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My Bloody Valentine’s shows were so loud they feared destroying venues: “Chunks were falling out of the ceiling”

Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine performs as part of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Fields on April 19, 2009 in Indio, California.
(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

With their dense layers of Jazzmaster tremolo glides and reverse reverb, My Bloody Valentine changed the sound of guitar playing forever. But their insistence on notoriously loud volume levels meant the shoegaze trailblazers were also afraid of changing venues forever.

In a new interview with the Guardian, MBV mastermind Kevin Shields detailed the problems the band faced as a result of running a wall of amps at full blast – among them, the risk of the venue not existing at the end of their set.

“Chunks were falling out of the ceiling. It sounds like an exaggeration, but I’m serious – we were really concerned that eventually some roof was going to fall down,” he says. “It was a matter of time before a serious accident happened.”

It’s just one of a number of incredible stories Shields shares throughout the interview, several of which occurred during the band’s infamous closing track, You Made Me Realise, an earth-shattering blast of noise and feedback that could last anywhere up to 45 minutes.

“At one gig, a butcher was literally chasing my sister with a cleaver – he wanted to chop the cable because it was shaking his shop so much when we were doing You Made Me Realise,” Shields recalls.

“The police turned up and arrested our tour manager during You Made Me Realise. They arrested him, put him in the car, questioned him and let him go and when he got back we were still playing it. Countless, countless situations.”

The sonic revolutionary cites the band’s obsession with volume as part of a desire to give their audience “an amazing physical experience, a real transcendent experience”, rather than gigs that are “laughably quiet… something you’re consuming, not being consumed by”.

Of course, such experiences can come at the cost of hearing, leading the band to give away thousands of free earplugs at shows following their reunion in 2007.

After releasing their entire catalog of music on streaming services for the first time back in March, My Bloody Valentine are gearing up to release two new albums “by the end of the year”.