‘Space-rock’ band Spiritualized’s accolades have included some definite ‘out-there’ moments in their 21 year career. While playing the ‘highest ever concert’ in print sounds typical of a band known for neo-psychedelic rock and drug-referencing, the fact is location alone is the basis for the record. Apart from performing at the planet’s northern most point – the Arctic Circle – and delivering career defining, poll-topping album, Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, the UK band’s leader, Jason Pierce, was actually revived from clinical death in 2005. His lack of interest in staying earth-bound seems almost too fitting for a man most commonly known as J. Spaceman. Interviewing Pierce therefore, I’m not surprised to discover someone struggling with the idea of ‘down-to-earth’.
New material from the band is reaching completion as we approach the four year mark since Spiritualized’s last album, Songs In A & E, but Pierce doesn’t claim the time-frame was in anyway a break to ‘reconnect’. “No, I still feel quite disconnected from myself, actually.” This opening quote, it turns out, is almost a crutch with which Pierce moves about on – especially when discussing his music. It’s true that the quiet, evenly spoken singer has long had a turbulent relationship with the press, but his former band, Spacemen 3 and to some degree, Spiritualized haven’t been spared Pierce’s apparent turbulence either. Hiring and firing musicians – or at least failing to retain them for any length of time – has ensured Spiritualized remained Pierce’s own project. On this subject, however, he is quick to point out, “Most of the current line-up has made the last four albums with me.” He adds further, “I actually feel encouraged by this band, which is something that has taken a long time for me to feel.”
Stable band in place, Spiritualized’s seventh studio album is finally nearing completion following almost a year of imminent release date teasers. The as-yet untitled album, according to Pierce, “Is more about my voice this time, which has happened I think because of doing the Acoustic Mainline shows.” Spiritualized have long divided their shows between Acoustic and Electric Mainline billed performances, dependant on what level of ‘plugged’ or ‘unplugged’ they happen to be. “I’m not hiding away behind the music this time around and it feels… just good to step forward like that,” he confirms.
Pierce’s music in pre-Spiritualized indie psyche-rockers, Spacemen 3, was a big ol’ bag of drugged-up crazy – in scientific terms. Spiritualized, although an easier listen, have scarcely delivered anything like a ‘pop’ album thus far, but mention of a rumoured pop direction on the forthcoming record has Jason scoffing. “Did I say that?” He snorts, “I must have because I don’t think anybody’s heard any of the songs yet. Most of them aren’t even complete.” Although I can’t offer a relieving source to the rumour, I wonder if Pierce has at least an interest in creating a pop record. “Not in the sense that it has to be about slick sounding pop in that ‘gotta be bigger and more overblown than the last album’ way artists go.” He adds, “I hate that mindset where everything has to keep getting bigger and louder and more. I have no interest in making album that takes what we’ve done before and just serve up a slicker, more polished version of that.”