John Cale
Fear Is A Man's Best Friend - John Cale


Uncut interview 1999

Questions by Allan Jones published to coincide with "WHAT'S WELSH FOR ZEN", originally published in Uncut, 1999.

Did you ever resent your talent?

CALE: That's a tough call and an interesting question. To say that you resent it, implies that you had a choice. To me, my talent was a way to get out of Wales, that was gold in the bank. When things come to you so easily at a young age- compostion, improvisation, going to Goldsmiths, getting a scholarship to America- you're in awe of yourself. You start to think, "Can it really be this easy?". And then you spend years just trying to find out, "Is it true that it really is this easy?". And you find different ways of finding out if it's true and you get paranoid about it and then the minute you admit that it's true, then things are a lot easier

Do you feel comfortable now with your talent?

CALE: Yes, I try to use it as best i can. I don't question it as much.

How do you feel as a clean and sober person mentally and socially?

CALE: I kind of knew that once I stopped I wouldn't have any friends because I didn't have any friends then. What did I have? A bunch of people i'd get high with. So you have to suddenly redevelop and redefine yourself.

How did it affect your creativity? you say in the book that drugs helped you work?

CALE: Didn't do anything. One day it dawned on me: you've got a job to do, are you going to do it or fuck around?

How do you deal with the temptation to drink again and how often does it crop up?

CALE: It never does. I just think of the headaches and all the sugar content going into your blood and what it does to your metabolism. I don't have the time to think about it.

What does a typical john cale day involve?

CALE: I work on music in the morning, then go to the gym, then work on the music some more, then go to the cinema or something. I've never felt better about things and this state of mind is coming through in both my life and my work.

Of all the records you've made, what's your personal favourite?

CALE: "Walking on Locusts". Because I don't know how that one came together. It was such a relief to work on it at home and treat it as a job and get it done. There was no wrangling about what the hell it was going to be about. And the way "Some Friends" came about was magical. It was a wild card. By the time we finished it in the morning, that was something that stuck in my mind for some time. There were a lot of little elements on it that were really interesting.

© 1999- Hans Werksman