It Comes in Waves

music SpiritualizedThe splendor of Spiritualized’s limitless space rock is in its relentless and familiar flow

Wow! It’s like you’re next door now,” Jason Pierce says, after a series of inaudible phone calls. Though the London-based frontman for Spiritualized is pleased that we’re finally able to connect, he claims, “I liked it when we couldn’t hear each other. There was so much room for error before.”

It’s amusing, and rather lovely, to find out that Pierce—also known as J. Spaceman and the co-founder of alt-rock act Spacemen 3—couldn’t care less about how he is perceived at this particular moment, seeing as his most recent work, the symphonic rock record Sweet Heart Sweet Light, was heralded as a Top Album of 2012 by Pitchfork Media, MAGNET Magazine and Under The Radar magazine. Perhaps even more astonishing, is that this much-publicized praise is a surprise to him so many months later.

“I didn’t know that, but I knew people had taken to it,” Pierce admits. “It’s weird because I made the record when I was having treatment for Hep C. It feels now a little bit like I was dislocated from the record, so it’s taken playing the songs live to kind of reacquaint myself—I actually don’t mind say[ing] that—to sort of reconnect with that record.

“It’s kind of strange to have a record that really resonates with a lot of people, but that I didn’t really get at the time of the release,” he goes on. “I spent a very difficult year making that record.” Part of the challenge, he says, was battling the various side effects of his treatment, specifically changes to his personality and the ability to think and cope.

“It’s been good to get out and play [Sweet Heart] live in a different context,” says Pierce, though he assures fans that his current tour’s set list is not limited to music from that album (which incidentally features the spellbinding vocals of his 13-year-old daughter, Poppy, too).

“I just don’t stop,” Pierce says of touring. “I think it’s really important to play. That’s what I do. I never make any money doing this. I’m losing money again coming out [to the U.S.], but I don’t know what else to do. I’ve got this amazing band and this amazing thing that we’re trying to reach for. It just seems crazy to make any distance and not play as many shows as we can until the money runs out.” Before heading to Coachella, Spiritualized will perform at the Cocoanut Grove on April 11.

When asked how he has managed to stay so enthused throughout his productive career—spanning an impressive 30-odd years—Pierce confesses, “It comes in waves, to be honest. I’m not always feeling great.

“I think the thing is, when you make something new, it really has to feel like the most fucking important thing in your world,” he continues. “It has to feel like it’s absolutely essential that it becomes part of the wider world … when I get involved in something, it’s seriously the best thing I’ve ever been involved in and it’s so important that it becomes finished.”

His commitment to a polished product is evident on each of Spiritualized’s tracks, almost all of which run six to 10 minutes long, or more. Yet, time seems to stand still as Pierce draws listeners in and guides them to the most satisfying of sensory stimulation.

“Sometimes it’s more beautiful, and better, to hit a single chord as long and as loud as you can,” he explains. “There’s something really beautiful in that kind of futile attempt to make some statement about where you are. … It’s like the waves. It’s not the fact that every wave is different; it’s the fact that they just keep on coming.” 

Spiritualized performs at 9 p.m. Thursday, April 11 at The Cocoanut Grove, 400 Beach St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $30. For more information, call 423-2053, or visit folkyeah.com.

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