An interview from the Vice annual Fashion issue.
We Want War
Mathew Stone & These New Puritans Talk About Fashion Music And Art
Mathew Stone is an artist who founded the !WOWOW! collective and has exhibited his work internationally. He is much loved by a fashion world which he has always shied away from preferring his work to stand alone and speak for itself.
These New Puritan’s are so loved by planet fashion that Hedi Slimane got them to soundtrack his 2007 Dior Homme Show and in the band’s drummer, George Barnett, found a young muse. George himself has gone on to model and design himself but the band have continued to shy away from a fashion world so in thrall to them preferring to let their music stand alone and speak for itself.
Are you beginning to see what we’ve done here? Mathew shot Jack and George Barnett, the band’s creative nucleus, exclusively for this issue.
Vice: So did you guys know each other before this photo was taken?
Mathew Stone: We’d never met but I’d been into them since the first time I saw them play at DURR.. It was obvious that they had very strong ideas which many band’s don’t. Concepts like mixing archaism and futurism by playing weird old woodwind instruments on the same track they had synths all over the place immediately positioned them almost beyond time rather than being led by it.
George Barnett: Taking this photo was the first time that we had met Mathew and whatever pre-conceived notions of him being a hyper-pretentious art guy that some people might have they should forget about. He was just really nice and very creative. He actually seemed quite nervous when we turned up at his studio. The shoot was great though. We enjoyed working with Mathew so much and he had so many ideas that it looks like we’ll be making our next video with him.
Would you say that there is anything that your work has in common?
George Barnett: Probably strong ideas immediately executed. When we turned up for the shoot he just had this red background ready and we got on with it. As a band we have ides that we go into the studio with and just record. We never jam. Jamming probably encapsulates everything I hate about music.
Mathew Stone: Yeah, the pursuit of strong, interesting ideas in their music was a definite motivation for me wanting to work with the band. Most bands are chickenshit, the first second someone tells them that if they do something in a certain way they will get more money they jump at it. I don’t think These New Puritans have ever done that. They have fought to be in place where they can do whatever they want and that in itself is admirable. I appreciate people who are committed to making things in that way.
You are both linked to fashion but don’t seem to let it lead the stuff you do.
George Barnett: For me they are just fairly separate things.
Mathew Stone: The band have made music for Hedi Slimane’s catwalk shows and George fronts campaigns for people like Lanvin as a model so they are always going to be linked to fashion but they do seem to see the two things as very separate pursuits. Similarly, while I am interested in clothes and think that fashion is just as vital a creative pursuit as any other form I have never shot fashion photography as I have never been interested in selling clothes or being a part of the industry itself. I think that the people that are able to successfully operate within the confines of the fashion world without being creatively compromised are the people to be celebrated though and the band certainly fulfil that criteria.