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Scott Kelly (Neurosis)

Updated : 13:30:52pm, 19th Mar 2016

Scott Kelly

Matt : This is the 3rd date of the European tour so far. Has it been going well?

Scott Kelly: Yeah, yeah it’s been good actually. Both of the shows were really good. First night was in a church in Dortmund, a catholic church, that I actually played once before and then last night was in Antwerp. Great night; both nights really good crowds, you know, a lot of people. It’s been good. People are getting a little more used to this sort of atmosphere…

Matt : Yeah, definitely. That leads me onto, actually, the next question…

Matt : How different does it feel for you to obviously perform a stripped down, less intense show than you would do with say, Neurosis? Is it a different feeling or is it still the same?

Scott Kelly: It’s like a different version of the same feeling, but it’s definitely a more kinda calm, focused approach to it. A little more cerebral, so I’m actually having to be very conscious of every note that I play and every word that I sing or say, whereas in Neurosis it’s much more, you know, sort of primal reaction…

Matt : Yeah, you’re more ‘at one’. With Neurosis, when you listen to it and I can imagine play it it’s much… *suggests collective / unified* Put it, if one wasn’t there it wouldn’t be the same, you know, if an amp died or the PA went, it would, I wouldn’t say ‘fall apart’, but it would certainly lose the continuation of that atmosphere…

Scott Kelly: Yeah, definitely, definitely. Yep, yep, you’re definitely (right), yeah. So it that way really they’re kinda both the same ‘cos they’re both like kinda riding on this edge, you know. With the acoustic stuff it’s definitely about execution, like, things have to really be there otherwise the gaps are very obvious. I mean, in the middle of a Neurosis song, if I miss a lyric or mis-speak one or miss a chord or you know, hit the wrong effect pedal people forget about it in seconds…

Matt : They might think it’s intentional as well, especially (with Neurosis); they might think AAAAH *suggests genius / wisdom / wicked*

Scott Kelly: Yeah, yeah. But if it happens tonight, you know… *suggests eeessh*

Matt : You can just tell us it was intentional anyway!

Matt : Again, back with your solo stuff; is that mostly stuff you’ve written throughout your life, throughout or perhaps whilst on tour, crashing out on the sofa or what have you, or are they songs that perhaps, even though they are of course in a different sort of Neurosis style, that have come from ideas you may have had with other band mates?

Scott Kelly: Well they started with that record right there, with ‘Spirit Bound Flesh’, it was really just something that I really felt I wanted to try to do…

Matt : A new outlet, a different thing…

Scott Kelly: Yeah, I wanted to learn how to express myself in this way and you know, the first record, when I listen to it now I… there was a lot of things that played there at the time writing that record. You know, the main thing that’s different about writing now and writing then is that I’m sober now, and I wasn’t then, you know? And when I listen to that record I can really hear it because that was really at the end of my days getting loaded all the time and so it took me a few years after doing that one to kinda let my brain heal and get back into it and start digging into more songs and with patience, I was able to develop the songs for ‘The Wake’ and now I’m actually writing a lot of stuff that I’m trying more and more to try and dig deeper and be as emotionally honest as I possibly can…

Matt : Well with music, when there is that emotion people can relate, often to feel that as well, it’s certainly an advantage…

Scott Kelly: Yeah, I mean, the thing I like about acoustic music, the way it’s done to my taste, is that it can be as heavy as anything you know, but it doesn’t have to be like particularly heavy music like I play with Neurosis or Shrinebuilder, but in order for it to carry that weight, chord progressions have to be in the right spot just like other music but possibly more so the words, like each word, has to carry that weight, has to build momentum to the next so by the time you reach the end of the song you’ve got this picture built into your head from the words so again that’s something I’m working on more and more, and yeah, just trying to open it up…

Matt : One or two questions about Neurosis, obviously you’re doing your own thing but I’m sure some people would like to know some things… One of the things I wanted to know is;

Matt : When you started Neurosis out back in ’85, it was a vastly different sound. Did you guys then envision it, your sound, would change as much as it has or was that something that you wanted to grow and aim for the sound that you have now?

Scott Kelly: Yeah, I mean, ‘Pain of Mind’ was our first attempt at doing that and we were honestly really limited by our abilities, you know. It took a lot more work and a lot more time to get to the point where we could actually play what we had in our heads and learn how to do it. I mean we definitely came in this thing from a real like, you know like primitive sort of mind-set where were just like; we knew what we wanted to do but we had no idea how to do it. You know, it was like we were trying to start fire for the first time… And it took about 5 years to really start to get on the edge of it and then we found it about year 6 / 7; when we finished ‘Word as Law’, we were basically there. We knew that we needed to bring in another instrument into the band, preferably keyboards because keyboards were kinda open-ended and we could get really creative with it because it just seemed like there was a lot that could be done that hadn’t been done and then we luckily found a guy who could play keyboards, and he was with us for 2 or 3 years and then he went on his way and Noah came in, and that was kinda it because Noah’s been our friend for, well, life. He actually went to grade school with Dave, so he was family yo know? And he wasn’t a keyboard player, he was a guitar player and a recording engineer and we were like “you can do this, you can do this you know!”, and he did, he figured it out.

Matt : Unfamiliar to most bands these days your band members have been pretty consistent throughout. Is that not purely just a friendship but also perhaps the groups’ awareness that together as we are we’re creating the music exactly as we want it to be, you know, there isn’t any reason for there to be “creative differences”, as it were?

Scott Kelly: Well, it’s based in the commitment that we made with each other that we would just do this band until one or all of us were dead. That was a commitment we made when we were just a three piece, when it was just me, Dave and Jason and when Steve came in the band, we made him take the same promise. When Noah came in the band, we made him take the same promise as well.

Matt : So the heart’s in it…

Scott Kelly: Yep, and that kinda frees us in a lot of ways. in that we always know that every song we write, or every show that we play or every song that we play could very well be the last one we ever play so we always approach things with that mindset; everything. Whether it’s a t-shirt design, or record cover or song it’s always with the legacy of the band in mind so it actually just enables us to continue because you know, you have no choice.

Matt : You’ve cited influences early on in your career with Neurosis like Pink Floyd, King Crimson, of course Hank (Williams), but are there any bands these days that you’ve since then listened to and thought “they’re the bomb” or these guys have got, perhaps not the same ethos, but the same attitude?

Scott Kelly: Definitely The Swans and definitely Godspeed You! Black Emperor…

Matt : Godspeed are great…

Scott Kelly: Yeah! You know, I mean I can listen to those two bands forever. If I had to listen to those two bands forever and there was no other music, I’d be fine.

Matt : And similarly to how you and your band mates have got Tribes of Neurot and what have you, they’ve also got bands like A Silver Mt. Zion, who are effectively the same band but with slightly different music. I remember when I got into ToN at first I thought… this is really incredible. The four discs, basically an hour each, and listening to that and thinking; “sometimes people are just over here and some people are over there” and you guys were certainly well over here…

Scott Kelly: *laughs* You are right about that my friend. There is that; there are some people who are over here and some people over here and there’s not that many people who are over here…

Matt : The air is thin over there!

Scott Kelly: But that’s OK, there’s not very many of us so the air’s thin; you can still breathe. The rest of them can just fuck each other into oblivion.

Matt : You guys are still going strong, and not only are you hugely influential to obviously a lot of bands these days, but I remember getting into Neurosis years and years ago and thinking there is literally nobody like Neurosis. And in a way, I don’t really see Neurosis as a ‘band’, per se, you know like “check out that song” or “check out that album”, it’s more of a “you have to get INTO Neurosis”, you know, as the name suggests it’s cerebral, it’s inside the whole experience.

Matt : I had to ask; Mastodon. Obviously you know the guys, you guested on the last three albums; I was going to ask you which of those was your favourite if you had one?

Scott Kelly: It’d be ‘Crack the Skye’ for sure, because that song was a really, really heavy song to do. That song was about Bran’s sister and how she passed away, and it was a story that I was very familiar with from knowing Brann. When he decided to do that, he called me up to talk to me about it and said “this is what I wanna do” and “I really, really want you to sing the song” and I said, you know “sure, I will”. I took it really seriously and I emailed with Brann’s Dad a couple of times and just talked to him about Skye, and then he sent me a photograph of her actually, and I sat there and looked at that photograph of her and just kinda meditated on her and on all of the situation, and the family and then actually set all that shit up in the studio and recorded the song with her picture there, and I just really tried to do it as real as I felt I could. So that one definitely is the one.

Matt : I was one of the few that listened to it at first and thought I didn’t like what I heard, coming from what I’ve heard before, but it’s a new thing, and I know when I’ve listened to this properly…

Scott Kelly: Yep, that’s right.

Matt : …and sat down and put this on, I’m going to end up thinking this is one of the best things I’ve ever heard, and it really is.
Scott Kelly: It is. In the end its undeniably great and I agree with you because at first I was like “huh” because it was different you know…

Matt : When I put it on, I was waiting for ‘Oblivion’ to kick in and I just thought it was going to come in with Troy screaming out, and when I heard it I thought “that’s different. but definitely a grower…”. Even the instrumental version of course is flawless.

Scott Kelly: Have you heard the remix? I don’t know, I think Troublemaker; he’s some DJ who did a remix, think it’s of ‘Oblivion’; really fucking good man. I was like at first “oh no, it’s gonna be like a dance floor thing, and man it wasn’t. It’s gooood. I put it on and got sucked into it; the tones and the sounds. Yeah, it’s very tasteful man. Very tasteful.

Matt : It’s nice when people do remixes and take apart songs and when it does actually work really well, and perhaps in a better way in some places (perhaps not this). Well the lights are going so I don’t think there’s a great deal much else;

Matt : I’m sure people will want to know, the guys outside was asking; are Neurosis going to tour this year?

Scott Kelly: I don’t know if we’re gonna tour this year. We are working on the new record for sure. We’ve got a good chunk done, a good start to the record but we’ve got a lot more to do on that, so as to whether we can get out of the house and play some gigs, I don’t know. I would say it’s probably about 50/50 that we play some gigs near the end of the year.

Matt : There’ll be people there for sure if it happens and when it happens…

Scott Kelly: Yeah, people are always good to us man and we really appreciate it. Like I said we always feel each show like it’s our last, and aside from our personal commitment to the band it definitely counts that there’s people who’ll travel to see us and sometimes pay a huge amount of money to see us at a festival and not see other bands…

Matt : It has been known to happen

Scott Kelly: Yeah, you know, and we appreciate it. It means a lot to us that people show up and show up with support and respect.

Matt : That’s it. You’ve got your radio station; Combat Radio. Again there’s that personal touch, that for me and I’m sure other Neurosis fans, the fact there is a radio station that’s done by someone who not only is the singer and visionary of one of their favourite bands, but this guy’s actually talking to fans, actually showing music, listening to music; it certainly adds to people’s appreciation. People are more willing I think then to go out and buy things and what have you when that’s the case.

Scott Kelly: That’s cool, I’m glad you know of it.

Matt : Yeah, definitely. Check that out!

Scott Kelly: combatmusicradio.com

Matt : It’s excellent.

Scott Kelly: There’s a bunch of other dudes doing shows on there too.

Matt : I think you’re the best…

Scott Kelly: I think Eugene’s the best *laughs* Eugene is one of a kind; you can’t fuck with Eugene. To me that’s the one guy I try to make sure I hear every week because Eugene’s just, aah, I just love the guy!

Matt : It’s definitely something you guys should definitely check out. This has been Matt Hill for Rocksins and this is Scott Kelly of Neurosis. Thank you very much mate.

Scott Kelly: Cheers.

http://www.rocksins.com/2010/01/scott-kelly-of-neurosis-interview-3438/

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