Were you surprised by how much ‘All My Friends’ resonated emotionally with people?
JM: After ‘Losing My Edge’, very little surprises me because that was the surprise of my life. Nothing will ever be strange again because the experience of doing ‘Losing My Edge’ and suddenly not being an invisible person was so immense. ‘All My Friends’ woke me up to something else. I didn’t realize what emotional impact melody has on people. I always think about lyrics and what they actually mean and then I realised the energy I respond to physically people respond to emotionally. ‘Transmission’ is my favourite Joy Division song because of the way it arcs and arcs and arcs and at the end he’s screaming the same thing. And all he’s saying is ‘Dance to the radio!’ and I just want to cry. I never really considered what the song is about – it’s just an object. I think about songs in terms of them just being objects and not things that are about something else.
Is that why you’ve never explained what ‘Someone Great’ is about?
JM: I just think it’s unnecessary because it’s personal. Songs are songs and to reduce them is to waste them. If I wanted to make something about something I would write an essay. But even within an essay you want there to be an objectness to it. It would be great to have an essay that has language that sonically is beautiful. I always hated poetry because I felt like it seemed like a waste of an opportunity. To hide that in prose seemed more interesting — to try to get away with that density of meaning without being like, ‘Hello! Density of meaning!’, which made me want to fucking die. [Hushed, pretentious voice] Because then/People would read them/In this voice/That was reserved/For poems/And I felt/That I should kill them/Today/Tomorrow. Whereas nobody will do a better job than ‘Drive to the forest in a Japanese car/The smell of rubber on concrete tar/Hindsight does me no good/Standing naked in the back of the woods/The cassette plays Poptones.’ It’s amazing! It’s perfect. Or ‘Loose’. Iggy could be yelling anything, John Lydon could be whispering anything, but the fact that there’s also all these dense things is kind of incredible.