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Music / Spacemen 3

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Left to right: Pete Kember, Nick Brooker, Pete Bain, Jason Pierce

"Taking drugs to make music to take drugs to."
—Their motto, also the name of a later compilation

Spacemen 3 are the band Jason Pierce was in before he became famous.

Of course, it's a bit more complex than that. Spacemen 3 were an English Alternative Rock/Psychedelic Rock band active between 1982 and 1991. The band had a largely rotating lineup centered around core members Jason "J. Spaceman" Pierce and Peter "Sonic Boom" Kember. Notably enough, its last lineup included future Spiritualized members Will Carruthers, Jonny Mattock and Mark Refoy.

The band was known for its fanatical focus on minimalism and psychedelia, adopting the motto "taking drugs to make music to take drugs to" (later the name of a compilation). Their sound was based around droning guitars, feedback, monotonous rhythms, Creepy Monotone vocals and extended song lengths. Pierce and Kember shared an affinity for Shout Outs to their favourite musicians in both song titles, lyrics and interviews, with names cited as influences including The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, MC5, Captain Beefheart, Kraftwerk, The 13th Floor Elevators, The Electric Prunes, various blues and gospel acts (Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, the Staple Singers and John Lee Hooker) and the production techniques of Joe Meek, Brian Wilson and Delia Derbyshire.


The band disbanded in 1991 amid worsening tensions between Pierce and Kember. Their last album, Recurring, reflected this, with the two sides being recorded by the two separately in different studios. Pierce has since gone on to popularity, acclaim and success with Spiritualized, while Kember founded Spectrum, worked as a producer for acts such as MGMT, Panda Bear and Beach House and did... pretty much fuck all weird drone music with Kevin Shields (as Experimental Audio Research).

Opinions on Spacemen 3 tend to be split a few ways. Either: they are just as good as, better than or worse than Spiritualized. There's also the issue of their love of extreme repetition and long jamming.


  • Sound of Confusion (1986)
  • The Perfect Prescription (1987)
  • Playing with Fire (1989)
  • Dreamweapon (1990)
  • Recurring (1991)
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  • Translucent Flashbacks (1995) (compilation of B-sides and rarities)
  • Singles (1995)


  • Author Appeal: Most of their songs and titles revolve around medication, drugs, various moods and Christian symbolism.
  • Concept Album: the sequence of tracks on The Perfect Prescription trace the trajectory of a trip: excited/nervous anticipation, then from Coming On to Peaking; followed by blissed-out torpor, onset of disconcerting symptoms...and finally, a plea to "Call the Doctor" ("'cause I think I had too much, babe")
  • Cover Version: "Rollercoaster" by The 13th Floor Elevators, "Mary Anne" by Juicy Lucy, "Little Doll" by The Stooges, "Starship" by MC5, "Transparent Radiation" by Red Krayola, "When Tomorrow Hits" by Mudhoney.
  • Distinct Double Album: Thanks to the above-mentioned Creative Differences, their final album Recurring is a Distinct Single Album; each side essentially a Spectrum and a Spiritualized EP respectively.
  • Double Entendre: Non-sexual example with "Hey Man".
    'Ey man, 'eeeey man, 'eeeey maaaan, 'eeey man, 'eeeey maaan...
  • Epic Rocking: "Rollercoaster", "OD Catastrophe", "Rollercoaster", "Transparent Radiation", "Things'll Never Be the Same", "Come Down Easy", "How Does It Feel?", "Suicide", "Big City (Everybody I Know Can Be Found Here)", "Sometimes", "Billy Whizz/Blue 1", "Starship", "Ecstasy Symphony" (the full 9-minute version included on Translucent Flashbacks) and "Transparent Radiation (Flashback)". Taken to its logical conclusion with "An Evening Of Contemporary Sitar Music" on Dreamweapon - a forty-three-minute song consisting of one chord repeating over and over and over and over again.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Original bass player Pete The Bassman Baines.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: "Lord, Can You Hear Me?"
    Lord, help me out
    I'd take my life, but I'm in doubt
    Just where my soul will lie
  • Icarus Allusion: "Walkin' With Jesus"
    Jesus, please meet me at the centre of the Earth
    'Cause these wings are gonna fail me and I could have done me worse
  • Not Christian Rock: Same as with Spiritualized.
  • Redemption Rejection: An amicably mutual example in "Walkin' With Jesus."
    I walk with Jesus and He would say
    "Oh, you poor child, you ain't comin' to Me, no way
    You found heaven on Earth, gonna burn for your sins"
    But I think I'm in good company down here with all my friends
  • Shout-Out:
  • One Chord And The Truth: "Revolution"
    Will Carruthers: "Just play one note," Sonic had advised us as we travelled down to the M1. "Keep it simple. One note. No fancy stuff." By "fancy stuff" he meant two notes.
  • Watch It Stoned
  • Word Salad Titles: Frequently, with probably the best example being "Feelin' Just Fine (Head Full of Shit)".


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