The Third Eye Foundation - an interview with Matt Elliot
by Jake Hayes
note: this interview is mirrored here, with Jake's permission, from the original on the Pop Riot site.
It's a cool site, so pay a visit.


In the current hierarchy of Bristol bands, the third Eye foundation form an uneasy link between the muggy trip schlock of Tricky and the bald beats of Roni Size. Over the course of 5 albums, Matt Elliot (Bristol's Sly Stone) has carved out his own unique niche, aping Jungle rhythms and twisting the trip hop template further than any of Bristol’s more famous sons dared.

His work reached a crescendo with the release of ‘Little lost soul’ on Domino records earlier this year. You’ll already have heard some snippets from the album as they make up the audio background to Pop Riot. It’s seriously disconcerting listening, depending on your mood it’s both unsettling and pure catharsis for the ears.

You might expect the creator of such envelope pushing avant-pop to be a po-faced Indie bore, but there is a huge element of humour and self-depreciation in both the music and its artwork. From inspired song titles: ‘In Bristol with a Pistol’ and ‘You’ve lost that loving feline’ to the cheeky cover star of ‘You guys kill me’ - Jesus Christ.

Jake Hayes met up with Matt to find out where he was planning to take the Third eye foundation next

What was going through your mind when you made ‘Little lost soul?’
When I first started, I wanted to make something along the lines of Joy Division, nobody seemed to be making miserable music anymore. And I think, with that album it’s as close as I could have got. But now I’m thinking, no one wants to listen to miserable music, including myself, I listen to happy music. So I’m re-evaluating all of that.

It’s funny that you should say that, because there’s a lot of miserable music about again, people like Coldplay and Radiohead.
But its sort of Tesco’s miserable, nicely packaged miserable. I mean you take that ‘Yellow’ song, what the fuck is that about? If you listen to it on a very surface level, the chords they choose are sad, but there’s no real message in there. The only difference with me is I’m at least being honest, there’s no lyrics there to pinpoint the misery. It’s just a general sort of sadness.

I also got the feeling with this album that you’d reached a full stop. It really works as a cohesive whole without referring to anything else.
I just threw all that away. I mean with You guys kill me, I was really trying to go for that weird Trip-hop thing, and that was the worst selling album of all of them – weirdly, because I think that was the most commercial.

What are you listening to at the moment if it’s not Joy division any more?
P-Funk, almost exclusively, a bit of Rocksteady. I’m really into positive music. When you listen to a Funkadelic album from the 70’s it’s such a different concept to the way music’s made now. Take that Coldplay album, it might not sound like it, but a lot of it’s sequenced. It’s just a standard way of producing and engineering now – it’s all done on pro-tools. You can almost hear the numbers in it.

But you work in a record shop, you must be impressed by some contemporary stuff.
The only thing I’ve heard recently that I’ve got a lot of respect for is D’angelo’s ‘Voodoo.’ He spent 5 years making it, and you can actually hear that he spent 5 years making it, because every little part is so beautifully constructed. He’s obviously a man on a mission and he saw it through. That’s kind of what I wanna do on the next record. It’s going to take more time, and I’m going to put the hours in.

You are Bristol based, do you get frustrated by the pigeon-holing that comes with the territory?
Most people ask me the question, are you really upset because Massive and Portishead are famous and I’m not? But I’m not pissed off at all. They make pop music, I don’t – I’d like to, but I don’t – and they’ve changed pop music forever. I’ve got the utmost respect for them, especially Tricky; he really pushed Pop music to its limits.

But you do work within a musical sphere yourself; there are bands you’ve collaborated with, like Movietone, Crescent and Flying Saucer attack.
Yeah. Unfortunately most of the bands I’ve worked with I end up falling out with. The problem with a lot of them is that once they’ve made a record they end up turning into these funny people who assume they’re better than the rest of the world. Movietone are these lo-fi post-rockers who feel because they’re in this ‘Jazz’ field they’re better than Massive Attack. But I don’t want to bitch too much, ‘cos I can bitch.

Let’s not. More positively, we were talking before the interview about Chris Morris, the man behind Jam and Brass eye. Is he a great influence?
A massive influence. It’s just that we share a common goal in that if you can’t do anything about the things you hate, then just attack them in a really vicious way. We’ve got a very similar sense of humour. I think he’s just about the funniest man that’s ever existed, and he’s used my music on his series Jam, which is just about the biggest compliment you could ever give to me, so I’m happy.

This is a dirty word in Bristol, but any ambitions?
Not really, the only ambition I’ve got is to have a lovely child, which hopefully I will be. Ever since I’ve had the ‘rock ‘n roll lifestyle’ of touring around and being busy, all I’ve wanted is a normal life. It seems weird, because most people sit working in a record shop thinking, "god I’d love to be a famous musician." I did completely the opposite, and I’m looking forward muchly to having a little kid, who I can show the world and the way that I see it.