Godflesh’s Justin Broadrick: “I Never Feel Comfortable at Any Festival”

You probably haven’t read a lot of Godflesh interviews lately. That’s because mainman Justin K Broadrick intentionally went silent late last year when Godflesh released their Post Self LP, their second full-length since activating in 2010. In a digital landscape saturated by elongated press campaigns and social media teases, Broadrick opted to let the music do the talking. But with Godflesh’s appearance at Decibel Metal & Beer Fest: Los Angeles on the horizon this December (get tickets here), our man was ready to talk crushing souls and crushing beers with Decibel.

Godflesh has always carved its own niche, but especially so since reforming in 2010. You’ve been really selective about the curation of tours and other events you’ve chosen to perform at. Apart from Maryland Deathfest, Decibel Metal & Beer Fest is probably the most overtly metal event you’ll have played in the U.S. for a while. Does that change your approach to the event?
Justin Broadrick:
I was talking with someone about this recently, and they were talking about what a great thing it is that Godflesh can actually play a variety of festivals. We did a festival in Austria about six month ago and there was nothing remotely like Godflesh at that festival, nothing that even touched on metal. It was most the sorta bill that I would maybe play as [techno project] JK Flesh, but even more artsy. It was electronica and installations and then there was Godflesh. And I think three weeks before that we played MDF. It was like, “wow, somehow this is fucking possible.” We’re the rare example of this caliber band that can straddle these genres. The irony is, I never feel comfortable at any festival. We’re the ones that people are gonna throw shit at or go, “oh, for fuck’s sake, it’s them.” I never feel as though I’m a wanted guest. I know there’s a few people in there that I want us, but generally I feel as though we’re not wanted. That’s the blessing and the curse.

Do you think the way that things were when the band was coming up in the ’90s compared to the way that everything is so micro-genred these days, that it’s harder or easier to perform live? There are so many specialized events these days, but Godflesh still doesn’t fit perfectly anywhere.
Everything is so niche now, but also simultaneously open. I often do meet people whose tastes are so fucking wide, which was quite rare to some extent back in the day—particularly the late ’80s and early ’90s, which is ironic because it was such a fertile period of music. My home in a way is post punk and that’s what I feel is the roots of all of my music. Godflesh’s closest relationship genre-wise is with metal, musically speaking. That’s a fact. You take away the guitars from Godflesh and we have no Godflesh, obviously.

You’ve always struck me as a weed guy. Do you drink beer? Do you have an interest in craft beer?
I gave up heavy drinking in the early ’00s. I was the doorstep of alcoholism, without a doubt. In fact, I was an alcoholic. I dropped it all about 11 years ago. But the weed is still copious. It’s funny though—I’m a big cider drinker now. And very specific ciders, like Scandavian ciders. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a beer drinker, just not the beer drinker I was. I like odd ones like cherry-flavored beer. I discovered an odd one in L.A., which was a pretzel-flavored craft beer. I’m quite a fan of that, actually!

What kind of set can we expect at Decibel Metal & Beer Fest: Los Angeles? Like the other U.S. shows? Or have you not made it that far yet in your planning?
I think it’s gonna be somewhat similar. Obviously upon reforming we spent years just doing what people would consider to be classics, like the majority of Streetcleaner—all those key songs. We think that the people that want to see Godflesh have seen enough of that. Of course, we throw in a couple of classics in there, but while time is on our side, we wanted to explore the flip side of that, the more experimental stuff or the more unsung songs that we rarely played live back in the day. I would like to have the set to have a little of everything in away. It’s hard to achieve. I’d like to something from Songs of Love and Hate, a track called “A Gift from Heaven” but it didn’t work live. We’d never played it live before. So, we cut that out. We were doing a couple more songs from Post Self and we cut them out as well. I think I might introduce something else from Songs of Love and Hate and I may introduce something else from Pure, part from the obvious ones that we’ve done to death.

Triptykon are headlining your day of Metal & Beer Fest: L.A., and performing an all-Celtic Frost set. I know Frost were a huge influence on early Napalm Death. Are you planning on sticking around for that set?
I actually had to drop a Godflesh song out of the set that I had to play because it’s one of the blatant Celtic Frost rips outside of the ones that I wrote for [Napalm Death’s] Scum.

Which one is it?
Do you know the Selfless album?

Is it “Anything is Mine”?
[Laughs] Yeah. I would have opened with that, but it’s too fucking much. It would either appear really astute or clever or juts fall flat on its ass. So, I’m gonna have to drop it. But I couldn’t be happier that they’re gonna do Celtic Frost—that’s fucking amazing. Tom G Warrior actually invited Jesu to play an ill-fated Roadburn [that experienced multiple flight cancellations do to the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010] He’s a big Jesu fan. So, we never got the opportunity to actually finally hang out and shoot the shit. So, it’s a great opportunity, really.

What’s the deal with the self-imposed interview blackout?
When we did the A World Lit Only by Fire album, I was like, “right, I’m doing every fucking interview that comes my way.” And it was overload. And even then, I was being somewhat selective. But it was just too much, and I do so many projects as well—and I need to in order to keep everything afloat. Plus, a kid and a family life, which I value. I thought, ‘well, when I do the next album, I’ll take it fucking easy.’ And with that last Godflesh album, Post Self, I really wanted to have the album perceived as something that contains elements of mystique. Everything now is so saturated information-wise, I wanted to take away everything being so fucking explained, validated and justified and fucking and so. It did give listeners a chance to form their own opinion about what you’re trying to achieve, which was something I loved about records in the late ’80s, particularly post-punk albums. Having not context; coming to it completely clean. Everything is so overloaded these days. I just wanted to do the polar opposite and shroud it in mystery.

You record and release your own music via your own label. I know you’ve tour-managed Godflesh in the past. Ever consider taking the next step and booking your own fest?
Yeah, I think what it is, is that I’m probably still waiting for that invitation. I’m all butt-hurt: “When’s somebody gonna ask me to curate a fest?!” [Laughs] Arguably somebody may give me that opportunity at some point. Again, it would be so wide—and not to say that other people don’t curate extremely eclectic festivals—I might not have been invited because I could potentially curate some bill that is unsellable [Laughs]. Or maybe I’m just not that important [Laughs]. Probably a combination of all of those things. Gotta be realistic—I wouldn’t get me to curate an event!