LOWER YOURSELF:
THE NEW CHRISTS
IN ITALY

By Roberto Calabro

In the summer of 1997, after releasing their second album "Lower Yourself" on Citadel Records, the New Christs toured Europe. They came for the first time to Italy for three shows. I saw two: Rome (Villaggio Globale) and Pisa (Macchia Nera). After the first show, I met Rob Younger in the band's van for an interview, later published in Rockerilla magazine (issue 205, September 1997). Here it is.

RC: Rob, what do you remember about the beginning of the New Christs?

RY: Well, I didn't have any idea to start a new band. Someone asked me to support Iggy Pop who wastouring Australia. At that time I had a bunch of unreleased songs I had written in my bedroom that just needed to be recorded. It was quick: in one week I called some guys I knew. They were playing for the Hitmen and for some other Australian bands, we joined together and started the New Christs.

RC: Why have the New Christs been playing with so many line-ups? Which one was the best for you?

RY: I think people involved in the band were losing interest after seeing that nothing happened after two-three years, basically. I think each line-up had its happy days. I enjoyed the one with Charlie (Owen), Jim (Dickson) and Nick (Fisher) and the original one (Rob, Tony Robertson, Mark Kingsmill, Chris Masuak, Richard Jakimyszn). Today I enjoy playing with this line-up (Al Creed, Mark Wilkinson, Peter Kelly, Chris Houllermare).

RC: Why did you release so many singles and just two albums over16 years? Is it just because the seven inches format is your fave one?

RY: Well, seven inchers actually is my favourite format. But I think the main reason we recorded just two albums is that every line-up had a short life. Not enough to write and record a whole album. We wrote and recorded a bunch of songs, then the band was breaking up all the time. It was always that way. Now we do things more efficiently, because everybody in this band writes. I write too, and we have enough songs for another album.

RC: Tell me something about "Lower Yourself". First of all, why did you decide to use this title?

RY: In English "lower yourself" means several things. So, you know, in Australia when people find something really disgusting they do'āt wanna do it, they say: "I wouldn't lower myself because this beneath my dignity and I'm too good for that". And I say "No, you're good for anything, so lower yourself!"

RC: What do you think about "Lower Yourself"? Are you satisfied with it?

RY: Well I think it's good as everything I've done before. I'm happy with it. We had to write the songs in a bit of a hurry. We knew we had to have another album out if we wanted to tour Europe. I think we could have put one or two slow moody numbers, because it's a fast record - too fast sometimes - but in the end it rocks and it's pretty good for me.

RC: What are your fave songs on this album?

RY: I like the title-song, I like "Big City" and "We Have Landed". I also like "I Come Cheap". I like it more now than we recorded it.

RC: And what about the lyrics ?

RY: I don't wanna explain what the lyrics are about or anything. Most of the shit on this record is written by me while I was going to work every morning. So all I remember is different lines coming to my head when I was looking at the window on the train coming from the country to the city, seeing bush and stuff like that. I started to develop the songs on my portable typewriter.

Anyway, I don't wanna explain what the lyrics are about in particular, I think it's boring. Besides it's better that people arrive at their own conclusions.

RC: Tell me your impressions about this European tour?

RY: We've been treated very well by a lot of people, we enjoyed the food, the places we've seen. Great hospitality, I can say. We spent most of the time in France and we had a lot of fun in Greece. Anyway, it's not so easy to go on tour, because you see the same people all the time and sometimes, you know, you fight a little bit. But it's OK.

RC: Rob, how can you manage your work as a producer, the Radio Birdman reunion and the New Christs?

RY: There's no conflict of interests in these three things. There's not much production these days, I haven't been doing much this year except for a three-girl band called Fur. The Radio Birdman thing was just...well, we did two tours, both of them very short, we really wanted to experiment, play a couple of weeks, make some money and have some fun, maybe.

RC: Last question: tell me something about your long relationship with Citadel Records.

RY: Well, they kidnapped me !!! (laughs). We work ina close association and I'm sure that John Needham, the director of Citadel Records, will say that the worst things he suffered over the last 15 years are our fault! Anyway, I can't answer this question seriously while he's standing behind us, carrying on counting gig money (lots of laughter.)

(Photo of Rob Younger and Mark Wilkinson by The Barman, October 2000.)

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