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The Aliens in London in 2006

The Aliens Best of the Decade Artist Survey

Robin Jones and John Maclean

Dec 11, 2009 Photography by Derrick Santini The Aliens
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Under the Radar’s Best of the Decade/Year-End Issue features our Best of the Decade Artist Survey. For Under the Radar’s 7th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the last decade and asked them for a list of their best albums of the decade. Some of the surveys didn’t make it in the issue and some answers from surveys that did make it in the issue had to be trimmed for space. Those surveys and answers are posted on our website. Pick up our Best of the Decade/Year-End Issue to read surveys from Camera Obscura, The Dodos, El Perro Del Mar, Final Fantasy, The Hidden Cameras, The Horrors, The Invisible, Ladytron, Sondre Lerche, Jamie Lidell, Loney Dear, Los Campesinos!, Mew, Midlake, Okkervil River, Stars, Telekinesis, The Twilight Sad, and Vivian Girls.

Top Ten Albums of the Decade

John Maclean:

1. Outkast: Stankonia—For its inventiveness and balls to go against bling-led hip-hop.
2. Queens of the Stone Age: Rated R—I thought this album owed more to the melodies of The Beatles than to alt guitar hard rock.
3. The Beta Band: Hot Shots II—A real effort to mix guitar songs with electronics without ending up sounding like Nerd. [Ed. Note: John Maclean and Robin Jones were both in The Beta Band.]
4. Johnny Cash: American IV: The Man Comes Around—Hard to choose between the American Recordings, but this for “Hurt” alone.
5. Missy Elliott: Miss E… So Addictive—For inventing a brand new sound with “Get Ur Freak On.”
6. Ghostface Killah: Supreme Clientele—Just because I can’t choose a Wu Tang album from the ‘90s.
7. Daft Punk: Discovery—Not quite as good as Homework, but a sampling heavy chunkfest all the same.
8. Eminem: The Marshall Mathers LP—The best hip-hop lyricist of the decade at the top of his game.
9. Clipse: Hell Hath No Fury—Ignored classics such as “Ain’t Cha.” I never tire of this album.
10. The Aliens: Luna—Close to realizing our vision.

What was the high point of the last decade for you, personally?
John: Touring the U.S. with Radiohead [as part of The Beta Band] was fantastic, a definite highlight.

What was the low point of the last decade for you, personally?

John: Would involve the words-girl, break up, long-term relationship.

What are your hopes and plans for the next decade?
John: To make glorious music with The Aliens and to make films.

Which artist and their music do you think most defines the last decade and why?
John: Very tricky question, The Neptunes, for having so many of their productions in the charts, yet still sounding experimental (most of the time).

Which musical trend or scene from the last decade do you feel was most overrated/overhyped? Which one was most underrated/under-hyped?
John: Overrated-the return of over-fashion skinny jeaned, “my girlfriend left me in a nightclub” type lyrics music, and Kings of Leon. Underrated-The Aliens: Luna album.

Do you think what is considered “indie rock” is different than it was when the decade started? With the commercial strides made in the past decade, how do you think the definition of “indie” rock has changed?
John: I think fashion got its teeth into indie-rock and created style over substance “Top-Shop-rockers.”

What big issues and challenges do you foresee musicians and the music industry facing in the next decade?

John: Well, still how a band like us can work on an album for a whole year, spending our own money making it, for someone to download it for free. It’s just not fair, and the industry won’t have the answer, at least until the film industry joins the fight.

Which political and societal change/development from the last decade most concerns you? Which one most gives you hope?
John: The rise of religious fundamentalism all over the world is very concerning, but Obama gives me hope.

What are your thoughts on President Obama’s job performance thus far?
John: Great, shame things could not move quicker and more radically, but he has definitely stopped the rot created by Bush. The Afghan war should have been ended by Obama. It’s a tragedy.
Robin Jones: Not clear what he has performed thus far—but I feel he exudes calm, confidence, has style and belief. He inspires loyalty. Whether I agree with his direction or not is irrelevant: he appears rational-important quality in a leader, I feel.

What are your thoughts on the healthcare debate and what would your preferred eventual outcome be?
John: Free healthcare for all, the NHS in the U.K. is pretty good.
Robin: What is the debate? If it be: should healthcare in the U.S. be available and affordable to all; neigh government subsidized or sponsored? Then of course—as my good friend who recently emigrated continually points out—much as we bemoan the state of the National Health Service in this country, we should be proud to have it. Imagine a supposedly advanced country where requiring healthcare you were denied because you couldn’t afford it. Rude. Absurd. Wrong.

Which global issue (or issue within your own country) would you most like to see resolved by 2020?
John: Homelessness—how can people still be homeless is this day and age?
Robin: It would be nice if farmers here (in the U.K.) were encouraged to produce for local and national outlets rather than be paid to do nothing. It would be nice if the moon were made of cheese.

How do you think you’ll describe the last decade to your children, grandchildren, or other young people in the future?
John: Revolutionary in technology—the end of developing photos, buying CD’s, Facebook, Mac Book Pro, Final Cut Editing, Pro-Tools.

What was your life like in January 2000 and how has your life most changed since then?
John: The Beta Band were riding high, the music industry was funding our creative fancies, no matter how ridiculous. The industry now is unrecognizable.
Robin: In January 2000 I was sleeping on a huge pile of money with many beautiful women. Today I live in a cave plagued by vermin. How can you hope to strike a balance without contrast?

How are you most like your parents? How are you least like them? John: Most like—arty, least like—I don’t know, because I am quite like my parents. Robin: I have my mother’s wit and my father’s huge eyebrows. Unlike them I chose to not get a proper job.

What were some of your favorites of the last decade in terms of movies, TV shows (which ones did you watch most religiously), books, comic books, websites/blogs, and video games?
John: U.S. TV—The Wire, The Shield, The Sopranos, Generation Kill, Curb your Enthusiasm, etc.
Robin: The Shield, The Wire, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Summer Heights High, Sling Blade, Grand Theft Auto, The Office, Office Space, Story of Anvil, and a million other popular choices that I distinctly remember thinking: remember to remember this because someone might ask you what you thought was good sometime. My memory fails me.

Which technological advancement from the last decade are you most surprised that you previously lived without?
Robin: It was only recently that I stumbled upon that enlightened piece of kit be known as: The Grubbing Mattock. Somewhere between pick and shovel a heavy duty hickory shaft leads to the perpendicular mattock—a highly effective tapered, narrow, spade-like, hacking and delving implement splendid for ‘grubbing’ through soil, but wait, rotate it but 180 degrees, and there incorporated is a toughened steel axe-type wedge ideal for splitting rocks or singing through tree roots. Great days.

Where (which city) and how did you celebrate December 31, 1999 and January 1, 2000? Did you make any preparations for the Y2K threat? Do you already have plans for New Year’s Eve 2009?
Robin: I was in the city of Carlops (just outside of Edinburgh). A fantastic evening involving witches, tartan, sambuca, and friends—only slightly marred by the failure of the Y2K catastrophe to materialize, and later by my failure to go to sleep. Same again this year then.

Name five things that you’d put in a time capsule to represent this decade, one to be opened in a 100 years.
Robin: A mummified lamb, an iPod, a Tesco bag, a huge wind turbine, and Simon Cowell. The archaeologists I’m sure will make sense of it.



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