Luke Haines

In which Luke Haines tries to convince us that ‘Smash The System’ isn’t a concept album…

So this is your first non-concept album in six years, what gives?

It was getting too easy making concept albums. It doesn’t mean there won’t be any more. There will be thousands more before I’m done.

The record opens in the former East Germany, with ‘Ulrike Meinhof’s Brain Is Missing’. Discuss.

Ulrike Meinhof’s brain did actually go missing. After her death it was removed for research, to try and find out what makes a nice girl go bad. She had a brain operation in the early 60, which is thought to have partly been why she became a terrorist. Her brain was kept in a laboratory in Stuttgart when it was stolen. Meinhof’s daughter Bettina campaigned for her mother’s brain to be returned, which it eventually was. The song is told from the brain’s point of view.

As the album title suggests, it’s clearly a call to arms…

It’s an occult protest album. It’s a protest against the conscious mind, the next revolution will be concerned with an uprising of the subconscious mind. The conscious mind will eventually replaced by ESP and subconscious communication.

You namecheck quite a cast list, as usual. Anyone you’d like to pick out?

‘Cosmic Man’ mentions Harry H. Corbert, the Golden Bough and Oil Drum Lane, where Steptoe’s yard was. This song is pretty much a summation of where I’m at…

And the Black Bunny?

The Black Bunny crops up throughout the album, like a hidden motif in a painting. You just have to know where to look.

There’s a track called ‘Bruce Lee, Roman Polanski and Me’. That’d be an interesting dinner party, right?

It would be, but Polanski and Bruce Lee wouldn’t get on. Polanski was obsessed with Bruce Lee, he thought he was the murderer of his wife Sharon Tate. Polanski persisted in this belief even after Charles Manson had been arrested for the Tate/La Bianca murders.

Jam sandwiches, Marc Bolan, Billy Conolly, bomber jackets, alphabet spaghetti, Hong Kong Phooey… ‘Smash The System’ is a paean to growing up in 70s isn’t it?

In a way every single thing I’ve written is a paean to growing up in the 70s. We don’t know what the future holds and we can only experience the present like animals. The past is all we really can be sure about.

Sooooo. If you were pushed to hang a concept around the album…

I don’t hang concepts on my albums, that’s the difference between my concept albums and something like ‘Ziggy Stardust’, which of course is fantastic, but the story is pretty flimsy after a few tracks… which is not a criticism by the way. My concept albums hold together, er, conceptually.

‘Smash The System’ is a concept album isn’t it?


‘Smash The System’ is out on Cherry Red

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Go-to producer/synth hoarder, Benge gets himself comfy so we can fire question after question at him