Jr. is born on June 22, 1962 in Glasgow; his father Robert Sr. is a protestant SOGAT (Society of Graphical and Allied Trades) union official and a former Scottish MP for the Labour party with strong socialist principals and contributions to anti-fascist movements in the ’70s. Bobby grows up in a household with Black Panther photos on the walls, the Stones, Bob Dylan, T-Rex and Martha Reeves on the stereo and the belief to stand up to the establishment and fight for what he believes in. He meets Alan McGee and Robert Young while attending Kings Park secondary school and the "three Glaswegian musketeers” form a longstanding friendship. In 1975, Gillespie goes to see Thin Lizzy, his first concert, and buys Abba’s "Dancing Queen,” his first record.

1977 to 1979
Punk breaks in Scotland, immediately seducing Gillespie and McGee. The pair begin seeing every gig they can from the Clash and Buzzcocks to Joy Division and the Jam. Bobby tells Uncut in 1999: "It’s what Primal Scream grew out of: punk rock, a love of high energy rock’n’roll. It was the most exciting thing in our lives. It was what I believed in.” Gillespie leaves school and takes "the most soul-destroying job ever” at a printing factory. McGee becomes the bassist for local band the Drains (featuring teenage guitarist Andrew Innes) and gets Bobby a gig as the band’s vocalist. McGee tells Record Collector in 1994: "We used to go round and drink beer at Andrew Innes’s and Bobby used to roll around and just scream! We had, like, four rehearsals.”

1980 to 1983
Gillespie helps out friend Caesar and his band Altered Images, first working as their roadie and then taking over when their drummer quits, though he knows nothing about drumming. He continues to work with Caesar, joining his new band the Wake for their tour with New Order and the recording of their first two singles and debut album, Harmony for the influential Factory label. McGee and Innes form Laughing Apple with Neil Clarke (later a member of Lloyd Cole’s Commotions) and the trio move to London, leaving Gillespie in Glasgow. Bobby quickly fills the void with like-minded friend Jim Beattie, and the pair begin a musical partnership in Beattie’s bedroom "smashing up stuff and screaming,” Gillespie tells Uncut. "We called it Primal Scream. It was in our heads, this band. It didn’t really exist, but we did it every night for something to do.” Laughing Apple release three singles, with sleeves designed by Gillespie, while McGee starts up fanzine Communication Blur and a London club night called Communication Club, where Primal Scream play their first gig (according to McGee) alongside the Jasmine Minks and the Television Personalities in 1983. McGee tells Uncut the performance was simply "Bob and Beattie and a tape machine, and they sounded like PiL.” McGee then puts Primal Scream into a studio and they record "The Orchard” with friend Judith Boyle on vocals and violin. Beattie tells Record Collector: "Bobby had a cold, so we got [Judith] to sing. This meant a girl was singing a lyric about a girl ... we burnt the master tape.” Alan McGee and Joe Foster, ex-guitarist for Television Personalities, take out a ?1000 loan and start Creation Records, named after one of McGee’s favourite bands, ’60s beat group the Creation.

1984
Bobby meets Stephen Pastel and Nick Low and begins hanging out at the Candy Club. The promoter/booking agent of the club, Low gives Gillespie a demo recorded by two brothers under the name Daisy Chain, who are looking to start a band. He tells Uncut: "It was fucking incredible. I thought it was a synthesiser duo like Suicide. It was just white noise with this guy singing over the top, really weird echoed-out vocals.” Bobby passes the cassette on to McGee who jumps to release "Upside Down,” the demo’s standout track, as a single. The brothers — Jim and William Reid — along with bassist Douglas Hart change their name to the Jesus & Mary Chain. During the recording sessions for the single, they fire their drummer and bring in Gillespie (who will play standing up). He tells The Face: "I couldn’t play the drums. I was just on the same level as them, I could understand. All of us had a romantic vision of rock’n’roll, and we meant it. It was the best time of my fucking life.” Bobby does double duty in both the JAMC and Primal Scream, but the former finds success first. They sell an unexpected 35,000 copies of "Upside Down,” a perfect "buzzsaw” pop song drenched in disorientating feedback hiss. (It would go on to be one of the best-selling indie singles of the ’80s.) Gillespie later tells NME: "If it wasn’t for ‘Upside Down,’ Creation wouldn’t have existed. None of the other acts he had were good looking enough, could write songs like that, or had that attitude. Those guys had vision, such intensity of focus — such a beautiful band, man.” Gillespie and Beattie record two tracks of white noise, inspired by PiL, for a compilation called State of Affairs. Soon after they change their musical direction — the first of many — to blissful ’60s style pop, inspired by their reverence for the Byrds and Love.

1985
With fame comes infamy, as JAMC start earning a reputation as a confrontational and violent live act, consistently inciting riots and eventually force worried promoters to cancel gigs. The pinnacle of the madness hits on March 15, 1985 during a show at the North London Polytechnic. JAMC singer Jim Reid singer tells Q: "I could see the people who’d come to cause trouble right in front of me, making gestures, saying they were going to rip my head off. I was too drunk to be scared. We played for 15 or 20 minutes, and then it was just chaos.” Momentarily, JAMC become the biggest band in Britain. The band sign to Warner’s sub-label Blanco Y Negro, tour the U.S. and release the seminal Psychocandy album. In his spare time, Bobby, Beattie and a new line-up featuring bassist Robert Young (nicknamed "Throb” because of his luck with the ladies), drummer Tom McGurk and percussionist Martin St. John, record Primal Scream’s first single "All Fall Down” for Creation; NME calls it "peachy-sweet pop.”

1986
In February, Jim and William Reid ask Bobby to join JAMC full-time, but he hesitantly declines to focus on his own band. "I was really broken up about it, because at that time I was having a better time with the Mary Chain than I was with our band,” he tells Mojo, "but I knew I could write songs, and I don’t have the audacity to think I could’ve written songs for that band. I wouldn’t have even tried; they were so incredible. I just thought, I love being in that band, but I think I’m a better songwriter than I am a drummer. It broke my heart but… it’s worked out all right.” Primal Scream recruit another member, Paul Harte, and release their second single, "Crystal Crescent” in April. Like its predecessor, the single fails to have any impact on the charts, however its b-side "Velocity Girl” finds its way onto the legendary C86 cassette compiled by the NME. Despite the attention it garners (as well as inspiring the Stone Roses to write "Made of Stone”), it aligns them with a burgeoning lo-fi "shambler” indie scene they want nothing to do with.

1987
The Scream sign to Elevation, a Warner affiliate label set up by McGee as a result of his success working the Mary Chain. Gillespie finds the recording process for their debut album to be a frustrating experience, later telling Uncut: "The band were shite. There was always something missing, musically or in attitude. We were fucked, just a mess, immature.” Primal Scream find themselves to be ill-portrayed by the press and public who constantly label them as "soft” because of their light pop sound. Bobby tells Melody Maker: "It’s a real mistake to assume that because music is soft the people making it are soft too. Love made the most incredibly delicate music, and they were all a bunch of murderous, mad bastards.” In the same article, Gillespie is curiously asked about his skinny frame and answers: "I hardly ever eat I dunno — I think I’ve always been like this... I mean, you couldn’t be in the New York Dolls or the Stooges if you were portly!” Sessions for the album with Stephen Street (the Smiths, Blur) go horribly and they’re scrapped, costing Elevation ?40,000. They bring in Bobby’s long-time friend Andrew Innes to play guitar and hire experimental stalwarts the Red Krayola’s Mayo Thompson as producer. Sonic Flower Groove is released in October at a cost of ?100,000. It enters the charts at number 62, much to everyone’s chagrin. The band come undone and members leave, including Beattie who forms Spirea X, and all of a sudden Primal Scream are down to the core of Gillespie, Innes and Throb.

1988 to 1989
Relocating to Brighton, the band undergo another transformation in their appearance, attitude and sound. Ditching the Rickenbachers for Les Pauls and trading their adoration for Love and the Byrds for MC5, Johnny Thunders and the Stooges, the Scream "had taken that thing as far as we could, and now wanted to play high energy rock’n’roll,” Gillespie tells Uncut. "It was just the three of us left and we just wanted to get up on stage, play Les Pauls through Marshalls and fucking destroy.” The band hire Nico’s former band-mates in the Faction to join in on bass and drums and go back to Creation. While recording their eponymous second album, they bring in Martin "Duffy” Duffois to play piano on "I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have” and never let him go. Primal Scream is a vigorous ode to their rock’n’roll heroes, showcasing their knack for adopting change and their new-found love for narcotics, primarily speed. McGee tells Uncut: "The drug of choice at this point was speed, and I mean real amounts of speed. The vitriol in the band was amazing. They were all basically speeding off their tits.” Though the album is essentially a blinding rock record, it’s the ballads that steal the show. "I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have” in particular elevates the Scream to a whole new level when DJ upstart Andrew Weatherall gets a hold of the song, championing it in Boys Own his football fanzine with Terry Farley and Steve Aymes (which blossomed into the Junior Boys Own label, former home to Underworld and the Dust/Chemical Brothers) and spinning it in his sets. The Scream latch onto the acid house craze that hits England in 1989. Despite their excitement over the new rock’n’roll sound, Bobby and the crew find the band’s interests changing yet again when McGee introduces them to ecstasy. Soon they begin spending their nights at raves and partying to acid house in clubs like the Hacienda and Shoom. "What E did was open everybody up to experiment,” McGee tells Uncut. "I think they’ve always experimented, always gone against the grain, to negotiable effect, but this time it was like a blank piece of paper.”

1990
Innes commissions Weatherall to do a remix. Despite admitting he knows nothing about remixing, Weatherall turns his ignorance into brilliance. He takes the latter half of "I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have” and pumps up its bass while nicking Bobby’s vocal of a line from Robert Johnson’s "Terraplane Blues”; he then adds some "Stax-like brass and the drum loop from an Italian bootleg of Edie Brickell’s "What I Am”; finally he throws in the piece de resistance — a sample of Peter Fonda saying those unforgettable lines: "We want to get loaded and we want to have a good time.” "Loaded” is born and gives the band the hit they’ve been screaming for. Gillespie explains the band’s successful rebirth to The Face: "The problem with rock bands these days, they’re not like us. We listen to dance music, soul music, and jazz.” The Scream use their diverse tastes as a stepping stone, following up "Loaded” with further experimenting, including changing their gigs to all-night parties akin to the budding rave scene. They open up the collaborative floor and continue working with Weatherall and his partner Hugo Nicholson on the next single — the uplifting Balearic beat-driven "Come Together — and also hire the Orb’s Alex Paterson (along with PiL’s Jah Wobble) and Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Miller. Perhaps the biggest change of all though is the addition of R&B singer Denise Johnson, who becomes a second vocalist alongside Gillespie, à la Nico with the Velvet Underground, completing the extreme shifts in the band’s dynamics. Gillespie describes the band’s unique collective approach to NME: "As long as someone’s got a contribution to make then I’m quite happy to let them get involved.”

1991
With the press now falling in love with the band, Gillespie doesn’t shy away from admitting the band’s fondness for drugs. He tells Q: "You know it was a love of music that brought us all together and that’s what we really get excited about. But we also get excited when the drugs turn up... really excited… If you look at our band and you look at the drug usage involved it’s not just as simple as ecstasy. It’s basically everything you can think of. How could I put it? A lot of what we do is quite hallucinatory. A lot of what we do is quite...quite...quite strung out and quite heroin-y. And the group does love amphetamines as well.” At their triumphant Hammersmith Palais gig in London, the band reportedly introduce new fan Kylie Minogue to their world of recreational activities. Gillespie later tells Q: "We tried to give her LDC (a lethal drug cocktail): ecstasy, speed, cocaine, methadone, Valium, all crushed up. One of the guys offered it to her but she said thanks but no thanks. She was very ladylike.” Preceded by the single releases of "Higher Than the Sun” and "Don’t Fight It, Feel It,” Screamadelica is released in September to rave reviews across the board. NME calls it "one of this era’s most beautiful, far-reaching pieces of musical adventure,” and in 2003 lists it as the 23rd best album of all time. Melody Maker’s review claims, "A new language has been created here… Screamadelica is truly, literally wonderful.” In 2001, Q lists it as the second best album of the magazine’s lifetime, behind OK Computer and in front of Nevermind. Gillespie explains the inspiration for the album to Siren: "We wanted it to be like The White Album; it’s very eclectic, every track has a different feeling,” while telling NME: "I think there’s a lot of soul to what we do; there’s a lot of blues inflections in there as well. I think we’ve got a feel that other people never have.”

1992
The Scream kick off the new year with a brand new EP, Dixie Narco, which features single "Movin’ On Up,” the ten-minute "Screamadelica” and two bluesy, strung-out ballads. Recorded in Memphis at Ardent Studios (where Big Star recorded) the previous October, the EP shows yet another change in direction is imminent — one that will divide Weatherall and the band for a number of years. Despite Screamadelica’s breakout success, McGee sells 49 percent of Creation to Sony; blame is laid on Kevin Shields and My Bloody Valentine, who take a reported ?250,000 to record Loveless. Primal Scream are awarded the inaugural Mercury Music Prize for Screamadelica over the likes of St. Etienne, U2 and the Mary Chain. They send a friend, the Archbishop — a man dressed in full proper holy attire — up to collect the award and ?20,000 cheque. BBC interview a Davy Crockett hat-sporting Bobby and asks how he feels ("fucked”) and what he will do with the prize money, ("We’re gonna spend it all on drugs”). Not long after winning, the band are without the statuette and the monetary prize. Duffy tells Uncut: "It was all mad. Supposedly I went up on stage, but I don’t remember I was so pissed. There’s a picture of me and Innes, and I’ve got the cheque, and I think that was the last time it was seen. I didn’t bank it. I don’t know what happened to it. I might have flushed it down the toilet or given it to some bloke in the street. I haven’t a clue.” At a European festival the band and some guests initiate a football match in the hotel that quickly turns into a game of volleyball. Without a net, they designate Damon Albarn as the default net; the game ends with both sides just tossing the ball at the Blur singer’s head. Sessions for the new album begin at London’s Roundhouse Studios and the band’s rock’n’roll instincts get stronger, much like their drug use. Soon after they nickname the studio "Brownhouse” in honour of their new vice.

1993
A band meeting — aka intervention — is called by manager Alex Nightingale and Alan McGee to discuss the band’s recklessness and straighten out the members. They decide to go to Muscle Shoals, AB and Memphis, TN to work on Screamadelica’s follow-up. Gillespie admits to Uncut: "We had to get out of London. If we’d made a record in London, New York or Los Angeles, there would have been two, maybe three deaths in the band the way things were going. It was like fucking Tonight’s the Night.” They recruit some heroes in the Muscle Shoals rhythm section of Roger Hawkins and David Hood, who had worked with Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan and the Stones, legendary engineer Tom Dowd and the Memphis Horns — Andrew Love and Wayne Jackson. During a break, Throb and Duffy go to NYC for a good time. The two attend a party where the latter climbs up a bookcase, falls onto some broken glass and stabs himself within an inch of his kidney. No one notices until they go to a bar later on and the bartender notices Duffy’s bleeding through his clothes. He goes to the hospital and gets repaired, but misses a playback party in the studio because airport officials believe he’s too drugged to fly. Sessions with Dowd end and the ballads sound great, but the album isn’t finished. They meet Black Crowes producer George Drakoulias at the infamous Chateau Marmont Hotel in L.A., where they "party” with known drug users Evan Dando and Arthur Lee. Drakoulias takes over the album’s rockers much to the band’s approval. Back in Memphis, the band visit Graceland where a drunken Innes vomits copiously on the King’s lawn. He’s escorted off the premises proudly shouting: "First guy to do it since the King!” Still left with three tracks they’re still unsatisfied with, they hire funk legend George Clinton to remix the songs; he ends up singing on "Funky Jam” and later on playing a celebrated gig with the band at Brixton Academy.

1994
Give Out But Don’t Give Up is released to confused and mixed reviews. Those mesmerised by Screamadelica find the album to be too much of a departure, while some critics pan it for its derivative Stones-inspired bluesy rock. Despite two great rock’n’roll singles in "Rocks” (later covered by Rod Stewart) and "Jailbird,” the majority of the album is unfocused and self-indulgent. In 1999, Gillespie tells NME: "Look, after Screamadelica, we made Give Out because we had a lot of heroin addiction in the band, a lot of cocaine, we were fucked up and we wanted to make a different record. It turned out the way it turned out.” Still, it’s a winner on the UK charts, selling 100,000 copies in the first three days. Controversy comes knocking regarding the album’s artwork: a neon Confederate flag. Some feel it symbolises the USA’s racist past, but the band argue it represents their experience working in the Deep South. Gillespie tells Irvine Welsh in i-D: "We used that image because it was a beautiful image, and our record was recorded in the South and a lot of the musicians who influenced us were born there.” It’s not the last time Gillespie is accused of being a racist. In order to help break the U.S., they accept a support slot on Depeche Mode’s tour but quickly find the strict schedule and experience of playing to middle-class goth girls in half-empty stadiums to be trying. Struggling heroin addict Dave Gahan (DM’s front-man) tells journalists of the difficulty in touring with the Scream, stating: "The more out of it you become in their company, the straighter they seem to be getting.” At a headline gig in Baltimore, the Scream are in shambles; Duffy arrives "hopelessly drunk” with two broken fingers and a sign that bizarrely reads "No Martial Arts.” He exchanges words with Throb who dives at him trying to smash Duffy’s head in with his guitar. For roughly an hour the band split up. On the eve of Britain passing the Criminal Justice Bill, which the band vehemently protest, Bobby plays back a demo of the Scream’s cover of the Clash’s "Know Your Rights” at a mate’s house when the police storm in responding to the noise. Bobby is slammed against the wall with a truncheon to his head and hauled in, but is released the next day when the judge throws out the case. Scheduled for a "career-saving” performance on Top of the Pops, the band miss their flight after a Dublin gig. When a last-minute flight is arranged to land in London’s Luton Airport, the Scream refuse to get onboard stating the airport "wasn’t rock’n’roll enough” and miss their opportunity to salvage the album.

1995 to 1996
En route to the Big Day Out festival in Australia, Throb, Duffy and members of the band’s crew are thrown off the plane during a pit stop in Los Angeles after consuming most of the drink trolley. New Zealand Airways bans them for life and they fork out $14,000 for plane tickets to the continent. After the commitments for Give Up are fulfilled, the band reach a real low and question the future of Primal Scream. Gillespie tells NME: "I was pretty depressed, and I had to ask myself why we were doing this. I wasn’t sure we were going anywhere. We were in a hole… it didn’t sound new and it didn’t sound exciting… it was devoid of energy. I think we went away and everyone got a lot stronger and came away with new ideas. We just remembered why you get into music in the first place.” The Charlatans’ keyboardist Rob Collins dies in a car accident and Duffy temporarily joins them to help out on keys. The band build a studio in Primrose Hill, blocks away from the Creation office and dub it "the Bunker.” They only release three songs during this period — a cover of "Understanding” for a Small Faces tribute album, "Trainspotting” for the film’s soundtrack (produced by Weatherall) and a collaboration with Irvine Welsh and Adrian Sherwood called "The Big Man and the Scream Team Meet the Barmy Army Uptown.” In an October 1996 press conference, the Stone Roses’ bassist Gary "Mani” Mounfield issues a statement announcing the end of the Mancunian band and his immediate appointment as bassist for the Scream — one of only three bands he would ever consider joining. He instantaneously rekindles the Scream’s flame.

1997
During recording sessions, Gillespie warns the band "If this doesn’t work it’s all over.” However, with Mani in the fold they become re-energised. Bobby tells Uncut: "I think if Mani hadn’t joined I would never have played live again. He was like a nuclear fucking explosion. He saved our lives.” Produced by Brendan Lynch, the band’s new album Vanishing Point enters the UK charts at number one and goes on to sell over 300,000 copies, while first single "Kowalski” (with a video starring Kate Moss as an assassin who offs the band) debuts at number three — their highest entries in both charts. Critics fall in love with the band’s fifth reinvention; Select give it a perfect score and hails it as "a scarifying wakeup call for the chemical generation.” Inspired by the ’70s cult film of the same name, Vanishing Point is a dark, paranoid and wired journey, filled with sinister beats, unrelenting rock’n’roll and the same magic of Screamadelica, only speaking for a generation who had traded in their E tablets for amphetamines and Y2K tension. Gillespie describes the album to Mixmag: "It’s just got a fractured fucking sound. I think it’s a beautiful record. You can dance to it; you can fuck to it. You can fucking... shoot policemen to it. It’s an insurrectionary record. It’s five dimensions; it’s six dimensions. It’s electronic. It’s futuristic — it’s the sound of now. It’s a total trip.” Darrin Mooney replaces the band’s drum machine and becomes their full-time drummer. Adrian Sherwood is brought in to remix Vanishing Point and produces Echo Dek, a nine-song dub record that further represents the thick grooves the Scream have adopted and gives a second unique vision of the songs. Sherwood calls it "one of the best dub things I’ve ever done.” Bobby, Innes and Mani hook up for a late-night jam session with their heroes Jaki Liebezeit and Michael Karoli of German Krautrock legends Can. Scream friend Liam Gallagher peaks his head in and joins in on piano. The band play a victorious hometown gig on Glasgow Green, but the attention is directed towards a lunatic who goes around the audience stabbing people with a syringe. They issue a statement declaring their shock and disgust towards the "sick, degraded behaviour” by the "stupid, irresponsible idiot.” The Scream are asked by friend Paul Weller to contribute a track to a Jam tribute record, which they do under the name of the Going Underground. They cover "Non Stop Dancing” as a spot on Velvet Underground imitation fully aware that they’re Weller’s all-time least favourite band. Oddly, the track doesn’t make the compilation. On August 31, Diana, Princess of Wales is killed in a car crash. Her funeral service is scheduled the day of Primal Scream’s big London concert, and the promoters postpone the show out of respect. Angered by the hindrance, the band issue a nasty statement saying, "We have no respect whatsoever for Diana Spencer or any member of the English Royal Family. We are totally opposed to the monarchy. With regard to the London shows, the police refused to police the event, which meant the council would revoke the licence. We wanted to play.”

1998 to 1999
Kevin Shields, the influential guitarist/studio wizard for My Bloody Valentine, visits Primal Scream in the studio and jams with the band. They ask him to remix "If They Move… Kill ’Em,” Vanishing Point’s noisiest moment, and he transforms the track into a strident jazz explosion lasting a whopping 20 minutes. Bobby freelances with the Chemical Brothers, joining New Order’s Bernard Sumner on eventual single "Out of Control,” and Death In Vegas for their second album, The Contino Sessions. He and Throb also take part in a demonstration protesting the imprisonment and mistreatment of Satpal Ram (a prisoner jailed for defending himself against a racist attack), chaining themselves to the House of Commons gates alongside author Irvine Welsh and Asian Dub Foundation. The Scream begin their search for a new sound by hiring a number of different producers for what will be their sixth studio album. They bring in Brendan Lynch again, along with Shields (who becomes a temporary touring member of the band), soundtrack wizard David Holmes, Dan the Automator, Jagz Kooner (Sabres of Paradise), Tim Holmes (Death In Vegas) and the Chemical Brothers, who are asked to deliver a gay, disco record in the vein of Donna Summer’s "I Feel Love.” That song, "Swastika Eyes” immediately raises eyebrows with its title when it’s released late in ’99. Bobby tells NME: "The swastika is a really powerfully symbol of totalitarianism… a good image, a great insult applicable to any authoritarian figure. The song’s about modern fascism, multinational militarism, the United States’ international fucking terrorism.” For the single’s artwork they plan to use the American flag, substituting swastikas for the stars, but the idea is rejected in the end over fears of offending retailers.

2000 to 2001
Xtrmntr ("Vowels are fucking fascist! You gotta take ’em out. They’re like a virus. A Judeo-Christian controlled virus,” Bobby tells NME.) is released showcasing the band’s most radical sound to date. Mixing everything from punk, disco, hip-hop, psychedelia, free jazz and techno, it’s a hit with both critics and fans and recaptures the same virtuosity they demonstrated on Screamadelica. Perhaps the most drastic change in the band is Bobby’s lyrics, which find him hostile, declaring war on the music industry and government(s) and confronting the issues that nearly broke up the band. Innes tells Select: "We’re taking politics with our drugs now. We were sick to death of everything. Shields has this quote about Britain — it’s self-induced stupidity.” Bobby appears in another issue of Select dressed in a vintage Russian Army suit with the large caption of "I’m A Drug Addict” titling the article. Again he shows candidness about the band’s problems saying, "What tore the band apart was heroin abuse. And, you know, cocaine, amphetamine and a lot of alcohol. We never hated each other. Everybody was just incapacitated.” Xtrmntr’s third single "Accelerator” is the last release on Creation, as McGee closes shop after 16 years in order to open a smaller, low-cost company with a stake in the internet. Soon after, he founds Poptones Records, and finds success signing unknown acts like the Hives, French Kicks, the Others and most recently, Hamilton, ON’s Sailboats Are White. The Scream sign to Columbia, largely out of convenience from Sony’s deal with Creation. Mani grabs a bite at Burger King, and winds up spotting Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State John Prescott. He introduces himself and then says, "Tell Tony Blair that if I see him in the street I’m gonna fuckin’ leather him.” Xtrmntr wins best album of 2000 at the NME Carling Awards and ends up scoring high on the year-end lists of NME, Q, Mojo, Uncut, Village Voice and Select. The band begin playing a song called "Bomb the Pentagon” just months before the World Trade Center attacks. A furore commences after 9/11 claiming their (non-existent) record company would drop them and the band distance themselves from the song. Bobby tells Mojo: "I took the line ‘bomb the Pentagon’ out of the song. It was too sensational, too much shock value, it just didn’t make for good rock’n’roll. There were all these stories in the music press saying we’d recorded it, it was going to be a single, it was on our album, the American record company had dropped us... All fabrication. We haven’t had an American record company for two years!”

2002
NME runs a feature on the band stating Bobby had temporarily lost the plot; according to Elastica’s Justine Frischmann, whom he was shortly living with, Gillespie was suffering from extreme paranoia. According to reports, he is also seen lambasting the PA speakers at a London tube station, and is taken in briefly by McGee and his pregnant wife who ship him off to their home in Wales after he plays one continuous guitar chord all day long. When doing press for his new record, Gillespie admits he had a rough time in between albums six and seven, but admits a newfound happiness, large in part to the birth of his son Wolf. Evil Heat is released in the summer, and like clockwork they take on yet another direction. Produced by Jagz Kooner, Two Lone Swordsmen and Kevin Shields, the album isn’t as focused as Xtrmntr but it introduces another creative, experimental side to the band that unfortunately gets a confused response. Describe by the band as "electronic garage band future rock’n’roll,” it features guests like Robert Plant on harmonica, Jim Reid singing "Detroit” and Kate Moss duetting with Bobby (a partnership that finds the pair in the tabloids, falsely accused of being romantically linked) on a cover of Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra’s "Some Velvet Morning.” As well, the controversial "Bomb the Pentagon” gets reborn as the fiery "Rise.” Bobby tells Dazed & Confused: "It’s more sarcastic, more hateful, but it’s more funny as well, more up, maybe not as angry, something else... sexier I think. We’ve moved away from the politics, we got that out in the last album. This, I think, is just a celebration of life; I dunno that might sound a bit cheesy and blast, but we’re just enjoying what we do so much now.”

2003 to 2005
Primal Scream have an unusually quiet two-year period. Scottish newspaper the Scotsman lists Screamadelica the best Scottish album ever, ahead of the Proclaimers, Teenage Fanclub and the Jesus & Mary Chain. At the end of 2003, they release Dirty Hits, a compilation of the best songs and a second disc of the best remixes. Unsurprisingly, the "hits” include everything from Screamadelica on, ignoring the first two albums and their early singles. They make an outrageous appearance on Sunday afternoon at the 2005 Glastonbury Festival. In an interview beforehand with the BBC, Bobby and Mani appear boisterous and unguarded. When asked if they’re anticipating Basement Jaxx’s performance, Bobby replies, "They’re cocksuckers. No offence to cocksuckers.” On stage they’re even more animated, calling the crowd "a bunch of fucking hippies,” confusingly sending out a "fuck you” to Kylie fans and after Mani plays a Stone Roses riff, Bobby yells, "Do you want to hear the Stone Roses? Well you should have been here 15 fucking years ago, you lazy bastards!” They keep playing until organisers pull the plug and have security physically remove them from the stage. Rumour has it Bobby makes a gesture resembling the Nazi salute.

2006
In an interview with NME, Bobby and Mani clear up the Glastonbury debacle with Mani admitting, "We needed throwing off, otherwise we’d still be there now!” Bobby defends the Nazi salute accusation, saying, "If you look at the things we’ve done in the past, like benefits for Satpal Ram, the Liverpool dockers, the Palestine refugee children, you’ll know what my politics are. I’m no fuckin’ Nazi.” The Scream return after four years with their eighth full-length, Riot City Blues: another shot at perfecting their rock’n’roll-fuelled opus. Unlike Primal Scream and Give Up, the album is a well-rounded, pulsating tour de force that finds the band in the best spirits of their life. Without any electronic traces, it combines influences as broad as the blues, old-time rock’n’roll, psych, the New York Dolls, and even a little bluegrass; it could well be their most experimental record yet, depending on where you stand. Lead single "Country Girl” is a good time anthem in the vein of "Rocks,” based on a Celtic folk tale and highlighted by the bewildering mandolin solo by the always-surprising Andrew Innes. Gone is Kevin Shields, who Bobby stresses was never in the band, but is always welcome to contribute, and Throb, who played on the record but is currently away dealing with personal problems. In an interview with The Observer, Bobby reveals the influence behind the new album: "This album is more traditional. It’s in the spirit of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent. I’d also call bits of it Scots-Irish music.” As fresh as Riot City Blues may be, most extraordinary of all though is the band’s new lease on life. Talking to the Scotsman, Gillespie says, "Much as we loved getting wasted, we were neutralising ourselves and rendering ourselves useless in that state. I love Johnny Thunders and there is a side of me that wants to annihilate myself. I’m trying to stay away from that. I mean, tonight I just want to go home and see my girlfriend and see my kids.” While initially without North American distribution, Riot City Blues will see a Canadian release in September.


The Essential Primal Scream

Screamadelica
(Creation, 1991)
Viewed by many as the greatest album of the 1990s, the Mercury Prize-winning Screamadelica gave Primal Scream the success and fame they were yearning for, while introducing them to the collaborative process that would make them such a unique musical entity. Simultaneously, it also invented a new wave of multi-faceted dance music and provided the soundtrack for a generation of free-loving, drug-fuelled club culture. "Loaded” still retains its title and influence as one of the greatest dance songs and intoxicated anthems of all time.

Vanishing Point
(Creation, 1997)
After the bluesy mess of Give Out But Don’t Give Up, the Scream came roaring back with a new line-up led by the sinister bass of Gary "Mani” Mounfield. Reintroducing themselves to danceable, dub-based grooves and trying their hand at the blossoming electronica scene, they produced a paranoid masterpiece on the accessible side of experimental. The fact that its named and partly based on a film about a suicidal anti-hero racing across the U.S. fucked up on Benzedrine actually made a lot of sense.

Xtrmntr
(Creation, 2000)
The final album to be released on Creation ensured the label would go out in style — with Molotov cocktails ablazin’. The angry, political side of the Scream is exposed through vicious gay disco, fire-breathing garage rock and possibly the most disturbing hip-hop song ever. The ability to get Kevin Shields to come out of hiding and produce an earsplitting free jazz assault is one of their greatest feats ever, but as a whole this rivals Screamadelica as their best.