Beck: Menial labour, Scientology and escaping slackerdom

DU-ZGj5VoAASn2WKate Mossman at The Guardian:

Beck once complained that the image had him written off as a clown. Slackers became hackers, became those Silicon Valley technology nerds of indeterminate age, wearing board shorts and running Google. At 23, he had an unusually forthright clause written into his record contract with Geffen, ensuring he could make as many side projects for independent labels as he wished. “For me it was just an insurance policy,” he says. He recalls that when he finished his best-selling album Odelay: “No one at the label called me to say, ‘We are so excited to be working on this, you did a great job.’ It did well, but that was a shock to everybody.”

His words call to mind what Richard Linklater said when asked what a slacker meant to him. “Someone who’s trying to live an interesting life, doing what they want to do, and if that takes time to find, so be it.”

Perhaps to show the industry that he was not a one-hit wonder, Beck did experimental versions of “Loser”, and worked extended jazz breaks into his set. He smashed instruments on stage, set things on fire, and once employed a leaf blower.

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