Billed as one of the music highlights this year, Galway Arts Festival gets set to host the legendary Primal Scream Live at the Festival Big Top on Friday July 24 at 8pm. The band will co-headline with the superb Spiritualized. Bobby Gillespie formed the band in the mid-80s while drumming for goth-tinged noise rockers the Jesus and Mary Chain. After a brief detour to punk hard rock, the group reinvented itself as a dance band in the early 90s, following through on the pop and acid house fusions of the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. They created the ultimate indie pop and dance fusion album, Screamadelica, in 1991. The album broke down boundaries and changed the face of British pop music in the 90s, helping to make dance and techno acceptable to the rock mainstream.
Primal Scream’s ninth studio album released in 2008, Beautiful Future is the first album in the band’s extraordinary 26 year history to feature the same marimba and piano that ABBA, no less, used on a string of their most memorable hit singles. So how did Primal Scream end up tapping away on instruments once used by Sweden’s pre-eminent musical icons is something lead-singer Bobby Gillespie is only too happy to explain: “We did five songs for this album with Björn Yttling [from Peter, Björn and John] at Atlantis Studios in Stockholm. It’s where ABBA recorded ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’. And the marimba on one track that Darrin [Mooney, the drums] played was the same marimba as on ‘Money, Money, Money’ and ‘SOS’. There’s a one-note piano riff Martin Duffy [keyboards] plays, like ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’, and that’s the ‘Dancing Queen’ piano.”
Finding a route from The Stooges via ABBA is, of course, something you could only expect from Primal Scream, who clearly thrive when messing with received notions of rock’n’roll classicism, from Screamadelica’s dub/House/ to the drty vnt-rck thrlls of XTRMNTR. Beautiful Future promises more of that heady mix of genre crunching, taking in Philly soul, dark electro, accelerated rock’n’roll riffs and pure British pop – although given that particular Scream edge.
Gillespie continues, “I think it’s nice to have the lyrics being the way they are, kind of mocking and sarcastic, with that big, happy chorus.” For a man who’s been making music for over quarter of a century now, it’s reassuring that Bobby still has passion for what he does. Considering, too, that Primal Scream have made some of the most thrilling and important records of the modern era, it’s just as comforting to know that plans are being made for Primal Scream beyond Beautiful Future.
“Already I’m thinking about the next record,” says Bobby. “This has freed us up to do something else. We always try and find a new way of writing, use different instruments. Write rhythmically instead of melodically, but this time we’ve written melodically, so there’s a lot of melody on the record, so that’s different right away. The last record was more rock’n’roll, more bluesy. You’ve just got to do what you feel. I don’t have any fears about what we can do next, because it’s always exciting.”
The Galway Arts Festival runs from now until Sunday July 26. The Festival Box Office is open from Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm (open late Thursday and Friday until 9pm ) and Saturdays from 10am to 5pm. Phone bookings can be made on (091 ) 566577 during those times. An online booking facility is also available on the festival website www.galwayartsfestival.com,