James Lavelle and the beast that is UNKLE return with their third record, War Stories, a dirty and chaotic album that brings together rock’s finest vocalists in the form of The Cult’s Ian Astbury, Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and The Duke Spirits’ Liela Moss (the rest of the band feature also). Combine that with UNKLE’s heavy hitting sense of rhythm and you’ve got one stirring record. Taking the opportunity to sit down in his London home for a breather between organising label and video stuff, Lavelle tells TNT about his War Stories.

How does this album differ from Never Never Land? It’s a much better record.

Then how did Never Never Land fail in your eyes? I think Never Never Land had some great moments but I think War Stories is a much more cohesive song-based record, the songs are stronger.

War Stories – where has the title come from? It’s just about the shit that you deal with in life and the war stories you acquire along the way. It just came from one’s own experiences. It’s not a political commentary. It’s a clever way to have a double meaning but in the great scheme of things it’s personal war stories.

What were you listening to in the 80s that prepared you for such a successful 90s with your Mo Wax label? Hip-hop.#

Straight up hip-hop? Pretty much, and acid house. That was the basis for it all really.

You’re music has always been quite rocky. When did the rock element come back into your record collection or production? It has always been there, I mean since Psyience Fiction there’s been a rock element to what we’ve done. We had Jason Newstead of Metallica on the first record and that was 10 years ago. I’d say it became more influential as Radiohead – actually I’d say Stone Roses were a bigger influence in my youth than bands like Radiohead and The Verve and that sort of movement. Also, bands like The Beastie Boys who had a massive rock element – a record like Check Your Head was hugely influential.

Acid house is not a strong point of mine. What elements of that have you brought into UNKLE? It’s the electronic element of music. Acid house was a movement of freedom. Here it was a youth revolution, as important as punk or the hippy generation, for people of my age. In those days it was pretty eclectic and open. It was about youth and freedom, taking elements and creating your own destiny. It was this whole genre and movement by kids.

Tell me about the process for finding collaborations? They generally just come from relationships I’ve already had. A lot of people on this record I’ve known for a long time. Either they’re in town or you’ve met someone along the road. You mention you like some band and they’ve called you. It generally comes quite organically to be honest.

How was Ian Astbury? He was great. “Burn My Shadow” was the first song that we recorded in the sessions and grew out of the main album itself. It was the first track that we did – to see if we’d work well together and it worked out really well. He came back and did “When Things Explode” which is very beautiful. I’m very proud of the way he sounds on the record because he sounds different to what many people would have expected in the past. It’s really good that he managed to achieve that.

You’re here DJing at the moment but the full band will be here in January – what’s your live set up? It’s a band set up – bass, drums guitar, keyboards, effects, very visually strong and Richard and I and Gavin have been singing. It’s pretty techno, and housey.

UNKLE War Stories is it out now on Pod through Inertia.