World Party Offers Visions of Another World After Brain Aneurysm
Was there ever a worry you'd never be able to do this again; write songs and play music?
Yeah, it worried me. But two months after I got out of the hospital I went straight and did a gig with some people. It was a benefit show I was asked to do, but it was a chance to find out what I could do. It was the first thing I did after recovery. I really put myself at ease that I could still perform.
I sat there a bit stunned for a time, so then I went away for five years after that and put my studio together. I got everything together and in 2005 started coming to America and put this label [Seaview] together. In 2006 I started doing my first gigs again in America. We did quite a lot, more that year I think than we'd ever done [in America]. We played in all kinds of combinations: a three-piece, five-piece, seven-piece. The three-piece was great because we could do all kinds of things in this set-up. It was great to play the songs in a pared-down way. It was great fun. And it was surprising how people really go to hear the songs. In some bands you go to hear the guitar work or the singer, but because of whatever reason our songs it seems are our particular area. The songs have survived really well.
Well, many of the songs are still topical and people can relate to them.
It's very strange the way they have survived in the sense of being topical because there are still the same issues around the inspired me to do them in the first place. It's the same things that were on my mind. We have a whole new "Ship of Fools" going on. I think it's even more so as time has made the issues more critical.
One of the things I like in your songs is that while you are pointing out the problems taking place around us, there's frequently some level of shaded optimism in the song. Did you rely on this optimism in dealing with your own illness?
I think I did actually. I was quite surprised. I always felt I'd be a bit lame; if I had something seriously wrong with me that I'd be terrible in that sort of situation. I kind of came through with flying colors really. I was having this seriously life-threatening situation and I have no degree of knowledge of what was going on. But I didn't have any fear. It was a strange time. And there were a lot of strange things going on, but you kind of forget why it's happening. I had the experience of actually seeing inside my head on screen when I was awake because of a camera was put in an artery in my groin and fed up to my head. And the guy said, "You might feel a little bit of a heat sensation when I take the picture." [Laughs] But that was kind of strange because I was fascinated. I wasn't like "Oh my God." I was captivated. There's a huge survival mechanism that kicks and carries you though a lot.
Knowing that camera's in your brain as you're watching the images sound like a curious surrealism.
It couldn't happen in another situation. It was a quite strange but amazing thing. Some of the time I was under the impression, though it wasn't real, that I was in a stairwell and it was like in a Ken Russell film or something. The stairwell was carpeted and the walls were carpeted and recessed shelves were carpeted. And there were skylights at the top of it and was this sort of roadie there. He never turned his face to me, but he had this sleeveless denim jacket on, which was the main outfit for the roadies in the old days, and he was putting keyboards on the shelves and plugging them in. I was waiting to do something, and suddenly "Bang," my reality changed and I was walking down the corridor in the hospital with drips going into my head and neck and approaching the loo. It was strange because the vision was this other world I was going into, but it was a private thing as well. I think it was from having my brain manhandled during the operations; I don't know what it was. But that was pretty amazing as well.
Sounds like good fodder for new songs.
In some ways... I have one new track called "Reboot My Psycho." It's not about anything as obvious as "I had a brain aneurysm," but just a more impressionistic thing. But I did have my psycho rebooted.
World Party is scheduled to perform Sunday, December 2, at Crescent Ballroom.
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