James Lavelle: What Became of the Man From UNKLE

Feature by Dave Kerr | 27 Jul 2006

Having just returned from a club tour of the States, James Lavelle sounds as though hes in good form as he chews his lunch down the phone; "It was quite interesting because I was playing with Sasha, doing all these closing parties out there, very big clubs with two to three and a half thousand people a night. I wandered off the beaten track a bit too. Americas pretty popular for me at the moment, so its been good."

Hold on, touring the States? Dont you have a label to run James?

James Lavelle no longer likes the music industry. Creating the seminal DIY label Mo Wax to rid himself of the usual everyday pressures to conform, the venture was apparently not without its hassles. Finally, after juggling jobs as both recording artist and boss for years, he put the label on hiatus. He ponders the dissolution of his baby with little regret, "I've learnt to just move on. I set up Mo Wax to be free, when we were kids we were told to go and fucking work in a shop or a bank, get up at 8oclock in the morning and live a routine life. I enjoy the freedom to do what I want to do in my life, the way that it was before just wasnt happening anymore. I see the music industry for what it is now."

Indeed, label concerns seem truly a thing of the past as Lavelle seems to enjoy being afforded the time to tour and score soundtracks, not to mention continue a little known project called UNKLE. Flanked by desert rock uber-producer Chris Goss and L.A avant-garde weirdos Autolux, James is currently putting the finishing touches to latest LP The Future Is Unwritten while on home soil, due in early 2007.

Hold on, Chris Goss? The bloke who produced Kyuss records?

Goss is one of my heroes and Autolux are one of my favourite bands at the moment. Lavelle affirms; "Things have come from a mutual respect, its just the wonder of constantly discovering music."

UNKLE mark III appears set on an entirely different course, and in tune with his infatuation with the cinematic aesthetic of his records, the way Lavelle explains it, The Future Is Unwritten sounds like the completion of some sort of trilogy; "It's rawer [than Psyence Fiction and Never, Never, Land] although its more in the vain of the traditional singer/songwriter. If the first record was UNKLE does hiphop and the second record was UNKLE does electronic, then this one is like UNKLE does rock, but itll hopefully still have its continuity."

So what else is on the boil chez Lavelle? Still partaking in the soundtrack work? "Im working on a film (The Fountain) with Darren Aronofsky at the moment, so definitely. Its a collaboration between me and Clint Mansell who did the score, its to remix the score and do a whole new DVD package, the film is unbelievable. Im working on a documentary about (The Driller Killer director) Abel Ferrara as well."

With all of the above and fatherhood keeping him busy, does James feel any more productive in 2006? "I dont know if Ill ever be as productive as I was when I was 21 he states earnestly, I mean we put out 200 records in 4 or 5 years, I dont think Id ever be able to do that again. I dont think I could ever work like that again, it was just insane."

The third UNKLE album is due for release in 2007.