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The Celibate Rifles.

The Celibate RiflesAfter 24 years of banging it out, The Celibate Rifles have released their fifteenth album, 'Beyond Respect' and are touring nationally. Vocalist Damien Lovelock remains at the core of the band, along with guitarists Kent Steedman and David Morris, while the rhythm section has rotated once again. The journey to this new album wasn't all easy: while it's still the same band the modus operandi has changed.

"It's like everything when you go from being a full-time band to a part-time band, you've got to juggle things," remarks Lovelock. "We haven't recorded for over three years and we haven't played for a year. Everybody has wives, kids, mortgages, jobs, other musical projects, but mostly reality. It's one thing doing for yourself, it's another thing for three or four mouths: you don't have the luxury of three months of living cheap and then back again.

"If you want the hardcore Marxist analysis, we're victims of structural determinism in its crudest form. But also, you have the life you choose. I can remember people saying that the whole music bubble was bursting in the mid 'eighties and it did for most people but not for us. That was our best period so we've always been so out of step with not only public opinion and what's popular but what the fuck's going on in our own industry. When everyone else was doing it hard we were killing it."

Initially using the word "horrible" to sum up the journey of creating the most recent album, Lovelock points out that the previous album, 'A Mid-Stream Of Consciousness' wasn't so easy either, yet still very much worth the journey. "To my ears, '...Mid-Stream...' is one of the best, if not the best record we ever made. I felt we finally got to make a record that covered all of the landscape that is the 'Rifles so I'm very happy with that. No-one expected that record to come out and when it came out most people's first reaction was, 'I didn't know you guys were still going,' that's how invisible we'd been."

'Beyond Respect' has been well received. "Most reviewers have said they are amazed by how good it is. They always approach bands from another time, especially if they like them, with a sort of trepidation when the new one lands on the desk. It's like 'oh God, is this gonna be the one where they embarrass themselves?' But so far we've avoided that and that's nice."

Rifles fans who are familiar with Thank You America from the bands second and self-titled album might hear a connection with 'Beyond Respect''s Salute: the poetry of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. "I always thought it was an incredible achievement that Ferlinghetti's poem sounded so current 20 years after it had been written," Lovelock explains. "I actually wrote a set of lyrics for[the song] and I went in to cut the vocal and without having even sung it I just said 'you know what...?' I dug out this Ferlinghetti book again and said 'I just wanna try something, just tell me what you think' and [producer Rick O'Neil] loved it. It sounds like it was written yesterday. It's one of those poems that once you read it you think 'why would I bother writing anything fresh about war when there is this perfect piece of work?'"

Having roots in the punk and independent movement of the late 1970s The Celibate Rifles have had to endure at least a few claims that punk was making its return along with the coming and going of so many other musical moments. So does the changing mood and fickleness of the industry ever get annoying?

"The only time it bothered me was in the early 'nineties, when that whole Nirvana-independent thing really hit. All these people who had been slagging us off for making, and the word they used to use was 'grungy,' sounding records were now worshipping at the altar because it was quite clear the cash cow had arrived and whoever was on that band wagon was gonna make money," he snarls. "But whenever there's a new thing they don't want any old stuff, they don't want someone like us, so that I must say that pissed me off. But, you know, eventually you just think 'big fuckin' deal, who said you had to be here...' The main thing is I'm glad people listen to music, that's the main thing."

The Celibate Rifles play Fowlers Live Fri 24 Sept. 'Beyond Respect' is out now.

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