Earlier this month, beloved Glasgow outfit Belle & Sebastian cancelled the last leg of a European tour on account of lead singer Stuart Murdoch’s health. We send our love and support and wish him a speedy recovery. Now seems like a good time to revisit their stint at Coachella, when they were at the top of their game and we got to chat with guitarist Stevie Jackson.
Belle & Sebastian have been producing their infectious indie pop since 1996. Lauded by twee hipsters and dad rockers alike, their music seems to have been crafted for a Diablo Cody film — and indeed, two of this writer’s most beloved tracks accompanied top-shelf performances by Ellen Page and Michael Cera in 2007’s Juno. In a market inundated by explicit lyrics, Belle & Sebastian’s simple, sweet aesthetic is almost defiant. There are even songs with God references, reflecting Murdoch’s Christian beliefs. These are not your average rock stars.
Read on for Jackson’s Lucky 7 interview. As you might expect, he’s soft-spoken and polite, and on occasion he breaks into song.
Who’s your celebrity crush?
It’s a weird one. My favorite actress is older than I am. I really love Kristen Scott Thomas. I think she’s beautiful, elegant, and really talented. I think her first part was in a Prince movie, Under the Cherry Moon or something like that. But she was doing like posh English parts, like The English Patient, and she always turns up in Gosford Park. What’s interesting is she has a parallel career in French cinama. She’s lived in Paris since she was 22 or something. So she’s a French actress as well as an English actress. And in French cinema the parts are about real women in real interesting situations. She’s made some fantastic films.
Do you have a pop culture blind spot?
Oh sure. I think you’d call it the 2010s at this point. Seriously, I’m in my mid-40s and my grasp of popular culture is at an all-time low. I’ve got no idea what anyone’s talking about. Famous people, celebrities, all that… I have no idea who they are. So my blind spot is right now.
When you got your first big paycheck from music, what did you spend it on?
We had no money at all. Belle and Sebastian, we did a BBC session. We all had 70 quid each, which is about 100 dollars. They handed us our 70 pounds each and me and Chris the drummer threw it in the air, like, “We’re rich!” That was a lot of money. Because we had no money at all. No job, no money, no prospects. I probably went and bought a couple of records and went to the pub.
Pretend you’re on death row. What do you want to be your last meal?
Mexican. They don’t do capital punishment in Britain, so I’m assuming I must be in death row in America. Back home you can’t get decent Mexican food. Especially coming to California: when I arrived in Sacramento the first thing I did was get Mexican food. I love Mexican food. We have Mexican restaurants back home but they suck. There’s no Mexican people in Glasgow. So there’s no indigenous talent going on.
Now that we’re good and hungry, what pisses you off?
Just nastiness. Just people being nasty. I think like in the current day and age I get horrified a lot by social media and stuff like that. So many horrible people out there expressing themselves. It really upsets me, or just depresses me. It’s one thing in the modern day I don’t like. In the old days you could just walk around and avoid horrible people. I used to kind of like everyone: I had zero tolerance for anyone who wasn’t nice and respectful and fun. Anyway, that’s why I don’t do Twitter or any of that. I find it depressing.
What website do you visit the most?
My own website, www.belleandsebastian.com. The reason for that is people are always asking me, “When are you playing here?” And I have no idea. I go to the Belle & Sebastian website all the time to find out about my life. What I am supposed to be doing? I look at the website and I’m like, When are we playing here, when is the last time we were here? I have no idea.
If you could get away with one crime consequence-free, what crime would you commit?
The most greedy corporate people, I would rob them of all their money and humiliate them in some way. I wouldn’t hurt anybody, but I would like greedy people to suffer. I’d like to have this amazing plan to remove all their money and give it to people who need it. Kind of the Robin Hood. I’d make ’em watch. That would be my thing.
What was the first song you knew all the words to?
I was always good at that. I was kind of known for that in primary school. People were amazed I could sing the theme from the Pink Panther TV show. I was probably only seven or so. I think I’ve killed a few brain cells over the years but I used to have a thing for memorizing songs.