Q&A: Jarvis Cocker delves "Further" into rock

Fri May 22, 2009 5:59pm EDT
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By Evie Nagy

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker has just released "Further Complications," his second solo effort. The sharp, unpredictable Britpop iconoclast continues to keep fans on their toes, from his counterintuitive choice of Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies) to produce the new album, to his announcement this month that his band would webcast rehearsals from a French art gallery.

Billboard spoke with Cocker about his new album, song licensing opportunities and his thoughts about cashing in on the '90s revival.

Billboard: "Further Complications" explicitly plays with different rock styles. Was that calculated during the writing process?

Jarvis Cocker: With me having started making music around the punk time, the rock orthodoxy was the establishment you rejected. Obviously there is a lot of bad rock music, but there's also really good rock music, and I got an education. I thought, 'This band can play that kind of music -- would I be able to write a record that would be able to use that but also not be a joke?' I haven't started wearing leather trousers, a sleeveless T-shirt and a bandana.

Billboard: How did you connect with Steve Albini?

Cocker: We were doing the Pitchfork music festival in Chicago last year. Steve Mackey, who's my bass player and used to be in Pulp, and (drummer) Ross (Orton) knew all about him and his studio in Chicago that he built himself. So they suggested that while we were in town we should try it out. It's fortunate because the songs had been written more in this band context, and I wanted to kind of capture that in the recording as well. And it just so happened that is really the way Steve Albini prefers to work.

Billboard: You were on Island for a long time with Pulp, and now you've done both solo records on Rough Trade. How has the record business changed in the past decade?

Cocker: I feel fortunate to be on an independent label now, because the business model is changing, and the major labels have to really grapple with that. Obviously independent labels have to sell records to stay alive, but I don't think of it as being an industry -- more as providing people with something that they like. I don't think that will ever go away. But everybody's out to adapt -- like when you buy a vinyl record, usually you'll get one of these cards so you can get the digital version. Things that acknowledge people have their music in different places and use it in different ways.   Continued...

<p>British singer Jarvis Cocker performs on stage during his concert at the Rock-en-Seine Festival in Saint-Cloud near Paris, August 25, 2007. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier</p>