Over the last few years, Suzanne Vega has been mainly concerned with processing her back catalogue. She arranged her pieces according to themes - love, family, people, places - and published a CD for each of them.
The King is dead, long live the King. The band Pere Ubu from Cleveland in Ohio was always ahead of their time and at the same time had both legs in the story. She borrowed her name from the grotesque play "King Ubu" by the French writer Alfred Jarry and invented post-punk even before the great explosion of punk. With her new album "The Long Goodbye" she says goodbye. Or is it?
"The Long Goodbye" is already the 18th studio album of the avant-garde band Pere Ubu, founded in 1975. Over time, her style has changed greatly from impetuous escapades to thoughtful storytelling. The only constant over all these years is singer and songwriter David Thomas. His new work is not a collection of songs, but a spoken word essay with background sounds. In an interview with eclipsed, he reports on his health problems and explains what the title is all about.
eclipsed: Is "The Long Goodbye" your last record?
David Thomas: I never said it was the last record, but the end of a street. It's the end of a certain way of doing things. Pere Ubu has gone through such phases two or three times. Everything has to be torn down and rebuilt. However, it is true that I have narrowly escaped death twice in the last year and a half. My health is not at its best. When I wrote the album, I didn't think I had much time left. My manager wanted to visit me at the hospital, and when her plane landed, she got the message that she might not find me alive anymore. I didn't write the songs as the last record, but with the awareness that it could be the last one. When you write a will, you don't need it, and when you need a will, it's too late to write it. So all is well, we already have our farewell plate in the box. So in a couple of years, I can let go with peace of mind.
eclipsed: "The Long Goodbye" almost sounds like a radio play. You are the narrator, and the sounds of the album form the background.
Thomas: Pere Ubu always had a theatrical element. Already the last albums had rather such an arrangement. "Carnival Of Souls" (2014) and "Lady From Shanghai" (2013) went exactly in this direction. The new record goes of course a big step further. There were two reasons why I wrote and recorded large parts of the album myself before anyone else got involved. On the one hand I thought I didn't have enough time, on the other hand I had a very clear idea of what was going to happen. In a band, you have to compromise. You have to take into account the opinions of your colleagues. I didn't want to go through this trial. So the whole theatricality could unfold freely.
eclipsed: The record is also very introspective, with the impression of a film noir. Like a journey inside you.
Thomas: Considering the circumstances under which it was created, the album is of course more personal and restrained than its predecessors. Since "The Tenement Year" (1988) we have always been interested in the journey around the continent, which has always been a metaphor for the journey through life. This thought stood in the background of every single record. On the new album I look forward to the end of the journey. But what happens in the end? Old men like me are amazed at every exit on the highway they pass. Wouldn't it be better to go and find somewhere to live? There is a very close relationship to the Raymond Chandler novel with the same title. The story's about betrayal. This theme also runs through the record: betrayal of the senses, betrayal through politics and religion, betrayal of existentialism, cultural betrayal and a hundred other things.