Thank God For Mental Illness. In the liner notes to a retrospective of his band Brian Jonestown Massacre, Anton Newcombe, sounding relieved, declared this album name's origin: "The title came about because everyone says I am insane. I just thought to myself, 'Thank God.'" Newcombe defended his honor in the face of both praise and damnation for excess, power-trips, the usual accusations of seemingly self-obsessed auteurs. But this is rock 'n' roll after all.
Newcombe and the 700th incarnation of his Brian Jonestown Massacre are coming to Local 506 Friday, Aug. 5. What songs will be played and even who will be playing them, aside from Newcombe, remains uncertain. Under the personnel listing on the band's Web site, the disclaimer reads: "Subject to change without notice."
Modern rock infamy turns people off of media playboys like Oasis' Gallagher brothers, as if they were more famous for their hubris, girlfriends and drug use, or any combination thereof, than for their music.
Anton Newcombe suffers from or thrives on this exposure, which reached its apex with a 2004 documentary Dig! depicting his band's evolution parallel to their friends, alternately their nemeses, The Dandy Warhols. Newcombe decried the film later as misleading. The film inarguably brought him more fame than his previous 10 years of records and touring.
Those records embody Newcombe's obsessive love and outright theft of sounds from groups of the '60s rock pantheon. The droning groove dispensed on a mid-period cut like "Anemone" reflects the Eastern-tinged psychedelic Stones (naturally), while earlier songs are akin to My Bloody Valentine's shoegazer bliss.
Newcombe's journey through several levels of celebrity and dozens of band members should not distract from an impressive discography by a man consumed with finding some perfect guitar sound or performing without a shirt because the song calls for it. Bassist Matt Hollywood noted this good times ethos: "Who doesn't like to holler into a mic in unison with five other people?"
The Brian Jonestown Massacre plays Local 506 Friday, Aug. 5 with QuarterAfter, Innaway and Glissade. Show starts at 9 p.m. The film Dig! will be screened at the N.C. Museum of Art Friday, Aug. 19 at 9 p.m. and costs $3.