Interviews  |   Plan B, 2008

Ok, so clearly you have memorized (at least) one piece of ridiculous hyperbole regarding yrself. Please quote your favourite here.

Well I've been blessed/cursed over the years to have made music which provokes the journalist, poor thing, into getting his thesaurus and trying to find a way to define what he's hearing with words. Seems like a silly thing to try to do as I always believed that one makes music because sometimes words are not enough to convey the elation, turmoil and all that lies between, that one feels inside. However to answer the question I did always feel quite amused by, and a little sorry for, the journalist who once described my guitar playing as 'shards of ethereal light' or some such nonsense.

What is the biggest misconception about you?

I believe that there are a few in fact. There is the one about me retiring from music after being in Cocteau Twins and living from my endless royalties. Then there is the one about me being overweight when quite obviously I'm the correct weight, just the wrong height. Then the one which seems endless, the one where people think that it must even say 'ex Cocteau Twins' after my name on my birth certificate and passport...

What was the most heinous lie you ever told in an interview?

Why would I tell a lie in an interview?

Do you read your own press releases? Do you feel they represent you adequately?

This is a very confusing area for me. They are difficult for me to read as my first reaction is to go through it with a marker pen and scratch out all the hyperbole, the claims which are really over the top. The trouble is you are only left with a sentence which says “Robin Guthrie has a new record out” which is not really any use to anyone. When I read them it can feel like they talk about another person with a different music. But I guess selling 'me' has never been a strong point.

What was your worst interview experience? What was the weirdest?

Doing an interview by email like this is pretty much my worst experience as I resent doing the job of the journalist for the journalist. I mean it's pretty lazy of you, right? You people should be doing something other than cutting and pasting my replies, no?

Correct your worst misquote.

That time that I said the music industry was infested by “evil, greedy, self serving thieves” should have read “evil, greedy, self-serving thieves”. They, of course, missed out the hyphen.

Has music criticism ever actually helped improve yr work, even only in spotting a mistake or providing a second opinion?

No, I guess not. Probably the opposite. I wasn't really put on this planet to be judged, if you don't like what I do, well that's none of my business. Of course, I'm only human which means, if exposed to your opinion, I tend to take on board the negative things while not even hearing the positive things. And that's when I just get spiteful and carry on doing my things the way I like them. How's that for positive, huh?

What do you do when a band you don't like cite you as an influence?

The better question is 'what do you do when a band who obviously has been influenced by you dosen't cite you as an influence'. Either way, good luck to them, they obviously have taste.

Do you ever google yourself? What's the best/worst/weirdest experience resulting from this?

No, but my friends do and regularly send me shit I'd rather not see. My children do so as well and show me pictures that I'd rather they didn't see while saying “what's with the hair?” or “you look fat in this one” or simply “this is fucked up shit dad.”

What's the favourite of your record covers and why? What does it, y'know, say about you?

I could chose 'Imperial'. It has a beautiful naked woman on it. It says about me, 'look there's an old bloke who likes beautiful naked women'. I can think of worse things than the appreciation of beauty.

What brilliant (at the time) ideas regarding 'direction' or presentation or whatever are you now glad you never followed?

When I was younger I guess I followed a few ideas for presentation which I regret but when I was younger I didn't have the self confidence and reliance that I have now, so I was more easily influenced. I don't have the benefit of 'having been glad not to follow' as I evidentially did indeed follow. Still I have no regrets as that was just part of my journey. Nowadays I never have the idea to follow a direction so the problem never arises. Making music has been like a personal documentary during my life, reflecting the happenings, people, places and influences which my life has been made of. No room for cerebral concepts or directions there, I'm afraid.

The next question asks whether you've ever made a music video that actually expressed something about you. But you've just covered that.

I've, as much as possible, tried to avoid the narrative pop video as handing over creative control to a director who superimposes his story, no matter what the content, onto my music seems a shallow and rather pathetic venture. A video which reflects the true passion and emotion of my music has yet to be made.

What kind of film and/or scene would you most like your music to soundtrack?

One with a large budget.

Have you ever covered a song cause you think you can do it better than the original?

No, that would be a somewhat retarded thing to do, no?

What's the most actually fairly insane thing a fan has done to impress you?

It impresses me when people come to my performances and actually take the time to explain to me their experiences with my music over the years. It illustrates to me that over time my music belongs less to me and more to them, as it seems to have become a backdrop their life experiences, pivotal events in their life, you know, meeting the wife, children being born, that summer when they were students and were so high they could understand the lyrics, that sort of thing. That's a big responsibility and more than a little scary. I try to listen, be courteous and interested, sign the albums, get the photo taken and that stuff as I realize that these are the people who have been feeding my family for most of my life and it's nice to give something back. Now, none of this is insane, it's really wholesome and beautiful. What's insane is imagining that I was somehow aware the profound effect that my music has had on people and that I was somehow aware of that all the along. I wasn't. I've always, pretty much been in a vacuum and very remote from that sort of thing. Sorry, that doesn't answer the question. Er, asking for an autograph on a half eaten kebab... um, that got my attention.

What's the worst question you've ever been asked? What was your answer?

I don't know, answering your questions has been hard, not only because I have to type the answers but because I have trouble with your phrases like 'actually fairly insane' and 'improve yr work' and the eloquent 'What does it, y'know, say about you'... I hope I managed to decipher your meanings... No, but to be serious, recently, in Russia I was asked “Robin, you've being doing all these performances, albums, movies, producing, aren't you just a bit tired of it all?” and I thought hard and realized that although that's probably the most perfect and caring question I've ever been asked I'm just not quite tired of it all enough yet.