Cinquième album de Mark Kozelek sous le nom de Sun Kil Moon, Among The Leaves s’accroche à la platine et je n’arrive pas à l’en déloger. Aussi long par sa durée que par le nombre de titres (22 avec le disque bonus), ce nouvel album a néanmoins la particularité d’être composé de nombreux morceaux courts (parfois moins de deux minutes) contrairement à l’habitude chez Kozelek. Plus courtes, plus simples, les compositions vont à l’essentiel. Restent quelques morceaux plus longs, comme le seul électrique King Fish ou un Elaine qui ne cesse de faire des pauses et de repartir. Mais ce qui a surtout retenu mon attention sur cet album, ce sont les paroles, avec sur de nombreux titres le principe de la mise en abîme appliqué à la chanson, un songwriting sur le songwriting, la vie en tournée, les rencontres qu’on peut y faire comme sur le titre qui ouvre l’album. En plus des paroles, j’ai ajouté des extraits d’une interview donnée à New Statesman et de deux autres où Owen Ashworth et Justin Broadrick interrogent leur patron de label (Kozelek a créé Caldo Verde en 2005).
Was backstage in Moscow late one night
We shared a cigarette and a kiss goodbye
Her name was Gayane so young and soft
Her hands trembled badly her eyes trailed off
To bottles and objects around the room
My backup guitar, a tray of fruit
We didn’t have very much to say
She said that she’d come from some other place
A town called Troyskirt, maybe Troysworth
I was pretty distracted packing my stuff
But I did make a point to ask her to stay
But she said she had friends that she had to go see
Later that summer I picked up my mail
She sent me a letter with a touching detail
« I used up my minutes calling hotels
To find you that night but to no avail »
« I know it’s pathetic, » she continued to write,
« But that was the greatest night of my life. »
Justin: Myself, I was, before I started ‘real’ touring, completely deluded that touring would be just fantastic 24/7! Initially maybe it was, for like a couple of weeks, after that, besides even being surrounded by my best friends, found it one of the loneliest experiences of my life…the same for you, maybe?
Mark: I’ve always disliked travel, and still dread it. I’ll never forget some of those drives in the early days, like Seattle to Minneapolis, bottles of piss rolling around in the van. I’ve never been a hangin’ with the pack kind of guy, so I was always a loner out there, even with the band. After the shows, the guys in the band gather up the alcohol from the backstage area and take it back it to their hotel rooms, and I’d find a girl to hang out with. It’s lonely out there, so people do what they have to do to get through it. I try to keep my tours short, to maintain stability in my life, but it’s still tough. You book a short tour, and suddenly other offers come in that are hard to pass up. The economy is what it is and I can’t pass certain financial opportunities up.
My band played here a lot in the nineties when we had
Lots of female fans and fuck they all were cute
Now I just sign posters for guys in tennis shoes
Much of the record is about your experiences on the road and your day-to-day routine as a songwriter. How has your life changed over the 20 years since the release of your first album, Down Colorful Hill?
The first thing that comes to mind is that I’m not broke any more and the second thing is that I put my own records out – I don’t release them through other labels. The third thing is I don’t have « a band » any more, [which is] part of the reason I’m not broke.
Do you enjoy touring?
Sometimes, sometimes not. Touring isn’t one thing, it’s a lot of things. I go to a lot of places. Each day has its amount of joys and complications.
Owen: In the film, you joke with a few fans and hecklers at American and Canadian concerts, but there isn’t much, if any, audience interaction in the European footage. Do you find European audiences to be less interactive? Or more respectful? Or more critical? I ask because I often find my humor to be misunderstood by European audiences, and I’ve even read some bad reviews that criticized my treatment of the audience when I was just trying to play around with folks. This never seems to happen at home. Do you feel that there are different expectations on you as a performer when you tour overseas?
Mark: I hear that a lot from other musicians who tour Europe. I tend not to talk much between songs in places like Spain, France, or Italy, because I’ve learned over the years that banter doesn’t work. It’s difficult to balance, because I want to entertain people, break the ice, ask how they are, but it tends to fall flat in certain places. I’ve gone back to my hotel room many times thinking, “What happened? Did they like me? Hate me?” There’s just that cultural barrier and sometimes it’s hard to know what’s going on. That’s part of the adventure of our work. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it’s awkward. You just never know how it’s going to turn out. I just try to perform as well as I can and try not to beat myself up too badly if I didn’t connect.
Un musicien tient à ses instruments, mais aussi à ceux qui en prennent soin : la chanson dédiée à Richard Collepsy est absolument touchante.
I got in a taxi got my guitar and man that thing sung
like a choir of angels and the neck it felt great
and that was the last time I saw him late 2008
why Richard Collepsy why Richard why
did you have to go off with the birds in the sky
you were the best guitar tech out west
I cherished your work and wish you good rest
You’ve written a song about Richard Collopy, a San Francisco guitar repair man who died in 2009. How did that lyric come about?
When someone who fixed your guitars kills himself, you tend to make a note of that.
Pour un artiste qui a composé tant de bonnes chansons depuis vingt ans avec Red House Painters puis Sun Kil Moon, on a du mal à croire que le songwriting puisse être une activité difficile, mais Kozelek démontre le contraire sur Track Number 8, rendant hommage au passage à quelques collègues.
This is a song I worked on last night
I’ve beat it to death and I can’t get it right
Songwriting’s lonely songwriting hurts
a relentless itching bed-bug curse
Songwriting costs it doesn’t come free
Ask Elliott Smith ask Richie Lee
ask Mark Linkous ask Shannon Hoon
Souvent en tournée en Europe, Kozelek a l’occasion de passer par de nombreux pays, et ne manque pas de se moquer des habitudes et des clichés de certains. L’Angleterre en prend particulièrement pour son grade sur UK Blues ! Les fans qui souhaitent toujours entendre les classiques plutôt que les nouvelles chansons aussi.
Got up on the stage, the sound it was ok
But I struggled like a marlin on an unlucky day
I tried a few new songs, they looked at me like what?
Where’s Katty Song Mistress Grace Cathedral Park
Left for london via Copenhagen, for a concert at a park at 1:30pm
Got upon the stage, people gathered round
A retro eighties band drounded out my sound
went and got my check, went back to my room
Feeling suicidal, feeling full of gloom
Turned on the tv, there was rioting and stuff
As if this city isn’t depressing enough
London, London, it’s all the rage
If your favorite color’s beige
London, London, look right, look left
makes me think of death
Bristol, Bristol, cobble stone streets, people missing teeth
Bristol, Bristol, is this really what people eat
On your latest album, Among the Leaves, you’re less romantic about the places you mention. In “UK Blues”, you sing about watching last year’s riots on TV while on tour in London (“As if this city isn’t depressing enough . . .”) and invoke pretty bleak stereotypes about Bristol (“People missing teeth/Is this really what people eat?”). What’s changed?
Not much. I described London as lonely then and I still do. My last trip there happened to coincide with the riots, so that was memorable. I just find the country very depressing, the food challenging. Most people I know who grew up there have moved to California, so I know I’m not alone in my feelings about the place.
Among The Leaves est en écoute sur Spotify