Maintaining a band for 20 years while eschewing mainstream culture is no easy feat. But despite Anton Newcombe’s brush with near-celebrity a few years back when his band, Brian Jonestown Massacre, engaged in a well-documented spat with the Dandy Warhols, the singer and songwriter has maintained enough popularity to prosper and continue while remaining spiritually and artistically in the underground.
“Let’s be honest: The mainstream is a sewer,” Newcombe states, adding a few acronyms — MTV, TMZ — as examples of what he deems a murky puddle. “Why on Earth would I want to be anywhere near any of it? … Growing up in Newport Beach and watching the culture change from local and well-to-do to transient new money bulls— forced me to forsake it forever.”
Newcombe is no longer a So-Cal boy. These days he lives in Berlin, hence the title of BJM’s latest album, “Aufheben.”
“It’s the last place in the Western world that will adopt the outward trapping of a police state as we glide ever deeper into something that looks like and feels like corporate fascism,” he says of his adopted city. “The people of Germany have experience with government overstepping human rights to the point of genocide. As a culture, it is overwhelmingly on guard to learn and atone for the past and work hard to build a better future,” he says, adding a succinct: “I love the energy.”
What does ‘aufheben’ mean?
Hegel defined it as to end something and to raise something to a higher
level. Newcombe says: “I think the word ‘aufheben’ is topical on a
personal level and a global level. … That and the phrase ‘yield to
overcome.’ Sometimes you … take stock to excel, other times you need
to rip it up and start again to reach greatness.”