Anton Newcombe

Anton Alfred Newcombe (born August 29, 1967, Newport Beach, California) is a singer-songwriter, musician, multi-instrumentalist and founder, lead singer, guitarist, and head of the neo-psychedelic rock band, The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Early life

Anton Newcombe was born to Patsy Latschea and Robert Newcombe. According to his mother, he was often in trouble with the law as an adolescent for offenses such as curfew violation and growing and smoking marijuana. His father (an alcoholic later diagnosed with schizophrenia) abandoned him and his mother when he was young. Anton has stated his mother was emotionally distant. He later recounted this in his song "The Devil May Care (Mom & Dad Don't)", which he has attested is autobiographical. Anton's father took his own life in 2002, on his son's birthday, shortly after doing an on-camera interview for the documentary film, DiG!


A multi-instrumentalist, Newcombe claims to play over 80 musical instruments. Instruments that he has been credited as playing on albums or has been observed to play are the guitar, bass guitar, upright bass, sitar, tambura, moog synthesizer, mellotron, piano, accordion, organ, drums, cello, koto, samisen, mandolin, lute, hurdy-gurdy, bagpipes, and harmonica. Newcombe writes most of The Brian Jonestown Massacre's songs, though until the departure of band member Matt Hollywood, some of the band's songs were Hollywood's compositions. Newcombe is also heavily involved in post-production of his albums, often engineering and mixing them on his own. A prolific artist, he authored over 150 songs in a fifteen year period. He founded The Brian Jonestown Massacre in San Francisco, California, in 1990. Core members in the early years of the band were Matt Hollywood, Jeffrey Davies, Joel Gion, Travis Threlkel, Patrick Straczek, Ricky Maymi, Brian Glaze, Mike Whitemann, Mike Sharperson and Dean Taylor, though the line up was subject to frequent changes. The Brian Jonestown Massacre broke-up in 1997 due to differing views and Anton's legendary fights with members of the band/audience. He now claims that he has been sober since 1999, and has been touring the world with a new group of musicians under the same moniker, The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Newcombe has also worked with fellow 1960s revivalist bands, most notably The Dandy Warhols, The High Dials, The Manvils, Innaway, and The Quarter After. He also recorded and produced the indie rock group Dead Meadow's album Got Live if You Want It.

He has cited as some of his musical influences The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Elvis, Donovan, The Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel, The Smiths, My Bloody Valentine and Elliott Smith. He is known for his eclectic musical tastes, and reportedly has a vast collection of world music, including Indian, Arabic, and Spanish.

The Committee to Keep Music Evil

Newcombe founded his own record label which has released albums by The Brian Jonestown Massacre (Bravery, Repetition and Noise and the re-release of Spacegirl and Other Favourites), The Lovetones (Be What You Want), and Dead Meadow (Got Live if You Want It). According to the official website, the purpose of the label is to "...release BJM music not available through other channels, and to record new bands which we will be producing from time to time, while pursuing the goal of making the world unsafe for rock and roll". Many of the releases on this label are produced or engineered by Rob Campanella.

Eccentric behavior

Newcombe generally wears outfits evocative of the late 1960s and early 1970s, or other idiosyncratic garb, such as a cowboy outfit or serape. He admittedly has a very clear idea of how he wants his music to sound and is generally not receptive to input from other band members, which has led to friction with his bandmates in the past. "I don't want to compromise...people [other musicians] want to throw in something quirky. It becomes a train wreck."

Controversy and conflicts with other artists

He is known for his somewhat volatile personality. At a show at the Viper Room in 1996, he became involved in a fist-fight on stage with his own band. As several music industry representatives were in attendance, many people feel this incident resulted in him not being signed to a major label (in this case, Elektra Records). In an incident made famous in the 2004 Ondi Timoner documentary DiG!, he kicked a scornful audience member in the head, resulting in his arrest for assault. Newcombe himself is critical of the film DiG!, calling it "at best, a series of punch-ups and mishaps taken out of context, and at worst, bald-faced lies and misrepresentation of fact." He is quite frank with his opinions on other musicians. During Lollapalooza 2005, he mocked and insulted Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional, whom he called "The poster child for legalized abortion". In a statement to Entertainment Weekly, he dismissed the legacy of Eric Clapton in rock music, and referred to the 1991 incident where Clapton's 4-year old son fell to his death: "People talk about Eric Clapton. What has he ever done except throw his baby off a fucking ledge and write a song about it?"

Personal life

Newcombe has one child, a son (Hermann Oliver Vessey), by the actress Tricia Vessey (Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Coming Soon).


External links

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