Two questions to check the all-new, low-simmer Madonna temper gauge:
How did you feel when Liam Prodigy refused to work on your album saying it’d be like “selling our souls to the Devil”.
“Tough luck for him!” she hoots. “He doesn’t know what he’s missing. I think his reactions are typical. Partly it’s because he’s a boy, partly the fact there’s this elitist attitude that a lot of punk rockers or underground, cutting-edge musical groups have, groups who think they are, that they can’t be associated with someone who’s, quote unquote, ‘a pop star’; somehow it’s going to demean what you do. It’s just a very immature response and perspective and I would expect nothing less (grins). it didn’t surprise me and the only unfortunate thing is now I’m constantly asked what I think about it. I’m sure Liam is regretting he ever said it, too, because everyone will be asking him.”
And at the end of the day, you’re still the boss though, right?
“Yeah, but they still do whatever they want.”
You got a live one there, didn’t you?
“Yes. And that’s alright. I still like them! They can say all the bad things they want to say. They’re supposed to say bad things, they’re the Prodigy.”
The Verve, apparently, refused to let you visit them backstage at their New York show because they have no truck with celebrity liggers.
“Actually, I was meant to go and see The Verve but I got really sick and I never went out,” she breetes. “My friend was quite angry with me, actually. So what was that rumour? That they didn’t let the famous people in? Typical.”
I thought you hated rack anyway – haven’t you always said you couldn’t relate to it because it’s “too male”?
“Well, you may have heard I said it, but I don’t think I said it,” she snorts. “I have always been more interested in dance, funk, R&B and hip-hop, that’s more my area of expertise, but I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin and there’s a lot of rock music that i really like.”
Ver bleedin’ ZEPPELIN? YOU?
“Well, yeah!” she booms, “and as soon as I heard The Verve’s album I went ballistic. I think I played ‘Bitter Sweet Simphony’ so much I made poor William Orbit puke at one point. Then everyone else discovered them and I couldn’t bear to listen to them any more. That always happens, doesn’t it? You really like something and it becomes really popular and you’re like, ‘Uch! I just wanted to have them all by myself! they’re my band!”
It’s getting worse by the second, Madonna, it’s turning out, is the sort of indie sadster who’d write in to Angst.
Sometimes Madonna can stand outside herself and see her own fame as a detached entity. She once said it’s like a great big huge pet she carries around with her everywhere but doubt it’s like Jimmy Stewart’s Harvey.
“I don’t know if it’s that friendly,” she snorts, “fame is what everyone else puts on you, it’s their own fantasy, nothing to do with me at all. Fascinating, really.”
Yes. For example, I can look at you and say ‘You are Pop Culture Itself’.
I could even say you are the late-20th century.
“Mmmmn.” (Rueful grin)
And it would be true.
Well, that’s bonkers.
“Mnihahahahah!” honks Madonna. “Well that’s a nice word. Bonkers. Well it is. It’s very big and it’s very small. That’s what ‘Ray Of Light’ is about, the song (possibly the second single, fantastic discotronic anthem of supernatural joyousness), about how small I feel in the big picture, but then how big everything feels, too, and how life seems to be going by faster than the speed of light and yet if you get outside of yourself and become your own witness you can also stop it. I mean, don’t you sometimes stop and go… (lean forward and enguifs leg in arms) don’t you feel hyper aware of who you are in the moment? And then think, ‘God, I’m me inhabiting my flesh and bones, saying my words, breathing the air that I breathe but you’re also outside of it and thinking, ‘But why? Why am I me? Why… why… what is my place here?’ YouknowwhatImean? Well, that happens to me all the time.”
Hmmn. Just as well you’ve never developed an enormous mind-meltin’ drug habit, eh?
“Ah… eheheheh… Yeah, I think it’s best that I didn’t, I must say. I don’t think I would have been around for very long if I did. A couple of cocktails is about all I can handle.”
At this point, Madonna appears to be around 14 years old. it’s bizarre, she seems so lkaate to these ideas, ideas of insignificance and big pictures, the existentialist adolescent lather, ideas which saw, for example, Richard Ashcroft as a very young boy walking around his hometown with his eyebrows twirling uo storm wondering, “Why Wigan? Why Pemberton?? WHY???” Maybe we’re to take her literally; she really has spent a lifetime being far too busy thinking about all that other stuff.
You’re the Henry Rollins of pop, really, aren’t you?
“You’re the second person that’s brought his name up in my interviews here,” she blinks. “Interesting, I know him. He’s really great. Brilliant, actually. His mind works at the speed of light (hears a rattle, becomes distracted). What’s that noise? The spirit of Henry Rollins is in the room! Well, I have been accused of being a workaholic but at least I’m being productive with my madness.”
Henry Rollins admits his work is an emotional cover-up. ‘I do all this work stuff over here… because I don’t want to deal with all this soul stuff over here… ‘cos it’s too painful.’