Alive

The The

© 1989 CBS Records Inc.

Kingdom of Rain

Tell me what you're thinking baby
Your heart's beating faster than mine
And I know something's going on in your life
Your life
Your life

You were the girl I wanted to cry with
You were the girl I wanted to die with

You were the boy who turned into the man
Broke my heart and let go off my hand

Our bed is empty
The fire is out
And all the love we've got to give has all spurted out
There's no more blood and no more pain
In our kingdom of rain

You think you know about life
You think you know about love
But when you put your hands inside me
It doesn't even feel like I'm being touched
You were the boy I wanted to cry with
You were the boy I wanted to die with
You've moved further from my side, year by year
While still making love dutifully sincere

But as silent as the car lights that move across this room
As cold as our bodies silhouetted by the moon
And I would lie awake and wonder
Is it just me or is this the way love is supposed to be?

Tell me what you told him baby
My heart's beating out of time with my mind
And I know something's going wrong in our lives

I just wanted somebody to caress
This damsel in distress
I just wanted somebody to undress
This damsel in distress
I just wanted somebody to bless
This damsel in distress
I just wanted somebody to possess
This young girl

Our bed is empty
The fire is out
And all the love we've got to give has all spurted out
Our bed is empty
The fire is out
And all the love we've got to give has all spurted out
Our bed is empty
The fire is out
And all the love we've got to give has all spurted out
There's no more blood and no more pain
In our kingdom of rain

Why Tour Now?

      This is Dave Gottlieb, interviewing Matt Johnson, lead singer and creator of the group The The. The The has just released their third LP in the states called "Mind Bomb" and has procured two singles: "The Beat(en) Generation" and "Gravitate to Me" and have just started their first ever world tour. We're going to talk to Matt about "Mind Bomb" and evolving into a full group from just the one-man-band it was on "Soul Mining." Matt, welcome. It's been six years since "Soul Mining" came out and that was a time when you were just a singular artist, now you have a full time band and you have decided to take on touring. Why now as opposed to 6 years ago or 6 years from now?

"I just feel that if you're going to do anything, you've got to do it with 120% enthusiasm and I would rather not attempt anything unless I was completely into it and behind it. My attitude from the days of "Soul Mining" and before that was....I was more interested in writing and producing than neccesarily playing. I didn't see the equation where we had to figure that just because you wrote songs and recorded them, then you neccesarily had to tour. I resisted having a permanent lineup because I've always been quite a loner as a person and that's the way that I work. I always try to do things in an unorthadox manner."

How Did You Create the Band?

      Being, as you described, a loner, how hard was the process of deciding on who was to be in the band and how much emphasis and input they had?

"It was kind of hard, but it wasn't hard in that I knew immediately as soon as I met the various people that they were the right people to have in the band. And David had played drums with me on "Infected" and he's a very close friend. James joined at the beginning of "Mind Bomb" and he had been working with Dave before. In fact, James and Johnny were going to work together as well. And Johnny I'd known from about 1981. We bumped into each other in about 1986 at a concert and decided to work together then. But it's just people that have everything. I just wanted to work with people that understood the way that I worked 'cause I wasn't really prepared to change the way that I worked. I've developed a system of writing and recording that people have put up with the past 10 years."

The Beat(en) Generation (Live)

When you cast your eyes upon the skylines
Of this once proud nation
Can you sense the fear and the hatred
Growing in the hearts of its population

And our youth, oh youth, are being seduced
By the greedy hands of politics and half truths

The beaten generation
The beaten generation
Reared on a diet of prejudice and misinformation
The beaten generation
The beaten generation
Open your eyes
Open your imagination

We're being sedated by the gasoline fumes
And hypnotised by the satellites
Into believing what is good and what is right

You may be worshipping the temples of Mammon
Or lost in the prisons of religion
But can you still walk back to happiness
When you've nowhere left to run?

The beaten generation
The beaten generation
Reared on a diet of prejudice and misinformation
The beaten generation
The beaten generation
Open your eyes
Open your imagination
(fade out)

Creation of the Live Show?

      When you made the desision to start touring, what did you devise as far as once the band is onstage so that the power of the songs comes across live?

"Well, basically, I brought together powerful individuals. I think that's the difference. I've never relied on gimmicks. Just by the way I dress, or the way I look, or the way I am. I like simplicity and I like strength. And, like I said before, I think the material is so strong, the songs strong, the musicians are so good, the personalities are so poweful involved....that's what comes across. And people are responding to that. As a band, we are no gimmicks. What you see it what you get. It's the power beyond the eyes and what comes out of the instruments, that's what counts. It's what makes us different from everyone else is that we have this simplicity, 'cause most band try and find ways of hiding the fact that they really haven't got much to say. I think audiences have been patronized for so long and they been spoken down to by imbecilic groups, that they'll probably respond to people talking to them on-the-level and being straight with them. And what they see is what they get, whether they like us or they hate us."

Heartland (Live)

Beneath the old iron bridges
Across the victorian parks
And all the frightened people running home before dark
Past the Saturday morning cinema
That lies crumbling to the ground
And the piss stinking shopping centre in the new side of town
I've come to smell the seasons change and watch the cities
As the sun goes down again

Here comes another winter
Of long shadows and high hopes
Here comes another winter
Waiting for utopia
Waiting for hell to freeze over

This is the land where nothing changes
The land of red buses
And blue blooded babies
This is the place where pensioners are raped
And the hearts are being cut from the welfare state
Let the poor drink the milk
While the rich eat their honey
Let the bums count their blessings
While they count the money

So many people can't express what's on their minds
Nobody knows them
Nobody ever will
Until their backs are broken
Their dreams are stolen
And they can't get what they want
Then they're gonna get angry
It ain't written in the papers
But its written on the walls
The way this country's divided to fall
So the cranes are moving on the skyline
Trying to knock down this town
But the stains on the heartland
Will never be removed
From this country that's sick, sad, and confused

Here comes another winter
Of long shadows and high hopes
Here comes another winter
Waiting for utopia
Waiting for hell to freeze over

The ammunition's been passed
And the Lord's been praised
And the wars on the televisions will never be explained
All the bankers gettin sweaty beneath their white collars
As the pound in our pocket turns into a dollar

This is the 51st state of the USA
(Repeat and fade)

Johnny Marr?

      You mentioned that you had known Johnny previosly. How was he when you approached him about joining as full-time member of The The considering what he'd just gone through as a member of the Smiths -- with their success and then breakup?

"The final days with the Smiths was a quite depressing time for him. He worked for a lot of things which, probably ultimately, did him good. A situation like that can only benefit you in the long run. We'd always admired each others work from a distance, but when I contacted him -- he came round at about nine in the evening and we sat up talking 'till 9 the next morning. We had so much in common and so many ideas. Initially, I contacted him just to play on "Beat(en) Generation" -- we both didn't say anything, but he wanted to join and I kind of wanted him to join and we didn't broach it, but it kind of came out. And he said, 'You mean you want me to join?', and I said, 'Yeah. Do you actually want to join?' And he said 'Yeah,' and it just came together like that. I'm very happy the way it's been working out."

      As musicians, how much do you compliment each other? Offset each other in guitar styles or creation styles?

"Oh, a lot. Our styles are kinda similar in a way. I had always played guitar. The difference between us as musicians is vast. As people, we're very similar -- similar ideas, aspirations, sense of humor. There almost a psychic bond. We always seem to know what the other is thinking. But as musicians, I would say that he comes from a more traditional school. In the fact that he has a vast knowledge, almost encyclopedic knowledge, of music -- of guitarists, of groups. Incredible record collection. He practices all the time. He's a fantastic guitarist and works incredibly hard at it. Whereas the area I come from was kind of a natural musician. In that I was able to play anything that I picked up. Unfortunately, I never praticed. I'm a bit lazy and I never, ever practice. I never done. I play to write, whereas Johnny plays -- he obviously writes, but he plays for the love of playing. I'm more of a song-writer than a guitarist. I don't sit there practicing the guitar. I just get bored doing that actually which is why I use other musicians 'cause I write a lot of the parts -- the drum parts, or bass, or strings, or whatever. I don't write notationally. I just write from my head. The way I get other people to play is a bit like a field director would get actors to say their parts. My music can be articulated better by better musicians. I mean, I played all the instruments on my first album and I could do another album where I play all the instruments, but it wouldn't be articulated as effectively 'cause I'm not a good enough musician to put across the ideas that I write."

This Is the Day

Well you didn't wake up this morning
'Cause you didn't go to bed
You were watching the whites of your eyes turn red
The calendar on your wall
Is ticking the days off
You've been reading some old letters
You smile and think how much you've changed
All the money in the world
Couldn't buy back those days

You pull back the curtains
And the sun burns into your eyes
You watch a plane flying across a clear blue sky
This is the day
Your life will surely change
This is the day
When things fall into place

You could've done anything
If you'd wanted
And all your friends and family think that you're lucky
But the side of you they'll never see
Is when you're left alone with the memories
That hold your life together like
Glue

You pull back the curtains
And the sun burns into your eyes
You watch a plane flying across a clear blue sky
This is the day
Your life will surely change
This is the day
When things fall into place

This is the day
Your life will surely change
(repeating)

Band and Self-Progression?

      How would you describe the changes that your music and your song-writing has gone through from the early 80's up to now and considering that you're always working in the future? How does that all mesh?

"It's like learning a new language. You've got all these things inside your head and your heart that you want to say, but you're very limited by the vocabulary and the more you learn, the more you can express just as I'm expressing now. That's why I feel that "Mind Bomb" is the best thing I've ever done even though for some people, "Soul Mining" is their favorite album and that is because you are competing against people's nostalgia. But, I know this stuff is stronger; is articulated more; it's more diverse. It's simpler in some ways as the more you know, the more you know to leave out. The thing that worries me is that I don't bland out and become mellow. I don't see why people should bland out. A lot of musicians do because they burn out from drugs and a lot of them are not particularly bright...you know, they just waste themselves away that way. There just are not many songwriters or musicians to look to for inspiration as far as that goes. A lot of them sustain it into their thirties -- in their late thirties and early fourties, they're gone by that time and that's a bit of a worry. By the end of the day, it's not for me to say how much my stuff has changed. It's like getting up each day and looking in the mirror. You don't notice yourself changing, even though if someone hasn't seen you for three years, they'll come and say 'Christ, you look old, or fat, or ill, or well, or whatever.' But it's difficult to gauge it yourself. It's for other people to say."

      'Mind Bomb" tends to have a personal look at the outside world -- kind of a personal commentary. Is that one way you combat burning out? Instead of constantly looking into yourself, now you're looking at the outside world.

"From the first album through to 'Soul Mining,' in fact, and this one, they've all had an equal proportion of personal and political songs. There were more universal commentaries like 'Good Morning Beautiful,' 'Armageddon,' 'Violence of Truth,' which are considering the religious aspect; the nature of God, good, evil, and human spirituality. And there is stuff that is more personal, autobiographical love songs or whatever. I've always had that, in my albums anyway. There's always been that division between the two. I would say that 'Mind Bomb,' again, is just another chapter."

Why Use Pop Music?

      You once said in an interview that most of the pop music you hear on the radio was music by dead people to dead people. If that's the case, why choose the medium of pop music as....?

"I think there's nothing wrong with the medium. It's like any medium. You could say the same with film, with newspapers. It's like tabloid newspapers are for dead people, by dead people. The same with most of the television you get. It's the same about most popular culture is for dead people, by dead people. I think pop music as a means of expression is very relevant. I think it's a good means of expression. Music is a very powerful force. Lyrics are... Visuals are... I'm very keen to start working more in film and music. And I've got great ideas for the future which I can't wait to get going. There are things I want to do which no one else has ever done. And I think it's a really relevant form of expression. If I was around 150 years ago, I'd would probably just be writing words. But as I've got music at my disposal -- it's something anyone can do now. You don't need to be classically trained. You can buy little machines, portable studios, and synthesizers for so little money [that] anyone can do it now and I think everyone should be doing it. I think it's a real good means of expression."

Infected (Live)

I've got too much energy to switch off my mind
But not enough to get myself organized
My heart is heavy
My head is confused
And my aching little soul
Has started burning blue

I can't give you up, 'till I've got more than enough
Infect me with your love
Nurse me into sickness
Nurse me back to health
Endow me with the gifts of the man made world

When desire becomes an illness instead of a joy
And guilt a necessity that's gotta be destroyed

I can't give you up, 'till I've got more than enough
Infect me with your love
Nurse me into sickness
Nurse me back to health
Endow me with the gifts of the man made world

Take me by the hands
And lead me to the end of the pier
Run your fingers through my hair
And tell me what I wanna hear
Will lies become truths in this face of fading youth?
From my scrotum to your womb
Your cradle to my tomb

I can't give you up, 'till I've got more than enough
Infect me with your love
Nurse me into sickness
Nurse me back to health
Endow me with the gifts of the man made world

I can't give you up, 'till I've got more than enough
Infect me with your love
Nurse me into sickness
Nurse me back to health
Tell me what it is that I want in this world

Sinead O'Connor and "Kingdom of Rain?"

      How did you get involved with Sinead O'Connor for the song "Kingdom of Rain?"

"I think she's got a great voice. I think she has a very haunting voice. There's a strength and a vunerability and you're not quite sure which one is on top of which one. And I just sent her the song and she liked it. And she came and recorded it and she went away again."

      She kind of sings her part with a subdued anger.

"I think part of that is due to what she was going through at the time. As far as the song goes, I think it was good. I think it comes across well. In fact, the person that the song was written for, my girlfriend, actually said that she thinks Sinead has captured how she felt at the time, perfectly. And if she'd have been feeling happy, she probably wouldn't have gotten the same performance. A lot of people didn't even realize it was Sinead. People hear it and it doesn't even sound like her."

Does Beyond Love Mean Rebirth?

      Each side of "Mind Bomb" ends with a very powerful song about relationships -- "Kindom of Rain" about the disintegration of a relationship. But "Beyond Love," which ends the second side, seems to be a very uplifting song. Kind of a song about rebirth.

"And that is because I am an optimistic person. I aspire to that. I do believe in romance and love, ultimately, and human spirituality. And I do believe in those things. I believe everyone has a devine right to happiness and to have full expression. That's one of my favorite songs actually. I'm happy with that song. Lyrically, I think it's broken new ground. It's almost romantic poetry. 'The drops of semen and the clots of blood which may one day become like us,' I think is one of best lines I've ever written. I was really happy when I wrote that 'cause it talks about the life proccess itself. It uses the sexual act and talks about it on a biological level, so it works on many layers. It works on that one level, but it's about the life process itself from the feeling of sexual attraction between two people through the sexual act -- the life force in the shape of semen and in human beings growing. And people tend to think that you stop growing when you stop growing physically. That's the tragedy of our society anyway. You meet people that are 60 years old with the emotional and mental capacity of a sixteen year old. The spirit isn't nutured. The body is fed and you're told certain things in school and that's it. You stop growing and the people often stop looking, but the life force is still yearning for something. It's like trying to break out."

Beyone Love (Live)

Move away from the window
And into the light
There are some things in this life
That you just can't fight
It's as if the spirits above
Have cast a little spell upon us
It's as if heaven above
Is beckoning us
So let us take off our crosses and lay them in a tin
And let our weakness become virtue instead of sin
Our bodies stand naked as the day they were born
And tremble like animals
Before a coming storm

Take me beyond love
Up to something above
Upon this bed
Between these sheets
Take me to a happiness beyond human reach

The force of life is rushing through our veins
In and out like the tide it comes in waves
The drops of semen and the clots of blood
Which may, one day, become like us
With outstretched hands reaching beyond love
And up to something above

Before our juices run cold
And our flesh grows old
Let me feed upon your breast
And draw closer to your soul
Let me stay with you tonight
And I'll offer you my world
I'll take you to the angels
If you'll take me to myself

Take me beyond love
Up to something above
Upon this bed
Between these sheets
Take me to a happiness beyond human reach
Beyond the grasp of lust
Beyond the need for trust
Beyond the gaze of the sick and the lame
Beyond the stench of human pain

Take me beyond love
Up to something above
Upon this bed
Between these sheets
Take me to a happiness beyond human reach
Beyond the grasp of lust
Beyond the need for trust
Beyond the gaze of the sick and the lame
Beyond the stench of human pain