Post-Punk: Both records were fantastic. But I would have to say that the least cohesive one for me seems to have been Strange Times.
Mark Burgess: That was a drastic change for us, wasn’t it? We were working with somebody who was an established producer. David Allen had done a lot with The Cure, co-produced alot of The Cure stuff. He had done Head on The Door, which was probably the most successful commercially that they had. He had just come out of that—just come out of Head on the Door, so it was like a completely different thing, and it was an American record.
Post-Punk: That was the first Chameleons record I had.
Mark Burgess: It was made and commission by an American label who had an A&R man who was very hands on. Guy who fucking signed Guns and Roses, and things like that.
We started it in 85, recorded it in 86—It came out Winter of 86 I think—I was already in The Sun and The Moon by 87 *laughs*
Post-Punk: So it was right out of Head on The Door…Man, that was a great time for this kind of music.
Post-Punk: Did you ever listen to The Smiths towards the end? You can really hear Billy Duffy’s influence on Johnny Marr, especially in 86/ 87 live versions of “How Soon is Now”…it sounds like it could turn into “She Sells Sanctuary”.
Mark Burgess: It never occurred to me. When I first heard “How Soon is Now” my immediate thoughts we like “what an absolutely fucking incredible guitar player”, you know like as much as The Edge was.
Mark Burgess: Uh, I don’t know, I like the single. I like the song they played at the apple thing. I had been listening to that. I did grab the album. I thought if their good enough to give it to me, I’ll listen to it. When I gave it a listen, it seemed a bit bland to me on first listening, but it’s too soon to tell. Jury’s still out.
Post-Punk: I think it’s difficult for a band like U2 to release something with social context with how much money they make, and in relation to where they are “at”.
Mark Burgess: I suppose if you have pretensions about it. I think those pretensions are only affordable by bands in their early 20s. I think when you get older you know, making a living from what you do, and looking after and taking care of your family and all that. You see yourself basically—you are paid for making music that touches people. That’s what you’re paid for. The thing is, with a band like U2, you buy your ticket and you see exactly where your money is going. The put on a great show. The are just spectacles. You get your fucking monies worth—and they have been, and are, and remain a fantastic band.
Post-Punk: It pisses me off when people disparage an entire discography such as U2’s just because they don’t like how big they’ve become.
Mark Burgess: Well look at Radiohead who made their album available for null pence if that’s what you wanted—you did not have to give them anything, you could put zero in the thing and get it—I didn’t do that; I definitely didn’t do that, but I know people who did that—put zero in the box and got the album for nothing. And people went “how cool and original”—and that album was my favorite Radiohead album—In Rainbows, fucking brilliant album.
Post-Punk: Yorke can’t go wrong.
Mark Burgess: U2 do something like that with an Apple logo on it—and everyone is kicking against Apple now, it’s starting to become like people are sick of it, the brand a little bit. It’s become a bit of a passe brand at the moment I find. Since we lost Steve Jobs, that was going to happen. But I think they’ll bounce back. I like what Apple do. Am I going to wear one of those watches? Probably not!
Post-Punk: It seems like the most futuristic thing created based on what we thought the “future” would be like from the 50’s to the 80’s.
Mark Burgess: People have always wanted a Dick Tracy watch—Apple made one! Don’t buy it if you don’t want it. But—Apple innovation put a rocket under Google’s ass. Google developing Google Glass which a is very cool idea—a very cool concept if you are into tech and everything. But they’re on the coat-tails of Apple.
Post-Punk: Google Glass seems like the apple watch, in as much as it’s something we used to order in the back of a comic book.
Mark Burgess: Damn I wanted a pair of those x-ray glasses, and a submarine you could sit in *laughs*
I take less and less notice of society—it used to be a gradual thing, and not it’s become like a daily thing. I am at the saturation point with the amount of shit that is going on around me *laughs* For my own preservation I have to pull down the shutters and shut up the shop.
Post-Punk: I hear ya, I try to watch some good cable dramas.
Mark Burgess: I play Need for Speed. I love it. I even bought the soundtrack I love it so much. Black Keys, what a great song that is—sounds like T-Rex. The hooks are fuckin great, especially when you are in a pretend McClaren F-1 *laughs*.
Post-Punk: Do you play any other video games?
Mark Burgess: Yeah, I played DeadSpace which I like. I play that in partnership with my girl, she’s an American, so we network and play together. I enjoy that, that’s cool. And I have played some really interesting ones. I Am Alive, which is really a cool one—the sort of circumstances which you would imagine if you were in an Apocalyptic, deserted, rubble of a city, and the sort of things which you would come across—it’s very real to life, and it’s not like monsters and things. I mean, I’ve played Resident Evil and all that stuff, I play it, because she loves it, but it’s not my thing.
Post-Punk: I like games with good narratives. Hell, any medium that conveys a good narrative is good by me.
Mark Burgess: I mean to be honest, my favorites are racing games. I like the Need for Speed series the best. There is a few that I haven’t played yet. Didn’t like Gran Turismo because it hogged up too much memory—hard drive half full with Gran Turismo shit, so I got rid of it.
Post-Punk: It seems to me that it’s appeal is towards real gearheads that want to buildup a car.
Mark Burgess: Yeah, but you can do that in the NFS: Shift. I’ve got Shift 2 at the moment. You can tune the car—upgrade it and all that kind of thing, and race on tracks—it’s not street racing. But it’s just cool that I can be racing with someone from Canada, someone from Russia, and you can talk to them—and go tell them to fuck themselves when they ram you in the ass.
I prefer it to watching television, the only television I watch is a Football game. Well, that’s not true actually…there are a couple of shows that I do like. But I pick and choose. I’m not on cable—I do Netflix and all that stuff. And Amazon Prime—But Amazon Prime in America is better—it has HBO shows which I don’t get in England, so I am a bit pissed off about that.
Post-Punk: Do you watch any HBO shows such as Game of Thrones?
Post-Punk: Both shows ended too soon and unfinished!
Mark Burgess: Californication is a favorite. It’s just another guy from Brooklyn.
Post-Punk: I miss Brooklyn. I lived there for about 11 years.
Mark Burgess: It’s changed a lot.
Post-Punk: Yeah, I moved to Williamsburg while it was still primarily Hispanic and Jewish.
Mark Burgess: It’s nice now, I like it. I know people who have grown up there might curse how things are gentrified, like I am in Manchester. But to be honest, walking around Brooklyn now is really cool.
I took a bike with me last time, I had a folding bike with me on the plane, and I was biking around Brooklyn and New York—which comes a lot easier now. David Byrne kicked that off, because he travels with a bike everywhere he goes. He put together a symposium of people talking about how to encourage more biking in New York City. And he brought a guy in who worked on a Danish city, or Swedish city, I can’t remember—but he was an expert of this kind of thing, and he was able to tell just from planning, and without spending loads and loads of money on it, how you can improve the situation so you get more people on bikes. It looks like New York did, because it’s a lot easier to ride around—a lot more bikes at least.
Post-Punk: Is it official—your next trip out there?
Mark Burgess: We’re in discussions—but it’s gonna happen, because it’s gonna be our last tour next year.
Post-Punk: Last tour? That’s it?
Mark Burgess: Yeah. We said we’d get together for shows. We’ll still do a show—but less of them. They’ll be like “one off” things.
Post-Punk: Like one in New York, On in Berlin, that kind of thing?
Mark Burgess: Wherever we are invited. We are not going to plan it, we never do—we get invited. We’re not settled to make things happen, we’re just there. People get in touch with us “Hey what about this?” and that’s how we operate. We have been touring something like 4 years with a whole host of different people. It’s been great—every stage of it has been different and an evolution. But it means I have not been getting on with anything else. This is how I make my living—so to take time out from it has been problematic, because I’m NOT making a living. But it’s gotten to the point now where I want to do something fresher—and the stuff that we have been writing and recording really doesn’t fit to the Chameleons kind of vibe. Which is natural, because the two guitar players that were instrumental in creating all of this…don’t do it anymore—do other things.
I’m the only one left now—well that’s not true Tony has been here since the beginning, but he doesn’t play. He just does what Tony does…Not sure what that is. Nearly 35 years and still trying to work out what that is—but whatever that is, he does it very well…
Post-Punk: You’ll know when it is not being done.
Mark Burgess: Yeah yeah! *laughs*
Post-Punk: I am so glad to catch a Script of The Bridge set tonight; it’s once in a lifetime opportunity.
Mark Burgess: Not that you want to put any pressure on me. I was forgetting the lyrics in soundcheck, and I really gotta watch that tonight.
Post-Punk: I think that’s nothing to worry about. Some of the biggest names in Rock always forget their lyrics, even with songs they play all the time. Robert Smith for example forgets lyrics often, not even for just shows, but on Saturday Night Live.
Mark Burgess: And I never forget the words, and get paid fucking peanuts! WHERE’S THE JUSTICE IN THAT! *LAUGHS*
2015 will see a tour of What Does Anything Mean? Basically 30th Anniversary sets at the following dates already confirmed below:
Thursday 14 May 2015
Luxor, Cologne, Germany
Saturday 16 May 2015
Zeche, Bochum, Germany
Sunday 17 May 2015
Gleis 22, Münster, Germany
Friday 29 May 2015
Concorde 2, Brighton, UK
Saturday 30 May 2015
O2 Academy Islington, London, UK
Sunday 31 May 2015
The Fleece, Bristol, UK
Tuesday 02 June 2015
Waterfront Studio, Norwich, UK
Friday 05 June 2015
O2 Academy Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
UPDATE: There are unconfirmed dates for a possible North American Script of the Bridge tour, which you can check out here https://www.facebook.com/events/593957044042222/