Chemlab (2008)
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Most of the things Jared Louche has done in the past few years were not supposed to work. However, Jared has never been one to worry about what is supposed to work. Whether it's putting out a jazz influenced covers album or creating a new Chemlab record without former partner Dylan More, Louche has done exactly what he wanted to satisfy his own creative impulses. Just so happens to have satisfied a lot of other people along the way.

Such is the case with the recent Chemlab tour - a two month jaunt across the US that received rave reviews and renewed the singer's love for the stage. Now that the dust has settled, Jared speaks to RSJ about his band's return to the road.

Rock Star Journalism: Now that the tour is over, does it feel good to be off the road or do you miss it already?

Jared Louche: It's bittersweet. The road treated us extremely well. It was a fascinating thing because most bands of our size and caliber cannot take 10 years off the road and then come back and expect to have any audience left. The music industry just doesn't work that way anymore. So, it was pretty mind boggling to me that people showed up, and the breadth of people that showed up was insanely cool. There were a number of people that knew the band from before and had seen us in what is now considered to be our heyday --though I'm coming up for a second heyday, in case you guys weren't aware of that. But there were also lots of kids who had actually never gotten the chance to see us before, and they dug it to the last. The reviews that I've gotten have been glowing, and I'm really shocked by that.

So, on that side it's great to have been out there. I love being on the road, and being on tour reminded me how much I missed it and how much I adore being on stage. I'm built for it. For some performers, being on stage is something secondary to writing the songs or being in the studio. Dylan, for example, needed to rev himself up to go out on the road; for him, [performing] was like a program that he slotted. For me, it's not a program; it's just natural encoding. It's part of my hardware.

It's also great to be home because it was five weeks away from [my wife and son]. That was really hard in ways that touring was never hard for me before. Cause the women that were in my life [previously] -- I'm sorry to say to all of you ladies, but they were simply tourists and didn't get consulted about when I was leaving or what I was doing. So, it was really sweet to come back and have my family there and just bask in their arms; that was fantastic.

RSJ: Given how much you've enjoyed being on this tour, do you think there will be another one in the not so distant future?

JL: Unequivocally yes. I definitely want to take us out on the road, but I do not want to headline again. I want to take us out as the main support for somebody else and see if we can steal somebody else's crowd again, the way we used to.

RSJ: You've been putting up journal entries from this tour on your website; is this the first time you've kept a tour journal?

JL: I've always wanted to keep tour diaries, but the challenge was far greater than my capabilities previously, which is really unfortunate. When I was on the road before I was so completely wired and drug damaged that it made it really impossible for me to do any writing whatsoever. I started one at the beginning of the Skrew tour, I started one at the beginning of the KMFDM tour, and each of them runs about two pages and then there's some scrawling thing and it shuts right down. This is the first time that I've ever been focused enough to do it.

RSJ: You mentioned in one of the journal entries that you felt you always had to put on a good show for the people who came, even at the shows that had lesser turnouts. Is that the way you've always approached that situation, or something you came to after years of experience?

JL: I came to the understanding of it intellectually later. If I pay $10, and I'm the only person standing there, I still want to see the show. It's not the fault of the people who paid to come and see the show that there's nobody else there. For me, I can't help but do a show when I'm on stage. I don't get to perform nearly enough. So, if I get on stage and think, there aren't very many people here, so this is a waste of time for me to perform, then I've wasted a show. In a way, I give a show on strictly selfish grounds. I want to enjoy myself. I figure, if I'm enjoying myself, then the six people that are there -- like there were in El Paso -- will have a great time too.

RSJ: You seem far happier with the level of success you've reached with Chemlab than some of the other industrial musicians I've spoken with, who wanted their bands to achieve more mainstream success than they did. Did you ever want that kind of rock stardom for Chemlab, and does it ever bother you that this never happened?

JL: I've always wanted that, long before the days of Chemlab. But I've also understood that the likelihood of that was very small. I know the fickle, unreliable, shark-infested waters of the music industry really well, and although, yes, I've always dreamed of being The Rolling Stones, I always knew that it was never going to be a reality. Machine rock is never going to be the new hip-hop. We're in the same caliber of fleeting interest and success as ukulele bands. And you know, I like that. What is wonderful about not being some big rock mega superstar is I don't have to give a fuck. I can do what I've always done without fear of financial reprisal. My audience will either come with me and get it (and thank fuck they do get it) or they won't. If Marilyn Manson decided to go off and do his version of Covergirl and put a jazz song on there, the way I did a jazz version of Chemlab's "Suicide Jag," he'd be drummed out of the core. People wouldn't get it. He doesn't have as much creative freedom to go completely off the track. Success's fabric is woven with requirements.

I've never been very good at repeating myself anyway. If Dylan and I had continued to make music after East Side Militia, people would have been running to catch up even then. You look at the differences between Burn Out and East Side - they're not exactly night and day, but they are dusk and dawn. If we had done a record after that, it would have been different from both Burn Out and East Side. We were talking about doing a Blade Runner soundtrack; that would have thrown people too. I can't fake that corporate orgasm. I can't fake repeating something over and over and pretend like it really means something to me. And if you're not doing it to mean something to you, then who the fuck are you as an artist?

RSJ: You talked in the journal about running into several people from your musical past, including former Chemlab guitarist Steve Watson and Tom Smith from Peach of Immortality. Did you find it at all disconcerting to be confronted with these different parts of your life?

JL: Seeing Ned [Whal] and Steve from the Burnout era was pleasantly nostalgic, but it's not particularly strange. I guess it's a little sad because I feel like they could both be doing so much more, and they aren't for one reason or another, each of them having their own successes. But they come to the show and in large part the show becomes a nostalgic trip for them, and I get the feeling they would like to be carried along by the wave of it. Yet by the same token, and this part is much more true for [former Chemlab drummer] Servo, they want to deny its existence because they're not a part of it. So, that part of it is weird. In terms of it being weird because I'm no longer in that place - in a certain way, I am. There I am on stage playing "Codeine, Glue, and You" 20 years later. How both sad and marvelous is that, all at the same time?

Seeing Tom Smith again is not weird because we've kept in touch and don't feel that there is any nostalgia to recreate Peach of Immortality. That was a really interesting period and he and I are neither interested in doing it again nor do I think we would be able to recreate Peach because it was set at a very specific time. We have talked about doing two different things. One is releasing the 40 to 50 albums of material that we compiled over the four years that we were together. And then there's the idea of getting together and recording something new. Neither of us have any idea what that beast would be, but I'm extremely interested in the idea. He's one of the few truly creatively challenging people that I know in the music business.

RSJ: Other than the problems you mentioned in the tour blog that you had with Skeleton Key's booking agent, were you happy, overall, with the bands you had with you for most of the tour?

JL: Oh yeah. Skeleton Key's booking agent was a minor affair. When one is on the business end of the stick, you have to deal with people like that. Generally, booking agents are assholes; that is their nature. That's part of what makes them a good booking agent. Makes them better booking agents if they're professional as well, which I didn't think she was. But that absolutely did not color my attitude towards Skeleton Key, and I was very determined that it would not affect our relations. We had a great time with them, we had a great time with USSA, and we all respected each other creatively. We bathed in each other's shows, and I've gotta say it was fantastically cool to get to listen to these two bands who are so different to each other and so different from Chemlab. I found that during USSA's set, every night as I was warming up and getting dressed, I was just in a better mood because I could feel the ebb and flow of their set, and it fed into my awareness of what was coming with our set. It made the shows better every night.

RSJ: What did you think of Cyanotic, who joined the tour later on?

JL: They were fun. They've got a lot to learn, but we all have a lot to learn. They remind me of us to a certain extent -- shambolic, barely holding the chaos together. And when their laughing, hungry, eager puppy energy boiled over and became too much for the grumpy old man in me to take, I would bark, and we would talk about whatever it was and move forward. They always pulled it out and did their very best every single night. And honestly, at the end of the day, what the hell else can you ask for?

RSJ: You seem very happy with the current line-up of the band; what do these guys have that other people you toured with did not?

JL: They want it. They're extremely talented, and they want to be on stage as much as I do. They never complained, they never carried attitude around with them, they just rocked. I was always intrigued by bands like The Stones and The Stooges, bands who were a gang, and it was them against the odds. I've always adored that idea, and I've always tried to build that kind of gang. With Chemlab it was never like that; there was a certain divisiveness that kept us from weaving together. [With this lineup], I felt like we were a gang. For the first time, I found the little tribe that I've always wanted.

I think at the very core of it all, what most pleased me was that we all respected each other. Before, I felt like in Chemlab I was often the dad. It's a really boring role to play. There were times when I would say to somebody on this tour, make sure you're in the foyer at noon or you're walking to the next show, as they were climbing into a jeep full of screaming girls and disappearing at the end of the night. And they would look at me with this withering look, and just say, "'s's okay." And that was great. I would realize that I was completely out of line, and I was playing the dad when I didn't need to be. Nobody was going to disappear for three days, the way people have in the past. As far as I'm concerned, the line-up of the band is not changing. Both for touring and for writing.

RSJ: Does that mean you're working on writing new Chemlab material?

JL: Maybe...Gabriel, Wade, Continental and I have been talking about the possible idea of a new Chemlab record.

RSJ: You also had Wade Alin doing sound for you; I read you're working on an album with him. What can you tell me about that project?

JL: We've been tossing around some loose ideas for a new Jared Louche and the Aliens album. That's definitely in the production line. There are a number of projects at the moment. I've got to get the Altered Statesmen album out before it becomes conceptually null and void.

RSJ: Are you still doing the spoken word dates in London?

JL: Yes, I am indeed. There's one coming up in February. I enjoy them a great deal; they are a completely different beast to Chemlab, but I adore being on stage, so they will continue to be something that I do. It's another way of feeding the beast.

RSJ: When you did the one-off Chemlab shows awhile back, there were often spoken word dates that accompanied them. Have you thought about doing a full Chemlab tour where there would be some spoken word dates sprinkled throughout?

JL: I've thought about doing that for about as long as Chemlab has been alive. The logistics of it would be incredibly tricky; I don't know if it's realistic. I don't know if it's any more realistic to go out on a solo spoken word tour, but I'm interested in that. The tour that I did with Meg Lee Chin for Covergirl was a lot of fun, but I didn't have 360-degree mobility. I could do stuff within the confines of Covergirl, but I was still so closely aligned to Chemlab and its history that I didn't have the freedom to just start unspooling stories off the cuff. Although it was a fun and educational little tour, I think it was a tour of missed opportunities.

RSJ: Other than releasing the Altered Statesmen album, what do you hope to accomplish in 2008?

JL: A record with Matt from Caustic and then probably starting work on the new Aliens record. I would also like to take the band out again. There are a couple of other people who want my time and with whom I'd be very interested in working; it's just there are only so many hours. I'm working more than full time in London doing my creative writing workshops and museum work, so life is very full. I also happen to have a wife and a baby boy. My days run at 27 hours, not 24. We'll see what happens.