Home Forums Dinosaur Related Discussions Dinosaur/J News & Discussions J Mascis interviews Richard Thompson 1994

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    Pretty cool interview by J, possibly his 1st interview :aliensmile:

    Richard Thompson – musician
    Interview, Dec, 1994 by J. Mascis
    The folk-rock legend, as told to Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis

    Since founding Fairport Convention in the late ’60s, Richard Thompson has melded his characteristic Celtic-textured guitar style with trouble-torn, somber songs, piercing the darkness with poetic vision and emotional forthrightness. Last year’s three-CD retrospective Watching The Dark: The History of Richard Thompson (Rykodisc) was a comprehensive introduction to some of Thompson’s finest moments with Fairport, with his former wife, singer Linda Thompson, and as a solo troubadour who’s still pounding the pavement. The new Thompson tribute record, Beat the Retreat (Capitol), features a newer generation of rockers like X, REM, and Bob Mould, and older folkies from Loudon Wainwright III to June Tabor, covering the songs that have made him legendary.

    We asked Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis, who contributed the sonic maelstrom of a cover of "I Misunderstood" on the record, to interview Thompson.

    J MASCIS: Where do you live now?

    RICHARD THOMPSON: Los Angeles and London. I live in Hampstead, a leafy suburb of London, and in Santa Monica, another leafy suburb.

    JM: You got a hot car for L.A.? For cruisin’ around?

    RT: No, no, I drive a very pragmatic car.

    JM: Why do you tour so much?

    RT: I like playing. It’s part of writing; I try stuff out.

    JM: Do you have any instructional videos out? You should make one for witty onstage banter.

    RT: I’m working on one. It’s going to be revolutionary. I can’t divulge its secret dimensions, but it’s going to be a pretty groundbreaking kind of instructional video that will leapfrog people to stardom.

    JM: Whenever I’ve seen you, I’ve been most impressed with your in-between-song chatter.

    RT: It’s born out of fear.

    JM: I can never think of anything to say onstage.

    RT: But I think that’s better. I never used to say anything–people used to think I was really interesting and moody. And then I started making jokes. I think it was playing solo opening spots for people, where the audience might be hostile or indifferent.

    JM: I think it’s great. It’s something I can aspire to. So how do you feel having a tribute album?

    RT: It’s like being bitten in the dark. By a beautiful woman. [JM laughs] Who’s pretending to be a small but persistent insect.

    JM: Excellent.

    RT: It’s like being taken to the zoo when you were a kid and discovering that the animals really can talk. [pauses] That’s sort of what it’s like.

    JM: Were you, uh, freaked-out?

    RT: It’s like finding out on your mother’s deathbed that she was really a geologist.

    JM: Ummm. Is it strange to have one while you’re still alive?

    RT: Perhaps they know something I don’t. Perhaps I am dead. How do you tell when you’re dead?

    JM: Ummm . . . dunno.

    RT: Maybe you just open a door and you go into a different room. How do I feel? Flattered, embarrassed, kind of moved. I actually thought it was going to be a tribute in the Roman sense, where they send a couple of princesses as hostages and pay me so much gold a year, but it didn’t happen that way.

    JM: [laughs] Do you do any exercise?

    RT: Play tennis.

    JM: Do you ever have tennis elbow?

    RT: Most of the time. I just smile through the pain.

    JM: I have it from playing guitar.

    RT: Guitar elbow. Fender elbow.

    JM: High-action Fender elbow. I went golfing on Saturday and my friend got some golf shoes. I’m not cool enough for golf shoes.

    RT: I’ve never really played. I’ve done bits of it, the driving range and putting. I think it’s a good game, but it’s a game that I don’t have the time for.

    JM: Oh yeah? Well, what are you doing all day?

    RT: Everything else.

    JM: Do you like playing live with a band?

    RT: I like both. It gives you a fresh look at how you arrange the songs.

    JM: I tried it solo. Acoustic. It was really scary.

    RT: I think of it as a measure of what I do. O.K., if you’re any good, get up there on your own without any props or crutches. It becomes a sort of test.

    JM: I think you’ve passed.

    RT: Well, you have to keep passing every time.

    JM: How long have you been touring now?

    RT: Including days off, about twenty-seven years.

    JM: So who did you used to play with in the ’60s?

    RT: Everybody who was around that scene–Pink Floyd, Traffic, John Mayall’s Blues Breakers.

    JM: That’s cool that you’re playing tonight in Brooklyn. I have a friend who lives in Brooklyn and actually told me about you in the first place, years ago. You’re her favorite. You and Andy Partridge.

    RT: Honored to be in the same sentence.

    JM: I had never heard about you when I was in high school. I was into Deep Purple and punk rock.

    RT: Wow, you’ve been around. [laughs] We used to open for Deep Purple.

    JM: Really? I’ve been on a Deep Purple resurgence, actually. We got this video of their history. It’s so amazing, better than Spinal Tap.

    RT: Where do you write songs? At home?

    JM: Yeah.

    RT: Do you have a set place you go to write?

    JM: No.

    RT: I heard a great story–it was Doris Lessing or someone. She said that for years she’d wanted a writing room at her house. And there’s a cupboard underneath the stairs and she thought, Well, I’m going to convert it into a writing room. She actually got the cupboard cleared out and she found that she couldn’t go through the door. She writes everywhere else.

    JM: Yeah, it’s like having a studio in your house. Friends of mine in England made a studio in their house three years ago. They haven’t put out a record since. I would never want a studio in my house.

    RT: I’ve never had one. I’ve always thought I wanted to, but I mistrust home demos.

    JM: I always feel like either a guitar or a place has some songs in it, so if you sit in the same place with the same guitar for too long, you’ve kind of exhausted all the songs that are floating around there.

    RT: Well, a guitar is a room, isn’t it? A portable room.

    JM: How much do you go back and forth between London and L.A.?

    RT: Varies. I’d like to not bounce around so much between the two.

    JM: I just rented this house on a lake in Amherst [Massachusetts], but I’m never there. I have an apartment here in New York. I saw this huge rat in London, the biggest rat I’ve ever seen. It looked like a dog. And I keep thinking the rat’s going to be in my apartment, like somehow he got into my luggage.

    RT: Was he wearing a suit?

    JM: No.

    RT: Did he have his hair greased back in a ponytail?

    JM: No.

    RT: Then he wasn’t in the music business.

    JM: I’ve seen all the wildlife on the golf course. Beavers, a fox, a deer family. A huge snake the other day, about five feet long.

    RT: Wow. Perhaps they’re envious of your lifestyle.

    JM: I doubt it.

    RT: Perhaps they’re on the periphery of civilization. They’ve seen golfing and they think they can grasp the rudiments.

    JM: I never sense that. I sense that they’re just like, "You guys are funny." They look at me like, "Whatever, man." I’ve never done an interview before. I don’t know if I’m doing it right. It’s kind of a weird thing.

    RT: I’ve forgotten who is interviewing who.

    COPYRIGHT 1994 Brant Publications, Inc.
    COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group




    Wow, In todays Athens Banner Herald I found nothing interesting.
    Nothing I wanted to talk about at the table tonight, you know, but this, this was fun to read. Thanks.


    Bucky Ramone

    Hey CG, great find, great read! 8)



    Great find CG! :D :aliensmile:



    I was shocked to find it, think that site bought up a bunch of articles to make available online…for a price after seven days :roll:

    They have a 1991 show review of Dinosaur Jr that I have to check out today after some sleep :wink:

    Gotta love that bit about not wanting a home studio because a certain british band put one together in their home & didn’t release another album…wonder who he was talking about :wink:



    lovely read, never heard before, that this interview even exists! :D

    RT: I’ve forgotten who is interviewing who.

    … that’s the best part of it, when Richard Thompson starts asking questions :lol:

    [looks like I have to check Richard Thompson’s music, I never really listened consciously to his stuff … :oops: ]


    "Flying Cloud" wrote:
    [looks like I have to check Richard Thompson’s music, I never really listened consciously to his stuff … :oops: ]

    I suggest two of the records he did with his wife Linda(there`s several others)I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight(1974)and Shoot Out The Lights(1982)(the vocals are split between him and Linda).As for his days with Fairport Convention,try Liege And Lief(1969)and Unhalfbricking(1969);he does`nt sing much on them but his guitar playing is featured,the vocals are mostly done by Sandy Denny(who J said before is his favorite female singer and one of mine too)



    thank you so much, SG! I guess I’ll start with Shoot Out The Lights. :)


    Bucky Ramone
    "Flying Cloud" wrote:
    [looks like I have to check Richard Thompson’s music, I never really listened consciously to his stuff … :oops: ]

    ….Best place to start is the excellent three-cd compilation "Watching the dark – the history of Richard Thompson" (on Rykodisc) 8) which spans the period from 1969 to 1992, including his work with Fairport Convention and the Richard & Linda Thompson period. Glitterhouse had it for a ridiculous low price some time ago, but alas, that doesn’t seem to be available anymore….. :roll:



    thanks guys, sounds like there is a lot to discover :)
    it’s not that I haven’t heard about him being a great musician and such, but I kinda missed a cause to start listening to his music, so far.


    RT: I’ve forgotten who is interviewing who.

    what a nice thing to say … j’s a good interviewer, best to just go in with an open mind + have a free-flowing conversation … easier said than done i bet !

    my husband has some richard thompson records + i really like them … they’re not what i would usually buy, so a really good surprise then …


    "rambleon" wrote:
    my husband has some richard thompson records + i really like them … they’re not what i would usually buy, so a really good surprise then …

    Yeah,at first I was`nt that into him but if you give his music a chance it`ll work for you.He does`nt come from a punk background but his songwriting has a dark side at times just as much as a humouress side.He`s very clever :) and his guitar playing is like Neil Young playing with Mark Knopfler`s tone.The Poor Ditching Boy was the song that got me interested in him.

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