Archive for the ‘Interview’ Category

“On the internet it is so easy to be boring”

This presents a ominous challenge, as it’s highly unlikely that you, the reader, is not on-line right now…

So goes the beginning of the interview with Max from King of Cats. Ostensibly a band, but it’s very much Max’s brainchild. KoC have been bubbling under the emo/indie radar for a while now. Touring the UK and America and releasing rare and very desirable 7”s. Their anonymity may well change soon with the release of their new album.

We begin by discussing the relative merits of internet promotion. Which can be wholly summed up with this:

Max: I’m addicted to Eminem’s Facebook updates, he’s such a committed Dad, what a guy.
CK: Does he not write songs about wanting to kill his kids’ mother?
Max: No, he writes songs about wanting to kill the mums of other peoples children.
CK: Is that the a sign of being a committed father?

Abruptly moving on… It can’t have escaped anyone’s attention that there has been a boom in people playing fuzzy guitars, dressing ‘slacker’ and generally aping the American sound of the 80s/early90s. KoC’s sound is unashamedly US. What does max thing about the revival? “It gets a bit boring to be honest. One good thing though is that a lot of the bands that were doing the purist 90s alt-rock thing have started so go down weird routes. A good example would be the band Something. Which feels like the natural progression for that kind of thing”. Interestingly for someone that comes from Oxford, “Oxford sucks loads” he uses many American idioms, “CDs are whack obviously, did I just use the word whack?” and is positively revolted by the word ‘gigs’ “it’s shows!” You wonder if it goes with the territory or if it’s a bad habit picked up by many British people, “a bit of both, I love the music so much it just becomes part of the culture”.

Talking about the KoC sound Max quips “I don’t mind being labelled emo”. Quick education folks: emo was a worthy and interesting genre in the 90s that had its name appropriated by bands in 00s that are too terrible to even put in print. Hardcore got boring and people wanted to express a softer side. One problem with playing vulnerable music, is the reaction you it can harbour in the – shall we say – less mannered public. “I used to play on my own all the time when I was younger and not invite any of my friends. Just to see the reaction I’d get. I was a lot more screamy then. I was touring with Ides and played this shit place in Bournemouth. There was about 20 stag parties there and I remember getting a really antagonistic response, people were getting aggressive, but I really liked it. I like the cathartic release and power of just screaming into a mic at people”

Max is also part of Reeks of Effort. A small DIY label and community filled with equally intrepid, under the radar bands. They have an all-dayer in Brighton coming up soon, that is so far shrouded in secrecy – we’ll keep you posted folks. A testament to just how DIY Reeks of Effort are is their reluctance to put on gigs even in venues. Pitching up in living rooms with cheap amps, audience cross-legged on the floor. A hat passed around to pay the bands travel. Really special gigs, everyone paying particular attention to the band, completely devoid of rockstar pretention. Amazingly, considering there was about 30 people at each of the last two shows (gigs), they were featured in Pitchforks end of year lists??? It should be said it was Owen from Joanna Gruesome that mentioned it in an interview and he is also the drummer in KoC. But it’s still brilliant, right. I ask Max if working the band around the busy schedule of Joanna Gruesome is a challenge? “not really, if you want to make something work, you always can”

With that in mind 2014 is shaping up to be busy. Having released various odds and sods, they are releasing their de facto debut record Working Out – on the ever-so-cool Art is Hard label. With recording just finishing as this goes to print; touring nationally and supporting the rather spiffing PAWS at Sticky Mikes (17/02).

Geoff Cheesemaster Interview

Posted: 16/01/2014 in Interview

This was an interview/preview I conducted with Geoff Cheesemaster in Oct 2013 for brightonnoise.com The gig is long gone but Geoff was so charming and funny I though the interview deserved another read.

Bubbling under Brighton is a thoroughly dedicated sound art scene. Partly because the local universities focus on the subject and partly because Brightonians are just so damn switched on, man. One individual completely indispensable to the scene is the Spirit of Gravity kingpin Geoff Cheesemaster.  We’ve got him into Brighton Noise towers to discuss the up-coming Green Door Store event on 7th November.

Brighton Noise: It wouldn’t be unfair to describe Spirit of Gravity as being quite underground. Would you like to give us an intro to what you do?

Geoff Cheesemaster: What do we do, we put on things we’d like to go to. Back in the early days when the phrase ‘live electronic music’ was something of an oxymoron. Thee Founders decided they needed a regular night to play at. So they set up the Spirit of Gravity to put on vaguely electronic experimental live music. Mainly themselves, but also like-minded people. People with the same values rather than people with any ideas of genre. Which is what we still do. For example, in September we had John Wall the sound artist with some really extreme abstraction, Baconhead came up from Bristol and played their semi-improvised dubsteppy thing, and local psychedelic post noisers Ian Murphy & Nicholas Langley.

So run us through the bands playing on the 7th. Do they all sound *exactly* like The Arctic Monkeys?

DOGEESESEEGOD Are exactly like the Arctic Monkeys in that they playfully take the best of modern indie pop music and turn it to their own ends, which in this case means gurgling it up through gallons of phlegm into their hideous array of distorting boxes and playthings and throwing the results as loudly as possible at a plastic illuminated goose. ARC Are exactly like the Arctic Monkeys in that there’s three of them that use stringed instruments, and they play them through pedals and amps. But they don’t have a drummer. And they use Violin, cello and double bass, and have played in orchestras and jazz groups and now make scary music; too scary even for goths. proper scary, and so soon after halloween. Stereocilia Are exactly like the Arctic Monkeys in that they do (Hurrah!) have a guitar. But they bend that with laptop trickery and fancy units and do some AV stuff thats blinding as well.

So yes, this would be exactly like an Arctic Monkeys show in every way, apart from the way it looks. And the way it sounds.

A younger audience seem to be getting into sound art of late. Is it the new wonky-dubstep-step?

Definitely. Dubstep was invented in an improvised elektrocreche session, a little known fact. But no, there are a bunch of amazing sound artists coming through, or having just left The University of Brighton. What I like to think we do is provide an audience to allow that kind of experimentation to flourish.

What are the advantages of coming to a Spirit of Gravity event over say, Oceana on North Street, and will it be suitable for a Scouse hen-night?

If the people on the trip from Liverpool fancy a range of decent experimental electronics, then they’d be welcome. This year we had an act play the night of their wedding – straight from the reception. The advantages we offer over Oceana? None if you fancy banging house, but if you fancy a range…

Seriously Geoff, It seems every time I go on Facebook you are putting a gig on. Where do you find the energy?

Usually we only do the regular monthly shows, you must be getting old if you think they’re coming round fast. Although this month (November) we snuck in the extra show with Roshi andDavid Thomas v Gagarin. But really we’re just fanboys, we love putting on new things. If I get talking to someone who has an interesting project on the go, surely it’s natural to want to get them an audience who will appreciate it.

Spirit of Gravity put on probably the least boring gigs you will ever go to. Geoff will be the guy in the wholly convincing ginger wig and is extremely friendly and approachable, and if you have an interesting enough project, he’ll probably give you a gig.

HYPNOTIZED INTERVIEW

We were going to conduct the interview somewhere spectacular/abstract/clever; but it’s Brighton, it’s winter, and it’s cold.  So we do it in their flat instead.

The clutter of old and new technology, over-flowing ashtrays, found furniture and random pop-culture artefacts says pretty much everything you need to know about Hypnotized – Paul Whelan, Robin White and Robbie Wood – one of the most promising bands in Brighton.

Seeing as the band seem happy, have had a comfortable childhood, and aren’t dating celebrities, we discuss something that seems to be lacking in the contemporary band interview: the music they make.

When examining their influences, it becomes clear they are purveyors of all things psych. Although very affected by recent bands Animal Collective and Gang Gang Dance, they all agree, “in all decades psychedelia has been there”.   They casually discuss Krautrock, The Silver Apples and Delia Derbyshire, “the white noise album is AMAZING”.  Very tellingly, their name comes from a Spacemen 3 song.

When asked about the current popularity of psychedelia and what differentiates this era from previous ones Robin points out, “it’s a very American sound that’s spreading over here, it’s taken a while but it’s beginning to do something.  Technology has played an important role in this, it’s very electronic, and there is definitely a hip-hop influence in there too”.  Are there other kindred souls?  They mention the excellent Flamingods – who they’ve collaborated with live – and Islet; plus Brighton bands Speak Galactic and Shinamo Moki. It seems a scene of this kind is inevitable in a city as druggy yet cerebral as Brighton.

One of the things that make Hypnotized so compelling is their refusal to stand still.  Every gig they play a completely different set. There are traces of the sound of their demo Say It, but it will be the release of debut EP next year when we catch up with where they are now.  Suitably, they are signed to local heroes Love Thy Neighbour and Robbie promises, “it will be more electronic.  Our demo was very organic. We have to keep moving.  We feel the whole idea of experimental music is about moving forward”.

Whilst on the subject of the local scene, Robin chats about the Brighton gigging experience: “we play with some really cool bands now, but when we started we were on our own doing this.  We’d been playing a lot of these shows where the promoter hadn’t really done any research and we sounded like none of the other bands playing and that didn’t make any sense to us.  So we wanted to say a big fuck you one night by doing this completely noisy jamout with this repeating visual of a camera zooming in and out of my face for half an hour then a picture of Craig David.  That was really good fun, we didn’t get invited back!”

Craig David has become an inexplicable, absurd totem for the band.  They once projected the cover of Born To Do It five metres high on a building on Western Road all night???,  “we were listening to Rewind when completely wasted for about half an hour and his face is just so ridiculous” remembers Robin “all these wasted people kept stopping in the street looking completely confused.”

When asked what are their songs are about they look puzzled, even a bit scared.  Robbie suggests “manta rays, sitting on the beach, psychedelia is about wandering off to strange places”.  I decide not to press any further.  There is a sneaking suspicion they’ve never had to think too deeply about their subject matter.  That’s ok.  Syd Barrett had no idea either.

The conversation turns to a salient subject for many people in Brighton – BIMM.  Robbie and Robin both studied there the later albeit for half a year.  I point out if they became big how BIMM would make a big deal out of it and put their posters up on campus and mention it on their website and loads of other stuff.

How would they feel about that? “slate them” Robin shouts defiantly “they promote the idea of music being a unoriginal form to gain profit instead of creativity or an art form”

Ouch!

So it’s not all flowers and crystals in the Hypnotized camp then.  Which is good.  The psychedelic movement was all about defiance.  And that should never be forgotten.