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dimanche 31 mai 2015

Album de la Semaine : Algiers - Algiers


Interview de Algiers, par Luke Turner de The Quietus

Was gospel music a big part of your upbringing and childhood?
Franklin James Fisher: It was for me but it was also kind of distant. Both sides of my family are from North Carolina, but we moved to the suburbs of Atlanta when I was two years old. We were one of the first and only black families in the county and therefore, became members of a predominantly white church, where the music was very reserved, very stoic. On Sunday morning we'd wake up to my mom blasting this amazing gospel music on the downstairs radio - it was the music she and my dad had grown up with. In fact, my father's dad was in a gospel vocal group in the 30s. We'd listen to the gospel channel on the car radio on the way to church and have this great musical experience until we actually got to church, where the party would abruptly end, so to speak. But my parents were also very active in, what was then, the very small black community, so we would travel to other neighbourhoods and visit more traditional gospel churches - which provided the same intensely visceral and spiritual experience we would get from the Sunday morning radio. But what made the greatest impression was when we went to my grandparents' churches in North Carolina. It was something altogether different: three-hour-long services, everyone dressed up, old people dancing in the aisles or catching the spirit and fainting, the whole congregation singing along, people playing tambourines. It made a lasting impression on my sisters and me and to this day remains an essential component of our spiritual and cultural identities, which are inextricably bound. I always joke that so many of my white friends are atheists because the music they had in church was so bad.
Ryan Mahan: George Jones was the closest I ever came to popular religious music as a child. I arrived at gospel much later, drawn in by its contradictions, the expressions of exaltation and exasperation - the overriding sense of doom amid the jubilation - present in everything from Judy Clay to the McIntosh County Shouters. As a source for our music, gospel also poses a number of theoretical challenges. It problematises my own relationship, as a privileged white southerner, with indigenous forms, how we're all inextricably linked to appropriation and dispossession. It also throws into question the modern obsession with the artefact and the 'Columbising' impulse of musical discovery. That is why noise, harsh sonics and other experimental forms are such useful tools when exploring this musical past, representing in some senses incommensurability and the violence of capitalist exchange.
How did Algiers all first meet? How did the band form?
Ryan Mahan: Simon Critchley says philosophy - and by extension art and politics - begins in disappointment. As three Southerners at the turn of the century, the manifestations of such misery were everywhere: the historical amnesia, the faceless suburban homes, the race baiting, the Bush bumper stickers and the Jesus billboards. When Franklin, Lee and I first met, we bonded over this shared sense of frustration and powerlessness. Thinking back, I'm reminded of Mark Fisher's concept of capitalist realism: "It's easier to imagine the end of the world, than it is the end of capitalism." We felt particularly out of joint with our personal and collective environs. We loved music but had no scene. We were engaged in politics but had no outlet for political expression. Yet constructing any coherent alternative narrative seemed equally impossible. For us, the old punk adage, 'there is no future', did not go far enough; there was no present or past either. But rather than descending into the worst forms of nihilism or hedonism that had stricken so many of our peers, Algiers, at this stage, became the closest thing we had to a riot, a lashing out and an expression of discontent. It also named, however unwieldy, this search and this reclamation, recalling [Frantz] Fanon's messy political project of the anti-colonial struggle, reasserting the idea of the search for the new and reclaiming the promises of lost or forgotten futures.
How was Atlanta as a city to make music in?
Lee Tesche: Complex to say the least. One finds oneself defined by place at a young age. I think I once said that Atlanta was where dreams go to die. It's an environment that has continually tried to rework its identity all the way back to the end of the Civil War - from baby boomers fleeing the decaying cities of the north in the early 70s and building a highway through the centre of one of the most affluent black communities in the United States to the complete commodification of the city with the arrival of the Olympics in 1996.
By the time preparations for them began, any trace of the fledgling punk scene of the 80s that was centred around 688 [Club] or the Metroplex, or any bit of counterculture still remaining, like remnants of [newspaper] The Great Speckled Bird, had been eradicated along with one-way bus tickets for all of the homeless out of town, to make way for a bland Disney-fied culture and blank identity defined by Coca-Cola and CNN for the international stage. It felt like nowhere real, a place that was continually aspiring to be another place, and would always be in the musical shadow of Athens.
When you're 16, trying to figure out who you are and your place in the world, and you live in a city that is claiming and justifying its majesty by trying to be somewhere else, i.e. the New York of the South, someplace it wasn't and never would be nor should be, it creates an atmosphere where it's almost impossible to believe that anything real exists or that one can do anything remotely daring or challenging concerning art.
That environment and way of thought led to a city of emulation and revivalism, and a powerful mindset where if you really wanted to do something that mattered, you had to leave town and go to one of the "real" cities or scenes. If you stayed, a deep, unending malaise would set in, increasing exponentially with each year. It was such the antithesis of the city that an institution like WRAS was making possible. There were a few pockets of hope, these great places like the Eyedrum and Kirkwood Ballers Club, but the audience for them was very small. The most radical, forward-thinking sounds were coming from the other side of the city with the Dungeon Family and the burgeoning trap scene. Then I look over my shoulder and you've got these bozos trying to be the Reader's Digest Rolling Stones for some unknown fucking reason, like the world really needed that.
I really think that that whole stagnant climate and mode of thought infected that generation to the point that so many I know are cursed to a life adrift, jumping from one scene or city to the next, still searching for that identity and definition of place that we were deprived of. And those who stayed put, who didn't buy into the suburban idea, ultimately turned self-destructive.
When did you hit on what might now be described as your 'sound'?
FJF: I remember as Ryan and I were comparing song notes, it became increasingly apparent that punk rock and gospel had very similar energies: driving beats, shouting, call and response vocals, group participation, etc. It was enthralling to stumble on the similarities, and it's something we are still exploring.
Was the religion that often goes along with gospel part of your lives? What's your relationship with religion?
RM: Religion looms like a golem in my memories. Rather than a site of salvation and emancipation, the church was a house of repression and damnation. I went to a Southern Baptist church only a few miles from Stone Mountain, a towering 1,600-ft rock behemoth defaced on one side by a huge bas-relief of three 'leaders' of the Confederacy: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis. Now this church was not the baying, fire-breathing caricature of Southern evangelicalism, but its 'respectable', middle-class cousin. The contradictions of white Southern identity permeated its foundations, a monochrome smattering of grey suits and polite smiles papering over the signs of the judgment: intolerance, hypocrisy, hierarchy and political conservatism. The solemn songs we sang, like 'Onward, Christian Soldiers', had none of the millenarian zeal or collectivism that I would later find in so much of African-American gospel. At the time, it was the boredom and the social isolation that initially pushed me away. Only much later was I able to locate some of my anti-establishment fervour in these experiences.
Did you have a formative personal experience, or a moment of political awareness?
FJF: I was young and living abroad for the first time in Newcastle, as part of a group of sixteen students studying British and American culture. The programme was about deconstructing concepts of nationhood and cultural identity at a time where those very concepts were being rallied into a propagandised, ideological frenzy by the American right. It was just after September 11 and just before the Bush administration's unilateral invasion of Iraq. As an American kid who grew up naively apolitical, living abroad while witnessing these events occur - particularly while deconstructing the effects of ideological indoctrination with myself as the subject - I found myself in the midst of a perfect storm which led to a Joycean epiphany. This is largely thanks to a series of honest but intense debates I had with Ryan at the time, who was another one of the students in the programme. There was something special about that whole group of kids. They've all gone on to do great things and most of us are still very close friends.
RM: My sister was the rebel in the family. She challenged racism and stood up to patriarchy at an early age. She also happened to introduce me to entirely new musical worlds: RepeaterDaydream NationUnknown PleasuresBizarre Ride II, The Pharcyde and Entertainment. This introduction to American and British independent music also formed another basis of my political awakening. After that, I was forever pouring over the SST, BYO and Dischord catalogues at my local record shop. This happened to coincide with my introduction to the black struggle in the United States, moving from the Civil Rights Movement to SNCC to the Panthers. I came to see African-American movements as the only truly American emancipatory politics. I then broadened out to the French Revolution, Cuba, Russia and Burkina Faso. I found particular fascination in the Highlander School and Myles Horton, but also gobbled up books on John Brown, Nat Turner, the Jacobins, Emma Goldman and Angela Davis. These two awakenings seemed to emerge simultaneously, but it took me another decade to eventually work out their interconnections and significance.
LT: One month after I picked up the guitar I interrupted a conversation some adults were having around me in a pizza restaurant with my promotion of gay rights. That's when my parents first started getting 'concerned'.
Why did you choose Algiers as a name? There are resonances with the postcolonial struggle with France - was that deliberate? I was wondering if that connected with what you said in a recent interview about "a larger indictment of a systemic and institutionalised oppression that transcends the African-American experience and which has managed to immobilise and suppress all marginalised voices"?
RM: Yes, Algiers refers to the anti-colonial struggle in general. The Algerian revolution was one of the first modern anti-colonial struggles and served as an inspiration for revolutionaries from Cuba to Mozambique, Oakland to Palestine. The Panthers had an office in Algiers; Eldridge and Kathleen Cleaver were exiled there in the late 60s/early 70s. In this way, the name also refers to a dissipated notion of common cause, a truly global consciousness in opposition to the elite cosmopolitanism we see today. Of course, we learned about this through a variety of secondary sources: [Gillo] Pontecorvo's film, the Sartre and Camus debate on revolutionary violence and Fanon's Toward The African Revolution. Morricone's score to The Battle Of Algiers and Pasolini's use of African-American gospel music, most notably Odetta's version of 'Motherless Child' in The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, also provided inspiration as soundtracks to resistance. Symbolically, the name refers to a contested space, where violence, racism, resistance and religion commingle. Fundamentally, it evokes a double movement of hope and melancholy - referring to the optimism fundamental to any political project and the violence and reaction inherent in the attempt to overthrow the status quo. You can probably also glean undercurrents of the current 'war on Islam' in the name as well.
Do you get frustrated with the political apathy of your contemporaries? If I look at most of the artists who might be considered your peers in the American independent music world they seem more concerned with escapism than politics.
FJF: I totally agree with that, but it's not surprising in the age of individual celebrity and fragmented communities. It seems nowadays everyone is too busy looking at themselves to look around them, no less do something about it. I remember when I was first learning about postmodernity somebody qualified the culture as being fun, shallow and meaningless... I think that sums it up quite nicely.
RM: Yes, this apathy shrouded in irony and peddled with a sense of superiority motivated us immensely. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. And it is obscene to suggest that any of us can avoid the consequences of historical, economic or social relations, particularly if you are an artist who benefits from the repackaging of certain musical forms for mass consumption. The culture industry in America, particularly as it relates to American independent music, also has a lot to answer for - most American tastemakers champion cults of beauty and youth over substance, and when it comes to African-American music, there is a creeping exploitation and fetishisation of black authenticity.
At the same time, I wouldn't lump all our peers or forebears into this. In general, there are a multitude of ways to practise musical politics, from Crass communalism through Neubauten noise to Public Enemy fury. We're also seeing a reinvigoration of music that speaks truth to social antagonism on both sides of the Atlantic: Priests, Perfect Pussy, Good Throb, Vatican Shadow, Helm, and so on. Ultimately, though, while I would say politics is fundamental to art, I would not say, following Stokely Carmichael, that we are an issue-based band.
I do find it fascinating that you mix gospel influences with sonic aesthetics that I hear from more electronic/harsher places. Never the twain shall meet, usually. Why is this natural to you?
RM: Lee and I both touched on this earlier. There is a sense of a grappling with the notion of musical history, that exchange is not free and that the music industry has been affected by the same violent impulses underpinning colonialism or capitalism. It speaks to the limitations of communication and the monstrosity of entertainment in such times. It is also a matter of personal preference. We all are drawn to experimental forms that emerged in the intervening years between gospel and 'noise', and certain points of intense cross-pollination, drawing the lines from Kraftwerk through Bambaataa, Section 25, Cybotron and Throbbing Gristle.
I can also hear Rowland S Howard and Blixa Bargeld's work with Nick Cave here. Were they inspirations?
LT: If one could take away two things from them, it's a) the importance of the role of the musical foil in the dynamics of a band, and b) that it's extremely important to have a healthy amount of disgust and disdain towards your chosen instrument so as to approach it with the right amount of scepticism and restraint. The guitar has committed more pop crimes than any other instrument in the latter half of the 20th century, and it has a very limited and overly exhausted palette. Most guitar I encounter, particularly in a modern rock context, makes my skin crawl. I have a deep aversion towards the guitar, but at the same time, I'm somewhat cursed by the fact that it's the instrument I chose, the one I'm the most proficient in, and the one that I really have to battle and wrestle with so as to wrangle out the proper expression. I've always subconsciously connected it to some sort of loss in my life and because of that, I've quit playing more often than not because I just associate it with negative things.
Before we went into the studio I hadn't played it in a year. I wasn't in the best place in my personal life, and all I wanted to do was to destroy anything romantic or of beauty that I encountered. When I engage with it now, it's as a weapon that I only use when I absolutely have to.
Do you feel any positivity about the future of America? Do the Ferguson shootings and police violence make you feel like things are going backwards?
FJF: In my adult life, I've never felt any positivity about the future anywhere - certainly not in America. I'm not fooled by the office of President Obama; America is the same place it's always been. Institutionalised violence against people of colour is more American than apple pie. It's just that we have these ubiquitous handheld devices that can document it all now. But you have to fight and you have to try for change, if anything, to prevent conditions from becoming more miserable than they already are.
RM: I am both cynical and hopeful. Despite what we know about the state of the world - the crushing injustice - fatalism only serves the interests of the powerful.
Line Up : Franklin James Fisher, Ryan Mahan, Lee Tesche
Label : Matador Records
Tracklist :
01 – Remains
02 – Claudette
03 – And When You Fall
04 – Blood
05 – Old Girl
06 – Irony. Utility. Pretext.
07 – But She Was Not Flying
08 – Black Eunuch
09 – Games
10 – In Parallax
11 – untitled

dimanche 24 mai 2015

Album de la Semaine : Ceremony - The L-Shaped Man

The L-Shaped Man

Interview de Ceremony, par DIY Conspiracy

Litmus Test: First off just introduce yourself. Who are you? What do you do?
My name is Anthony Anzaldo and I am nobody.
How long have you been straight edge/vegan? What were the deciding factors for you in making those commitments?
I have never drank, smoked, or have used any substance in my life. I claimed straight edge 7 years ago. I think smoking/drinking/drug use is selfish, weak and disrespectful to yourself and to those around you. I have never met one person who when drunk or high was cooler or more fun to be around. I see the kind of fun that people have when they are intoxicated and that is not at all my idea of having a good time by any means. And the odor, impedance and all the health issues related to drinking/smoking and drug use is not very appealing to me.
I have been vegan for 4 years, and was just vegetarian for a year before that. The meat industry produces more carbon into the air than automobiles, it’s highly inhumane, and I am dodging so many types of cancer and other nasty diseases by being vegan. And meat grosses the fuck out of me.
Are those two ideologies linked for you? Could you see yourself still being edge if you werene’t vegan? Vice versa? How do those two affect the way you identify yourself? Are you vegan edge or a straight edge kid who happens to also be vegan?
Well, they are linked, but at the same time they are not. I mean how can I have compassion and mercy for all species of animals if I’m not able to take care of myself? But at the same time it’s edge for veg for me. Drinking and doing drugs is way more self-destructive then eating non-vegan, and I got into both ideologies at different times in my life and (for the most time) got into them for different reasons.
What’s your favourite Ceremony song?
It would be a tie between the first and last tracks on “Still Nothing Moves You”, “Dead Moon California” and “Leartn/Without”.
What have you been listening to recently?
Nick Cave is in heavy rotation right now.
The first time I saw Ceremony I believe you were wearing a fishnet shirt, eye make-up, and platform knee-high boots. Your style’s changed somewhat since then but you still definitely stand out somewhat compared to other popular hardcore bands right now. Has your appearance ever had an effect on the band? Do assholes ever give you shit about it?
Somewhat stand out, huh? I think the last time we played Richmond I had a gold glitter stripe across my face and a see-thru mesh shirt on, if that is your idea of “somewhat standing out” then hardcore’s just way more eccentric with me taking notice… J/K :)
Evey once in a while somebody calls me a fag when they drive by me, or when I am alone and they’re on the other side of the street. And I have been told there has been numerous threads about me on public forums regarding the way I dress and all that nonsense, but nothing too crazy. I don’t like the way I look or present myself has had any affect on the band, I would find that to be very ridiculous, even in this day and age.
How did Ceremony start? What bands were you in before Ceremony? Had you ever worked with Ross before this band?
Ross [Farrar] and I have been friends since Junior High, and we got into hardcore and punk at the same time, and it just made sense to start a band. We wanted it to be fast, angry, dark and against the grain, and we wanted to name it Violent World, then Ross thought of Ceremony. I have played in a few hardcore punk bands in the Bay Area, Jealous Again, Life Long Tragedy and Said Radio to name a few.
What’s the writing process like for you guys as a band? Who are the primary songwriters, instrumentally and lyrically? Does Ross have much to say in the instrumental process and do you guys have much to say in the lyrics?
Ross writes all the lyrics, and I write most all of the music, but we all are involved in the formatting and structuring of the songs. Ross has a lot of say when it comes to write the music, if he’s super excited about the music, the vocals will be that much better I think.
Ross of Ceremony
Ross’ lyrics and some of his statements on stage can be extremely caustic and harsh. Does he speak for the whole band usually? Is the band generally on the same page on subjects like religion and politics?
On subjects regarding religion and politics the band is on the same page. When he writes or speaks on stage about experimenting with drugs he obviously isn’t speaking for the entire band. Writing for Ceremony is a major outlet for Ross, and it gives him a chance to speak his mind they way he feels fit, and as long as he’s honest and doesn’t start being a racist/homophobic/sexist/christ believing moron, his lyrics won’t have a negative affect on me at all.
The new record “Still Nothing Moves You” is in a lot of ways really different from “Violence Violence” and “Scared People”. Musically it is less abrasive and the vocals on the recording have less emphasis than previous records. Any interesting tidbits about how this record came together?
We didn’t feel like “Violence Violence” was a complete album, it was sort of rushed, and after writing “Scared People” I think we had a better idea of where we wanted the band’s direction to go. We spent a couple months just on writing for “Still Nothing Moves You”, and we wanted each song to have something the last song didn’t have, we wanted it to be the simplest and most complex thing we’ve done. Ross was working on lyrics since we finished “Scared People”, and he went through a lot of life changes in between records so he was very inspired and prepared for “Still Nothing Moves You”.
There seems to be a lot of continuity to the way Ceremony writes albums. The use of themes and recurring instrumental breaks makes the records sound more like complete works instead of disjointed collections of songs. Is that important consideration when you’re in the studio?
I’d say it’s more of a conscious decision when we are writing, not so much in the studio. But everything you just described is most definitely intentional.
Ceremony tours a lot, has that always been the case? What’s the dynamic like between you guys on the road?
This past year [2008] was the most we’ve toured, we started in May and we finish in the middle of December, before that it was summer/late fall stuff and weekends here and there. The dynamic depends on the line-up really, but it’s awesome no matter what. All of us (except Toast) grew up in a suburb outside of San Francisco called Rohnert Park, so we’ve known each other for years and are very comfortable with each other. We all have very different lifestyles, but at the same time have so much in common, so it makes for a fantastic/interesting touring dynamics.
What have been your favorite cities to play in or hang out recently? Bands that tour say you can do shit on tour you could never do at home. Have you guys done anything fucked up or crazy on tour that you can talk about?
We probably spent the most time in Philadelphia, every tour it seems like we’re posting up Philly for at least couple of days. We’ve very close with Paint It Black and Blacklisted, so it’s always so much fun when we’re there. The tour started on the East Coast, so we stopped in Omaha along the way to watch movies and have dinner with my grandparents, that isn’t particularly fucked up or crazy, but that is definitely not something I get to do when I’m home.
What bands have you been the most fun to tour with?
We grew up with Sabertooth Zombie and Life Long Tragedy, so touring with them was beyond fun. Touring with Blacklisted is always incredible. We start a tour with Never Healed tomorrow, and I’d imagine that they’ll make the list too.
Richmond sometimes has unusual taste in bands, the bands we love/hate here often aren’t the ones that are loved/hated nationally, but it seems like Ceremony’s popularity happened really suddenly here. Did it happen like that everywhere or was it a more gradual process?
The first time we played Richmond it was awesome (RIP Nanci Raygun), it all depends, some places you do exactly the same in no matter how many times you go there, and other places take time, and some places are never good.
There’s been different people in the band every time you guys have played Richmond recently, are permanent members just not able to tour as much or are you guys have played Richmond recently, are permanent members just not able to tour as much or are you guys actually having trouble keeping permanent members in the band?
We’ve had the same lineup for over 4 years, and we used to have a strict “no fill in” policy, but that ended when JD started going to school full time and, Ross and I will always do all the tours, the rest of the guys sometime need some time off.
Thanks again for doing this interview man. Hope to see you guys will be back in Richmond soon. Any thanks, shoutouts, fuck yous, or final words you’d like to leave us with?

Line Up :
Ross Farrar
Anthony Anzaldo
Andy Nelson
Justin Davis
Jake Casarotti

Label :
Matador Records

Tracklist :
01 – Hibernation
02 – Exit Fears
03 – Bleeder
04 – Your Life In France
05 – Your Life In America
06 – The Separation
07 – The Pattern
08 – Root Of The World
09 – The Party
10 – The Bridge
11 – The Understanding

dimanche 10 mai 2015

Album de la Semaine : Siskiyou - Nervous


Interview de Siskiyou, par Aaron Morris de Noisy

Noisey: Your band’s third album was just released. Why did you decide to name it Nervous?
Colin Huebert
: There’s a strain that runs through the record that has to do with anxiety, and I suppose overall nervousness. It seemed like a good title. I felt like it threaded the whole thing together.
In 2012 you began to experience intense chronic ear ringing. How did that affect the recording process of the album?
It affected it quite a bit I think. Initially, the idea was to sit down with the band before the songs were completely written, and work it out in rehearsals. But because of the problems I was having with my ears, that didn’t really work. I ended up doing a lot of demo recordings at home and really fleshing out the songs on my own. There was a lot of rehearsals, but they were quieter than what you would normally expect. We recorded it in a very isolated way so that I didn’t have to be sitting in front of a drum set the whole time. I would say it ended up with me writing the songs more than I’d wanted it to be.
How do you go about coping with these problems?
Various ways. Meditating, white noise, sometimes different medications. I wouldn’t say it’s particularly easy. I feel like you end up with a number of different things to cope, and then you use whatever tool you need at the time to get through it.
Which tool do you find the most successful?
Depends on what day you’re talking about. If it’s more like you’re having a lot of anxiety, then maybe some kind of medication. If it’s just the physical sensation then maybe some white noise to help you sleep.
I found the album artwork to be quite intriguing. Where did the idea for it come from? 
An acquaintance of mine, who’s an artist in town, came up with this group of paintings for the record. I commissioned him to respond to the music. He came out with a bunch, and I selected one that I liked.
Why do you think you chose that particular image to be the face of the album?
That one just spoke to me. It had a lot of levels to it, and I feel you could see it in a number of different ways. There was some depth to it.
Owen Pallett provides strings throughout the album. What was working with him like? 
I sent him the tracks, he recorded them on his end, and then sent them back to me. And that was that. We didn’t actually get together in the same room or anything.
Is that how you prefer to do things, or would you rather have someone in the studio with you?
I think ultimately it’s easier if you’re in the same room as the person, because then there’s less back and forth. You can get it done right there and then without having to have someone else record it. You say “change this part, fix that part. This part’s great.” Then they have to re-fix it and send it over, and it’s just a lot more time consuming. It’s easier if you’re in the same room as the person for sure.
What do you look for in a collaborator?
Someone that’s actually a songwriter, as well as a really talented musician. I think it helps to have both of those things in the same person you’re collaborating with.
The opening track on the album is called “Deserter.” Who’s the one doing the deserting?
Maybe me at the time. I felt a little tagged out of life, a little hyper-reclusive.
For “Jesus In The 70s” you shot a Super 8 movie and chose to shoot it in the parking lot of a supermarket. Why that particular location?
I go to this enormous superstore to buy diapers only. They sell them in large quantities and [that way] I don’t have to get diapers so much. I was driving around one dreary day, listening to a rough mix of that song trying to find a parking spot, and I just looked up and realized how much of a cinematic quality driving around took with that music as the backdrop. I thought it would make for a pretty decent, low-budget music video, and so I came back about a year later and shot it with my Super 8 camera.
The sixth song on the album is called “Oval Window.” Could you elaborate on the subject matter of that song?
I went through a period of time where because of my ears I was dizzy for a couple weeks, and I found that pretty hard to deal with. That song speaks a little bit to that unfortunate, uncomfortable time. That dizziness is hard to deal with, because it messes up the way you walk, if you even can walk. I wasn’t sure if that was gonna stop, and that was a frightening composition. That’s where that song emerged from.
Does this dizziness still continue?
No. It kind of just went away, for no reason.
Did you ever discover the cause for it?
No, but I presume it has something to do with everything else that has transpired.
“Violent Motion Pictures” is one of the more cinematic tracks on the album. I was wondering if you could explain the inspiration behind it?
I thought I was losing my mind for awhile. That track goes through that time. Without going into too much detail, it kind of documents what I felt like. I know that this all sounds kind of crazy, the dizziness and then this, but when all this started and I had all these problems that nobody could tell me what was wrong with me, I started to wonder if I was just going crazy. That song somewhat elaborates on that.
Where did you end up finding solace from these issues?
I don’t know if I really have. I’ve learned how to cope and see the bright side of things, but I wouldn’t say that I’ve completely come to an end point of comfort and acceptance. I think I’m still searching through it.

Line Up : Colin Huebert, Erik Arnesen
Label : Constellation Records
Tracklist :
01 – Deserter
02 – Bank Accounts and Dollar Bills (Give Peace a Chance)
03 – Wasted Genius
04 – Violent Motion Pictures
05 – Jesus in the 70’s
06 – Oval Window
07 – Nervous
08 – Imbecile Thoughts
09 – Babylonian Proclivities
10 – Falling Down the Stairs

dimanche 3 mai 2015

Album de la Semaine : Spectres - Dying


Interview de Spectres, par Joe Clay de The Quietus

Most bands head to London to seek their fortune, but you went to Bristol. What made you decide to move there?
Joe Hatt: I was more familiar with London. At that point I'd only been to Bristol a handful of times, but it felt right - maybe because of geography. It was closer [to Barnstaple] so there was less risk. We'd heard so many stories of friends in bands who moved to London to "make it" and it never happened because they're not good enough, but also because it's so dog eat dog. And none of us were all that aspirational. Not then at least. We know people who moved there who can't even practice anymore because they have to work two jobs. So we knew we had to move, and Bristol was just the closest place to us that had a vibrant music scene where we thought we'd be able to fit in.
How did Howling Owl come together?
JH: When we moved to Bristol we were expecting to fall into a scene straight away and meet like-minded bands. But it took a lot longer. The first shows we played were similar to the ones in Barnstaple - with acts that weren't like us at all. It was because we didn't know anyone and the promoters would just take any band on in the support slot regardless of what they sounded like if they thought they might bring a few people along. The first few months were actually demoralising. We were still the outsiders.
I read somewhere that those early Bristol gigs could get quite confrontational - some of them ended in violence. Having met you all, you seem like nice guys, so what happened?
Adrian Dutt: It's never been us, it just seemed to be that at the shows we played something would always happen. We played in Reading last year and there was a guy there who was so against the level of noise that was happening that he was desperately trying to unplug everything. In the end he just lobbed a full pint at Joe and got arrested. I suppose we are looking for that sort of a reaction. We want to take people out of their comfort zones.
JH: Eventually we got on a bill that was suited to us at the Louisiana and we met a few people who were into it and in bands too. A few months later we'd surrounded ourselves with other acts like Holy Stain and Towns. Howling Owl came from that - the excitement of making new friends. We realised no one was putting anyone else out, so we thought we'd do it. Me and Adrian had a history of doing skateboard and music magazines back in north Devon, so we've always had that in us - if we want to promote something we'll put some creativity into it and get it out there.
That DIY ethic?
JH: Yeah, that's exactly it. Where we came from, no one did anything like that so we had to do it ourselves. It was the same in Bristol. There was no attention on these bands, but to us it was the most exciting thing in the world. It was going to be one tape and one gig. We thought putting a gig on in Bristol would be a big achievement, but then the tape went really well. It was Spectres, Holy Stain and Towns and it sold out quickly, so we thought we'd carry on and it snowballed from there.
AD: Hardly anyone wanted to take a chance on us. We had this nice new project and it was really exciting for us to be looking at weird places to do stuff, and to try and make things interesting for people - to put on events that were memorable. That pushed us forward in both sound and label. The first gig we promoted was in a crypt under a church. We put on four bands that we had met. We had two stages at opposite ends of the crypt and us and The Naturals played together for a few minutes; as we finished our set they started theirs. We did an old diving school, courtrooms, police cells - anywhere we could find in Bristol that would have us. We wanted to create a whole experience, a different atmosphere. It's great when people come up to us and say, "Oh yeah, you're the guys who put on that gig there, and this happened and that happened…" That's much more positive for us to hear than people just going to watch a normal four-band bill, having a drink at the bar and then going home. We want to have fun and push the boundaries a bit. We like to challenge ourselves.
There's a real anger and intensity to Spectres. Is the way your present yourselves and your sound a reaction to the times, or is it more of a personal statement?
JH: It's definitely a reaction to mediocrity. We've done a lot of tours and gigs and played some awful shows with some non-progressive bands. But instead of demoralising us and making us want to give up, it has definitely made us… it is quite angry I suppose. It is a reaction against the mainstream. When we were writing the album, there were a couple of songs that we knew we could polish up and make a bit nicer, but when we came to recording it we just thought that's not us. And by sticking to what we want to do, unlike a lot of bands do who maybe go a bit poppier if they want to reach a wider audience, we've gone the other way and hoped that people will come around to that and enjoy it for that reason. We thought we might be a bit too heavy for Sonic Cathedral. When Nat came to see us we were worried, because live it's even more horrible. There's no front. I hope people get the rawness.
AD: We're quite cynical. We have a weird outlook on life and we don't take anything for granted. Even when good things happen, we're always like, "When's this going to end?" Plus, we're four really great friends and we talk about everything that's going on, and some of that definitely comes out in the music. We never intended Dying to be a massive hit. We just wrote the album that we wanted to write. There was no one telling us what to do, or saying, "Oh I think that's a bit much". It was all about how far we could push ourselves in the studio.
Most of the bands that have been influenced by shoegaze and that period of indie music, tend to focus on the dreamy, atmospheric side of things. But what appeals to me about Spectres is that your jump-off point is the 'holocaust' section of MBV's 'You Made Me Realise'. I think that's very brave - to be so abrasive and loud - but there is still a real beauty in the music you make. What is it about noise that appeals to you as a band?
JH: There are bits on our record and in our live set, where we just want people to focus on that and nothing else. There's so much around at the moment, to watch and listen to, that can just pass you by without registering anything. That's the worst thing that anyone could say about us. Y'know, "They're alright, can't really remember." By making people have to listen and take notice, and not be able to chat to their mate or text someone during our set - that's really important to us. Even if only one person out of 100 actually then likes it, we've still had a reaction. When we're in our practice room, it's such a small, dank, horrible space and the only way to get through it is to lose ourselves in the feedback or whatever noise we're creating. We're a product of that space. We practice for two hours a week and we don't really talk to each other. It's all of us getting… I'm not saying we've got much to be angry or frustrated about, but it's definitely a release of something.
AD: It's about taking yourself off to another place. Myself and Andy are into heavier bands than Joe and Darren - we have the shared influences of My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, etc. But we all have other interests - Joe's really into harsh electronic music. I love bands like The Locust and The Blood Brothers. Although they're not about big walls of noise, the guitars are still really abrasive. There's something about creating a space where you don't really know what's happening and you're… lost in the noise, as cheesy as that sounds. You can forget yourself. There aren't many bands around that do what we do. We want to be so loud that you can't really be distracted by anything else.
The last thing I've wanted to do when I've seen you live is get my phone out and start filming it…
AD: That's good!
Lyrically it's… dark would be an understatement. You seem troubled. Joe, you delve right into the ugly, horrible side of life and death. It's very honest and raw. Do you have a fertile imagination or are you writing about actual life experiences?
JH: To be honest, a lot of it is very literal and close to home or experiences of people close to me. When it comes to lyrics it takes me a long time to write them. The way we write songs is quite weird - we all write the music, and we'll record it on my phone. Then I go home and put the headphones in and put it on a cycle and write to it. All in, 'Sea Of Trees' took about six months to write. I'm not sure what it is. I've got stuff written down - lines here and there, and ideas and themes and I have to wait for the right song to connect. It's weird. In the early shows we were playing on shit sound systems and the lyrics were totally lost. That was annoying, because I spent so long on them but no one could actually hear what I was singing.
Adrian, do you ever worry about Joe when you read his lyrics?
AD: I think he was a troubled child [laughs]. Spectres is an outlet for his angst. He's a writer and an artist and he's always been like that. I think other people might worry, but hopefully they'll be able to connect with it. I lived with Joe for a bit once and I came home late one night and he had his headphones on, sat in his pants, surrounded by cans of beer singing to himself. He didn't know I was there. It was horrible. When we were putting the artwork together I got to read all his lyrics. They are brave and close to home for Joe. We wanted people to be able to read the lyrics so people know that we're not just making songs about anything - they have meaning.
The cover image is pretty repellent. The album's called Dying and the music is punishing. It's almost like you've gone the other way and are trying to put people off. There's nothing there that's pandering to the listener. It's an extreme way of presenting yourself to the world, especially when the mainstream is so bland. Do you think a band like Spectres can succeed on their own terms?
JH: Hopefully we'll stand out because our album doesn't look like the other albums on the shelves, and our videos aren't like the other videos out there. The title we had before we even recorded it, because it just felt right. The cover image had to be perfect. That photo was taken in a paddling pool in my garden and as soon as it was done we knew that was the one. We'd tried a few different ideas. It's a guy called Pedro from Bristol. My girlfriend met him a couple of years ago through the arts scene. He's become almost a weird mascot for the band and the label and also Bulb, which is the other side of Howling Owl, the arts stuff. We've worked with him on a load of things. He was in the video for Vessel's 'Red Sex'.
AD: This is just the way we've always done things. I work in a record shop [Rise] so I see covers every day and there's some I love and some I hate, but I wanted ours to stick out. Every cover we've done we take ages over it to make sure we get exactly what we want. Hopefully, people will look at it and the image will stick with them. Even if they think it's horrible they'll want to find out more about us.
There is definitely a humorous side to what you do. That cover image is hideous, but in the same way that Ricky Gervais's bath selfies are. It's grotesque and bawdy, rather than stomach churning and disgusting.
JH: We do have a bleak outlook on everything, but we don't take ourselves too seriously, even though on the record, there's not a lot of humour there. The music is bleak, the lyrics are bleak, even the front cover is bleak… but then, I think when it comes to stuff like our videos and photos there is some humour there. It's too easy to be all doom and gloom about everything all of the time. In general, there's not a lot of light in what we do, but we really don't take ourselves that seriously.
AD: We did a photoshoot for the NME last year and they wanted us to pay for a photographer and there were these guidelines for the shoot, but that's not how Spectres or Howling Owl works. It wasn't a reaction against the NME, because they've been really good to us, but it was another opportunity for us to have a little bit of fun. Joe came up with an idea and we went with it. We held up some things and it tenuously spelt out, "Spectres are Dying - don't believe the NME." There was some other subliminal stuff in the picture too. We've got our tongues firmly in our cheeks a lot of the time and that comes out in the zines we make. We're not just some moody band. They're very much of a labour of love. This whole vision of being a band to us is a major project. It's an outlet for all our creativity - we want to get our writing, illustrations and photos out there. That's another side of us that we want people to see. As Spectres, the whole package is that we do all these other things as well. We're not just here to make records, we want people to be exposed to all the different things we do.
You've got Howling Owl to the point where you could have released the Spectres album on your own label - what made you decide to work with Sonic Cathedral?
JH: It was quite a big decision, but we're aware of blurring the lines between Howling Owl and Spectres. It was important for us to have an identity away from the label and not to be the Howling Owl house band. Putting out an album is a massive undertaking. We've put out two Oliver Wilde albums so we know what goes into it, so being on Sonic Cathedral has given us the freedom to focus more on the art side of things and everything else - the videos and the tour - rather than getting bogged down by the logistics. It was a no-brainer. We'd known about Sonic Cathedral for a few years - we actually discovered A Place To Bury Strangers on a Sonic Cathedral compilation album - and when the opportunity came up we couldn't turn it down. I think Nat was actually a bit surprised. He kept asking why we didn't want to put it out ourselves. It's a sign of progression as well - it's coming out on a non-Bristol label. It's a big deal for us. It's another step up. Although we're entrenched in Bristol and we absolutely love it here, it's nice to have some sort of recognition from outside.
Line Up : Joe Hatt, Darren Frost, Adrian Dutt et Andy Came
Label : Sonic Cathedral
Tracklist : 
01 – Drag
02 – Where Flies Sleep
03 – The Sky Of All Places
04 – Family
05 – This Purgatory
06 – Mirror
07 – Blood In The Cups
08 – Sink
09 – Lump
10 – Sea Of Trees