What were you listening to around the time you wrote the album?
The punk thing was a massive influence on the Mary Chain. After that, we got seriously into the Velvets and the Stooges. We weren’t very into what was going on in music in the Eighties. The bands that didn’t make us want to puke back then were the likes of the Birthday Party or Echo and the Bunnymen. Actually, it was the crap coming out of the radio that made us want to be in a band more than anything else, because it was like, “Why is everything we hear so fucking awful?” That was the main driving force: how bad things were.
What crap, specifically, pissed you off?
The NME had been like a bible to us through the whole punk scene, and I remember buying an issue and Kid Creole and the Coconuts were on the cover [laughs]. I remember just thinking, “This is fucking… This is wrong! What is going on?” And it would be all sorts of New Romantics and all sorts of drivel like that. We just thought, “Somehow things had taken a wrong turn and it’s up to us to reverse this.”
That’s a big cross to bear.
Well, I think we made a difference.
“We wanted a fucked-up, distorted sound.”
Is it true that Einstürzende Neubauten were an influence, too?
Yeah. It was amazing that they could make records by using stuff like road drills and chainsaws on old washing machines. In some ways, our attitude towards playing guitar was a bit like that. When we started the band, we could barely play and in some ways you use the guitar in a more interesting way because when you don’t know how to play it, you make noise rather than music.
Psychocandy has a nasty guitar sound. How much of that was invented in the studio?
That was just chaos. It just suggested itself. We wanted the guitars to be as out there as possible. We wanted a fucked-up, distorted sound, and we had these pedals that we used. They did most of the work themselves. You just plugged them in, and they started screeching like you wouldn’t believe. That was the sound.
But the echoey reverb surrounding the guitar is such an important part of that sound, too.
Reverb is one of those things that, when you’re not used to making records, seems like the thing you use when you’ve not got loads of studio experience. I suppose we were into Sixties bands – like Sixties girl bands, and all that – and that’s kinda where all that came from.
Is that girl-group influence the reason why you put the “Be My Baby” beat in “Just Like Honey” and “Sowing Seeds”?
Well, the weird thing is that that wasn’t actually a conscious decision. It never occurred to us until after we made that record and people pointed it out. It just seemed like the beat that set the song at the time so…
It was subconscious?
I guess it must’ve been somehow. There was no point where someone said, “Hey, why don’t we use that drumbeat from ‘Be My Baby’?” It just didn’t happen that way.
The lyrics to “Just Like Honey” revolve around a beehive, and there’s a lyric on “Cut Dead” about chasing honeybees. What was with all the bees at the time?
Oh, Christ. I don’t know [laughs]. That’s just such a long time ago to remember why those lyrics came about.