Beck has been making the press rounds in support of his new album Hyperspace: asserting that he’s not actually a Scientologist, sharing fun tidbits from the ’90s involving Aphex Twin and Dumb & Dumber, that sort of thing. Now, his run through the interview circuit has taken a depressing turn.
Talking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Beck speculates that entire unreleased albums of his music were destroyed in the 2008 fire at the Universal Studios backlot that incinerated masters belonging to hundreds of artists. It’s already been confirmed that Beck lost music in the blaze, but he now says his management won’t tell him which of his recordings burned up: “I have a feeling that my management is not telling me because they can’t bear to break the news.”
Among the projects Beck believes are gone forever: a two-disc collection of Hank Williams covers from 2001, another full album he made with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in 1995, an early ’90s attempt at the reigning indie-rock sound of the era, a country album he recorded in two days in Nashville while on tour, and a collection of outtakes from 2002’s sad-bastard masterpiece Sea Change. “An album like Sea Change, there are completely different versions of songs and then there’s probably another 10 to 20 songs that aren’t on the record that [were] in progress; things that I thought I would finish later,” Beck says. “It wasn’t that they were bad songs, they just didn’t fit the mood of the album.”
As for the Williams covers: “In 2001, I went into Sunset Sound [in Los Angeles] and I recorded 25 Hank Williams songs for a double album, just solo. I wanted to celebrate that influence in my music and explore it, and I don’t have a copy of that; it’s on a master tape, so that’s probably gone.” And the indie record? “I have rock albums I did in the 1990s. Before I did Odelay, I went and tried to make an indie-rock album, so there’s an album that sounds like a Pavement, Sebadoh kind of thing. … Nobody’s telling us anything.”
So, that sucks! Now imagine how many other similar stories exist, and try not to cry.