“The Brian Jonestown Massacre have created one of the best albums of the year with ‘Fire Doesn’t Grow On Trees.’”
– Goldmine Magazine
“…throughout there is a sense of making music for the sheer thrill of it … this is Newcombe celebrating the moment and at his best.”
– **** Mojo Magazine
“Their album is distinguished amongst the often monotonous drawl of modern guitar music – exploring the realms of rock ’n’ roll, country blues, gooey-shoegaze-tinged-synths, psychedelic space rock, blissed out arpeggios, and more, cementing them as mavericks of the indie rock scene.”
– 8/10 Clash
“With its swirling organs and crashing drums “The Real” is some Grade-A BJM-style psych.”
– Brooklyn Vegan
“Reassuringly raw, grimy and swimming in a sense of undefined, itchy urgency.”
ANTON NEWCOMBE – frontman, songwriter, composer, studio owner, multi-instrumentalist, producer, engineer, force of nature – returns with the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s 19th full-length studio album Fire Doesn’t Grow On Trees, out today June 24, 2022 on his own label A Recordings. The album follows the March release of the lead single “The Real” and a nationwide headlining tour.
Back in the middle of the 1990s, as the British music press descended in the US to anoint the next US guitar band as flavor of the month and major labels were on the hunt for the compliant hopefuls to be their latest quick fix, Newcombe had an idea: say no. As leader of the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Newcombe had already established himself as a visionary songwriter, a man to whom making music wasn’t a lifestyle choice or a hipster haircut but the very fabric of existence itself, and he had observed in silent horror as his peers meekly acquiesced to everything – yes to contracts, yes to management, yes to suggestions, yes to this, yes to that, yes, yes, yes. But he was different. Anton Newcombe was going to say no to everything. “I just knew I would be more successful in a certain way by saying no, just being contrary because I figured that if people liked me they were gonna like me anyway,” he says. “Or dislike me. It doesn’t matter.”
Brian Jonestown Massacre’s shoegazing-tinged debut album Methodrone was released in 1995 and since then numerous band members have joined Newcombe on his sonic escapades, but he has remained the sole constant, the creative mastermind at the center of one of music’s most fascinating bands. There have been a further 18 albums under the Brian Jonestown Massacre moniker since then, each embarking on their own mind-expanding adventure and exploring the outer realms of rock’n’roll; psychedelic rock, country-blues, snarling rock’n’roll, blissed-out noise-pop and more.
Along the way, Newcombe has established himself as a once-in-a-lifetime talent who saw the direction in which mainstream indie-rock was heading and opted to take the long way round. He’s emerged as a revolutionary force in modern music, an underground hero. There was no other way, this was how it had to be. “My only option with everything in life has always been that you just jump into the fire,” he declares. “It doesn’t matter what it is.”
Now, 30 years since the release of their very first single “She Made Me/Evergreen” in 1992, The BJM sound as alive and vibrant as they ever have. Led by Newcombe on his quest of channeling inner strength and fighting for what’s right, the band has created an album that crackles with excitement and possibility, Newcombe’s empowering ode to the passion and drive within us all. “When you are compelled to do the right thing, when you live by some internal code, and you don’t shy away from standing up to and in the face of adversity or against the mob or the man no matter what that might mean to “your fame or prospects,” it’s doing the right thing… for some it might be taking a knee, or even a baton or bullet. That’s a fire inside you, and it doesn’t grow on trees. I create my own culture because it is what I need and what I feel isn’t being provided. It doesn’t exist unless I participate.” Newcombe says.
This culture is in full view on the new album, which from start to finish is fueled with the heady feeling of capturing a moment – from the hot-footed country sway of “It’s About Being Free Really”to the hazy grooves of “What’s In A Name”from the garage stomp of “Silenced” to the widescreen 60s-pop of “Wait A Minute (2:30 To Be Exact),” everything was conjured up by where an instrument took Newcombe when he picked it up. “I could sit at the piano, the organ, any instrument, and get an idea all of a sudden. I would play for one second with the band to get a grasp of the idea, and then we would unplug the amps and put on the headphones, plug in and track it. Then I would go, ‘guys leave the room’, sing the words in my head and then record them. Everything’s off the top of my head, just like one-take Jake. I surprised myself.”
With Fire Doesn’t Grow On Trees, The BJM continue to be as sonically adventurous as ever, tracing across the various sounds and genres that they have experimented with over the years and bringing it all together in a dazzling modern-day culmination. The album offers up an irresistible palette of 60’s-inspired, psychedelic-tinged guitar & organ rave-ups, distorted guitar solos and anthemic choruses of 90’s rock glory, all channeling unsettled experimental blues in the spirit of the band’s namesake into a rollicking ball of fuzzy psychedelic pop.
Fire Doesn’t Grow On Trees is the beginning of a thrilling new phase for Newcombe and his band. Joining him in the studio for this album were Ricky Maymi (guitars), Ryan Carlson Van Kriedt (keyboards), Hakon Adalsteinsson (guitar), Hallberg Daði Hallbergsson (bass), Uri Rennert (drums) and Sara Neidorf (drums).
Fire Doesn’t Grow On Trees is a brilliant album, but there is no such thing as a defining statement in Anton Newcombe’s world anymore, just more chapters that contribute to the tale. “Nobody can stop me, I’m not asking somebody, I’m not making the rounds at Warners, saying ‘please put out my record!’. It’s just for me,” he says. This drive and spirit was put on full display during the BJM’s recently-concluded headlining tour across North America, garnering praise citing the band as being “at the peak of their creative powers” and that “You’d be hard-pressed to find a group that still embodies the psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll ethos as much as The Brian Jonestown Massacre.” “For me, live is where it lives or dies,” Newcombe says of going on tour. That hits to the core of what makes Anton Newcombe and Brian Jonestown Massacre tick in 2022. He’ll keep jumping in that fire. That’s how he rolls. Savor it.
Full Tracklist for Fire Doesn’t Grow On Trees:
1. The Real
2. Ineffable Mindfuck
3. It’s About Being Free Really
4. What’s In A Name ?
6. Before And After land
7. You Think I’m Joking?
8. #1 LUCKY KITTY
9. Wait A Minute (2:30 to be exact)
10. Don’t Let Me Get In Your Way
Photography Credit: Thomas Girard
About The Brian Jonestown Massacre:
When BJM released their tellingly titled debut album Methodrone in 1995, rap metal was about to push grunge off the main stages at Lollapalooza, the Britpop party was still carrying on across the Pond, and the whole world was still off their heads on cheap rave drugs. At the time some lumped BJM in with the waning shoegaze movement – but there was something much more sonically sinister and substantive about tracks like “Evergreen” and “Wasted”.
Their visceral, often confrontational psychedelic drone rock culminated in the quite cleverly named Their Satanic Majesties Request the following year, with songs like “No Come Down” and “Anemone” exhibiting the range of frontman Anton Newcombe’s considerable songwriting talent. A year later they had signed to “major” independent label TVT, and 1998’s Strung Out in Heaven shot them straight to the forefront of the indie hierarchy.
By the time they were announcing their 25th anniversary tour in 2015, they had released fourteen albums, members had come and gone, and Newcombe had moved from San Francisco to New York and ultimately to Berlin, where he has resided with his family for a decade now – and where they memorably hosted superfan Anthony Bourdain for his eerily prophetic 2018 episode on the city.
And now, over 30 years since he first founded The BJM, Newcombe is still finding ways to forge ahead sonically on Fire Doesn’t Grow On Trees, giving fans the kind of exhilarating sound that made them love the band in the first place.