Thursday, August 24, 2006

Hamilton View: Interview Transcript

Hello Again,

Below, please find another online interview with an arts journalist from Hamilton, Ontario. Adam Grant submitted these questions last evening for the View, Hamilton's alt-newsweekly. When Mr. Grant's copy appears in print I'll repost for comparison/contrast.

My responses are too over-the-top for my liking (I've become an ascetic bore in the last few years), but the View wanted protracted zazz... Biz iz biz.

TS

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1. I've seen your band's sound described as Experimental, Noise Rock, Sound Collage and Avant-Garde -- how would you best describe it?

We refer to it as Pre. In all things, a becoming, an unknowing… L’Éternel Retour.

2. Because of how complex your music sounds, how complex is it to make?

Practice mirrors process.

Creating the sonics isn't terribly abstract - one has only to open one's mouth, or place one's hands on a key, a fret, or a dial. (That noted, many of us have received formal training, and each of us has practiced his craft with artisanal focus and intensity for years, decades.) The rigors, however, are primarily compositional. Post-production is an arduous affair; The Wigmaker took five years to complete, while Horoscopo required four. Each demanded thousands of hours of labor. Noon, a relatively pain-free album, took nearly a year to complete... We've learned to develop projects in parallel; there's always something on boil.

3. What kind of audience does your music attract? Is there a common thread?

Everyday folk, a healthy cross-section. They seem to know their authors, wines, footwear, skin diseases, and conspiracies.

4. What has drawn you to choose this style of music over the typical sounds of general drum, bass, guitar rock and roll bands?

I was fortunate to have mentors – they introduced me to Sun Ra, Stockhausen, and the Miles Davis of On the Corner and Agharta before I was ten. My path was thus set long ago. The other members have their own, similar stories.

More specifically related to my experience? I was tremendously influenced by environmental sound. I grew up in a small agricultural town in southeastern Georgia, about 40 miles north of the Florida border. My parents lived less than a mile from a two-lane intrastate highway; the asphalt had a distinctive sonic signature. Although ours was a musical household (my mother and sister played piano, and the television and stereo were always blaring country, gospel, and pop music), the melodies I fell in love with were those of tractor-trailers tearing atop narrow roads at night. The highway would rise in a keening, spiraling salute, and echoes would waft the high-pitched swathes of sound across the fields and into my bedroom window. Those hisses evoked mysteries, unknown futures... My father owned a racing team when I was still quite young, perhaps eight or nine, and the deafening, demonstrative, repetitive drones of the quarter-mile speedway profoundly informed my aesthetic. (I had a PhD in noise before "noise" existed, at least in the post-Russolo sense.) I studied music throughout high school, but really got into gear when I entered university. I enrolled in an electronic music program; later, I became a DJ at the campus radio station. Those years (1974-78) were formative. (The tapes made in the electronic lab and those created surreptitiously at the station's production studio still exist, and will be released in the next few years on a variety of labels.) The initial punk explosion (1975-1978) was very important, but otherwise, I've abjured rock. It's never been terribly interesting to me. Instead, I've followed my instincts.

5. What should fans expect from Noon and Eternity that may be different from the releases you've put out in the past?

Our listeners know better than to pose such questions.

6. With having this band up and running since '91, how do you measure your own artistic evolution, as well as the bands?

We’re indeed evolving, but we must leave it to others to make such judgments.

From a pragmatic standpoint, I can say with certainty that we've both refined and broadened our approach. We're unafraid of change; we welcome dissonance.

7. How important is it for you to be musically different from the mainstream?

We’re not in opposition to anyone’s aesthetics. We prefer instead to vilify the shortcomings we perceive in ourselves.

(This one is answered truthfully, definitively. We don't think of things in this manner at all...)

Why are music lovers drawn not only to chart hits but also to sounds produced and distributed on the periphery of an-ever splintering industry? Could you imagine wearing only spiked golf shoes for the next three years, or eating only frozen peas, or drinking only molasses? We don't assume our audiences are dullards. On the contrary, we see ourselves within their ranks. We were relentlessly eclectic in our youth, and it makes sense that the majority of them share that sense of curiosity today.

8. You have a chronological remix album on the way, what made you want to embark on such a project?

I dreamt the narrative in Zurich, Switzerland, June 2002. Four years later…

Horoscopo was created from many thousands of elements extracted from our 17 officially released albums and many other unreleased recordings, dating 1991-2006. More than anything it's a soundtrack to the screenplay I dreamed (while on tour with my other, European group, Ohne, in 2002), and a problem-solving exercise. (Much as Where a Horse was in 1998.)

9. How was it working with Thurston Moore? How'd you get him interested in joining up with you in the studio?

Thurston is a long-time friend. (I’ve known him since 1984.) He suggested we record at Sonic Youth’s facility, and we asked him in turn to contribute to the project. Noon wasn’t our first collaboration with Thurston (there’ve been other, minor key entanglements through the years), but it was certainly the most satisfying.

10. How did Andrew WK become involved with your band? What has he brought to your band artistically that wasn't there before?

I’ve known Andrew since 1996. He joined TLASILA in 2004. He brings himself.

11. Is there any concern based on Andrew W.K.'s popularity that people may be attracted to your band because he is now involved with it?

Of course not. Andrew’s fans are eclectic (and welcoming) to a fault.

12. How much time do you personally spend in a studio?

At least fifty hours per week. I prefer pajamas in the domestic trenches.

13. I see you have a bunch of projects/releases lined up for the year ahead - could you provide some info about them?

Horoscopo drops August 25 through Blossoming Noise; Noon and Eternity arrives on October 31 via Menlo Park Recordings. Three CD releases are scheduled for the French imprint Savage Land in 2007 (two archival recordings and the TLASILA/Kevin Drumm collaboration)… Many of our favorite IDM /electronica artists will be tearing the stuffing from Noon for a redux remix album, and Menlo Park plan to issue a three-disc retrospective box in ‘07 as well. There are others - I can’t quite keep up with them all. We’re fortunate sons.

14. What should live audiences expect from one of your shows?

This time, more Aeolian harp in the monitors...

Mania is a typical byproduct. There was a great deal of ass-shaking in 2004; we anticipate low-boil smoldering during this trek.

15. What do you want people to know about To Live and Shave in LA?

We desire concision, but we usually end up sleeping with concussion. Liberally inked roller derby girls receive steep merchandise discounts.

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Merci, AG.