Jammerzine has an exclusive interview with musician/songwriter Philip Parfitt. A couple of weeks ago Jammerzine reviewed his new album titled ‘Mental Home Recordings’ (track previews in player). And today we get to meet the man behind the music. From his beginnings to his methods as well as his style in the studio, Philip gives us a ‘behind the music’ style glimpse into his world of sound and song.
‘Mental Home Recordings’ is available digitally and on limited purple vinyl and limited black vinyl (both in gatefold sleeve), as well as on CD with a special 8-page booklet. Obtainable via Bandcamp, the detailed artwork is made by painter Fernando Ruibal – a picture puzzle with many things to discover, including on the record shelf.
Philip Parfitt is best known as the founder, guitarist, vocalist and primary songwriter of Britain’s The Perfect Disaster. Formed in 1980, the alternative rock band released four albums and reached number fifteen on the UK Indie Chart before splitting up in 1991.
Earlier, Parfitt released the singles ‘Somebody Called Me In’ and ‘All Fucked Up’ featuring Bordeaux-based psychedelic folk-rock artist Alex Creepy Mojo. The accompanying video, starring actress Melissa Oxlade, is directed by filmmaker Luigi Dias.
Given the quality and the breadth of Parfitt’s output over the past 40 years, it’s clear that he’s far more interested in making his art than in talking about it. After all, with his bands The Perfect Disaster, Oediupussy, and in his solo performances, he has shared stages with such luminaries as Nico, Spiritualized, Spacemen 3, My Bloody Valentine, the Pixies, the Chills, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and others.
Parfitt played on Spectrum’s first album with Jason Pierce and guitarist Terry Bickers (House of Love, Levitation) contributed to Oedipussy’s album ‘Divan’. Parfitt also gave significant starts to Josephine Wiggs (who played in the Perfect Disaster before joining The Breeders) and to the Heliocentrics’ Malcolm Catto, who likewise played on the Perfect Disaster’s first.
It’s a surprise to realize that ‘Mental Home Recordings’ is only his second solo album, following his ‘I’m Not The Man I Use To Be’, released in 2014.
When asked where his songs come from, Philip Parfitt says, “I don’t know. I don’t ask, and I don’t often even think about it. I don’t even know what they’re about most of the time. The meaning is only revealed, when at all, later.”There is a maturity to this artist that allows his songs to reveal themselves to the listener, opening up fresh dimensions. But Parfitt is quick to note that it isn’t simply a matter of passive inspiration. “I always have a pen and notebook and something to record with,” he says. “So even if I don’t know exactly how I’m doing it, I appear to be doing it a lot.”
Awash in a sea of materialism in a time when nearly everything is offered to us as a product, it’s a relief to encounter a sensibility like this – one that shines a light into the darkest recesses of our battered psyches. The Velvet Underground, Leonard Cohen, John Cale, and Nick Drake did the same – all artists to whom Parfitt’s own output has been compared.
It’s difficult to say where the “defining moment” of a career as long as Parfitt’s is – probably there are several – but ‘Mental Home Recordings’ is assuredly one. And for an old hand, the new album’s release via A Turntable Friend Records is surely navigating familiar waters.