by John Noyd
August 2008

English band Spiritualized

English band Spiritualized

As spokesman and songwriter for Spiritualized, Jason Pierce a.k.a. J. Spaceman, has no answers – which makes for a difficult subject to interview but a great artist to follow. Hard to pin down but happy to chat, a half hour on the phone with him brings a renewed enthusiasm for music’s power. He said, “You need to drag the music you love kicking and screaming into your life.” Believing simple is best and talent may well get in the way of good music, Pierce also claims there is no bag of tricks or formula to what he does. Relying on what he calls, “the meter in my head,” Pierce likes to see where things go in his attempts to write music that, “his band can’t hide behind.”

He calls it, “pushing the air around,” and on record and in concert, it is Pierce’s life-defining pursuit. Uninterested in the business side of things, Pierce embodies the idea of doing what you love. His latest effort, “Songs in A&E,” is an ironic entendre that refers to Britain’s ER called Accidents and Emergencies. Part-way through the process, Pierce fell seriously ill with pneumonia and was unable to play. Jump-started by a soundtrack project for director Harmony Korine, Pierce returned to the songs of “A&E” with a keener sense for the basics, perhaps where the notes A and E come in. Finally, Pierce points out accidents and emergencies best describe his creative process. Open to experiments, his main goal is “to create a world where the listener can draw their own conclusions like a good novel,” he says.

When asked about the particular difficulties in his latest batch of atmospheres, Pierce admits that every album has been difficult. When Pierce tried to mix, “A & E,” like the band’s second album, he started by trying to make the songs more character-driven. He began the writing on just a guitar. The results are far from what he envisioned, but then that is how Pierce likes it. He’s vehement that there are no intended messages in his work – it’s whatever the listener takes from it. Pierce mentions Ray Charles’ “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” “No one asks,” he says, “who the, ‘you’ Ray is singing to.”

Those who have seen Spiritualized live know it is a transporting experience not limited to the deeply felt songs or the indescribable mix of blues, gospel and space rock, but rather an intuitive appreciation that is for the lack of a better word – spiritual. When asked how he conjures this on stage night after night, Pierce credits his band who share a common idea accompanied by an almost telepathic communication honed over more than a decade together. Beyond preferring smaller venues, Pierce remains vague as to the hows and whys, knowing only what he has witnessed – a practically Pentecostal rapture of sound and space and time. Southern Wisconsin gets a chance to see his theories in action when Pierce brings Spiritualized and their Electric Mainline tour to Milwaukee’s Turner Hall Sept 9th.

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Spiritualized Online:

CD: Songs In A&E Record Label: Sanctuary Records
Purchase Songs In A&E on Amazon
Download Songs In A&E on Amazon