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When our writer Richard Collins isn’t smashing out reviews for us, he spends some of his time putting on gigs with his mate Lins at a night called Cosmic Carnage. When he’s not doing that he can often be found talking complete bollocks, we have decided to capture some of this bollocks and call it the ‘Cosmic Roundup of 2015′. He’s caught up with shit loads of our favourite people from across the scene and we’ll be publishing one every day until we run out… like some sort of crazy ass advent calendar!
The Cosmic Dead are probably our favourite Scottish, hairy, booze hounds of all time. They aren’t your average jam band, they go fucking bonkers on stage which has helped them become one of the most loved psych bands in the country. Here’s what James T Mckay had to say about the world he lives in.
CC: Hi James, how are you?
JT : Listening to Chopin’s Nocturnes in 432 hz tuning, incredibly soothing while I fire through as much Monday morning work as possible. I’ve been up since 6am, made 3 days worth of broccoli, tomato and bell pepper stew then enjoyed some light reading followed by an episode of 3rd Rock From The Sun and a shower. I repeated the phrase ‘all lives are legal’ 42 times and got on with a rapid fire round of answering emails before getting to this one. Not a bad way to start the week considering how many millions are screaming a miserable and wretched call for help into the uncaring night across the world at this very moment.
CC: How many gigs did Cosmic Dead play in 2015? I’d guess at around 366?
JT : Eleven.
CC: You appear to be playing in front of huge audiences, has it all gone up a level in 2015?
JT : Have you seen Queen live at Wembley 86? THAT is a huge audience. Anyone who takes away from a Cosmic Dead, Thisclose, Enjoyable Moment Soundsystem or otherwise live experience a glimmer of hope in their hearts is huge for me. I’m not playing in as many outfits as I was even this time last year but I have a couple of wheels in motion at the moment that are exciting me greatly.
CC: You put on gigs in Glasgow, how’s the live scene up there? Is it as good as it’s ever been?
JT : Across these islands every promoter is feeling the onset of the harsh climate on attendance levels. Bands as they release more albums and spend more money on their set-ups and associated endeavors require more money as time goes on and the audiences aren’t growing at the same pace needed to fund this without regular loss of money to the promoters + venues. It’s fun as a performer to claim that filling the venue is the promoter’s job but in my experience on both sides of the vibes, touring circuit economics are hardly so simple.
CC: Apart from the split with Girl Sweat you have not released anything, is this because of the relentless touring?
JT : Multiple reasons for lack of releases this last 12 months… 2015 has been a year of incredibly focused meditation for The Cosmic Dead. We’ve jammed so much and put a lot into new approaches and new designs on what it is we do, what it is we are capable of… new head spaces and entirely personal boundary pushing and realisation of context. Why do units strive for a safe space? Psych is dead, psych never lived.
The casual cultural tourist loves a label and loves a mad trip and yes, THAT’S entertainment and how can anyone do such a disservice to such a noble cause as ballroom shape pulling? No, it has its place but we’ve been done with it for too long and only on the outside through violence can we see that and fully realise the beauty in a jarred formula. Is that a concept we’re comfortable with? It’s been time to cut our tie with our tethering pole and revolve around a star of our own making for long than we’ve known how to feel and DAMN IT we’re making it happen. Whether it translates or not to those that have come to know us I can’t begin to say. No change is obvious if executed with the skill and quantity of vision that experience rewards us with.
CC: Are you releasing a new album next year?
JT : Yes.
CC: Any other plans for next year?
CC: What albums have you enjoyed in 2015?
JT : All our friends have released some insanely good work this year, almost as a gift to us. A gift to help cheer us up from the misery and rage created by the evil events of September 2014. To list them wouldn’t be fair, I wouldn’t want to miss any out. When we close our eyes, we should try and hear them all as a collage. I’ve listened to a lot of Discharge this year.
CC: What’s the best gig you played in 2015?
JT : Oh my… I have a very similar reaction to this as I do when trying to think of albums that have soundtracked my year. Gigs and the experience of playing them can fall into many categories… the enjoyment stems from a variety of different places. Some shows are a total rollorcoaster of emotions. Some are knife-in-the-gut miserable, some are merely morosely disappointing with a slice of defeat served up alongside the total alienation of unfathomable incomprehension because some 40 minutes through a minimalism-worshiping jam yr body decides it’s not worth being connected to yr brain anymore because why should it be? What requirements have you ever given yr body for doing what it’s told? HA! FOOL! slumps the body whizzing energy and last bubbles of vigor down the drain in the remaining days of yr late twenties, say hello to the police state, westminster stills owns you and who ownes them?
Other side of the coin though, the awards go out to our show with Carlton Melton and Lumarians in Glasgow at Nice n Sleazy on september 24th. Has it really been so long? If I couldn’t track the physical deterioration even from then, I might not believe it. Rich from CM yanked myself and Luwas up onstage to jam Hawkwind with them. There is a video somewhere online, heavily edited by a manager at the venue… it was another level of good vibes. I kept those guys up til the wee small hours destroying our brain cells til we could no longer mouth the word ‘tired’ any more. That is a happy thought.
That same night JP Coyle and his wife Julia gave us all a present. They had specially blended, bottled and labelled for each of us a bottle of Cosmic Dead whisky as a thankyou for playing live at their wedding earlier in the year. That is a happy thought. The sell-out show at the Lexington in the south-east of england hosted and promoted by Baba Yaga’s Hut Anthony ‘the Kid’ Chalmers was a wonderful and uplifting experience. Newcastle a few days before it, a show hosted by Johnny from Pigsx7, Blown Out, Khunnt, Leave me Here presents etc we watched a couple of local silly boys take all their clothes off and jump into the Tyne river in the freezing cold. And they came out laughing. That is a happy thought.
Luwas and I destroying the Glasgow School of Art union (hosted by PVC) with an ecstatically violent and politically (as always) charged E.M.S set was on another level for me… massive system pounding out our harsh beats and excited artschool freshers screaming along to the vowel sounds… that is a happy thought. My friend mark’s band recently announced that they are supporting the Cure at the Hollywood bowl and Madison Square garden’s, how amazing is that? THAT is a happy though. To see Fielding doing so well at cafe Oto and being encouraged to take his vision as far as possible, that is a happy thought. I could go on, but then I could also smoke the dog in anger and we need to avoid this. We’re not here for very long and there are a million and one people trying to make sure we hurt. If we hurt we’ll contribute to more hurt. Step 3…… step 4 = profit. My friend Dave from Scum (detroit) lost their singer in a road accident, My friend Scott lost his mother, my friend Roddy lost his gran… these things are tragic but it’s how we handle them that defines us. Damn it, you’ve got to be kind.
CC: What’s the best gig you attended in 2015?
JT: LODGE and HAPPY MEALS opening The Festival of Millhouse in Portugal immediately comes to mind. GAZE at the flying duck in Glasgow. GAS CHAMBER and LOTUS FUCKER in Buffalo (ny) was out of this world. Two of the best punk bands in america right now. One of the best bands I’ve been lucky enough to see. Raging. OAFT : On tour with THISCLOSE in july in the states we had a night off in Baltimore and we all planned to hit a show at a loft space above a bar across town. And hit it we did, with much gusto… Diamond Dave let us in on some information that a band called Who Spanked Kinky Jacket were opening and had been fairly verbally abusive to his housemate in the past so like friends should, we (Scott, Dave and I) slumped it on down to an off license. We asked Dave for the real deal low-down dirt juice and we got it in the form of a pint (pint?!?!) measure plastic bottle of Cascadian Mist* and a bottle of dark soft drink to mix it with.
Want talk of a happy thought? Dave and Scott and I got very inebriated very quickly down a very dark side road in inner city Baltimore wearing the shortest shorts (think of Lemmy’s Daisey Duke’s) across the road from this punk show feeling totally right-on and watching all sorts of bugs, cars and people of every shape and size walking by. Every massive gang$ter looking man or lady covered in bling asking us in the friendliest of inflections ‘How y’all doing today?’ as they sauntered by… we went and got another pint of this vile ‘whisky’. Worth noting now is that this liquid had no flavour to speak of other than on vaguely reminding me of turpentine. The review website I just checked out claims “Aromas of vanilla-chocolate nut fudge and polenta with a a silky, dryish light-to-medium body.” .
LIES. ALL LIES. But at about 4 dollars a pint for 40% alc. content, are you going to cry? We hit up the headline band ASAP who all had tattered leather n denim, massive multi coloured mohawks, low slung guitars and a really uplifting vibe about them. So upbeat! They were Japanese and we hadn’t moshed in years so we jumped around and I only fell over once but everyone in the room was writhing contagiously in the positive waves of atmosphere. THAT is a happy thought. What are your happy thoughts?
CC: Best festival?
JT : I went to T in the Park to see Happy Meals but they didn’t show up. They were in Magaluf. Good on em.
Generally I don’t like festivals very much. I attended a bunch of ATP festivals and had my mind blown several times over the years. Raw Power in the south east of England is a gem, as is Supernormal. I’d love to hang out at Supersonic but it hasn’t happened yet. Doune the Rabbit Hole in Scotland is brilliant and deserves a more international audience, especially in the weird underground. I’d happily curate a stage at that… I think that’s the best I can say… I spend a lot of time organising shows, putting together line ups and promoting and all the ins and outs of that work can result in having little time to simply enjoy attending a festival, so the hope is to work for one in a curatorial capacity.
Maybe I’ve been conditioned by the lifestyle/workstyle or maybe it’s that I feel out of place being a spectator at events or maybe I’m getting older and in my slumps of low energy require sleep and time alone more than I used to, I’ve been warned about this from friends and well wishers of greater experience than I. JAZZ IS RUBBISH fest is definitely happening one day and everyone on the line up already know who they are merely by being amazing people who operate as a reminder that hard work and exploration are always the best options in the face of burgeoning brutalist governments. Luminous Bodies to headline.
Thanks, peace, love, warmth, strength.
CC: Since the interview James also wanted to do a retrospective diary of Eindhoven Psych Lab, here it is: