Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Vice April Record Reviews

Vice April Record Reviews

The Shitty Limits
Espionage EP
Dire Records

9 Why does the best punk always come out of small, bumblefucknowhere towns? I guess ‘cos it’s hard to get pissed off past the age of 16 in any city big enough to have more than two pubs. Guildford really sucks. I know this because my Grandparents went there to die. It does have a habit of kicking out at least one great punk band every few years though.

Circle Jams

Martina Topley-Bird
The Blue God

4 Do you think Dangermouse has a little red phone with Mikey Mouse ears that lights up every time an ageing forgotten about songstress is in need of career shock treatment? Kind of like the Batphone but more the Mousephone. Probably not but it’s fun to think of him and the fat one sliding down poles to save the latest underperforming diva in distress. Shame they don’t try half as hard here as they do on their own shit.


Langhorne Slim
Langhorne Slim

9 Langhorne Slim. Could there be a more perfect name for a good ole boy with the voice of a bourbon drenched cowboy angel ever? Inexplicably on a stoner rock label but don’t let that fool you. This is all the good bits of Americana that you used to love before it turned into Wilco.

Jeff Weedy

Holy Tears

0 ‘Post-Metal’. Is there anything in the world that could make your ears want to voluntarily perforate themselves quicker? Oh yeah, post-metal remixes!

Olaf Sonofason

Philip Jeck

10 Crazy old guy who fiddles around with even older record players all day or visionary sonic genius? If you missed out on his last one where he reconstructed the sinking of the Titanic via hiss and crackle from old Gramophones then this one is sure to convince.

Cyron Boley

Bilge Pump
Rupert The Sky

7 At that ATP that Uncle Thurston curated a few years back the lanky fella himself was overheard muttering something along the lines of: “Bilge Pump? Those guys are still going? Radical!” while thumbing through the Gringo merch stall. That should pretty much tell you pretty much everything you need to know about this one.

Kid Bongo Flowers

Hydra Head

8 While it looses a few points for the sleeve which looks like it was doodled by a 14 year old with a dungeons and dragons obsession on his first hash cake bender it regains them for being the best thing Hydra Head have put out in living memory. It isn’t quite the “best thing since Kyuss” everyone keeps going on about but it did make me go home and listen to Blues For The Red Sky again and get all misty eyed for what could have been.

Mu Fanchu

Flight Of The Conchords
Flight Of The Conchords
Warner Bros

5 This is funny. Like funny ha ha. I never really thought New Zealanders were that funny but these guys really hit my funny bone and push my giggle button. They even have these MC aliases where they call themselves Rhymenoceros and Hiphopoptamus. Ahahahaha. It’s still a comedy record though and those never last more than three play throughs.

Tall Dwarf

What You Don’t Know Is Frontier
Southern Lord

10 If Burning Witch hadn’t split up they would sound just like this. Because this is basically Burning Witch with a few less members and done a bit slower. And slow is kind of the whole point of doom right?

Crippled Juicifer

Thee Oh Sees
The Master’s Bedroom Is Worth Spending A Night In

8 Lurching so precariously between the garage, the fireside and the downright spooked it falls nothing short of knock your Sonics off great!

Johnny Fourteen Bands

Elf Power
In A Cave

5 Elephant 6 bands always feel like home. Home isn’t always amazing but it is always nice and comforting and you sure know where you stand with it.

Deaf Magnum

A Place To Bury Strangers
A Place To Bury Strangers
Meal Deal Records

7 Nu-Gaze? Nu-Shoegaze? Ripping off a bunch of other guys? These chiefs even have a fella in the gang called ‘Jay Space’. I’d love to loathe them but they have the whole music bit locked down tighter than that slightly overweight singer guy out of Foals' Cheap Mondays.

Perv Driver

Skeletons & The Kings Of All Cities
Ghostly International

9 Yet more fucking hippies. Everywhere you turn these days you are being assaulted by some guy in poncho yodeling about the sunrise or some other such nonsense. It’s getting a bit much. When you temper all the head shop babbling with some solid Fleetwood Mac hooks though you can really be onto something. Animal Collective manage it about once every three albums these days but this ridiculously named troop of goons somehow pull off ten out of ten tracks. Who’d a thunk it?

Terry Garcia

Vice April Literary Reviews

Vice April Literary Reviews

Valerie Phillips
Longer Moon Father

We ran a great shoot that Valerie shot for us in the magazine last month so it is safe to say from the outset here that we are fans. Big fans. Hunk a junka ginmormous fans! Dada. We said it. Happy? Ok, wanna know why? Well, it’s pretty simple really. She takes really great photos. Her subject matter, composition, and setting: all great. This may sound elementary but you would be amazed how many photographers email us every single fucking day with overwrought and underthought pieces of crap. Valerie’s simple, fun shots illuminate her subject and allowing a sense of personality and immediacy to radiate through her work. Just by looking at her shots you kind of feel like maybe you could be friends with her. And if you like cute girls (or in this particular case a cute girl) in not so many clothes then you’re in luck.


Number 15

Eighty Eight Shades Of Grey is a handsome black and white ‘zine which harks back to a time of photocopiers, typewriters, staplers and little else. It’s basically from a better time and a better place and I don’t really want to share it with you but now I am here I guess I have to. As an offshoot of the loosely Nottingham based Beastmangoat collective the ‘zine shares similar preoccupations as the groups other ventures: skateboarding, drinking, punk rock music and walking around with both of your eyes open (highly underrated, try it). There are some great photos, a couple of bits that might be poems, some cut and paste thingys and a few great first person narratives. Basically it’s a little black and white collection of good stuff stuck together for you. Get it before it is gone.


Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen
Lars Muller

Going to the Serpentine is always a barrel of laughs ‘cos you know you are going to turn up at this statuesque 1930’s building slap bang in the middle of Kensington Gardens that looks like Mr D’Arcy is gonna come barreling out of in pursuit of some maiden at any minute and just as you round the corner: bam! Every year since the beginning of this here decade that you sound a bit stupid trying to abbreviate the owners have thought it a great idea to whack a temporary pavilion outside the main building. Invariably the Pavilion looks like something The Predator would orbit planets in waiting to hunt for prey. But in a totally good way. The contrast between classic brick and mortar and whatever the hell this year's cuckoo-crazy architect and design team of choice decide to knock their temporary structure up out of really works. This year is no exception. Kooky Dane Olafur Eliasson and Norseman Kjetil Thorsen didn’t let anyone down with their 2007 structure. It looks kind of look a marquee where the replicants would hang out in Blade Runner. If you missed it or you just like getting stoned and looking at intricate architectural patterns then you won’t want to sleep on this here retrospective of the whole thing.


Peter Grasner
Hatje Cantz

Holy crap. Literally holy crap. In half of the places Grasner shoots in this collection of photos the people probably think that shit is holy because shit comes out of you and you came out of God son. This book represents a yearlong journey through Texas and captures a terrifying American underbelly that is light and smiles and dark crushing despair all at once. Ghosts of the present haunt Grasner’s photographs far more immediately than the ghosts of Texas past you might assume he’d be gunning for. The areas blind support of an unjust war and God’s desire for freedom they site to justify it with are the recurrent themes and Pete really know how to pull his punches. It’s sucker to the temple after sucker to the temple. By mid way through you are exhausted and nauseous. From guys walking the Calvary Cross with the help of stabalisers to classrooms simultaneously showing the time in Texas and Baghdad it’s scary stuff. Shame we can’t say our hands of clean of the whole mess.


NME 'Hot 50' Piece: The Smell

Piece for the NME's 'Hot 50' list on the pioneering downtown LA venue The Smell.

The Smell

Los Angeles got exciting again and it’s pretty much down to just one place: The Smell.

The Smell has acted as both focal point and catalyst for the current wave of good things coming out of LA. The space offers kids of any age or background an alternative to bars which require twelve kinds of ID or a house party circuit where you are as likely to get a beating from the LAPD as be able to play some music.

The club began life in North Hollywood ten years ago picking up where recently closed clubs the Jabberjaw and Impala Café had left off. Original owner Jim Smith moved the club downtown and remains the clubs sole full time employee. The Smell relies on kids helping out from doing the door to cleaning the toilets. The place is about as DIY as it gets.

Its ‘anything goes’ musical policy has also lead to one of the most exciting and diverse hubs for new music anywhere on the planet as of now.

The Smell can take you from Health’s unhinged synth and bass loops and Brendan Fowler’s spoken word Barr project via the free noise freak-outs of Pocahaunted to Silver Dagger’s scatterbrained no-wave, Lavender Diamond’s delicate pop, Carla Bozulich’s spooked synths and the Mae Shi’s art-punk. And that’s before you even get to the wondrous psyche garage of Abe Vigoda, a dead cert for hugeness in 2008.

The two most successful graduates of The Smell’s school of goodness are two man, post-puks No Age and Misfits in Riot Grrl clothing Mika Miko who we decided to ask about the place:

How important was The Smell to your bands?
Dean (No Age): Everything. Without The Smell we would not be band.
Kate (Mika Miko): It started it all. It’s the place to start a band, and be part of a family. It’s the center to the whole music underground of LA.

Can you imagine an LA with no Smell?
Dean: The Smell isn’t a place where you go to be seen or be cool ‘cos you can’t drink and there are kids running round all over the place so the people that are there are there the music.
Kate: Without it I would have never have met 75% of the people I know today. The Smell sent me to new places. Without I would be hanging out in a parking lot or something.

NME 'Hot 50' Piece: Fucked Up

Piece for the NME's 'Hot 50' list on Cannuck HC firebrands Fucked Up.

Fucked Up

Fucked Up are more than a band. They forgo MySpace for an incessantly updated blog. They forgo formulaic hardcore clichés for political polemics and triestes. They are punks who are as happy to incorporate krautrock and techno in their sound as they are three chords and a d-beat. They forgo standard output for a bewildering array of limited vinyl releases on more labels than you ever knew existed including their ongoing year of the Zodiac 12” series the last of which was the 18 minute Pink Floyd meets Poison Idea epic ‘Year Of The Pig’. Their live show is so untamed that vocalist Pink Eyes invariably ends up beneath a heaving pile of sweaty kids, blood pouring from his forehead. They single-handedly sparked an already near-legendry riot during an impromptu show on a bridge at SXSW last month that saw Texas state troopers stand down helpless and kids plummeting into the river below.

Fucked Up are more than a band. They are an unstoppable force of nature existing outside of every rule that the contemporary industry writes. They personify punk in its truest DIY form. They are not only redefining what it means to be a hardcore band in 2008. They are redefining what it means to be a band in 2008.

We spoke to Fucked Up singer Pink Eyes (Damian to his ma) about what makes the band so goddamned great.

What do you think sets Fucked Up apart from the generic lumpen mass that hardcore has become in 2008?
The aim was, between the five of us, to make this band that if we weren’t in it we would want to be a part of. Because we are five totally different people pulling in five totally different ways it just came out unlike anything we had envisioned.

You have put out your stuff on a maze of independents. Are the majors even relevant anymore?
To us in no way whatsoever We have control over output from start to finish.We are also all massive record nerds so it appeals to have this big sprawling discography.

You guys passed on MySpace for a blog. How important is technology to the band?
As a means of communication invaluable but records still come out on vinyl you know.

Psychopedia Interview: Graffiti Island

Interview with the amazing London based band Graffiti Island's singer Pete Donaldson about the internet, aliens, conspiracy theories and how that whole lot influences his band for Psychopedia.com

Graffiti Island Like Aliens

Music in London right now is at possibly its lowest ebb since the turn of the millennium. As ever though, there is hope if you look hard enough between the cracks. Dalston dwellers Graffiti Island seem to have walked straight out of the bar of Twin Peaks’ One Eyed Jack’s into an episode of Kojack The Night Stalker via the set of a Jadorowsky film.

Their simplistic, lo-fi approach has garnered comparisons to early K records acts such as the Beat Happening but between Conan Roberts string work on bass and guitar, drummer Cherise Payne’s propulsive rhythmic counterpoints and lead singer Pete Dee’s deadpan, pop-culture soaked delivery they offer something wholly original to be cherished in these meager times.

In a few short months and without a release to their name the band have already shared stages with acts as diverse and relatively established as Les Savy Fav, Effi Briest, Be your Own Pet and Rings.

We caught up with singer Pete to talk about the internet obsession that colours both the band’s sonic and lyrical palette creating twisted and compelling tales of werewolves, haunted picnics and mountain men gone nuts.

Psychopedia: Hey Pete, could you tell me a bit about your Blog, Voodoo Village?
Pete Dee (vocals): Basically, me and my friend Jiro were in his bedroom relaxing and listening to "Love Theme" by Vangelis when we got the idea to make a blog, We both share pretty similar interests and get annoyed by how much crap is out there so we decided to make a blog full of all our favourite stuff like Italo disco, outsider art, Ancient Egypt, Down’s syndrome, GG Allin, aliens, heavy metal and any kind of freaks. You know the kind of stuff.

Where did the name come from?
We got the name Voodoo Village from a compound in Memphis, Tennessee, which goes by the same name. The people that live there are a mixed race of African Americans and Native Americans. They are led by a 100-year-old man called Chief Wash Harris.

That sounds pretty good. What kind of stuff are you looking for when you sit around browsing the Internet everyday or are you just flailing around in the dark?
This week I’ve been looking for old pictures of sideshow freaks. I found a good one of a pony woman whose leg joints bend the opposite way. I’ve been watching a lot of New Jack Swing videos too. My favourite is "My Heart" by TROOP. The dancing in that video is intense. Go check it out.

I will. How long do you spend in front of the computer screen every day?
I sit until I can't feel my legs.

Are you sure this isn't all an elaborate front for solo cranking sessions?
I do some of that too. Shh.

You are also into the occult and UFO’s. How did this obsession arise?
I like watching interviews with airline pilots and astronauts who've seen UFO’s. I trust those dudes, they seem like good guys. I'm into UFOs of all shapes and sizes but probably the ones I’m most interested in are the black triangles ‘cause I saw one myself when I was 15. My favourite alien theory is the one where people believe that lizards live under LA. Some guy back in the 1930's even mapped out where all the tunnels and stuff are that lead to the underground lizard cities. I wanna go check ‘em out.

That seems to border on a conspiracy theory. Are you into those too?
I'm into the hollow earth theory. That is the belief that the earth is hollow and full of weird lands and ancient creatures. Supposedly you can get inside the earth through a big hole somewhere in the North Pole. Some people think this is where a lot of the Nazis escaped to.

Oh kay. You post a lot of movie clips on the blog. What are your favourite films of all time?
Too many too choose from. Off the top of my head: Phantasm, The Thing, Alien, They Live, Critters, Killer Clowns From Outerspace, Blade Runner, Predator.

Without giving away the secrets to your online gold what websites do you recommend to our readers?

1) http://jahjahsphinx.blogspot.com/
This one is great for images. There’s no text, just hundreds of images of weird stuff.

2) http://www.mufon.com/
The best UFO website out there and you can look at a little UFO weather map that shows you what cities in what countries the UFOs have been visiting over the last few weeks.

3) http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/
A goldmine.

4) http://www.ghanamovieposters.com
Here you can buy some of the most amazing hand painted movie posters by some of the most talented painters now living, for only $100!

5) http://www.howsyournews.com
Home of the How's Your News? team. They have made one of the best documentaries ever.

6) http://mcrorie.net
The best one-man band on earth.

How does all of this online intake and assimilation influence Graffiti Island?
The Internet has an infinite amount of information on weird places and weirdoes. That is the kind of information I need to write the songs I need to write. That’s all.

Do you think without all this stuff knocking around your head you would be the same band?
I don't think so. We'd probably all be wearing straw hats, pointy shoes, low cut V neck T shirts and singing songs that go oh eh oh oh oh eh oh oh eh oh eh oh.


Graffiti Island’s debut 7” is forthcoming on House Anxiety Records.

Vice Interview: Ophelia Field

Interview with leading historian Ophelia Field for the 'History Issue' of Vice Magazine.

It’s All Just A Little Bit Of History Repeating

A Conversation with Ophelia Field

Ophelia Field is none of the things historians are meant to be. This young, attractive and articulate graduate of Christ Church Oxford and the London School of Economics has zero scalp issues or beige wardrobe fetishes and knows lots more than you about the early 18th Century.

When she isn’t acting as a consult to the UN on Refugees and Exiles she can be found freelancing in the earnestly large pages of the Sunday Telegraph and The Times Literary Supplement. She also somehow finds the time to rattle out chunky books on her fave period of British history which she reckons to be from around 1690-1750.

Her 2002 work on Sarah the Duchess of Marlborough got the history brass in a lather and she is set to follow that with a book on the pretty hilariously named ‘Kit-Cat Club’. Unfortunately this has nothing to do with a bunch of people really into eating tin foil swaddled chocolate and everything to do with a movement that changed the whole way in which the power of the printed word was perceived.

As a bunch of printed words with all conquering power aspirations ourselves we reckoned she would be the perfect person to talk to.

VICE: Hey Ophelia, how did you get into the whole history game?
Ophelia Field: Firstly while most would call me ‘a historian’, it isn’t a label I use about myself. I think of myself as a writer, whose books so far have happened to be about the past and aim to be thoroughly factual. Though I accept the subjectivity of history, I always like to know whether I’m writing or reading something that is attempting to be empirically true.

That is something that, regardless of everything else, I think we look for. The truth.
You must look for the truth based on primary evidence and divorce that from the opinion of people. I have no problem with today’s blurring of the genres of history, biography and imaginative fiction, so long as the reader remains conscious of the distinctions and doesn’t come away from a novel under the impression that they’ve read a reliable historical account.

So you’re basically saying don’t take The Da Vinci Code or The Passion of The Christ too seriously?
There are too many countries where people today still risk their lives fighting for certain historical facts to be acknowledged and taught in schools to start confusing fact with fiction. We shouldn’t get lazy about it just because we’re lucky enough to live in relatively free societies.

How did you initially become interested in the subject itself?
It was actually the conflicting interpretations of history that first attracted me to it at school. I had good teachers, who always made it clear there were at least five sides to any historical story and that we ourselves could come up with a sixth interpretation with a little bit of effort. I actually had another career (as a refugee advocate) for almost a decade before I returned to my enthusiasm for history.

Was there a single historical area that pulled you back towards the subject?
What brought me back was my fascination with a particular character – Sarah Churchill, the first Duchess of Marlborough (1660-1742). She reminded me of certain tough but misunderstood women I had met in politics and while working the human rights field. A friend of mine told me about Sarah when I was describing a colleague at work one day. I started reading up on Sarah’s life. She was the best friend and possible lesbian lover of Queen Anne and totally fascinating. Before I knew it I was writing Sarah’s biography.

What is it that makes Sarah’s period so interesting?
I like the early eighteenth century it because it is one of the lesser known periods of British history. It’s ignored by both the boy-historians who love the Civil War and guns and blood and the campy-historians who love the big hair and costumes of the later eighteenth century also give it a wide berth. It was also a time of important change when many elements of what we think of as modern life first emerged.

What are we talking here in terms of ‘modern’?
In my new book, I look at a number of situations in the 1690s and early 1700s that now seem amazingly familiar. The ‘culture wars’ fought between puritanical Christians and the more secular, libertine, urban elites (including members of the Kit-Cat) are directly comparable to the culture wars over ‘God, guns and gays’ raging in the United States today. The divide between city and country life was becoming more profound, and in the cities individuals were pushing the boundaries of free expression that had already cracked open in the seventeenth century. Only the other day the British Government announced it would finally look at repealing the blasphemy laws, so that struggle isn’t even over yet.

Yikes. What else did the Kit-Cat Club get up to aside from having the best name in town?
The name came from one of the groups founders Christopher ‘Kit’ Cat and yes the chocolate bar probably did pilfer its name from the club. More importantly the newspapers launched by Kit-Cat members Joseph Addison and Richard Steele in the 1710s, The Tatler and The Spectator, were part of a printing and reading boom. They intended to teach Christian morals, but they were in fact a substitute for the authority of the pulpit. They taught hundreds of thousands of Englishmen how to live their daily lives according to ‘polite’ social rules. They were the beginning of modern journalism, with its emphasis on culture, style and opinion. Without Addison and Steele, there would be no Vice.

Thanks guys, remind us we owe you one! Did the press criticize the government as it does now?
My period did see accusations made against the British Government that its ministers were profiting privately from a long expensive war against France – criticism akin to current hostility to the ‘military-industrial complex’ in the USA and the ‘No blood for oil’ opposition to the recent invasion of Iraq so yes. England’s wars against Louis XIV were sustained by anti-Jacobitism (fear of invasion or insurgency by supporters of the former Stuart monarchy), and this can be directly compared to anti-terrorism rhetoric today: both fears having a foundation in reality but at the same time being played upon by those whose power is based on defending national security.

We never learn eh?
I personally found deep relevance and comfort however in the way that writers and artists in the early eighteenth century, such as the poets and playwrights in the Kit-Cat Club, juggled their creative careers with day-jobs and adapted to the rapid professionalisation and commercialisation of the arts. Their worries almost exactly mirror ours.

Could you single out an event in British history which you feel has had the greatest resonance on the world we are sitting in right now?
Historians are prone to argue that anything important happened first in their period. You can find two historians analysing events 500 years apart and each writing about ‘the first rise of capitalism’ or ‘the new middle-class’. I won’t claim to pick one event from the totality of British history, just one from my own period: the South Sea Bubble.

What happened when the bubble burst?
The 1690s saw the start of Europe’s ‘commercial revolution’ in which the Bank of England was founded on new theories of credit finance, supporting the first ever national debt, and leading thousands to invest in the stock-market. The Kit-Cat Club’s members were a part of this revolution. Less than thirty years later, however, in 1720, the profitless South Sea Company crashed and the first ‘bubble’ burst, plunging London into deep economic gloom and confirming the deepest fears of those Christians who felt that the over-sophisticated financiers were intrinsically deceptive and sinful. Today, as we sit watching the sub-prime mortgage crisis plunge the global economy over the edge, and analysts still talk in terms of ‘bubbles’, it is apparent that our society is still ricocheting between these two poles of childish faith in the markets and then childish heartbreak at their unregulated greed.

This history thing really is into repeating itself again and again. If there was one period of history you would like to live in to escape all this booming and busting what would you go for?
Knowing too much about the physical hardships of the eighteenth century, I would choose a more recent period. If I could be sure to be a woman safe on the British home front, I would live among those who survived both the First and Second World Wars, because that generation had two post-war chances to construct brave new international structures, based on brief windows of moral consensus and political will in the West. I’d like to have worked among those who established the ill-fated League of Nations, or paved the way for the extraordinary Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which will see its 60th anniversary this December. As a second best to living in the early twentieth century, I plan to write about it.

Who is your favourite historian? You can’t say yourself here.
A living expert on my own period, the eighteenth century: the British historian Linda Colley, currently a professor at Princeton. Her books always combine impeccably detailed scholarship and fluent storytelling with sweeping new perspectives of the kind that women are usually too modest to make. Her best work has appeared once a decade – In Defiance of Oligarchy (1982), Britons (1992) and Captives (2002) – and has fundamentally shifted the terms of historical debate with their understanding that history is made as much by fears and imaginings as by economics and armies. Everyone should give them a read.

The Kit-Cat Club: Friends Who Imagined a Nation by Ophelia Field is available from June from HarperPress. Go buy it.

Vice Interview: Tombs

Interview for the 'History Issue' of Vice Magazine with raging NY blackened hardcore outfit Tombs.

Tombs Are Dead Scary

You can’t really get a more history filled place than a Tomb. They are basically little pockets of times passed. Sealed, buried nuggets of yesterday preserved forevermore. Pretty creepy really if you think about it which is probably why pretty much every cheap shlocky band ever has at some point or other relied on a coffin, skeleton, mummy, headstone or gravedigger to give their act some oompah. Come on, The Misfits rule but they looked a little silly if you were any older than lets say hmm…4?

Anyhow, this band may be called Tombs but they skip the whole Adams Family schtick and go in for terrifying you with brutal, uncompromising riffs that sound like they want to kill you by battering your skull in with a rusty nail and then raping your unborn child. In fact they could be singing about just that for all I know ‘cos I can’t make out a word the scary singer guy is howling.

VICE: You are all of a certain erm…vintage. Could you run us through the annals of Tombs history?
Mike Hill (guitar): Carson was working at a restaurant down the street from where I live in Brooklyn. One day I was wearing an Eyehategod shirt when I went in there and we started talking about music and how weak Williamsburg is and that was it. Eyehategod is the root of our history: the foot of the Tombs family tree.

Aside from Eyehategod what other stuff are you into?
Mike: David Lynch films, vintage firearms, suffering, darkness, winter.
Justin Ennis (Drums): And the constant need to escape from reality.

In ancient Rome if a Vestal Virgin popped her cherry she would be buried alive in a tomb. How would you guys hate to go?
Mike: Being torn apart by wolves or having your heart cut out with a stone knife would suck.
Carson Daniel James (Bass): Anything where you are still alive is going to suck really isn’t it? Buried alive, burned alive, eaten alive. None of those would be fun.
Justin: I am not into old age full stop.

Which historical figure living or dead would you like to see buried alive in a tomb?
Mike: This guy that lives in my neighborhood that I see everywhere. He has a moustache and wears all of these old school metal patches on his denim jacket but he is a total fake.
Carson: Matt Grierson. Mark my words motherfucker, if you're reading this you’re already dead.

How could he be reading this if he were dead? Plus you get to kill anyone ever including Hitler, Pol Pot or even Heather Mills and you go for some guy only you know? Come on, stop world suffering once and for all here.
Justin: OK, George Bush and anyone that voted for him?

Generic but more what I was looking for.


Tombs self titled debut album is available now on Black Box Recordings.

Vice Interview: Skeletons & The Kings Of All Cities

Interview for Vice Magazine with free/folk/out/noise botherers Skeletons & The Kings Of All Cities (formerly Skeletons & The Girl Faced Boys).

Grave Diggaz

Skeletons And The Kings Of All Cities rob and run.

Skeletons and the Kings of All Cities aren’t quite a band. They are more a loose unit of musicians, artists and strays who can number anything between two and twenty depending on time and place. The whole shebang spins around the vortex of filmmaker, artist and photographer Matt Mehlan, founder of the Shinkoyo DIY art collective and ParisLondonWestNile and Silent Barn performance spaces in New York.

When they get to playing Skeletons come on like a bunch of psychedelic grave robbers plundering the bones of western pop, eastern ragas and African tropicalia before proceeding to dance on their tombs playing a reconstituted patchwork of the lot until way past dawn.

The band successfully reinvision centuries of sonic history, coat it in a glaze of melody and play it for all it’s worth. While the outfit has been gestating and regurgitating weird sounds since 2003 it is in this years Lucas full length that all the crazy sound thievery finally comes together. You should go check it out.

VICE: Your music sounds deliciously out of step with pretty much anything. Which era of history would you say it belongs to?
Jason McMahon (guitars, vocals, synths): The past is always changing, and that’s good for it’s survival. If history never changed, it would cease to mean anything; it would sort of shrivel and die like Grandpa Lincoln. Sometimes you hear people say that something is ahead of its time, but later it turns out it was actually just right on time. Except if you’re talking about something that was just a bad idea to begin with, which belongs to no era at all.
Matt Mehlan (guitars, vocals, synths): I just read the Wikipedia entry about the fall of the Roman Empire. One theory is that instead of the aqueducts, which purified the Romans' water they began using lead pipes. It's similar to the Glass Armonica, an instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin. Everyone thought the eerie tone of the instrument caused insanity, but really it was the lead in the glass bowls.

Remind me to steer clear of those. There seems to be a sense of the primitive about your music. Is that something you are going for or do you just not know how to play your instruments?
Jason: Music is only primitive in the sense that the performers are masters of their instruments in ways that don’t make sense. Music is always trying to talk about right now, whether it’s trying to understand what the past means to us, or what we think the future can be like. I think that “right now” influences us the most because it’s the closest. I don’t believe in astrology because those planets are just too far away.

Who are your favourite Kings of all time?
Matt: Martin Luther, BB, Carol, Freddie, Tubby, of Queens, the movie Kingpin, Crimson, Tut, Larry, Stephen, Kong, Jesus, Burger, Rodney, Rat, The Lion, Cobra, of the Hill, of Leon, Lear, Lizard, Sofa, NoSmo, NoPar. There are a lot of good kings.

Jam Ra

Lucas is out now on Ghostly International.


Monday, 7 April 2008

Vice March Literary Reviews

Literary reviews I wrote in March for Vice Magazine.

Vice March Literary Reviews

Punk Is Dead, Everything Is Everything
Bryan Ray Turcotte
Gingko Press

Duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh! Here comes the follow up to Fucked Up & Photocopied! Damian from Fucked Up coincidentally owns Fucked Up & Photocopied and is a big fan. His wife has even pre-ordered this one for him so he can stack it chronologically on his shelf at home. Like it’s predecessor, Punk Is Dead, Punk Is Everything goes heavy on the fliers, ticket stubs, ‘zine covers and cuttings from there and then which lends the whole affair the air of some meticulous and obsessive fanboys scrapbook. Which it basically is. The book moves from the smacked out New York mid-70’s antics of the Dolls, Ramones and Johnny Thunders to interviews on the early 80’s movement with Ian Mackaye and punk profiteering with Malcolm McLaren covering so many bases that if you are stuck for a punk rock Easter present then ta da! the hunt is over.


Laurence King Publishing

So you think you don’t need a book that’s a massive catalogue of hundreds and hundreds of logos eh? Well, so did we. Until this turned up. You can’t help but keep picking it up and flicking through it. It’s like a big, bound lump of visual candy that once you’ve tasted you have to keep eating forever and ever. It’s beautifully and minimally laid out allowing all of these familiar arrangements of letters and colours which you see 67,000 times plastered everywhere you go everyday to breathe on it’s milky white pages and become interesting bits of design that someone spent time and effort creating only to be used as the tight end of the corporate battering ram. The best bit of all is how the book is divided up into sections that initially seem bizarre but rapidly make perfect sense: ‘waves’, ‘cornucopia’, ‘incomplete characters’, ‘ambigrams’. Just saying them out loud is pretty calming.


Yeti 5
Yeti Publishing

Yeti is a truly beautiful labour of love looked after by the ever-insightful Mike McGonal, a guy who really knows a good thing when he sees it or hears it. We knew this already because Mike has written stuff in this very magazine in the past which was great and all but Yeti 5 is simply scrape-yer-jaw-off-the-floor super duper. From the scary, dog coming to get you cover by Saul Chernick through conversations with Will Oldham, Pat Gubler from PG Six and the late Leigh Bowery’s wife Nicola to work from German Surrealist artist Unica Zurn, drawings from Kyle Field from Little Wings and Kevin Arrow, a feature on Blind Willie Johnson, a Western Saharan travelogue by Hisham Mayet from Sublime Frequencies and the dearly departed Charles Gocher of the Sun City Girls as well as some great AIM transcripts compiled by some guy calling himself Bloodninja. Still not sold? It also comes with a free CD with artwork by Jeff Mangum, which features a compilation of the Neutral Milk Hotel man’s favourite ‘78’s. Cha ching.


Stephen Shore

You should already know Stephen Shore for his super well known collections American Surfaces and Uncommon Places. These two bodies of work pre-figured and hugely influenced the work of folks like Nan Goldin, Wolfgang Tillmans and Thomas Struth who you, your friends and everyone else with a foundation in photography now rip off. There is however far more to Shore than a cursory skim through those two works would suggest. This little book is like Shore 101 and covers everything from his great black and white shots from the mid-60’s of Warhol’s Factory scene as well as his conceptual late 60’s work through to his better known 70’s shots that effortlessly transform boring chunks of the American everyday into beautiful images that transcend localisation. You also get an exclusive Michael Fried interview and a bunch of essay by the man himself. Wow.

Vice March Record Reviews

Record reviews I wrote in March for Vice both published and unpublished.

Vice March Record Reviews

Colin Meloy
Colin Meloy Sings Live!
Rough Trade

1 The guy from the Decemberists sings songs all on his own. If that wasn’t scary enough he also forces the crowd into weird sing alongs and butchers ‘Barbara Allen’. Also, is he paying John Darnielle like, voice copyright dues or something? If you shut your eyes it’s like the Argos Mountain Goat goes solo.

The Nightmarchers
See You In Magic
One Little Indian

8 I wish John Reiss was my dad. Whenever things were getting a bit much you’d be able to head home for the weekend and poppa John would be there making bacon and skillet potatoes, listening to dusty rockabilly LPs, drinking Anchor Steam and be all like: “hey man, where you been? Come on in, want a beer?”

John Wayne

Karen Dalton
Green Rocky Road
Megaphone Music

1 First Vashti Bunyan, then Gary Higgins now Karen Dalton. Who are the Laurel Canyon, Devandra toe sucking, patchouli oil smelling motherfuckers going to exhume and rape for re-release cash next? Who cares?

Glen Boring

The Dirtbombs
We Have You Surrounded
In The Red

9 If you are the kind of person who already owns all of The Dirtbombs 45’s and the entire Gories discography you will probably be so excited about this first full length in half a decade from Mick Collins and his Dirtbombs that you are running round your living room right now in anticipation. If not you should be. Even after all these years there is not a single better frenzied soul train speeding through the back catalogue of Detroit garage and straight off the rails into sweaty chaos out there.

Smack Fight

The Flax Of Reverie

8 Like some black-cowled Merlin straight out of a Kenneth Anger movie, serial collaborator Daniel O’Sullivan applies his blackened midas to yet another piece of perfect darkness scraped from the bowels of some forgotten Albion. This one sounds like Popol Vuh soundtracking Syd Barrett unraveling in the corner of a May Day banquet in 1647.

Alistair Crow-Lee

Jesse Malin
On Your Sleeve
One Little Indian

5 When Jesse Malin was twelve years old he was fronting Heartattack at CBGB’s hardcore matinees every week. What the fuck were you doing when you were 12? Watching Sharky & George, eating Cheerios and growing your first boner that’s what. For this fact alone no matter how unforgivable covering The Kills may be Jesse will always be better than you.

Jimmy Trill

Super Roots 9
Thrill Jockey

10 The Boredoms are one of those outfits that everyone always talks about in hushed, reverential tones as if they are the second coming of Sir Francis of Assisi or something. Sure, Vision Creation Newsun was incredible and that big drum party in New York looked like a barrel of laughs but have you listened to any of the previous installments in the ‘Super Roots’ series? Kind of hit miss. Not this one though. It’s like the bit where the Millennium Falcon jumps to lightspeed for 40 straight minutes. Wow.

Perry Garcia

The Exploders Club
Freedom Wind
Dead Oceans

7 It is impossible to dislike this album because if you weren’t into this you wouldn’t like the Beach Boys and that would make you opinion about anything, ever invalid. Sorry, that’s just the way it goes. While it’s hardly Pet Sounds it sure makes a brave, woozy, Wurlitzer sheathed stab at it.

Jimmy Pendletone

White Williams
Double Six

8 While all this electronic, cut and paste stuff that is pouring out of Baltimore and New York right now like bleepy, neon, silly putty will never last too far past debut albums it’ll sure do for now! Messers Williams and Deacon: you have at least six months of making everyone get sweaty in warehouses left. After that its back to the postgraduate astronomy degrees or whatever it is you are all shirking from pretending to reinvent the pop wheel. We are onto you but we don’t care. You make us smile.

Jay Kay

God Luck And Good Speed
Southern Lord

(This is my album of the month) 10 Dixie Dave Collins returns with 9 more tracks that sound like they’ve been embalmed in bourbon, dragged through a lead poisoned bong and then blown through a wall of fried Marshall stacks. I refuse to call stuff like this Stoner Rock. Let’s just call it fucking perfect.

St Tightass

The Black Keys
Attack And Release

2 There is great and noble tradition of ‘sticking to your guns’ in rock and roll. Some bands get away with making the same album over and over again and that’s just fine if the blueprint is bulletproof. Think Uncle Tupelo or The Replacements here. If your ingredients were kind of stale to begin with though and you keep knocking up the same soup you are fucked. Not even trying to make the album title sound like a Simian Mobile Disco record and getting Danger Mouse onboard is going to fix that.

Michaela Strapon

Atomic Hooligan
Sex, Drugs and Blah Blah Blah…
Botchit & Scarper

10 Everything about this, from the cover to the title via the sub Fabric room 1 on a Friday night breaks, is so pant-fillingly, tear-inducingly awful that it has to be a work of genius. Like a Stealth bomber of awesomeness in Front Magazine covermount CD clothing this thing is so many degrees past wrong that it can only be the future. Or the apocalypse itself. Either way I’m transfixed worse than roadkill in headlights.

Queen Of Swords/Humanfly split 12”

8 Some things are only ever going to work on vinyl. A 12” featuring one 15 minute track per side of intense instrumental electronic noise and scattershot beats from two bands manned by a bunch of ex record store clerks is one of them.

Mirror! Mirror!
Stop Scratching

7 The only things we ever get sent to review are cd’s. There are millions of them in the office. Trillions maybe. We could set up an eBay store selling Akon promos as decorative coasters. So it’s nice to occasionally get something on a format that you almost forgot existed.

Sian Alice Group
The Social Registry

8 Icier than a frozen packet of Fox’s Glacier Mints on a crisp January morning this debut will inevitably have the broadsheets coughing a lung over it’s “ethereal vocals” and yaddah yaddah blah blah. Don’t let that spoil it for you though. It’s a great album. And sometimes that’s all that matters.

Beach House
Bella Union

7 This is what’s probably playing on a dusty jukebox in the saloon up in heaven where the gentleman cowboys go to play never ending games of five card stud and sip bottomless beakers of bourbon.

Vice Interview: Heartsrevolution

Interview with recent signees to Kate Moross's fledgeling Isomorph Records.


Heartsrevolution are a cute band born from the cute concept that a cute girl from LA called Lo had one day to turn up at shows and parties and yard sales and pretty much wherever she fancied in a cute 1960’s ice cream truck and sell cute stuff out of the back of it. The truck was called Heartschallenger and became an all purpose vehicle dedicated to spreading cuteness. You should be getting the whole ‘cute’ thing by now. I’ve kind of been hammering it home.

The whole selling weird organic ice cream, fluorescent 7” singles and limited print run t shirts by local artists with no other outlet was in fact such a cute concept that we featured the Heartschallenger ice cream van in an episode of The Cute Show on VBS.

Since then the pair realized that the ditties that Lo’s pal Ben had been knocking up to blear out of Heartschallenger as they sold their wares were actually really great. As an extension of the whole ‘everything under one roof’ ethic that governs Heartschallenger’s mini-world they decided to start performing the tracks live. Out of the back of the truck. Everyone went monkey-nuts about Lo and Ben’s ice cream jingles come to life and no one more so than our buddy Kate Moross. Kate provided the newly christened Heartsrevolution live experience with artwork, a label and live visuals. She helped out so much in fact that Lo and Ben made her an official member of the band . Why does no one ever want me in their band?

VICE: How did you two cutie pies meet up and decide to start rolling around town in a pink ice cream van?
Lo (voice): We worked at the same hotel in LA. I had always wanted to drive an ice cream truck and I was into Riot Grrrl and all that kind of stuff growing up so the idea of a totally independent little unit that could sell it’s own special little things that you can’t get anywhere else seemed totally logical to me.
Ben (keyboards and effects): And she just needed me to write some tunes which we just based on the Aphex Twin song ‘Flim’.
Lo: I had been a straight edge chick in South Central until I was 14 and getting shit all the time then I dropped out of school, went to a rave in the dessert, did a bunch of drugs, heard that song and knew it would make perfect Ice Cream van music.

The tunes seem to have become more popular than the van. Who’d a thunk it?
Ben: Those tunes got me thrown out of my band, they were like: “its the band or the ice cream”. I went with the ice cream.
Lo: That’s ‘cos it’s more fun. I knew we were onto a good thing when my daughter started dancing to the songs. She comes to all of our parties and hustles outside the van. She runs the show.

Do you have seperate outfits for stage and ice pop vending?
Lo: For the truck we dress pretty normal but for stage we get a little dressed up. Capes, matching hoodies, a little facepaint maybe.
Ben: We have recently got into balaclavas for the live show. They would be handy for getting ice pole out of the deep freeze.

Jay Kay

Heartsrevolution’s 7” vinyl Switchblade EP is forthcoming on Kate Moross’s Isomorph Records.


Vice Interview: Geoffrey Oi!Cott

An interview with cricket themed Oi! dudes Geoffrey Oi!Cott for Vice Magazine. Piers Martin did a great edit of this which made it far funnier but here is my original.

Geoffrey Oi!cott

We reviewed Geoffrey Oi!cott’s debut LP The Good, The Bad & The Googly last month and since then we’ve had trouble listening to anything else. Come on, what is not to love here? Genuine Oi! played with utter conviction by four fat, old Yorkshiremen calling themselves W.C. disGrace, Freddy Skintoft, Spike Gatting and Devon Malcolm McClaren Add to this the lyrics which cover such universal topics as the spouses of the bands favourite darts players (‘Darts Players Wives’), northern pride (‘Welcome To Yorkshire’), girls (‘Dawn Of The Dickie Birds’), the spirit of Oi! itself (‘Oi!Oi!Oi!Oi!’) and of course cricket (‘LBW’, ‘Get Padded Up Mate’) and you are basically looking at one of those rare things: a mini modern classic. Sure the Oi!Cott will be forgotten by many, perhaps even the majority, of the people in the world but for the lucky, chosen few whose lives this special record will touch the band shall live on by word of mouth and their legacy shall endure forever amongst those who like Oi!, beer, buxom ladies and the noble sports of darts and cricket. Ladies and Gentleman, we present The Oi!Cott, long may they rein!

VICE: Ok, you are all really old and have been smelly punks all your lives so I’m not even going to ask you what bands you all used to play in as it will probably end up taking a whole page and no one will really give a shit. Let’s get straight into clothes as this is The Fashion Issue and all. You are all boots and braces and flatcaps right now. Is this the look you usually rock or are you just trying to impress the youths?
W.C disGrace (bass): Nah cock, what you see is what you get.
Spike Gatting (drums): We all dress like this, at work, down the boozer, whatever. We’ve all dressed like this years. I guess you could call it a skinhead look but whatever.

How about onstage?
Freddy Skintoft (vocals): I’ll wear the full whites onstage. Get the sun hat out. Get the pads on occasionally. I also accessorise the stage with a few bits and bobs. Bat to do a bit of air guitar with, stumps, couple of placards for sixes and fours.

Sounds good, getting people in the cricket mood. How about the rest of you? Too scared to rock the whites?
Devon Malcolm McLaren (guitar): We dress up as birds quite often actually.
Spike Gatting: Yeah, we won’t do the whites but gives us a dress and high heels? No bother son.

Who is your favourite darts players’ wife?
Freddy Skintoft: Probably Scotty Waites’s missus. He’s the Yorkshire captain though, we sort of know him. So don’t print that. The darts is great to watch though. We’ve got some Geoffrey Oi!Cott flights done for the merch.

Have you played a cricket ground yet?
W.C disgrace: Not yet. We’re waiting for the invitation. We’re not sure who we cater for really an Oi! crowd or a cricket crowd. I’m not sure the Oi! guys take us seriously.
Freddy Skintoft: I dunno, in Belgium the singer from Argy Bargy came up and said he loved the record. That was pretty strange.

Jam ‘69

Geoffrey Oi!Cott’s The Good, The Bad & The Googly is available now on X Fist/Boss Tunage Records


i-D March Review

A review of No Age's debut proper for i-D.

No Age
Sub Pop

Trading in the wide-eyed, scattershot blasting of last years ‘Weirdo Rippers’ collection for a more coherent approach on their debut proper No Age prove early promise to be no false dawn. The DIY princes of LA’s Smell scene mine a vein of lo-fi. reverb-drenched punk that somehow successfully oscillates between late period Black Flag and My Bloody Valentine in a heartbeat.

NME Radar Scene Piece: Minimal Dubstep

A scene report on the Wham City-centric Baltimore scene. With added handy links below.

Futureshocking! Baltimore’s New Beat

-While LA shimmered in 2007, 2008 is the US murder capital’s time to shine-

Offering a low cost of living and ready access to cavernous warehouse spaces Baltimore has rapidly become a magnet and haven for those looking to embrace and explore their creativity from all over the US. The cities pulsing BMore club scene and established art rock sound, expounded by labels like Monitor, have collided and subsequently exploded in the shape of the nebulous collective/performance space/whatever known as Wham City.

The name came to describe the warehouses that Dan Deacon and several other bands, artists, strays and wastrels lived and performed in. While the original Wham City has now been closed due to one too many all night ‘happenings’ Dan believes, if anything, the spirit of Wham City is stronger than ever: “the conditions that bought that place about bought so many people together that whole thing will keep growing and growing. You don’t have to be from Baltimore to be part of Wham City. It is a mindset. A way of living.”

Dan’s music willfully adopts the diverse influences which make Wham City living so unique, turns them inside out and spits them all over his listeners in glorious technicolour. His hyperactive “Spiderman Of The Rings” album, released late last year, came on the heals of sweaty, intimate, high energy live performances that saw Dan set up in the midst of the crowd and actively encourage the whole room to become involved in the process of performance. At London’s Cargo he instigated a dance-off in the middle of the floor that to be seen to be believed. The music itself is a cut and paste mess of burping, bleeping electronics and breackore beats and with its couldn’t-give-a-shit attitude gloriously reflects everything Wham City is about: having fun and being whatever you want to be while you dance you ass off and roll around on the floor laughing.

The Wham City approach has led not only to a collective mindset but also a distinguishable sound known locally as Futureshock generally involving electronics, high tempos and riotous live shows with the ‘anything goes’ creed of Wham City ensuring that no two Futureshock acts sound even remotely similar.

Video Hippo’s amazingly titled Unbeast The Leash album may not be as overpoweringly ecstatic as some of it’s contemporaries but it shares a wide-eyed optimism. Ponytail sidestep the electronics obsession while maintaining a state of childish frenzy with their rackus guitar fuzz and screched female vocals. Check out their excellent Kamehameha album. Ecstatic Sunshine could certainly be in the running for most aptly named band ever. Allow their shimmering guitars and electronics lull you into a smile filled neverland on new LP Living. Perhaps the heaviest proposition in the pack, Double Dagger, play stripped down, de-tuned and immediate punk rock as vital as it is desperate on their great Ragged Rubble album.

Also well worth investigating are the freeform noise excursions of WZT Hearts, Lizz King’s plaintive strummings, the beat based antifolk of Santa Dads and the shout a long punk of Blood Baby.

Proving that being Wham City doesn’t mean being from Baltimore, Australia via New York electro-punk noiseniks The Death Set now call Wham City home while Dan Deacon’s two constant tour companions hail from out of state. Pittsburgh based Greg Gillis’s Girl Talk project infectiously takes the Baltimore cut and paste electro template to infinity and way beyond by creating whole tracks of mashed up samples. Sticking everything from The Beatles and The Verve to Public Enemy and The Pixies in the blender and chucking up the ecstatic Night Ripper album which single handedly atones for every crap early noughties mashup record ever released.

Similarly, Joe ‘White’ Williams may be from Cleveland but his forthcoming Smoke album contains all the elements that make Futureshock and the ‘Wham Sound’ so great. With a careless disregard for any particular pigeonhole in sight Williams’s slinky electronic, laptop beats are as in thrall to pure pop as the loungey nonchalance of Beck. Williams may yet prove the pick of the Wham City crop. Miss his upcoming live dates and miss becoming converted forever.

While HBO’s incredible crack dealers vs cops saga The Wire might have you thinking otherwise, Gram Parsons once sang that “the prettiest place on earth is Baltimore at night”. As of right now we are inclined to go with Gram. Long live Wham City! Long live Futureshock!


* Wham City: http://www.whamcity.com/

* Dan Deacon: http://www.myspace.com/dandeacon

* Girl Talk: http://www.myspace.com/girltalkmusic

* White Williams: http://www.myspace.com/whitewilliams

* Video Hippos: http://www.myspace.com/videohippos

* Ponytail: http://www.myspace.com/jreamteam

* Ecstatic Sunshine: http://www.myspace.com/ecstaticsunshine

* Double Dagger: http://www.myspace.com/doubledaggersuck

* The Death Set: http://www.myspace.com/thedeathset

* WZT Hearts: http://www.myspace.com/wztheartssss

* Lizz King: http://www.myspace.com/llizzking

* Santa Dads: http://www.myspace.com/santadads

* Blood Baby: http://www.myspace.com/bloodbaby

Psychopedia Interview: Boris

An Interview with Atsuo from the continually great Boris for psychopedia.com


-Creating opportunities for experience-

As Boris enter their 16th year as an operating musical unit it seems that they have always been there. Like one of their songs Boris have slowly shifted from primordial, sludge, to blissed out drone to raging high-octane rock and roll and then back again.

Forthcoming album ‘Smile’ may finally represent the record with which Boris sew these elements together and gain the wider recognition they have for so long deserved.

Named after a Melvins song from “Bullhead” Boris released early work on their own Fangs Anal Satan label in their native Tokyo. These recordings became highly sought after before recently being re-issued on Stephen O'Malley's Southern Lord, the label that they now call home.

The band's early work focused on sustained drone soundscapes with albums such as “Feedbacker” often constituting a single track. From their 2002 release, “Heavy Rocks', onwards, and most notably with 2005’s “Pink” and it’s Motorhead at the gates of infinity impression, the band have moved towards more succinct rock forms.

The bands more avant-garde tendencies have been catered for with the ongoing “The Things Which Solomon Overlooked” series as well as a string of collaborations with such avant luminaries as Keji Haino, Michio Kurihara, Merzbow, Stephen O Malley and Sunn O))).

That collaborative list alone should make anyone with a passing interest in good music excited. However, the only way to fully experience the bands transcendent, raw power is to be bludgeoned by them live.

We were granted a rare face to face interview with drummer and vocalist Atsuo in a central London hotel. Via a translator he attempted to explain Boris’s music.

Psychopedia: You played at Cargo last night and everyone was going nuts. It was almost like being at a punk show. How do you find your music translates in different countries?
Atsuo: Last night it felt like there were a lot of new people there. This creates a new energy. That is the only thing that differs from place to place. The energy created in that room at that time by that group of people.

Having played together as a band for over a decade and a half how do you maintain creativity?
If you approach things by utilizing the same processes you have used before you will soon become bored. We do not make a conscious effort to approach things differently we just know instinctively when we come to create that we must change the process.

Was this need to constantly challenge yourselves within the creative process what caused the shift from your longer, experimental work to the more conventional forms of your later work?
We felt that it was actually harder on the listener to sit through those longer pieces than it ever was for us to play them. Those albums were that length because there was so much in them and so many parts that if you actually broke them down you would find the logical song points. The latter albums are really just us taking out those parts and elements and ideas and presenting them independently of each other. Each album represents a unity of sound though if you listen to it from start to finish so really there has no been that great a shift. It is more a case of presentation or execution and how the listener perceives or listens to the finished album.

What inspired the recording of “Smile”? It is certainly as triumphant a record as you have released in the past. There also seems to be a relatively extensive use of vocals.
In terms of the vocals, “Smile” features probably as much voice as “Pink” except that it is higher in the mix. On previous records we have had melodies higher in the mix. The voice is just another instrument. Another melody line. The record itself was born as an idea two years ago around the time we were touring “Pink” and we were becoming disenchanted with the whole process and found ourselves obsessed with the idea of the fake. Particularly fake pop music and how that can in itself be hyper real. “Smile” is our attempt to reflect the idea of the fake. It might sound nothing like those pop records but it is our reflection of them.

In the past you have made the distinction between BORIS records and boris records. Do you see “Smile” as an upper case or lower case Boris record?
Those tags were a guide to the listener. The line is blurred now. You decide. We don’t really consider ourselves a band or what we create music. It is more just an opportunity for an experience. Both for us and the audience. Each album is essentially it’s own world with it’s own physical, sonic and moral rules. The albums usually come out fully formed. It is only in moments like this when I am forced to think and reflect on them that I even consider such things and realize that is what is happening at all.

You are serial collaborators. What does collaboration offer that you find so appealing?
Again the collaborations are not something that were, at the time, big deliberate decisions. Everything tends to flow naturally, like an alignment of the stars or an organic collision. They also remedy that impending boredom and broaden possibilities. When someone new contributes an idea we can follow that idea and see what becomes of it.

The live element of the band is obviously very important. How does the live element influence the creative process?
Strangely no one has ever asked me this. When we perform a live show the after image of that positive energy created stays with us and echo’s through our everyday lives. We then come to record in this altered everyday state. So yet again it is not a conscious process, more the transfer of energy and it’s affects and again an opportunity for new experience.

Music Week Preview: A Place To Bury Strangers