Morphine: “We treat every tour as the last
No matter how much I (as, by the way, many others) love Morphine’s music, it was not a group from which anyone would expect a contract with a major record label. There are too many factors against: the drug in the title, gloomy sound, lyrics similar to the texts of hipsters, a strange set of instruments (drums, saxophone-baritone and two-string bass … damn it, two-string).
Morphine challenged my and probably my own expectations. I had dinner with the band’s frontman, inventor of double-string bass Mark Sandman, in his, probably, favorite place – restaurant / rock club “Middle East” – in his, apparently, favorite area – at the central square – a month before the album’s release ” Like Swimming. ” He was the fourth in their discography and the first recorded on the famous label “Dreamworks”. We ate falafels, drank beer and talked. Sandman, 44, showed a tremendous sense of humor, although he was laconic. It was as if sleepy eyes like Robert Mitchem did not miss a single detail.
When, after a little more than 2 years, on July 3, 1999, Sandman collapsed right on the stage in Palestrina (Italy) and died of a heart attack, everyone was horrified.
This is not all that Mark said, only the most interesting points.
What does the band do in anticipation of a new album?
We want to use this place (the restaurant where the interview is going – approx. Ed.) To practice before the tour. We have not given many concerts lately. We perform periodically, but not every evening.
So you will go on tour?
Yes. We will return to all those places where we have been before – Japan, Australia, Europe. The response from the audience is different everywhere, but in general, everything goes well. We had really successful club tours almost everywhere we went. Portugal is somehow crazy about Morphine, I don’t know why. We like it in Belgium. In Australia there were two sold-out tours. Well, in the USA we are well received. In some cities I want to give my best even more, so we try to stay longer in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Austin, New Orleans and of course Boston to give some concerts. We play on venues with a capacity of both 500 and 1,500 people. In England we are not so popular, but there we played on TV many times, plus Glastonbury and Reading. Just now, the British are focused on their music and it’s great. I am glad that there is a country where local musicians are loved.
It seems a little strange that the label from sunny California has signed a contract with such a gloomy band from the east coast as Morphine.
This is just the beginning. I don’t know if they themselves are so sunny just because they are from Southern California. O. Jay lives there too. We knew about the reputation of Dreamworks Records while at Warner Brothers. They are respected. Mo Austin and Lenny Waronker are in charge there. They own the company. They themselves came to us on the show that we gave in San Francisco and handed a business card backstage, saying that we were the first group that they wanted to sign on to the label. Of course, we were flattered. Then we checked everything and signed the contract, saying that we will go to them after the deal with Ryko is over (indie label, at that time based in Salem, Mass. – Ed.). After two albums we will be exclusively on “Dreamworks”.
Do you think that signing a contract with a larger label was inevitable?
I do not know if it is inevitable. As soon as the opportunity appeared with “Dreamworks”, it seemed to us that this was the right step. We like people and the fact that this is a new company. They attend various events and lure the best employees of other companies to themselves. They did the same with us, having signed a new contract even before our previous one ended. This is not because we are unhappy with Ryko. We just got a better offer from other good people. We didn’t want to release the record ourselves. Who knows, maybe someone will outbid Ryko (indeed, Rykodisc was bought by Warner Music Group in 2006 – Ed. Note)
It turns out the new album “Like Swimming” – is it a joint release of “Ryko” and “Dreamworks”?
Yes, they made a deal. And I’m not sure why they decided to do this. But it took a lot of time, so the album comes out so late – it was due out last fall. But then we had more time to work on it. The album was ready last summer when “Ryko” started sending out promos.
At this point, Sandman asked to stop recording on the recorder. I don’t think he would mind it after so many years that I’ll tell you: “Ryko” began sending out promotional copies of the not yet completed “Like Swimming” to convince “Dreamworks” that the album will be here -That’s released. “Dreamworks” wanted to do the release of “Like Swimming” themselves, so that “Ryko” decided in this way to put pressure on the co-release deal in conditions convenient for them. According to Sandman, it was a “farce.”