“I can never quit the band again…”
LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy talks to Victoria Segal.
You refer to “the Leonards and the Lous” on Call The Police – what was their place on this record? “So much of the record was being made during a period when a lot of people that I really admire died. I was working on a piece for the record a long time ago and I was like: It would be really great if Lou Reed could come in on this, but Lou Reed’s gone and it’s fucking heartbreaking. And I was thinking, What about Leonard Cohen? And then he died – I mean, that week. So no, I don’t want to ask anyone who’s not in 100 per cent tip-top shape because I feel like it’s cursed. It feels like it’s just going to start raining people I care about – it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”
You stepped out of working with David Bowie – do you now regret that? “I don’t think about things in that way. It’s not that I don’t care, but I don’t feel regret because it still doesn’t feel real that that was a possibility. Doing anything with David Bowie – even just being able to e-mail David Bowie – was one of the more unreal things in my life. It seems preposterous, equally preposterous as it would have seemed to me as a teenager. Possibly more preposterous now. Back then, I might have been: I bet I could write a letter to Lou Reed and he would want to do something.”
How does all this mortality connect to the line “I never realised that these artists thought so much about dying” on Tonite? “When I take a taxi in New York is about the only time that I hear the radio. There was a proliferation of songs that were like, ‘We’ve only got one night’, and everyone’s answer to that is, ‘We should drink a bunch of vodka and Red Bull!’ If you only have one night, should you sleep with this creepy guy who wants to get you loaded? If I only had one night, there’s a lot of shit that I would like to get done that is not being in some giant superclub drinking champagne with a sparkler in it. It seems like a really sad use of the awareness of your mortality. Like, ‘Let’s do the most inane, mundane shit that you should only do if you were definitely not dying tonight.’”
Have you got an escape route if you decide to end LCD Soundsystem again? “I can never quit the band again; you can only cry wolf once. If I ever stop doing the band, it just has to be that we aren’t doing it. After a few years people say, ‘You haven’t done a record in a while’, and you say, Oh, we’re just doing other things for now. And maybe, at some point, that’s just how it is for the rest of your life. Like you go to the corner for a gallon of milk and you never come back.”
James Murphy, aware of his mortality.