Dealing with names from the Rolling Stones to Seal, and everything in between, Steven Machat has enjoyed a long and influential career within the music business. His book 'Gods, Gangsters and Honour' is an honest account of the ups and downs of his own life, as well as the lives of the clientèle around him. With effortless charisma he updated us on his most recent exploits.
Hi, I'm Lydia.
Oh Lydia, when they first told me I thought they said someone from Libya was calling. We're going to Libya in two weeks to see the oracle, where all the serpent and son of god bullshit began. I'm writing a book about it[…] It's called 'Highway Man'. I mean there is no heaven and hell, we live in heaven, I really believe we do. Religion, these people, make us operate from our minds instead of our hearts – what's true. It's all about mind control. I've done nine-hundred albums…
Well, where are you at the moment?
Just sitting… no, walking around London. I'm with my son Barron, he has his record label 'Hippos in Tanks' – you should check it out.
Keeping it in the family then?
Yeah! Third generation now!
Have you had any repercussions from 'Gods, Gangsters and Honour'?
It's all truth. The people in the book, they see how life sees them and they don't like it. People deny they are part of nature – but we are it. Humans think they can control nature; they can't. The only truth is our art, it's a constant circle. The person in front of me could see me one way, but if you were behind me you might see me differently. Really it's just the lessons I've learnt from dealing with people. I love life.
Bob Daisley recently said about your book, “This is a book the Osbournes would not want people to read; I highly recommend reading it.”
Sharon [Osbourne] tried to stop it twice[…] it's the naked truth. No matter what happens to a person their consciousness is always there. She was nothing to do with Ozzy [Osbourne], she didn't create him, you know? See, Don Arden was partners with Patrick Meehan, Black Sabbath's old manager, until they got rid of him. Then they got rid of Ozzy. Don thought, “Fuck this!” and spent what he had to create Ozzy's success. And he put together a great band [Blizzard of Oz]. I was the middle guy signing all the contracts and deals. She [Sharon] was a mother who nurtured them, but it was all part of the process. In the end they were too greedy, there was no sharing. I'm reading Ozzy's book at the moment, just to compare, and the story is different in there.
With the release of 'Bird on a Wire', are there any other unreleased gems you know people are holding onto?
There's probably tonnes of them, you've just gotta find 'em. People keep things, souvenirs. I did it for love, putting out my father's movie. It's strange, because he's younger then I am now on the film, and my son gets to see him too. We're seeing it tomorrow, it's premièring at Green Man (the independent music festival). Fiona [Steward] (managing director of the event) thinks they'll be about 22, 000 people there. I just worry about the popcorn, in England there's no butter on the popcorn, it's crazy.
Do you think music law is becoming more, or less, complicated?
People wanting to own and control everything, that's what makes it become complicated. It's a conspiracy. Like when I was young copyrights were fifty-six years, now they last for ninety years after death. It's the order of money, and they perpetuate the old. Then you end up with these tasteless shows, American Idol, making millions. Why not let someone say look, I created these new songs, new beats, and present them. I love The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, but you have to give others a chance. Bankers will even get new bands to create what's already created, because it makes money for them, perpetuating the old. Which is why I love the internet, there's no gangster control with it. The church was the first big corporation. That's what humans should do, create and protect something, then if it dies replace it with something new. I want survival of all, not survival of the fittest. Like that bullshit war in Afghanistan and Iran[…] Have you ever been 17, 000 feet high?
No, I can't say I have.
Well I've been 17, 000 feet high, it was over Machu Picchu. It's hard to breathe up there, let alone make love.
Is that what you tried to do while you were up there?
Tried? I have the stamina to be able to do that. See, everyone's stuck on sea level – people live on the hill. They like living up the hill; there doesn't have to be a reason, so just leave them alone. These idiot governments. With music law they want to control what comes from the heart as well as the brain, and they can't. A song has to come from your heart, if it's from your brain it's just dead. Have you seen that High Renaissance Medieval religious art?
Erm yeah, yeah.
Those pictures of Jesus – they're propaganda. They paid Michelangelo to do that, he didn't choose to, if he hadn't done it they would've killed him! I mean that guy [Jesus] dies in diapers.
So is there a release date for 'The Highway Man', or are you still writing it?
February. I want people reconnecting with their hearts. There is no Jewish religion or races, they used to have Pharisees – they were like Rabbis[…] Until people turned around and said, “You're full of shit”, and that's all we are today. Like Tony Blair killing all those people, going to war, then he says he's a Catholic!
Maybe he's Catholic because he feels guilty?
Yeah, that's exactly it. He earns, what, £100, 000 a year, and he just gave away five million. Where did he get that money from? Life is funny, that's what I love about it. If more people could have a sense of humour about life we'd be a lot better off.
Are there things you couldn't include in the book?
Some things were too complicated to go in. With Peter Gabriel I set up WOMAD and world music was my ticket to ride. I've been everywhere – it's heaven. This country [England] is the best woman in the world – it has so many moods. Like I woke up this morning and it was seventy-seven degrees, now it's raining, later who knows. I love women.
Which profession would you be in if you weren't in this one?
It would have to be this one. I need human contact, I have to be touched, held. I'm not materialistic, never.
Is there anything exciting, relating to music, that you're currently working on?
Making my son's record label huge ['Hippos in Tanks']. He's got a band called Games, you should look them up, they're really good. Er, and White Car, Pitchfork are going crazy about them.
What is the biggest mistake that musicians make today?
Sell-out. They start to follow instead of lead – if you're not on the right path get off it, follow your heart. The corporations they become part of all want control, the emotion has to come out. Have you read the book ['Gods, Gangsters and Honour']?
Yes, I really liked it.
Secretly, well not really… subliminally there is a message of love in that book. What about the stuff on iTunes?
I think I heard the Michael Jackson one.
Now Michael Jackson, he was manipulated. I manipulated people too, I admit that in the book, but he was crying for help. They didn't listen. He was making them money, so fuck it, let him die. Even more money. You know the lawyer for his insurance company was shot dead? I don't know why he killed himself… he was manipulated.
Thanks for your time.