Tuesday 9 February 2010

Coming Up For Air

The good people at Shot by Both Sides recently approached us for an interview - here are the results, which can also be found on their site:

Firstly, you're influences. By your own admission, you've put yourself in some esteemed company. The mystical Boards of Canada and Sun Ra, as well as pioneers in everything good ever in rock music, the Velvet Underground. A deliberate move? Or is that just a selection of the things you listen to as a group that inevitable influence the music you make?

David - We aspire to make music that's as important as these artists. They've all inspired us by doing something original, emotional and exciting. We'd love to make others feel the way these artists have made us feel.

Steve - Yeah, I think the big influence these guys have had isn't necessarily on our sound, but more on the way we approach making music. What they all have in common is complete fearlessless and a determination to make music that’s totally honest and personal. We start out making music that excites and inspires ourselves - if other people connect with what we do then it's a definite bonus!

The things I most obviously hear in your music, aside from the shoegaze elements, are German bands. Early Tangerine Dream, La Dusseldorf, Neu! Is there an attempt in your music to revitalise classic influences, in this case krautrock groups, for the modern age, or are you aiming for something totally new?

David - We make the music we make without any contrived themes. Inevitably the music we love influences what we do and that includes the Krautrock bands. Some of the music made by those guys was so ahead of it's time that it feels like no one caught up with them. They went off into unknown tangents that others weren't able to follow.

Steve - Those bands opened up all these new ways of thinking about and making music, so its kind of tragic that very few people have taken up the mantle. There are loads of artists around at the moment who are pretty cynically imitating the Krautrock sound but it seems about as pointless as making a tracing of a photcopy of a painting - the music always sounds washed out and bland. We'd like to make music that affects people the way bands like Can and Neu! affect us...but we want to find our own way of doing it.

Paul - I think the intention is that you're always going to produce something that hasn't been done before.  Whether you're successful in doing so is up to the listener to decide - but I don't really see the point of being in a band that aspires to just reproduce music from the past.

Did you find it difficult, before the release of any of your music, to play shows when you play music which perhaps isn't for the casual listener?

David - We've tried to play shows where possible to sympathetic audiences but sometimes its good to challenge people who think that guitar music should be about skinny jeans and three minute throwaway retro rubbish.

Paul - Finding promoters who put gigs on with bands who may have like-minded listeners has proved quite difficult in the past.  They seem to want to squeeze as many random bands in as possible, with no regard for musical kinship - so you may end up playing to people who only want to hear the skinny jeans music that David mentioned.  Which I suppose can be fun sometimes, but ultimately the goal is to play for people who are into your tunes.  Having said that, there are some great promoters who we've played for before and they've obviously spent some time putting the bill together with a considered agenda for the entire evening.

Steve - When we started out we made sure we had a backup plan: if the audience got hostile, we’d crank up the volume and attempt to deafen everyone with a wall of feedback and distortion. Generally, the casual listeners we’ve played to have been really cool and positive about what we do, so we’ve rarely had to resort to plan B.

Tell us about your excellent 'White Splinter' EP. What's your writing process? Were these well rehearsed live songs put down on to a recording, or new material written especially for this release?

Paul - We don't have a single writing process, but the majority of our tunes start as improvised jams - we're quite meticulous about recording everything we do.  If anything particularly stands out for any of us, we'll play and record it over until we decide it's a fully formed track and we have a definitive version of it.  There are moments when we'll listen back to the first time we've played a jam and collectively know we've captured something special that doesn't need to be re-recorded.

Steve - The important thing for us is that we make music as a band – it’s all about coming up with ideas spontaneously and collectively.

David - In terms of the White Splinter tracks: Descent Pattern and Broken are live favourites that we wanted to nail. 11:43 and Wipe the Sun Off Your Shoes are completely improvised, much like the secret track on our first ep, Eyes on The Wall.

Dream Driven Recordings have obviously put out this latest EP. Are there future release plans, or are you seeing how this one goes first?

David - We're working on EP3 at the moment which will also come out on Dream Driven Recordings.

Steve - At the moment EPs are the perfect format for us. It means we can have regular releases and take a few risks with the tracks we put out. We’ll also continue to regularly blog unreleased stuff – outtakes, demos, rough mixes etc . We have our very own basement tapes that’ll slowly get used in one way or another.

David - Yeah, we have much more to offer so keep your ears open for further EPs and more..

As if reading an interview with Electric Assembly wasn’t enough incentive, we really recommend you check out the rest of the site. It's definitely one of the most insightful and entertaining music sites around at the moment. Particularly recommended is their idiosyncratic but hard to fault ongoing run down of the top 20 albums of the last decade. Any list that includes J Dilla, Black Dice and Boards of Canada gets our full endorsement. In a world drowning in increasingly bland and trivial music magazines, Shot by Both Sides is a real oasis of passionate and intelligent music journalism.

The next EA release is just round the corner - more details soon. In the meantime, here's another previously unreleased studio jam from the vaults...

<a href="http://electricassembly.bandcamp.com/track/coming-up-for-air-090210">coming up for air [09.02.10] by electric assembly</a>

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