“I wanted to put pain back into music,” says Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie. “I wasn’t hearing a lot of it in modern rock music.”
All the distress tied to a dwindling love are unearthed through Utopian Ashes (Third Man Records), out July 2, a collaboration between Gillespie and Savages vocalist Jehnny Beth. Giving a peak into their more desperate narrative, “Remember We Were Lovers” tells the tale of two individual’s differing views of their faltering love.
Starkly paired with a black and white video, directed by Douglas Hart (The Horrors, Paul Weller), “Remember We Were Lovers” moves their soulful country tale revealing the realization of detachment in You never want to hold me / Or kiss me anymore / We may sleep together / But really we’re alone.
Gillespie and Beth first met when they were both invited to perform with Suicide—the band’s last show before founding member Alan Vega passed away in 2016—at the Barbican Centre in London in 2015. Then, Beth joined Primal Scream on stage the following summer for a duet of Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood’s “Some Velvet Morning” and later convened for a session with the band in Paris in 2017. Along with Beth’s musical collaborator Johnny Hostile, the initial electronic pieces created during the sessions gradually transitioned into something more country, blues, and soul.
Just one of Gillespie and Beth’s stories on Utopian Ashes, also featuring Primal Scream guitarist Andrew Innes, pianist Martin Duffy, drummer Darrin Mooney, and bassist Johnny Hostile, the pair explore the tribulations and the ultimate breakdown of a married couple’s love.
“In the same way you create characters for a novel, we’ve created characters here, but you put yourself in it, because you’re trying to understand the human situation,” says Beth of the first Utopian Ashes single. “The singing has to be authentic. That’s all that matters.”
Gillespie adds, “When you write a song you marry the personal with the fictional and make art. I was thinking about two people living alone, together but apart, existing and suffering in a psychic malaise, who plough on because of responsibilities and commitments. It’s about the impermanence of everything—an existential fact that everyone has to face at some point in their lives.”