ahhh, tales of troubled genius. there are a billion and one stories about people like anton newcombe (lead singer/songwriter of brian jonestown massacre) who are brilliant and really could have been great if only they were able to pull it together and stop the cycle of self-destruction. ultimately it comes down to this: if you have the opportunity and you take a step down then you don’t have what it takes. i’ve seen documentaries on great street basketball players who “could have been better than jordan” if they ever made it to the nba. people who had the opportunity to get into the nba, but invariably fell victim to their own addiction to crack or didn’t have their priorities straight or any number of things. ad anton newcombe to this list. a musician with great talent, an indie record deal (with TVT) that garnered him attention and plenty of money to work with, but he just couldn’t pull it together. he had to engage in the endless prima donna-ism that (unfortunately) so often exists in talents like these.
on the other side of the coin you have courtney taylor (of the dandy warhols) an (admittedly) less talented singer/songwriter in a band that has some semblance of rationale and self-control. a group that also got a break (with the larger capitol records). they were able to parlay that opportunity into pretty sizable success. personally, i think that “13 tales from urban bohemia” is a great record – better than the stuff i’ve heard from brian jonestown massacre, but that’s a moot point really. the film is about what it takes to make it in the industry and in life. anton newcombe clearly does not have it, whatever it is. he has no self-perspective, no self-control, no real goals and no real plans to achieve his half-goals. one interviewee remarked that brian jonestown massacre is a group that’ll likely be mined by a later generation – a group destined to be undiscovered in its own generation, but one with immense talent. despite all of anton’s sophistry, one thing must be said – they can make records and in the long run that’s probably all that’ll matter.