Public Service Broadcasting [15/11/2018]

Last year I’ve had a pleasure to meet J. Willgoose, Esq. for the first time. The interview was brief, which was mostly my fault. I was lucky enough to have a do-over only a year later, with a result I’m happy with. Here you have it:

First of all, I wanted to talk to you about „Every Valley”. Last December you were playing underground, 320meters to be exact, in Guido Coal Mine. How was it?

It was great and really strange experience. I kept reminding myself about being 320 m underground. The room was great, and it seemed like a normal concert, except it was underground. It came after a very busy, very long year for us and it was kind of a great thing to finish the year with. The hardest thing about it was probably the fact, that the coal industry in Poland is still a big thing. Obviously, there are difficulties to it, there are problems starting to arise, the same we’ve faced 30 years ago. The hardest thing was feeling kind of like Dickens’ ghost of Christmas future. Bringing those messages was showing how not to do it.

I’ve told my parents about the concert, which was streamed live in the radio and showed them your record. They did listen to your concert and liked it. They both are miners. You were playing on the 3rd of December, the day before Barbórka, miners day, a huge thing in Poland. Was it more stressful for you, knowing the significance of this day?

I think we were relatively isolated from it before coming. I’ve read about the miner’s day. We’ve had some dignitaries, who looked very official and a bit intimidating. But normally you’ve got enough on your mind trying to play the music. Especially, when you’re on the radio, focusing on what you’re doing. Avoiding any extra responsibilities, you’re just trying to get on with it. It just made a very interesting experience. Not like many bands would have.

I’ve checked some statistics, of all of your albums and where they’ve ended up the year of their release. “Every Valley” was second in New Zealand.

That’s not the real chart, unfortunately (laughter). We’ve got very excited about it…

But in the UK it ended up on the 4th place. Did it change your life in any way? Did it made you feel out there and more publicized?

Maybe. You know, it’s a level of achievement no one can take away from you. It can end tomorrow, and someone would still sit in an office somewhere and talk about it. It gives us a layer of a general accomplishment. I don’t know if it changed our life in any way. Touring around in the UK the production of it was to the point where I remember seeing it during rehearsal and saying: “this is really good”. Nobody can convince me, that it’s not. Because it’s unarguably good, powerful and emotional. And it’s all been shown in a lot of ways. It’s the level of shows we were always hoping to do and are able to do now.

I was scrolling through your twitter account. Most of the posts are promotional. What caught my eye was a retweet of Howard Goodall tweet about the EU/UK visas and how it will affect the music industry. In light of yesterday’s events, what are your views on the matter?

I think, every time you’re trying to speak about it, you get some angry person shouting at you and telling you to shut up. But when you try some logical facts on them, they actually stop replying, which tells me everything I need to know. I think, we’ve got the responsibility to talk about it. This is our reality as a band, this is our industry. It’s really great that we have artists like Ed Sheeran or Bob Geldof speaking their mind. I think people find it very easy to just assume, millionaires don’t care about them. But actually, it’s not about them, it’s about small bands and the crew, the people, the whole industry. How many thousands of people’s lives depend on easy touring around Europe. And to be isolated and throw that away is worrying. I think maybe that level of success, that we have now, makes you more accountable into saying something. I don’t think with one tweet I will end the whole thing, so I’m actually quite pleased to speak up and be honest about it. We’ve definitely lost quite a few angry people that way, but I don’t really care. I want to be able to speak my mind, respectfully and based on reality, then just say nothing.

Is it easier to write about politics, or history?

I think those two are the same thing, ultimately. I took the conscious decision with the last album, to tackle a more political aspect of history with miners strikes. Very divided subject across Britain, still. I don’t think we did speak heavy about it, to also tell people what to think. We’ve laid it out in a way to kind of interest people in the subject. I would never try to write something fake, that sells. If you’re not challenging or even asking people questions, it’s a bit boring. I don’t really want to be that way, even if it means being a bit riskier.


And now you’ve focused on marine history.

Yes, it’s a side project, a little offshoot I would say. It’s not a subject, I would have chosen myself. It was kind of a commission almost from BBC, of how the ship was built. It’s an interesting challenge. How to show people what my experience was like, the scale of it, getting back to how many people died. We were trying to make something light-hearted, that would drag people away from the terrible tragedy for a second, away from the Cameron picture. Just for them to look at this enormous ship, how it was built and what happened to it, what shouldn’t have happened to it. That’s what we were trying to do. It’s like a mini challenge almost. It also kind of delayed our next album.

I’ve listened to the EP before watching the video for “White Star Liner”. I wasn’t quite sure, if it was only about Titanic, or about the whole company. Then I started thinking, 4 songs can’t be about all of the ships, because not all of them sunk.

I think Olympic was the one, that didn’t sink, Titanic and Britannic did for sure. Recording “White Star Liner” was an attempt to tell the story of Titanic, which is so loaded, the phrase, the image. The name is not mentioned at all on the EP, but it is about Titanic obviously. It was a way to make it fresh on its own, to make you think about the ship and what it represents.

I’ve had this image in my head. In the video, I think almost at the end, there it is, Titanic. You’ve wrote under the video the following: “For the pedants out there (us included), yes, we know that’s the Olympic in a lot of shots and not the Titanic, but there is more footage of the former and it’s used in a purely illustrative manner.”

There really aren’t many videos about Titanic. It was 1912, there are really not many videos, it was a challenge for the archive to find anything.

What stroke me about it was, this huge ship was sinking for 2 hours and 40 minutes. It’s so long and at the same time so little time. So much time for more people to evacuate, but so little taking the size of it.

Especially because it was referred to as the unsinkable ship. I guess that’s the uncertainty of life. It’s a tragedy, so many people have died. What’s terrible, so many people refused to recognize, what was happening, even though they knew about it. When the ship hit the iceberg and the inspector came to the bridge, he said the ship is going down, and it’s going down quickly. I think the main reason, they didn’t have so many lifeboats, was, they presumed, if they sunk, it’s going to be a very slow process. They didn’t foresee, what happened, happening. It’s happening in various aspects of life, sooner or later the reality strikes.

This reminds me of a comment Donald Trump made about the camp fires in California. It was something among the lines of people being responsible for it, not the climate change.

There’s no limit of this man’s idiocy, is there?

I’m afraid not. My last question. Any ideas for the new album?

Yes. I’ve been preparing for it for quite some time now, reading about various topics. The Titanic stuff kind of jumped in and pushed things back. But it is more of a solid thing, which I can’t reveal now. I don’t want to. I’m always quite protective of my ideas. It won’t be next year, though.

We’ll wait patiently then.

Yep, people wait for the things they care about.

Thank you so much for your time!

Shame [06/05/2018]

May this year me and a colleague of mine were invited to interview Shame, a great UK band. As the venue was pretty small and there was no quiet place for us to go, we decided to catch some sun and “fresh” air, sitting in a parking area behind the building. There it is:

How are you feeling about tonight?

Eddie: It’s gonna be a long night, we’re going to get a plane at 4 in the morning.

Sean: Back to London.

Josh: With WizzAir, worst airline in the whole fucking world!

I thought AirBerlin was the worse.

Sean: I’ve never been on AirBerlin.

Josh: We’ve taken WizzAir on the way back from Off Festival and the seats were literally facing forward.

Eddie: I’d call it 85 degrees. And it was also around 4am.

Sean: It was horrible.

Rock star life, what can you do.

Sean: I don’t think they serve champagne on WizzAir.

Don’t think so.

Eddie: Do you know the band IDLES? They were on the same plane and their guitarist is a dentist. He literally had to go to work after we landed. We were flying from Poland at 3 in the morning and he had to be at work at 10 am.

Charlie: (exiting the building) We’re talking about Off Festival?

Josh: And Wizz Air.

Charlie: Aren’t we taking Wizz Air today?

Josh: Yeah.

Charlie *sight*

Sean: I think their planes are the ones that used to transport convicts, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but when we went to Off Festival, they had those little things for hooking up ankle cuffs into the seats. No more fear of flying.

So, you’re experiencing a proper déjà vu right now, I guess?

Eddie: It’s a pretty different situation, but you can say so (laughter)

Josh: It was a great festival.

Sean: Yeah, it was.

I’ve heard, wasn’t there though.

Josh: I remember it was really really hot. We’ve only seen sun in Poland.

Really? Today’s weather is great, just the right amount of warm.

Sean: Well, I still got a little sunburnt yesterday.

Josh: Last time we went to the park, we also got burnt. What was the park?

Eddie: A park with a palace.

Sean: But what was it called? Something with K. It’s near the old town, a massive park.

Oh, right, Park Krasińskich!

Sean: That’s the one!

Ok, let’s get down to business. How are you guys doing, second show in Poland.

Josh: Very good.

Charlie: We’ve got a day off here yesterday. We could properly relax and see the city this time. We’ve seen the old town, walked around and shit. Sometimes all we see is the inside of the van and the inside of the venue. It’s tiring.

Sean: It’s quite depressing.

Charlie: It’s nice to see the city, it’s a really nice place and it’s fucking cheap.

You can actually go around and no one’s bothering you.

Charlie: True.

Josh: It’s a cheap and nice place, well maybe not for Poles.

No, it’s not the cheapest for us, Warsaw is the most expensive place in Poland.

Charlie: Not for us. (laughter)


Sean: Prices here are less than half the prices in London. We had this extravagant dinner last night.


Charlie: No, that’s the tourist trap.

Sean: We’ve been in a fancy place in the old town, had the pork knuckle thing. And it was like 800zł.

Charlie: No, it was 67 pounds.

Ok, so 67 x 5, more or less.

Charlie: It was under 600zł.

You’ve done this before, arriving a day earlier? It was New York City, was it?

Josh: It was an extreme version of it.

Charlie: We’ve went there in November. It was our first American Tour. None of us has ever been to New York before. We just said, we want to be able to see it, have a little bit of holiday there.

Eddie: If we turned up like late a day before the show, we would be horribly jet lagged.

Sean: It was amazing. New York is just a ridiculous place, like London on crack. It doesn’t ever stop. Which is obviously a massive cliché, but it’s true, it’s a 24h city. You guys actually have it here, with the 24h alcohol shops.

We do.

Sean: That’s pretty good.

You don’t have it in London?

Charlie: We have 24h off-licence shops.

Sean: There’s only maybe a handful of 24h bars.

Josh: I don’t know if I’ve ever been to any of them.

Charlie: There are some clubs.

Eddie: Mosquito bar. That’s the only one I know.

Sean: It smells like vomit.

Eddie: But you can get a curry out there.

But your vodka is not as strong as ours.

Sean: I’ve had some really nice vodka yesterday. Żubrówka. It’s the one with the bison on the label.

Charlie: You can buy that in London.

Sean: You can find it, but it’s a copy. Not a real one. Looks similar.

You need to go to Polish shops in London.

Eddie: There’s a Polish deli near my house. I always get a ham there.

Charlie: I get the bread.

Sean: Polish shops are great. They have crazy strong beer as well. Like the black Tyskie.

Josh: All of our friends drink Tyskie and Żywiec.

Sean, You’re actually really good at pronouncing polish words.

Sean: No, I’m really not. My mom’s best friend is Polish. She tried to teach me something, I was like “oh this is really hard”. It’s fucking hard.

Yeah, I know. Fortunately for us, we don’t need to struggle. According to statistics, the more difficult language than Polish is Chinese.

Sean: Me and Charlie get Mandarin lessons at school. And we were so bad at it.

Charlie: So bad. The writing is like an art.

Sean: Speaking is one thing, writing is another.

For me personally it would be impossible. I can’t draw at all.

Sean: Exactly. I would write something and the teacher would be like “no, you need to write it the other way around”. For fucks sake, I can’t do this. (laughter)

Josh: It’s like learning to speak again.

Sean: You remember the story of a woman, who went into a coma, when she woke up she could only speak Chinese. She’d never spoken a word in Chinese in her life. I don’t understand how it’s physically possible, as she went to coma and now she can only speak Chinese.

That’s a real problem right there.

Josh: She probably had Chinese television playing.

Sean: There must have been something that was just feeding her Chinese into her head. Cause now she can’t even speak English. The interview’s kind of hilarious. (laughing)

How can she not remember any word in English? That’s just sick. Speaking of which. May is the Mental Health Awareness Month and I wanted to talk to you about how do you cope with endless touring. You’re so young.

Sean: Everyone has their sort of breaking point. If you’re touring constantly it’s easy to just keep going until it’s too late. Bad things can happen, but you’re just learning to not to push yourself too far.

Josh: It’s almost quite helpful, how much we’ve done it. Cause we’ve all learned what not to do.

Charlie: Everyone has their own coping mechanism. Just like anything in life. I’m 20, the rest of the guys are 21 years old. So to be able to see the world in an unorthodox way and still do what you love is incredible. But it’s like Josh said, we’ve learned how to do it.

Sean: Everyone’s learning from their own mistakes.

Eddie: When we’ve started doing it, it was quite easy. Being in a new city everyday, getting free booze. You kind of feel the need to make it out of wherever you are, as much as possible.

Sean: You also need to sleep. It’s funny, cause we’ve played gigs with bands with members quite older than us. They’re kind of where we were the first stages, when we’ve just were like “let’s get fucking hammered”. People get kind of confused, when they see us not partying. You just can’t do that every night. You can try. (laughter)

Charlie: It works short term.

Eddie: It always ends and ends in tears.


Isn’t it easy to just give in? With drugs and alcohol?

Charlie: A lot of people use it as their coping mechanism.

Sean: Which can be quite destructive, but maybe works for a bit. I think one thing that was quite formative when we started was The Queens Head Pub in Brixton. Which had a lot of people going to that pub, that were just like fucked by the music industry, a lot of them had problems. And the thing that was scarring in an interesting way was a lesson about personal limits.

Eddie: But also at the same time we would be there, trying to rehearse, we would see Fat White Family, once a month or something. They were at the same point we are now. They would go away quite fresh faced and were coming back kind of disheveled.

Josh: I think we’re better in dealing with touring.

Sean: Not that it’s a competition. (laughter)

And what about critics?

Sean: I find some of them really funny. Cause there are some people, who get very creative as to show you exactly how much they hate you. A very recent example, our KEXP session just went up online and one of the top comments on our YouTube video is “this is gonorrhea in audio form”.

Charlie: With a barf emoji next to it.

Josh: I thought it was a good thing.

Sean: No, it’s not a good thing. The Guardian article that was written about our album, the comment section was just about 700 comments of pure abuse. Start to finish.

Charlie: I think the end of the day we don’t really give that much shit, because at the end of the day we never dreamed we would be in the position we currently are in. All the comments are humorous to us.

Charlie: We’ve had all the criticism before from being in Queenshead, doing years of gigging with everyone around us. Our mates not really liking our music that much, our parents wanted us to do school, our teachers wanted us to do well in exams. We all had to do jobs. So in the end of the day it’s paying off, being able to go around the world, touring, selling out shows, having an album out, stuff like that, it’s an accomplishment. We’re not writing our music for anyone but ourselves. We’re not trying to impress anyone apart from ourselves.

Josh: The fact, that we are where we are right now, it’s crazy enough.

Sean: Criticism is always funny.

Eddie: It’s also funny, because regardless if people are saying good things, or saying bad things, at the end of the day, people are still paying attention. That’s what matters really.

Josh: Unless everyone picked at us. It would hit me a little bit, if everyone thought we were terrible and we were big, because people laughed at us. That would be another level of any press is good press. I think we get a decent press.

Sean: The thought of an old white dude sitting on his laptop, writing “I fucking hate those little pricks” just makes me laugh a little bit. And there are plenty of those people around.  Warms my heart.

Were you ever playing for one person?

Sean: So many times.

Charlie: Yes. For a year. Three gigs a week. And I was working and doing my A levels at school.

Josh: We were never a really cool band. We were never a band that would turn people down. We got an email and were like “Oh shit, we gonna play this barbecue!”

Sean: You’re having a party by the river? Let’s do it!

Charlie: We gigged so much when we started.

Sean: We didn’t say no to a single gig ever. And a lot of bands, who actually want people to think they’re cool, just decline most gigs.

Josh: I think it’s a good tactic.

Sean: It works for some people, but for us, we were just like, well we kind of suck, so if we get as much practice as we can, it only gonna be a good thing.

That’s true. You learn while performing.

Sean: We’re still doing it. We probably need to book another tour, we’re still not good enough.

Eddie: At least that’s what our booking agent thinks. (laughter)

Sean: Someone’s gonna kill us.

We’ve came to a point where we should discuss politics, don’t we? Wanted to talk to you about Brexit a bit. Your song directed to Theresa May is the worst love song ever. It’s not a bad song, don’t get me wrong. But if I had something like this written to me, I would think there’s something seriously wrong with me.

Sean: We got attacked in a really terrible tabloid a couple of days ago. The Sun.

Josh: It’s the best tabloid to get attacked by. (laughter)

Sean: We’ve got a message from our management, just to let us know, The Sun is going for us today. We saw this article and it was like “Shame on you!”, then they had the lyrics to Visa Vulture and they were saying how we did receive the grant from the government.

Charlie: They’re saying Shame to Teresa May for giving us a grant. They’re saying shame on you to the minister.

Sean: I don’t think she knows we’ve even received this grant and it was definitely not her decision to give it to us. (laughter)

Josh: We’ve written this song long before Brexit was even a thing.

Eddie: That was when she was home secretary and was basically trying to deport as many people as possible.

Josh: That’s when we wrote it and then she became prime minister. We still haven’t released it. So we thought, fuck we have to do it now. It’s kind of sad, we didn’t do it before. We could be like “hey, look at us”.

Sean: It’s not because she’s a prime minister. We’ve always hated her! And that was quite funny about the newspaper. I couldn’t really believe that.

Josh: We should show people demos with a date on it. Like early 2015.

Charlie: Fucking Brexit.

Sean: Yeah, Brexit. I don’t know how many more times I can bring myself to talk about it.

Eddie: It’s just a shadow.

Sean: Yes and it’s not going anywhere. I wasn’t expecting it to happen immediately. But I was expecting like 2 years on, maybe some things might have happened. Nothing happened though, since everyone’s realized, it’s not gonna work. It was just this sort of hyped wimp idea. They just randomly called a referendum and everyone was like “Yeah let’s do it!”.

Eddie: And it’s basically bullshit. That the NHS is going to get more money if we leave. We left and they realized it’s gonna be the opposite. Everyone just went “Oops”.

Sean: They are targeting the working classes. Almost every nurse in the country is a nurse from an EU country.

Eddie: And then people start complaining. If they want to go to Belgium for example, you have to pay like 7 pounds for a visa and everyone’s like “This is outrageous!”. What did you fucking expect?

Sean: The funniest thing is that The Daily Mail, which is another awful newspaper, they were promoting Brexit so much and were well in favor of Brexit. And because now it affected something like travel to the EU and the front page of The Daily Mail like 4 months after Brexit was like “Outrage!”. And seriously, what do you think it’s about? We want to leave EU, but we still want a free access if we want to go on holidays and stuff. We sustain ourselves largely from touring Europe. And the European Union. It’s easy at the moment, we can just drive to France and when we’re in Europe, we can play and do, what makes a small part of our living. If it ends up with us being forced to get a visa, it can get a lot worse, with restrictions for us going there.

Eddie: I don’t. (laughter)

Sean: He’s lucky, ’cause he has an Irish passport.

Eddie: No Brexit for me.

Sean: Ireland knows they can’t do that. With all do respect.

Eddie: It’s peak for the Scots as well, cause they voted to remain in the UK under the condition that they will remain the part of the EU. And obviously England voted to leave.

Sean: And it was basically just England. Northern Ireland and Scotland they don’t want to be a part of it, they hate us.

I’ve heard some rumors.

Sean: They fucking hate us. No one really likes us.

Well, we like you.

Sean: Thanks. (laughter)

You’re welcome.

Eddie: Two Polish people like us!

Sean: People in Poland are friendly to us. Americans just think we’re some mystical creatures. They are super enthusiastic about everything. You say one thing like “I’m gonna get a beer” and they are like “OMG I love beer!”. Yeah, me too man, how crazy is that… (laughter)

Thank you for a talk, get some rest before the show!

Editors [04/04/2018]

Editors is one of those bands, which never let’s you down. I’ve had a pleasure to see the British quintet twice this year. First, during a meet and greet event with fans and press, which was also a prelaunch listening party of their album Violence, and second after just 2 months, before their concert in Warsaw.

I wanted to ask you about the event, that happened a month ago in Warsaw. You presented your new record to press and few lucky fans a month before its release. How often to you do such events and how do you feel about it?

Elliott: This is the first time we’ve done that kind of thing.

Justin: Well, we’ve met fans and stuff before.

Elliott: True, we’re meeting fans after shows, but that kind of event was the first for us. I was slightly nervous about the performance, how it’s going to go, how it’s going to be. What the atmosphere is going to be like. But it actually was super fun.

Justin: I thought it was great. It was a cool place. Everyone was really cool and low key. Everyone was in the mood.

Elliott: Yeah, the atmosphere of it was relaxed. Which is nice, it’s not like we get real doubt to do this. We had a chance to have a real conversation with everyone.

When I think about it, it has to be super stressful, playing new record and looking at people listening to it, see their faces and their reactions, knowing you’re being judged.

Elliott: Luckily, I wasn’t there to witness it.

Justin: It was alright, actually. I think, if you love the band and you get the chance to listen to their new album first, with the band, I think it’s cool. I would be totally up for that. As a band member, it was strange, I’ve never done this before, but everyone was really cool. Everyone was like “alright, let’s listen to your record”. You know, sometimes you go to do signings and stuff and it’s just like pretty intense. Everyone gets shifted along the line and have 20 seconds to say everything they want to say.

Elliott: Yeah, I don’t think signings are that nice for fans. They are not that nice for us either.

Justin: Where during the party everyone was waive around, talk, have some beers, not be so uptight. It was cool, also a nice spot. In a nice part of town. And in a nice city.

I was digging through some past interviews. You were always compared to other bands, sometimes it was Depeche Mode, U2, Joy Division. One time you were described as an antidote to Coldplay. How do you see the comparisons?

Justin: I don’t own any Joy Division records. I listen to U2 probably once a year. Depeche Mode, I guess we actively listen to now and again in the dressing room.

Elliott: We exist in the world, where those bands are, around the dark emotional music. I am cool with it, I’ve made ease with it.

Justin: It’s a bit dramatic. You pose next to Depeche, and we are in the same area of music, kind of dramatic, theatrical gothickness, which certain people are attracted to. We like playing it, we like making it, we like people to see it.

Elliott: Those comparisons are cool bands, I am really OK with it. I personally would go much more with U2 than Mac DeMarco. (laughter)

Justin: It’s just what it is. I mean, the Coldplay thing. Coldplay released one of the biggest songs in the last 15 years. Everyone write Coldplay, because they are successful. And they are one of the most successful bands in the world.

Elliott: They have a bunch of incredibly great songs.
Justin: They released the songs people will be born to, get married to and die to. How many bands can say that? Queen, The Beatles, Stones, Coldplay.

And Maroon 5.

Justin: True, Maroon 5.

Is there any band you would want to personally be compared to?

Elliott: It’s already happening. I don’t know, REM, The Cure. Basically, the bands who have careers. And they’ve made records, that changed people’s lives. They’ve changed, developed and grown, they’ve pushed things forward.

Justin: Bands, who tell a story, not just make one or two records and then disappear. Tell a story of a time. As people grow at the same time as the band. You’re never the same person you were when you’ve made the first record and when you’re making the sixth. And neither is the person listening to it. They may be teenagers when you release the first album, they may have kids, when you release the sixth. And they find out all of a sudden, that their lives are hard to navigate. It’s nice to be a miserable soundtrack to it. (laughter)

And you always evolve. When people say you’ve evolved and put out a totally different record, then you started with and they don’t like the electronic part of the album, I personally think it’s bullshit. Everyone evolves in one way or another. You wouldn’t put something out, you’re not feeling comfortable with.

Elliott: Right, every band wants to do something satisfactory, you’ll always find people, who won’t like it really. They would say your attempts are wrong. You can’t win. They are focused on something and think, that’s the way it should be. If you don’t like what we do at the time, that’s fine. The same thing goes with other bands.

Justin: It’s natural. If you stay around and do the same thing forever, you’ll just be a really boring band. You’ll be bored with what you do and there will be few hardcore fans, who will stay with you. The venues will just get smaller and smaller, until you’re left with just that one person, who only likes the early songs. And it’s like meh.

So actually, you start with one person and you end with one person. The cycle closes.

Justin: You’ve got to move on. There may be a record fans started with and they will always love this record, but may not follow the band for the rest of their careers. The trick is, to just keep moving and see, who follows along the way.

This is the definition of having a great fan base.

Elliott: We’ve been very fortunate.

I’ve spoken to some of your fans during the event last month and there was this one girl, I remember being super excited, jamming to every song. She is a very lovely person.

Justin: It’s good when you see a reaction. In a completely unrelated country, in a completely unrelated time. That your music affects someone halfway around the world, in a way you would never really expect.

“Cold” is my favorite, also am super happy about “No sound but the wind” being put on Violence. When I was growing up, Twilight Saga was huge and I am thrilled I have a vinyl with one song I loved from the franchise soundtrack.

Elliott: It’s nice to do it properly as well. The first version of the song was recorded in Tom’s bedroom. We feel like, with rerecording this particular song, we’ve really done it justice.

In another interview, you’ve talked about young bands, who are trying to get to the top right now. You’ve said, that they stand no chance, if they don’t wow everyone on the first take. If they are not showing the full scale, they have, they will be forgotten.

Justin: It’s tough, because everything a band does is documented from day one. It’s on social media, someone has a bad opinion, like “I saw this band and they are fucking terrible” and then all their friends are going to think they are terrible. And who’s fucking great on their first record? No one is really that great on their first tour.

Elliott: It’s really tough, everything is under the microscope. For band starting right now it’s really hard, I really do feel for people. And you see the grass roots pull away from it.


But isn’t it easier for bands to be heard, because of social media?

Justin: It is easier to put out a record. But the whole machinery behind the band, having the label in place, it’s much tougher. Labels don’t fund guitar bands anymore.

Elliott: It’s easier to put it out there. It’s easier to record a song on your laptop. So when you write a song as a band now, you probably play it two or three times, before you record it. When back in the day we wouldn’t be able to record…

Justin: … until we went to the studio. We had to be so well rehearsed.

Elliott: And that’s exactly when you’re good as a band, practicing and playing.

Justin: I could wake up tomorrow morning, write a song, record it in the afternoon and finish it in the nighttime. Label it in the night and put it out the day after.

Elliott: Which is brilliant.

Justin: In some ways it’s brilliant. For some kind of music it’s great. But if you are trying to make something that is real, or has emotional depth to it, which involves a visual element to it, use the craft of making a record and put the songs together, you need time for that, you need support. And then unless you’ve got your band on certain sides, you don’t really have that support in place. Which makes it harder, since you always need to find the way of doing things. Especially for guitar bands it’s really hard, because you can’t afford to go on tour, since there’s no one supporting you. You can’t cover your expenses, you’re out of pocket. You’re already out of pocket anyway cause you decided to be in a fucking guitar band. (laughter) That means, if you’ve made this decision, you’re not that great, since it’s not a good place to start. It’s better to be a DJ instead. It’s fucking easier! (laughter)

Let’s go back to your album for a second. Why Violence?

Elliott: I think it comes a little back to what we were talking about. It’s not so much about Violence in the record, but about the outside world. 24/7 on your phone, rolling news, hyper political reality.

Justin: Left to right noise 24 hours a day. You kind of lose the fact of what’s in front of you and the people you have all around you. What Tom’s trying to get out in his characters, he praise and sings through in the record, is that ability to switch off the outside world briefly, to acknowledge the human connections, which is all that comes down anyway. That’s pretty much the summation of the album. It’s the unit of human connection.

What I actually like about this album is that it’s not an album you can play as a background to a party. You need to focus, when you listen to it, you immediately just go into thinking.

Justin: It would be a bleak party, if you played it as a background. (laughter) There’s a couple of tracks you could jam to. If I came to a party where this record was played, I would be like “Oh man, I’m not staying here long. This is a dark party”. But yeah, this is a very focused narrative, which sits well with the political world we live in. Like you said, you can just dive straight into it, listen to it. Which kind of reflects how we’ve been making it, very focused.

There are not a lot of records like that these days.

Justin: We’re old-school. And old. (laughter)

Elliott: We tried to make a record, not just one song people are going to buy. We worked on every single song and every single track, so we could make the best of it. It’s a very big compliment, that you’re sitting, listening and pay attention to it. That is our aim. As a band we still believe in a record, as a concept and the body of work.

On the album cover you can see and feel violence.

Justin: That’s just the genius of the photographer we worked with, Rahi Rezvanim, who took our picture. It just looks like painting. It’s crazy, I didn’t know you could do that.

There are a lot of emotions, the face expressions especially.

Elliott: What I like about it is, everyone has a different interpretation of it, of what the scenario is. Which is great.

Do you have one favorite song from the album?

Elliott: It’s funny, but they change. At the moment, because we are on tour, my favorite one is “Counting Spooks”, because we are not playing it at the moment. So if I hear it, I’m like “ Oh, I didn’t hear this one in a while”.

Justin: I can say this one as well, cause we’re not playing it every night. When you play the same songs from your record every single night, none of them can be your favorites. They can be your favorites to play live, so in a different way. But actually my favorite track on the record is “Counting Spooks”, all along.

Elliott: Mine is “Cold” actually.

So it’s actually like, when you want to hate a certain song, put it as your alarm clock ringtone. Goes the same with the set list.

Elliott: It changes the perception of the track.

And how was working with Blanck Mass?

Justin: It was really easy, cause all we had to do was to bring him up, that was pretty much the process. We were listening to some of his music, as we were looking for people to work with. And I’ve sent through a message with Blanck Mass’ track, a pretty heavy one. We’ve made a decision to maybe try to work with him and I called him up. I said “hey, do you want to work on some stuff?”. He said “yeah, let’s do it!”. We’ve sent him some stuff and he sent us back what he was doing. And that’s how the relationship stayed. We didn’t meet him for the making of the entire record. I’ve met him after the show, like 3 months after we’ve finished. He was so drunk. But it was great. It was a good time.

Best friendships start with alcohol.

Justin: True. It was just great to work with him, we left him to get on it and we wanted to change nothing. We didn’t want to remix anything, we just let him do, what he wanted to do. We left him with the ability to do that.

It’s not a common thing, to give all the power to a music producer.

Justin: No, but we are quite open. If we have an idea and we feel comfortable with it, we go for it.

Elliott: If we don’t like it, we don’t like it. But you have to be able to try.

Justin: You have to be able to get the best out of people. We were not trying to shape his mind, we told him to do what he wants to do and then we see what we like.

It paid off.

Justin: It totally did.

Thanks for the talk!

Ghostpoet [18/02/2018]

Let’s start with the name of your record Dark Days+Canapes. According to Google Canapes means small sandwiches.

Fancy snacks, to be exact.

Why dark days and fancy snacks?

It’s kind of like an equation. Those two things kind of represent the characteristics of the world. What we’re experiencing, depending on your standing in life. It’s a mixture of yin and yang, the poor and the rich. I like riddles, that’s kind of how my style is.

It’s so cryptic, to be honest.

It’s also about the artwork, I like how it looks, the shape of the words. That’s important for me.

When I was listening to your record, one song in particular made me feel really emotional, sobbing, but at the same time I felt like we are taking every day for granted. It was Immigrant boogie. Which lead to my next question. What are your views on what’s happening in the world right now?

I wrote that song, because everyone’s been exposed to the topic personally or through the media. I must have seen the killer story of washed up bodies on the Mediterranean beach and it was the energy, it was so shocking. I didn’t sit down and write it straight away, but it was almost burnt into my brain. When it came to writing things for the record, it came out like this. It’s not a political record, I have to keep saying it, because I don’t want it to be misconstrued. It’s just about shining a light on a particular issue, that we’re all thinking about. I just wanted to write about it, start a discussion, not just read about a shit’s gone down in the newspaper on page 22, while next page is Hollywood gossip.

In an old interview, you were talking about the beginnings of your career, 10 years of pushing yourself to the limit, to make it work. When it finally happened, you’ve got the best recognition there is for a new artist. A nomination for a prestigious award.

I was definitely living a life on reflection, I was doing what I had to do to pay the bills, with the feeling I should have been doing something else. But I didn’t know what that was. Music was a hobby and something I did in the evenings, when I finished work. I just got lucky, putting music on the Internet, back then it was MySpace. A person I knew recommended it to somebody else. They saw something in it I didn’t see myself. And I got the opportunity to release a record. I decided myself, to work as hard as possible. And because of the path I’ve chosen from the very beginning, where I’m not trying to make what you call pop music. I want my music to be popular, but on my terms, not based on what is right for the charts. So, I knew from the very beginning it’s going to be a longer journey for me. It still is. It’s great I can go on 30 days tour around Europe. I’m not playing arenas, but am playing for more people nowadays, than before.

Would you have any advice for new musicians?

Stop making music, it’s done! (Laughter) No, I feel that it’s getting harder, unfortunately, so I don’t want to say “Yeah, keep working hard, you’re gonna get there!”. Not everyone will, because of the nature of the business. The fact, that people are not buying records, they can stream it for free means that your revenue stream is very limited, from the business point of view, if you can’t play live. Again, I was very lucky, where I could get over the years, with a band, play live, it’s very difficult to do now. I would say: “try as much as possible to be unique”. It’s so easy to just do whatever everyone else does. To take a particular sound, make a hit record with a very common sound and lyrical style, to appear to a major label, with ideology of what is a good song. It’s easy to do that. I feel, with stuff like that you have maybe a hit, if you’re lucky.  If you’re really lucky, you may have a few. After that you’re done. But if you’re unique, you reflect yourself on others, weather it is positive or negative, but it’s honest. Honesty will last longer, then being on chart hits. That’s my advice. Be yourself, don’t be a sheep. The whole world is crowded with sheep.

This is a really good advice.

This is just my opinion. I’m just a grumpy old man. (Laughter)


I can’t feel the grumpiness! (laughter) In another interview, you’ve said “I would do music for a Double Decker, a cheese and onion sandwich”.

That was misconstrued again! I didn’t say that, because I hate cheese and onion sandwiches. I would never say that. It was along the lines, that I would do music for pretty much nothing. It’s really weird how the Internet works. (Laughter) Right now I wouldn’t do it for nothing, because you have to know the value of what you do. Music was a hobby, music is still a hobby. I don’t do it because it’s my career. I do it, because I love doing it. I do it because it’s part of me. Integrity is important for me, it’s not about just making music. If I’m not inspired to make a song, I’m not going to just do it, because I have to. I’m very lucky, I’m in a position, where I can do that and I feel it’s important not to take it for granted.

Your record really stands out, there are not many of those these days. A lot of records sound exactly the same.

It’s a shame, unfortunately. There are definitely people trying to do something different. It’s just harder to get to that now. Because of the way everything is send out, from streams, to radios and releases. It’s out there, but it’s harder to find it.

Would you pull your music from streaming services?

Yes and no. It’s like, you have to play the game. Being in my current position, if I took out my music, it wouldn’t benefit me. For example, here, no one knows me. So, to me, taking my music off streaming services doesn’t make any sense. Maybe Adele did it, some of the big stars did it. But, when you’re on that level, it’s not going to affect you. It would affect me. I’m for and against it. I think it’s important for people to buy music, because it’s a craft. It worries me, that there are children being born now, brought into a world, where music is free. Music is obviously not like building a furniture. It’s not like a physical thing, where you have physical end results. I think that’s the problem, people can’t get their heads around the fact, that there’s a lot of hours, that go into making a record. And a lot of money. A lot of sacrifice. It’s unfortunate, that the end result is a digital file. When you compare that to a piece of furniture, that we’re sitting on or looking at, it’s difficult to see an average person getting their head around it. I don’t see us going backwards now, I don’t see us becoming a society, where people are starting to buy records again. That’s done. And streaming is great, when you’re a music lover of any age and want to discover music, something like Spotify is great. I have a Spotify account and it’s great. The music I have discovered because of it is unbelievable. I would never be able to do that going through records in a record shop. It’s amazing, but it would be great for people to get a decent wage for what they do. A music career is potentially long lived but it’s very tricky, because you don’t have a monthly pay check. Some people do it, if they’re lucky. You never know, where you’re going to be from month to month. It would be great, if it changed, but if it doesn’t, you just have to adapt and look for the ways to make it.

I think vinyls are coming back, so maybe not in our lifetime, but sometime after, the idea of buying music could be back for good.

Potentially, I actually like the fact that it’s coming back. It’s like you don’t have vegetables for a long time, you just come to a point where you need to have veg. I think with vinyl is so much like a need to have a physical thing connected to music, creating an urge to buy records again. It’s great, really cool. I just never expected it. I really just thought it was done, once we started to go digital and streaming started to become a must. It’s interesting to see it develop.

I really do think it’s coming back. I think everything is coming back at some point, in fashion, in music, in life. There’s a limited amount of what we can use. And then the cycle begins again, and again, and again. Everything comes back eventually. I went deep with this philosophy, didn’t I. I don’t know, if it’s true, but in one of the past interviews, you’ve mentioned, you were afraid of going on stage and playing live.

That’s true.

Is it gone now?

Yeah. That was just in the beginning. I was like “Oh God, I’m so scared, oh the anxiety!”. Now it’s just like, I’m doing the job I love, why should I be scared of it. Some people, I know personally, find it very tricky to go on stage, because of their anxiety. In the beginning, I’ve written these songs not really thinking, they will be listened to by people other than my friends. Some of it was personal, some filled with my emotion on the line. And I didn’t know how to get that out on stage. I was overthinking it too much. Projecting myself during a performance, if the music was right, what if it goes wrong. That kind of stuff. With time I’ve learned to accept shit happens and ultimately it’s just fun. I am lucky in terms of music. But it’s just fun. I take it very seriously, but I don’t take it too seriously. Because then it becomes something else and I just want it to be fun. That’s what I’ve learned over time.

If it wasn’t for music, what would you do?

I would just do stuff, I am doing right now, I have a coffee shop, a radio station in London, where I live. I would like to stay connected to music one way or another, promoting interesting music, that’s what I always liked to do. That’s basically it.

Most of the people answering this particular question say, they would go back to corporations or what they were doing before.

Four, five years ago I would probably have said the same, going back to the job I was doing before. I’ve came a long way. I can’t give up, what I have now. Who knows what the future holds.

We don’t know if we are going to live tomorrow.

That’s true. So, the best is to live in the present.

Thank you so much for your time. See you in a bit!

Cigarettes After Sex [07/12/2017]

Right now you’re kind of big deal, but let’s talk about the beginning of your career. I know it was hard to achieve, what you have right now. How do you feel about it, if you had to compare then and now?

You mean how I feel about the shows? It’s simply amazing. When I go back to how it looked before, I remember, we were playing shows in our hometown El Paso, they were pretty little attended. Obviously no one really cared about us. We had a few fans, our friends, but mostly we were not making an impact on the music scene in El Paso. We went to New York, same thing happened. We played a show for, like, one person. Not something I would like to revisit. It was pretty rough. But it didn’t matter; I was there because I love music. So I didn’t need an audience, really. But at some point we uploaded stuff on YouTube and it kind of led us to success. It almost looks like it happened overnight, but we were working on it almost 8 years. It’s pretty wild, but I got used to playing the small venues and great big shows.

It all started in 2016, it was this great boom, then you started putting out songs one by one, sort of teasing the album. How does it feel to finally see the whole thing out, seeing people singing along and jamming to it?

It feels like exactly what you would wish for, that people are getting the album in the exact same way, helping them in tough times and good times as well. It’s just beautiful and it’s nice to see the love returned, what you put out there comes back to you.

Since all the band members were changed, you’re the last “original” one standing. How did you choose the new members, was it totally accidental, or is there some sort of story to it?

It’s strange, because it happened in a very casual way. Cigarettes After Sex was a solo project to begin with. So I was just playing with people live. But it wasn’t till 2012 when I actually had a band to record the songs together, they were all on record. I’ve never done that before. Our keyboard player is playing with me since 2009 and recorded in 2012, so he was like always in the band. At that point, when I left El Paso and went to New York, I was trying to play with some other musicians as well, but they weren’t really cutting it. I just happened to see Randall Miller – bass and Jacob Tomsky – drums; they were playing in another band, sounded great together. So I just pouched them. Phillip and I met in El Paso and Randall and Jacob in New York. We make sort of like an even split, 2 New Yorkers and 2 El Paso guys.

What about your inspirations and the music you actually listen to? Is it the same kind of music, or are you secretly head banging to Marilyn Manson when no one is watching?

Sure (laughter). It’s actually pretty eclectic, but I can go from pop to rock, it can even go to something like metal, like Metallica’s Master of Puppets. So it’s just kind of round the map. I just always listen to music, writing. Why am I saying this is, the songs deep lyrically are making the deepest impact on you. Of course those influences are not the ones I want to spend the whole day with, so I just keep them in a special drawer and reach for them when I need them. But what I will listen to depends from my mood, so sometimes it’s deep and sometimes it’s a silly pop song.

Are you also a fan of today’s hits, like Despacito?

Yes. This is one of the songs you just hear everywhere. Or like Bodak yellow.

This song kind of sinks in. But I’m more of a Miley Cyrus kind of girl, when I need to recharge.

Me too. I like Wrecking Ball and Party in the USA, Adore you, just to name a few.

Since she came back, she seems to be in a very good place, personally and artistically. What about you? Are you feeling like everything is just perfectly in the right place right now?

It’s strange, because we’re always on tour. I mean, it’s amazing, but it sort of interrupts the creative process, since I’m used to writing all the time. So I can’t just focus on creating, since I can’t relax and get to it. We have some great shows behind us, Bratislava, Warsaw, South America and India. Then we go to Australia, Mexico, later we just go back home and focus on the new record. We have two months break, so I’ll just spend those days creating.

Are two months enough?

Not really. We usually write the instrumental part really quickly. But lyrical part usually keeps us a bit back. We have the music already. Now it’s just the matter of lyrics, which I need to sit with and start writing, which is going to be a little tough. So I need to see what I can actually do in two months’ time and if I can actually accomplish anything.


Are you a big star in your hometown?

It’s a good question; I haven’t been back for a while now. I am going there for Christmas. So let’s see.

In a small town you’re always recognized in some way, since the beginning, everybody knows everybody and is in everybody’s business. Is New York better for you personally and creatively? Or were you overwhelmed with the freedom you have in a big city?

I think I’ve spent so much time in El Paso, I kind of absorbed it and there’s nothing else to do for me. After graduation I’ve made a decision to be more serious about music, to create and be sitting here with you as well. So I went to New York to make it happen. New York provides opportunity and inspiration, there are so many great venues, bars, things to see. And actually the next thing to be is to go international. El Paso was like “Oh I know things here, but I can’t stay here”. It felt like people were not interested in the music scene. In New York it felt like people were actually enjoying music, when they joined the band.

Why New York? Why not Los Angeles, for example?

I don’t know. I went there and I thought it was just for fun, but then I started thinking of artistic heritage, all the artists, that come from New York , it’s like unparalleled for me, like Ramones, Martin Scorsese, Andy Warhol, a staging list of artists I think were just unbeatable. To get to that and say “I want to be in this world”, I had to go to New York and try.

I know you’re not playing in America, touring all around the world, but after all those shootings like Manchester and Vegas, does it cross your mind before you go on stage?

I think it is somewhere behind my mind, but I don’t want to be scared, it’s out of my control. It is the same kind of scare, when you’re afraid of being hit by a car. It’s not something predictable. Obviously it is a huge tragedy and there’s no concrete reason behind those shootings. So I choose to not be scared.

How do you feel about America today?

It’s interesting. It’s weird, since we’re so disconnected from it, but I’d say tumultuous, with the president, a big crash, all the crazy ideas, it’s just kind of a mess. When you’re there, people seem happy, but when you go online, it feels very crazy. Online, people are always arguing.

And how do you receive Polish fans? Are they crazier than any other crowd?

I remember the first show, we played in Kraków. People were cheering and singing every line of the song. They were so enthusiastic and so kind to us. We are really so grateful.

This show has sold out status for a while now. It doesn’t happen often. You’re adored here, why do you think people are digging this kind of music?

I think what we provide it’s kind of meditation for your mind, that I think we all just need to slow down our thoughts, before we get too overwhelmed with everything. And every song can help to put it off a little bit. I think music provides us with an escape.

And if music was off the table completely, where would you be?

I would definitely be a filmmaker. And if not this, I would be a painter or something. I love film making as much as music, so I think I would be at home, directing or writing screens. It’s something I actually attempted to do before.

So I’ve read in an interview, all the musicians you played with before 2012 at some point left music and just chose normal jobs. Is that true?

Not exactly. There was always a really casual atmosphere in the band. So the door was always open and sometimes we were just splitting up. Even with the smallest reasons, when people were just unable to go on tour. It’s part of being in a band.

For those eight years you were not touring, what were you doing? Since everyone needs to earn money somehow…


Luckily for me it was always music. I was playing in jazz bands, playing in restaurants and bars. The only job I’ve had beside music was in New York, where I was managing a theater.

No washing dishes, nothing like this? You’re living the dream! Thank you so much for the talk.

MEW [28/11/2017]

To all of you who not once in your life had listened to MEW, danish super formation, with captivating vocals and music, you’ve missed on something special.  I was super lucky to have an opportunity to speak to MEWs bassist, Johan Wohlert just before their concert in Poland. We’ve spent 30 Minutes on talking music and I have to admit, it was one of those interviews I won’t forget.

This is not you first time in Poland, correct?

No, I know the band played here about 10 years ago at some festival.

I think it was Off Festival in 2010.

Exactly. Me and Jonas visited Poland on a school trip, we were in Krakow and Auschwitz, it was quite interesting and we had a great time. Being so young and traveling first time without your parents is just like Woo Hoo!

How do you feel about a first solo show in Poland?

It’s exciting, obviously I don’t really know what to expect. I think it’s very cool, that we get a chance to play in a country like Poland. First of all it’s not that often that you tour in eastern Europe, yet we’re so close, an hour on a plane from Denmark. It’s kind of silly, that we’re not spending more time here. I hope it can be one of many shows, because what I’ve seen from the city so far, I think it’s lovely. I think one of the most interesting thing of being in a band is the cultural experience you get, it’s nice to play, but it’s also just fantastic to meet different people, see cities and experience different food. I like the traveling part of it.

Did you try pierogi already?

No, I hoped we will get a traditional polish meal for dinner. I love all the sausages and cabbage, but we were served Hawaiian food. Which was nice, but pretty far from what I’ve hoped.

I’ve read in one of your past interviews, that you’ve put out “Visuals” pretty fast, faster as opposed to your previous records. Do you think the process is better like this, with less planning and less overthinking? Or is it better to go for it and take your time?

It’s a good question. I think it really depends on what kind of record you’re making, depends on the strength of the songs. I mean, the Beatles made some pretty amazing records pretty fast, so did Led Zeppelin and lots of other great bands. If you have 10 great songs, I don’t see, why it should take you that long. But I think the type of music we play is very multi-layered, has a lot of details in it, it usually takes a long time to put it together. So it usually takes more time not because we sit around and do nothing. But I think it was important for us to prove to ourselves this time around, that we actually could make a record in two years’ time. In a lot of ways that’s really healthy for you as an artist, to do something, while it still feels relatively fresh. But I also like, when you can take your time and get super nerdy and go back and forth. Making this record fast was something new for us and therefore it was exciting to see if we could actually pull it off.

I wanted to ask about the cover. It’s kind of Halloween-ish, like the mask for Día de los Muertos.

Yes, it’s kind of weird. It was a bit of a coincidence, Jonas does all the live show visuals, had this idea to put a kaleidoscope effect on a computer, when you use the kaleidoscope circles and place them right, they start to kind of look like a face. Jonas said “It kind of looks like a mask, what if we took that from a computer and project it onto our faces”. Honestly we had no idea, that it would end up looking that cool. We actually needed a cover and in the past we always let other artist do it, but this time I was like “Jonas, you’re so good at coming up with all these imaginary fantasy creatures and you do all the live visuals, why don’t we for once try to create a cover, that actually looks like a drop of what we do live.” So one evening we just tried projecting the kaleidoscope effect onto our faces and the first time we did it, we were like “holy shit, it’s so fucked up”, but in a good way. It looks beautiful and really weird, it looks organic, because you can actually see, there’s a human face behind it, but it also looks really processed, computery. There was just something in it, I have never seen anything like it. Then we’ve made a music video, where we used the same technique, we’ve also project a full body suit onto Jones’ naked body. And it just looked really cool. It almost looked computer generated, but at the same time it looked really organic, because it’s all real. I really like processed human art, when you know there’s a human element, but it’s also something that looks otherworldly and inhuman in a way. I think it’s quite interesting in a way. We took this one picture of Jonas, it’s him on the cover, with the mask on and that one picture in particular was like “wow”. It was so MEW in a way, it looks so much like something we would do.

Fun fact, people all around the world have a different interpretation of the cover, because masks a very integral part of their culture. In Denmark we have no particular meaning for masks. But we get asked a lot, if we were inspired by some particular culture.

I think it’s so simple, yet so complicated. There’s just so much going on, you can’t stop starring at it.

I love the facial expression of Jonas, he looks spooked, yet you can tell he has his eyes closed, when you look at it closely. I think it’s the cover I like the best. Not to take away anything from the stuff other people have made for us, but I just think, I would want that shit on my wall. And I don’t think I would want any of the other covers framed, but that one I just think is a piece of art.

There’s always a favorite child.

I don’t know if “Visuals” is my favorite MEW record, but it’s definitely my favorite MEW artwork.

This record is actually more popish than edgy. Obviously every band evolves with their music, progresses and goes forward in one or the other direction. For example Linkin Park were really hard-core and then they went pop. Their fans were not really pleased with the change and we all know, how the story ended. Were you afraid of, how people will react to “Visuals”?

I know what you’re saying and as a band or as an artist I would never do what they did. It seems a little desperate to me, like you’re so much in doubt in your own abilities, that you let some pop producer make songs for you and you put your name on that. No. But I do believe, that every artist should try and evolve. And every artist should try and go places, they haven’t gone before. But obviously there has to be some kind of coherence. There has to be a sound that you recognize, or an element that you recognize. We would never make a jazz record. Like instrumental jazz. If we did, we would need to call it something else, not under the MEW moniker, never. We will always be between what we believe is MEW music. As we lost the guitar player, it was obvious we would do something focused a little more on bass and drums. The freshest thing we could do was to make the songs slightly shorter and make sure all songs had some great choruses. It’s not a straight up pop record, it definitely has elements of pop music we grew up with, which was the cool pop of the 80s. Anything from Kate Bush to Eurythmics. We find huge inspiration in song writing like that. I think in particular on this record it just felt like, we were doing a kind of Talk Talk record, where guitar is almost a background, with a groovy sound, cool keyboards and stuff like that. More pop melodies than more crunchy riffs. But I do miss big crunchy riffs every now and then. So I can imagine us making something heavier next time around. We always try to do the opposite of what we did the last time.

As you are a trio, were you thinking of recruiting the fourth member?

Mads, who plays guitar with us live, he did all the guitars on the record. Obviously the songs were written already, so what he did was more like add guitar part to the songs. But I guess, that guitar approach fitted really well with the songs, that we had. They were not written with big riffs in mind. They were written with bass, drums and keyboard. I also left the band from 2006 to 2013. And they kind of just continued as a trio as well. And I think that sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s difficult, I could imagine next time we write an album, we would probably want to write it with a guitar player. Maybe with Mads, or someone else. This time around it just felt good just to be the three of us. The process was really easy and smooth. There were no big creative arguments, we all kind of knew what we want to make and how to make it. It’s the first record we produced ourselves as well. What was important for us, we kept the whole process internally and easy. We would have died, if we had to create another record like +-, which took forever and was really tough to conceive. I think you can tell, the record is pretty easy, when you listen to it. We weren’t forcing it. We were also pretty well rehearsed, so it didn’t take too long to record it.

You are a band, which stays in the same genre and always puts your sound first, not copying and going with what’s easy and popular at the moment. I guess, you would never go as far to put out a pop song, like “Despacito” or “Anaconda”, or whatever is trending right now. Why do you think people are obsessed with this kind of music?

It’s a big question. I don’t know if I want to know the answer. I think it’s dictated to people in terms of media, what record labels expose people to. I think it’s the same old song. Anytime you see anybody get success with something, a hundred others will copy it. And we just live in an age, where people are just super scared of taking risks musically, because “fuck then I can’t live off of it” or “I’ll lose my fans on Instagram”, whatever the fuck it is. And that’s why everybody just sounds the same. If I turn on the radio, first of all I can’t listen to it, if we’re talking about the mainstream radio. It stinks. I wouldn’t even call most of it music. It’s some kind of OK beat and an auto-tuned vocal. You can’t tell who’s Kanye and who are the posers. I can’t fucking tell who’s who. I think it’s the major problem, no matter what age you live in. Art is about being unique. Art is about not sounding like the other guys or girls out there. When you have this whole copy machine thing it’s pointless to me. Why would you want to sound like Justin Bieber, if you could sound like yourself. I have nothing against Justin Bieber, he’s probably a nice guy. But it’s just this whole mentality. I think people are lazy. This turns into a big talk, the whole thing about having a little bit of knowledge about any topic at your disposal it’s great and convenient, but it makes people so lazy. It makes them stop searching, being curious. Same goes with music, which is getting dumber and dumber and dumber. I kind of lost faith in music for a long time. I think it’s so boring. I really had quite a crisis in my life, because music used to mean everything to me. And when you’re constantly exposed to so called music, which sucks, you just can’t believe how anybody would ever listen to it and find it interesting. When music just gets to be this backdrop for spending time with your mates or cooking. I needed to revisit some of my youth heroes and bands I grew up with, to sort of regain my trust in music. When I reheard some records, I was like “fuck me”, there’s a reason why I loved it as a fourteen year old. There’s a reason why it blew my head off. Because it’s so full of nerve and angst and life and flaws and imperfections and it’s so human. These days it’s just plastic, everybody sounds the same. No matter what, that is a huge problem. Maybe a lot of bad pop music came out in the 80s, but at least the good ones were so easy to tell who’s who. Everybody had their signature sound. That’s not the case today.

I think, the worse is, it’s mostly auto-tuned.

Yes and it’s done by guys with laptops, who just sit there and think it’s a great career. Career as a songwriter is the most unsexy thing ever. It’s so blunt. You would never in a million years catch me doing that. But as a musician, it definitely hurts a little bit, when something that you’ve kind of devoted your life to becomes so blunt and just pointless. I am just waiting for some band to come and kick everybody’s ass. I need it so bad. Like Rage Against The Machine, or someone like that. So I can go like “fuck me, they mean that shit!”. I’m really longing for something like that to happen. That would be the best.

You and me both. I am just tired of auto-tuned pop.

Pop is great, if it’s done well. Right now there’s no point in it.

I’ve made you angry with this question, didn’t I?

No, you’ve made me sad.

I’m so sorry.

I think it’s an interesting discussion from pop cultural point of view, as to how to stay curious as a human being. I like a good documentary on HBO and I like to check a football score on my phone, to have everything available on my fingertips. So it makes me lazy as well. I just think, I am very aware it does. So I try to fight it every now and then. But I feel it on myself, that I’ve become less of a curious person, by having all this access to all the things all the time. I just remember living with records for weeks at a time. When we grew up, we were forced to hear all the not famous songs on the record as well. And in the end those songs were probably the ones you liked the most. But these days it’s like, nobody wants to spend an hour on listening to the eight songs, that are not the hits. Fortunately for a band like us, we have fans, who love all the songs. No songs mean necessary more than others. It’s seen sort of like a whole and people really dig the experience in the whole universe of it. I think it’s an extremely fortunate position to be in as an artist, because it makes it worth writing 10 songs. And not just say “well, fuck the other 8, we will release 2 and go on tour again”. It’s so rare I find a record or even a song that I really like. And I know, every person, you always have this window typically between I guess fifteen and twenty, in terms of your musical education. That’s where you really sort of open to bands or artists, when you develop your musical taste, which will follow you for the rest of your life. It will always be a reference point. But imagine having fucking Nicky Minaj’s music as your point of origin. You’re fucked then.

I’m the 90s child and I have a similar point of view on the topic.

What did you dig?

When I started, it was Marilyn Manson, also early Linkin Park records, then I went through the Emo phase.

My Chemical Romance?

You know it! My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco, 30 Seconds to Mars and many more. I loved it, I still love it. I am a rock and heavier music kind of girl. But in what I do now, I need to be into all sorts of music. It doesn’t necessary change my taste, but I like some of it.

I think there’s good music in all genres. I love “The Mechanical Animals” record. It was produced by Michael Beinhorn, who did 2 of our records as well. I just think it’s one of the best records he’s done. It’s a personal preference. I love this whole glam rock vibe, it sound super good. It sounds really organic, they were on fire. If on occasion I DJ, I always play “I don’t like the drugs, but the drugs like me”. It’s such a groove song!

That’s one of my Marilyn Manson’s favorite songs! Thank you for your time, am looking forward to seeing you in a few on stage.

METZ [04/11/2017]

November last year I had a pleasure to see METZ in Warsaw and have a little chat with Chris Slorach (bass) and Hayden Menzies (drums), two super nice and super down to earth guys.

Yesterday you were playing in Wrocław, today in Warsaw. It’s similar to your tour in 2013, as you were also playing in both of those cities. What’s more interesting, you were actually performing in this very club. Is it a déjà vu kind of situation?

Chris: Definitely. Mostly because it’s the same place.

Hayden: Yesterday was a different venue. It happens a lot, when you think about it. We go to the same places, see landmarks, graffiti, something that triggers certain feelings.

You were also a part of OFF Festival. Which form of performance suits you best, festivals or venues?

Hayden: I think there’s a place for both. Sometimes it’s good to play on a stage for a lot of people, you get to go watch other bands, you want to see and you sort of cross paths with other bands you’ve played with before, or are friends with, or have mutual friends with. It’s a friendly setting and it can be great, but at the same time not intimate, as playing a regular gig like this.

And what do you think of the polish crowd?

Chris: Going back to the déjà vu thing, I remember the last time we played here, it was crazy, maniac, really wild and super fun. I have fun memories of playing here.

Coming back to your album, why did you decide to name it Strange peace? Your previous albums were called Metz (self-titled album) and II. Was there ever a thought of just going with it and naming your albums chronologically? Three, Four, Five and like that to a Hundred?

Hayden: Not really. II wasn’t intentional, we weren’t aiming for a continuation of our first album. Some things were similar, some things were different. I won’t go into what the words necessarily mean, we came with it all three of us, it’s some kind of cryptic element of the record, it also means something different to other people, even to us. The way we wrote and recorded this one was maybe not massively different from our previous albums, but there were enough differences, that it was definitely worth changing the artwork and title. It didn’t deserve being put in the same pattern and being identified as the continuation of the previous ones.

Hayden, according to Wikipedia, you were the one designing the album cover, correct?

Hayden: I didn’t actually, it was a friend of ours, Jonathan Bauerle, he’s a collage artist and we just found his artwork. He just put a bunch of different pieces for us. He does a really cool work and we decided to sit down with him and collaborate on some cool stuff together.

What about the idea for the music video for Drained Lake?

Chris: We are not interested in starring in our own videos, we were never interested in being actors, so we were just looking for people with a vision. I think it’s a good way for an artist to visualize how they think. We chose to work with Shayne Ehman. He was sending me messages like “I had this dream last night”. It was so twisted and strange. When we worked with Shayne on Cellophane, it was like a crack head vision. Drained Lake is another level of strange, crazy, all weird.

Which of the songs is your favorite?

Chris: Honestly, I haven’t listened to it in a while. I think, it kind of jumps around, Sink was my favorite for a while, then Caterpillar. But I am very proud of the whole album. We’ve worked really hard, it was totally worth it and every day I have a new favorite.

Every time I ask this question, there’s no straight answer. No artist has it’s favorite child.

Hayden: It’s really hard to choose, there are different reasons for loving one a little bit more than the others. Sometimes it’s because we play this one really well, sometimes it’s a bit more intimate.

Chris: That’s why I like Raw Materials, it’s fun to play live.

Hayden: Exactly. Sometimes we need to play a song softer and then add some dynamics, to make sure it comes across the album versions justice. I personally can’t tell a favorite. Don’t make me choose.

Ok, I won’t. Which one is the hardest to play live?

Chris: I think Sink is probably the hardest one to play live. It’s the only one we haven’t been playing live.

Hayden: Yes, that one is a challenge, to listen to it is fun though.

Last but not least, do you have any weird habits before a show? Like drinking two pints of beer or having a golden toilet paper like Beyonce?

Chris: Is this real?

Hayden: If it is, it’s super impractical.

Chris: Before we played for a long time I used to stretch a lot. But I stopped and now I feel so much better. So what I do now is, I try to focus on some stupid tasks to take my mind of the upcoming performance, since it stresses me a lot. So I walk a lot, from one room to the other and then off to the show.

Hayden: I sometimes do crossword puzzles, it’s a good distraction. Don’t get me wrong, we’re excited to play, but if you spend too much time on thinking about what’s about to come, you get more anxious.

Thank you so much for you time and see you out there in a bit.  


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Amber Run [21.10.2017]

One of the bands I really appreciate, Amber Run, finally came to Poland. And let me tell you, even if this particular interview (with Joe) was done via email, I was thrilled to have this opportunity. And naturally, was lucky to see them live.

Your new album For a Moment, I Was Lost was released this year and immediately stole hearts of people. How different was for you the recording process it in comparison to 5AM?

It was really different. We recorded a lot of this record live in an attempt to capture more of the energy we have at a show. In doing so I think we’ve captured a much rawer sounding album. Which I think is a great thing.

5 AM album cover is pretty simple in comparison to For a Moment, I Was Lost. It’s beautiful, mysterious, I kind of feel like having an psychiatric evaluation looking at it. I can see two faces, almost locking lips. Was it the result you wanted to achieve? Or was it supposed to be a butterfly? (Please tell me, it’s not a butterfly…)

It’s a Rorschach test! People are supposed to be different things so it’s not supposed to look like anything! It looks like lungs to me. If you see a butterfly it’s a butterfly!

Could you tell me about your inspirations, your idols?

Bands like the national and Radiohead are huge inspirations but we all listen to lots of different kinds of music so it’s difficult to pin point just a few. For me lyricists like Guy Garvey are also huge inspirations.

How do you feel about going on an European tour, where you’ll play the first fiddle? Did you have the pleasure to visit Poland before?

We’ve never played a show in Poland and I don’t think any of us have visited either. Really excited to. I’ve heard beautiful things about your country and the way people engage with music there. We’re really excited to get our career started in Poland!

You were supporting Kodaline and (rumor has it) Seafret back in the day, how did it all begin?

Supporting Kodaline was an interesting learning experience. They were nice guys and have a great show but it was so earlier on our careers that I don’t think we truly took advantage. Was fun to play Brixton though! We’ve never supported Seafret! Maybe one day. I’ve heard they do really well in Poland! They have been supporting us on our UK tour.

You’re reuniting with Kodaline and Seafret for few more shows, who is better to hang out with, if I may ask?

Not sorted anything out with Kodaline for a few years but they are great guys. Love the ‘craic’. Seafret are hilarious lads – a lot of fun.

On a more personal note, is it true, you left law school to pursue music career?

Tom did leave university where he was studying law to play in this band – its true.

Hypothetically, if music was off the table, where would you see yourselves in 5 years?

Fat, lonely and bored

Slowdive [02/10/2017]

I’ve met with Nick Chaplin and Christian Savill for a brief talk just before their concert in Warsaw, back in October 2017. I must say, I had great time chatting about their break from music and how their children react to Slowdive’s newly found fame.

How are you feeling right now, after coming back and putting out the record after quite some time?

Nick: We kind of got used to it, it’s been 3 years since we did the first shows, but we’re so used to play live again, to me it felt like I’ve been doing this forever. What’s nice is playing the news songs from the new record, having fun playing something different and just seeing the audience react, mostly to the new but also to the old stuff, you never know, do you. Like I remember we went to see Pixies at Primavera and people were reacting mostly to the old song, which is also good.

How is it really, to play your old songs 20 years later? Was it different, was it like you’ve stopped in time, as if the time was not counting?

Christian: We sound exactly the same, but then again, we look pretty horrible, old and horrible.

Nick: We were pretty horrible before.

Christian: True.

Nick: Some of the songs are pretty easy, we obviously had to do some hard work before we’ve got together, we didn’t just decide one day to get back together and then go to a room the following day, it took quite some time to discuss which songs we would like to play and so we picked the well-known and probably easy ones. And once we’ve got through that batch, we went through the slightly tricky ones. With time we’ve forgotten a lot of what we did. But as it turns out it comes back pretty quickly.

That’s why we had to wait 3 years for a new record?

Nick: Yes, cause we had to go through the old songs probably. It took us a bit longer to create the new record, than we wanted to. But we also played a lot more shows than we thought we would and in between shows we had to go back and look after children, to our families. So there was not much time to go to the studio, so we just concentrated on the shows. So yes, it took longer than expected.

Actually when you stopped playing, I was just 4 years old.

Nick: We were mentally only about 4. (Laughter)

I had to dig up some old stuff and some things I’ve read were pretty horrible. 90’s was all about rock and then we went through the pop era all around the world. Do you think you were just ahead of your time?

Christian: No, I think this whole time we were just doing our own stuff. Some bands kind of moved from one popular thing to another. Don’t you think?

Nick: Yes, even when we started and critics were really kind to us, we were doing our own thing. There were bands following the same kind of style before us, we obviously had our own take from there. As Christian said, when the kind of funky drummer thing started, every band was having it in their songs. We never did anything like that. We were moving as far from what was trendy as possible, but I think it’s just what we wanted. Sometimes people have liked it, other times they thought it was shit.

Was it really hard to come back after taking all this criticism?

Nick: Not really, people always ask us, if we came back for some kind of revenge, to show everyone we came back and just fuck you! But no, we haven’t really thought about it, people were just doing their jobs and that’s what this job was at the time, to sell newspapers, so they knocked the band down, made fun of it and people thought it was hilarious and then they moved to a next genre. But that doesn’t exist anymore. We were bumped up about it. If our comeback would not work, we would just go back to work in a computer company.

So you were working in a computer company?

Nick: Yes, we worked in the same office.

That’s cool.

Nick: It’s a company that employs people, who know nothing about computers. That’s why we’ve got jobs there.

Oh yeah, been there done that!

Nick: So yeah, we thought it will be like 8-10 shows, we never hoped we would do another record. We obviously ended up doing a lot more. People wanted to come to our concerts.

I actually checked and Pitchfork has put all of your records in “50 best shoegaze albums of all time” in the top 10. In the social media era, where everything spreads worldwide really fast, like STDs on Coachella, do you think it’s better for musicians?

Nick: It has two sides, on one side it’s too much music out there, I think. It’s hard to find something at the volume that’s acceptable. But the flip side of that is, anybody can be accessible, when before you needed a label, which you don’t necessary need anymore. The trick is, how to get the music out there, for people to find it. For us it was easier, because we have a name, which people with a certain age and certain musical taste have recognize straight away, so when we came back and put the record out, we didn’t have to tell people who we were. For a new artist it’s a lot more work.

How does it feel to be in the spotlight again? With new fans, finding you on Spotify, going to your concerts, taking pictures and following your every step on Instagram?

Nick: We’ve got used to that, but actually Rachel is really good at that, the whole social media thing. I don’t object to it, this is really important now.

Being some sort of famous these days bases on people recognizing you a lot more often, asking for selfies, starring at you. Is there anything you would not accept?

Christian: It never happens to us. It’s good, you can go to a show and literally just go straight to the audience and no one would bother you. It’s mostly Rachel

Nick: Yes, well, it happens to us occasionally. Of course every band has it. When we decided to get back together, we wanted the original five. If one of us didn’t want to do it, then we wouldn’t do it. We all have an equal fair share. But Neil wrote songs and Rachel, for better or for worse, is the girl in the band. The wide media attention is focused on the girl in the band. She doesn’t like that, but we sort of accepted, that’s gonna happen and we can’t avoid it. When we play a concert and someone snaps a photo, we can’t control which picture is going to be published in the article. And we know they all gonna be of Rachel. (Laughter)

Is it hard to marry music and family? Usually when musician start their careers there are no strings attached, no family, just groupies everywhere, at least that’s what I’ve heard.

Christian: When we were younger we were basically living in each other’s pockets. Right now we live in different cities, having families.

Nick: We have a beautiful calendar, which we share and we block out the time we are busy with family or doing other things. So we can look at it and find a period of four days, that we might be able to do something. Me and Christian live quite close to each other. But not together (Laughter), we went through that phase. Simon lives in Cambridge, Neil and Rachel live in the south west. England is not a massive country, but there’s still 4 hours’ drive from ours to Neil’s, he has 2 kids, I have got kids, Christian has got kids, so it is kinda difficult. But at the same time we’re older and some things are easier now, with technology.

Are your kids proud of you?

Nick: They’ve been to our of our shows just recently. Your son loved it, didn’t he?

Christian: Yeah, my boy, he’s 7, loved it, my daughter, who’s 11, was not impressed.

Nick: Mine is slightly younger. My son is 9 and he was a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing, he’s quite sensitive. He was a bit afraid of going into the crowd, so I told him to watch the show from the side of the stage. He was afraid everyone’s gonna look at him. I said “trust me mate, nobody’s even looking at me, everyone’s looking at Rachel.” My little girl is 6, she thought the whole thing was hilarious.

Christian: “Look at daddy’s dumb face!” (Laughter)

Nick: So I think they’re kind of proud, but I think they’re also embarrassed. When you tell people about what you do in life, and we respond, we’re in a band, they ask “what is you’re really do”, so we need to convince them it’s really what we do, just being in a band. Most people can’t see anything between playing in U2 and a band that just plays in pubs. They just can’t understand how you can make a living out of it, when you’re just playing in pubs and not just working too.

That’s weird, UK is actually a house to great musician and a lot of different music.

Nick: Not many people have interest in that. Not many care about music. I know Britain has a history of great music, right now it’s basically just X-Factor and so, they are buying CD’s in a supermarket, not accepting people can make living out of it.

Thank you very much for the talk and have a nice one on stage today!

Heidrik [12/05/2017]

Heidrik is a lovely Faroese artist, with a strong Tim Burtonish esthetic and magical voice. Last year I had a pleasure to meet him and chat a little about his artistry. If you haven’t had a pleasure to get to know his music, you can find it on Spotify / Soundcloud and watch all of his music videos on Vimeo.

You are a man of many talents, a musician, filmmaker, painter, it seems you turn to gold everything you touch. Did you ever consider music school instead of film school?

Thank you very much! No, not really…or I was at this 6 month music course in Denmark so I have done a bit of school regarding music. Film for me was something I felt I needed schooling for. It’s so much technical stuff you have to do to be able to make a movie. So many people involved and it’s a big machine you have to start if you do film. Music you can make alone without problems so that’s why I guess I felt more that film school would be more a thing I would be able to help me regarding film.

“Funeral” is a very intimate album, seems like we can see your soul with every pitch.

Yes, it is a very personal album and I wanted it to be as true as possible. I have been through some things I think I needed to get off my chest. It is a very important album for me because it help me to get closure to a lot of things and helped me move on.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but is the song “Boy” based on true events? It’s truly heartbreaking.

Yes, it is. The song about a boy who died when he was 17 in my home town. He was under constant homophobic bullying and suddenly died and the entire town go silent with guilt by their behavior. I can never forget that morning I heard he died. I was 17 as well and it was such a strange morning. It has sort of haunted me ever since so I felt I had to write the story down. I think it says a lot about us humans and how we behave towards the things we don’t understand or don’t know.

FXxjZXuYtjkMany people, especially young, living in small places, are struggling, when it comes to their sexuality and the world they grow up in. Faroe Islands are not only small, but also isolated.

Yes it’s very hard it small societies I think. Faroe Islands have change a great deal just the past 10 years but when I was a kid, homophobia was a very normal thing. People’s hate and fear was hidden behind religion as an excuse of their behavior. I am just very happy young people in the Faroe Islands wont experience such hate again.

How did moving to Iceland influence your life? Does it inspire you while creating?

It is a lot like Faroe Islands. Just bigger and a bit more modern. I learn a lot here – about myself and about life. I lived in Denmark but I never settled in. I am born and raised around nature and therefor was Iceland perfect for me. I feel very much at home here.

How was to work with Janus Rassmusen?

It was great! he’s is one of my best friends. We known each others since we were teenagers and he has also seen me grow up and therefor could easily relate to the album and help me say what I wanted in the right way. He is seriously one of the best producers around and he’s to humble to for his great talents.

Let’s talk about your inspirations, the cover of “Funeral” reminds me of Tim Burton’s “The nightmare before Christmas”, it’s one of my favorites. Where do you seek inspiration? What helps you most in the process of creating?

That’s funny! Tim Burton and I have the same source of inspiration I think and that’s maybe way you think so. We both are great fans of old black and white silent Berlin movies from the 1920s AND 50s horror movies. So I guess that’s where you may see some resemblance. I find my inspiration in old movies and pictures of old Hollywood stars. The album is called Funeral but I see the album as a very positive album because it’s about letting go and getting peace of mind so you can move on with your life. So I wanted the cover to be beautiful and colorful yet have some of the funeral elements but in a surreal sort of way. So it was not associated to a real funeral but more the symbolic side of a funeral.

You are one of those stars with a pretty unique name, how often is it mispronounced? What was the funniest version of your name?

Well surprisingly it’s not that bad. I think people are quite good at pronouncing it. But I love how polish people have like, cute versions of names so I am called Heniu or Heidriczek. I think that’s adorable 😉