Fresh off their November Bringing It All Back Home Tour of the U.K., Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros are heading into the studio to record their third album. The follow-up to 2001's Global a Go-Go is due out in the spring.
During the last tour, the former Clash frontman and his band road-tested new tracks like "Dakar Meantime" and "Coma Girl," and revisited Clash favorites like "Rudie Can't Fail" and "(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais." "The idea is to go all around the island and bash the new tunes out and kick them into shape," Strummer says. "There's nothing better for a tune, 'cause you can change it night by night. You say, 'That bit sounded boring -- get rid of it.' And after you play ten dates, it's a lean, muscular animal."
The Mescaleros' November 15th gig at London Acton Town Hall featured a special surprise -- fellow Clash guitarist/singer/songwriter Mick Jones took the stage with Strummer for the the first time in nearly twenty years to perform the Clash's "Bankrobber," "White Riot" and "London's Burning." Strummer had kicked Jones out of the band in 1983, after a tumultuous five years together.
"You sort of grow up and stop grousing," Strummer says of his relationship with Jones now. "You bury the hatchet, or you just sort of forget what the hatchet was."
A full Clash reunion may be in store for March 10th, when the Clash -- along with the Police, AC/DC, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, and the Righteous Brothers -- are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in New York. Strummer is not yet sure they'll play, but says if they do, expect to hear "White Riot."
As for his take on why the Clash ceased to exist all those years ago: "Maybe we said all we needed to say in a five-year blast. We put out sixteen sides of vinyl in five years. Maybe we could have strung that out over twenty years -- and we'd be on the fifth side of Sandinista! right now."
Instead, right now, Strummer's top priority is on the Mescaleros and getting the new batch of songs on tape while they're still in shape. "We've gotta record them straight away -- bang into the studio and knock them down," he says. "Remember: Musicians memories are very short."