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Même s’il joue assis, Matt Elliott est un homme debout. Il appelle à une reconquête de la liberté largement confisquée ces temps-ci au fil de chansons sans frontières qui empruntent aux folk songs de différents coins de l’Europe. Les chansons s’achèvent souvent en tempête. Son dernier album ne s’appelle pas Howling Songs par hasard, il y ferraille avec détermination pour réveiller les consciences endormies. Les cris pour dire et redire l’essentiel, que le monde a les moyens d’être moins désolant, et le rappel indispensable de quelques vérités limpides, exigence et honnêteté avant tout, ferments d’un monde plus juste.

What’s your favourite revolutionary song?

My favourite political song is by Woody Guthrie, I’ve Got To Know. It’s at the end of Bob Roberts, the movie. It’s a really fantastic song, It’s so great that I’m going to do a cover version of it for a website soon.

There are some Mexican songs too but I don’t really understand the lyrics. I don’t speak Spanish. Paco Ibanez is strong politically and sings some really wonderful songs, he is  the last of a generation of true artists.

What’s your favourite period of history?

I like the turn of the 19th / 20th  century, it was a very exciting time politically and socially. People were really talking about, thinking about the best way for society. It’s something that we have lost. After the Second World War of course people just wanted some stability and they settled for anything. After World War II there were very good social things, National Health Service in England, social things but it eroded and eroded to the point where people don’t understand the function of what a governement should do, which is to make things good for people. They shouldn’t control, shouldn’t tell them what to do but they should make things easier for whatever people want to do with their lives.

In my opinion, the government should be there to support, to supply free energy and good drinking water. All of the infrastructure should be owned by the government, the roads should be maintainted by the government. That’s why we pay taxes. Now we have companies in between, road toll companies… As you pay taxes you pay the government to do a job and they stopped doing it. They do it less and less and it takes the piss now and it’s really time… We need something to take over. We need to discuss things.

That’s why I like the turn of the century. Because people would discuss things. This is how communism, marxism or even fascism were born. Of course there were some dreadful mistakes. Of course people are very susceptible to corruption. Of course fascism will never work. Of course I am not defending it, it was hideous and evil. But you can argue that at least, rightly or wrongly, people were trying to do something good for society. They were trying to move forward.

In any new system, we need to build in something to stop corruption. After recognising corruption is a normal human trait, sadly, we need more laws for these people. We don’t need more laws for us. We don’t need more cameras watching us. We need to watch the people that are making the decisions. Anyone in a position of authority, they are answerable to us, not the other way round. We have moved further and further and further away from this idea now. I think it’s time to restart discussing things.

Things have moved on since the last century. There are many things that we can use to help every single person in the world. Every single person in the world shouldn’t just have basic humans rights, not just a rudimentary shelter, but  a meaningful existence, spending their time discovering who they are and their relation to the world, In a well run world, people will get support to start a new business for example, to do whatever they want or whatever their calling. If they want to be a dancer, be a dancer. But this system works the other way round, it beats us into surrender so we squander our lives and settle for less

It’s a ridiculous situation that we’re living in now. So much energy and money are wasted. We pay for the chauffeur for the limousine of Sarkozy. This is not why we pay taxes. We pay taxes for service. They are not providing a good service and there is no other option! So I think it is really time to come up with a viable alternative which is neither communism nor fascism nor capitalism but something else.

We should really rethink what the duties of the government are, not our duties to them or to society, their duty to us. This is the most important thing.

I was really pessimistic about politics and everything. My optimism has grown a bit. There are small movements on the internet. People are talking, people are getting pissed off, people are rioting in Greece. « They » are so afraid that it comes here they black out on the press. This shows that they are frightened, they are really terrified that something is gonna kick off. Once the middle class lose their homes and lose their jobs, that is when shit is gonna change.

All leaders are driving under bulletproof cars. Why on earth do they have to erect five meter fences and have thousands and thousands of police - which we pay for. They don’t ask themselves the question « Why do people hate us so much? ». And the reason why is that they are working for themselves and their fucking friends & business partners. They are not working for us.

If you were given some time on the radio every morning, what would you tell people?

Well the first thing to remember is that you’re gonna fucking die and so, live! That’s the most important thing.

If you could spend one day in somebody else’s shoes, who would you choose?

I don’t know because I’m quite happy with my life. I really have a good life and everything is nice for me so… ok… if I could be somebody I would be Obama and I would open all the CIA files.

I would present them to the public in one great big thing and say «  This is what has been going on for the last sixty years. This is what the CIA has actually been doing, which include the assassination of JFK, the September 11 attacks and the London attacks (not to mention Nicaragua etc etc etc etc etc spending taxpayers money to install dictators and assassinate any leaders of foreign countries who are not open to their corruption)» as far as I believe, in my opinion, from the research that I have found. I would really explain to the American people what their governement - which again they pay for - have done to them. That would blow everything open quite literally because I think if people really understood, if it was actually explained to them, the fact that the US government had a hand in the September 11 attacks - I believe they planned them and carried them out - they would find it very difficult to trust them or to follow them. They would actually say « how did it end up getting to this stage where our own government are murdering in the most vicious horrible and nasty way our own people to further their own motivation which is generally about making money and profitting from instability and death »

Everything should be based on honesty and openess. There is no reason why anything should be kept secret from the general public. The general public paid for everything so everything needs to be answerable to them. They have personal files on many people and we don’t even have the right to see that. We should be able to go through all our personal files. There is no reason for secrecy if there is nothing to hide. They treat us as if we were guilty unless proven innocent. The same for them ! When someone in a position of power is caught lying, stealing, cheating, they should lose their job forever and never be allowed near a position of power. That is really my opinion.

What do you do in your spare time?

I don’t have so much spare time. I am always touring. I read books of course. I like to educate myself. I study things in my own way. I study history. I spend endless time researching things. It’s almost depressing because you find things out that you don’t necessarily want to see.

What have you learned today or recently?

I am proud to say I have learned that I can fly on planes now, which I couldn’t do for ten years. Through research I managed to get over this irrational fear. That is the last good thing I did personally.

Today, I was driving and I learned that the North East of France is very flat and boring.

Have you been listening to some records repeatedly there days?

Current 93. A compilation I have made on my mp3 player. My favourite songs from Thunder Perfect Mind and Of Ruine And Some Blazing Starre. I like apocalyptic folk.

Maria Callas. Norma. The second act is almost permanently in my head when I’m on the metro and when I’m travelling.

What’s your favourite place on earth? How important is the place where you live?

I don’t really live anywhere right now so not that important actually. It is easier to say where I don’t like to be : in the country of France. It has nothing to do with the people because I love the people of France. The country is very beautiful but there is really a feeling of oppression if you are foreign, if you are not used to the way things are here. I don’t like the fact that they can stop you with no good reason and search through your personal belongings. I believe in privacy. I’m not a criminal. I’m social. So no one should be subject to personal searches. It doesn’t happen that often but it is always there anywere you go. It could happen any fucking time. What are they looking for, drugs? illegal immigrants? It never justifies how much money and time they spend.

I don’t really have a favourite place because I don’t list things. There are so many places that are wonderful for different reasons. Italy is very aggressive as well. It is worse than France politically, socially. It’s a fucking joke over there. I really love Greece. I really think I will move there after the revolution. I’d love to see how it goes… My guess is the right wing government will call for early elections and the socialists will win and will scrap military service for young people. It will be a slight move forward, not a real move forward, which is something we’d really need.

I love many places. I really love Berlin as a city. I really love Madrid. Bristol of course.

I have this strange relationship with Paris. It’s kind of a home because I spend so much time there but I kind of love / hate Paris.

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