Archive for the ‘65 Days of Static’ Category

Interview: 65 Days of Static

Monday, November 26th, 2012

65 Days of Static are a hard band to place, musically speaking. Touching on various genres, including post/math-rock with an electronic tinge, the UK group have seen their profile gradually growing over the 11 years since they formed. On the brink of their first ever Australian tour (65DOS play The Bakery on Saturday January 5), Jack Midalia caught up with Paul Wolinski from the band to discuss their new record, crowdfunding, beards and particle physics.

65 Days of StaticHow’s the new record sounding?
It’s sounding different… in a good way finally. It’s taken us a long time to get here. We’ve sort of done the same as the last record where we wrote loads of songs, maybe 20 songs, and ended up throwing almost all of them away because we were repeating ourselves. That’s the thing that always scares us… we try to find somewhere new to go.

What stage of the process are you at now?
Some days it feels like we’re almost ready to go into the studio, some days it feels like we’re not even halfway there. Right now, there’s probably about 30 songs written on the big board in the rehearsal room, so in theory there should be an album in there somewhere.

How do you go through the process of turning all that stuff into an album. Is it just a painstaking process of culling it down, or is there some grand plan?
It’s varied from record to record. This time, it’s taken us a long time to work out what sort of record we wanted to make.

We’re always careful that we don’t start making a record for the wrong reasons. For a band like us, we need to keep releasing records and touring to be able to make a living. If we stop we have to go back to the real world and get jobs. But that alone shouldn’t be the reason for making records, it’s the wrong reason. You should make a record because you’re compelled to.

When we made Exploding in 2010, it felt like that was the record that we had been trying to write for a decade and finally pulled it off. It felt like the end of an era I think… in a good way. We’d been hearing hints in what we were doing to this next step. It’s like looking for the Higgs boson or something… you can’t see it exactly, but you can see hints of it in the songs you’re writing so you’ve just got to write blindly and not get too precious about that stuff because if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter because it gets you a step closer to the next thing that you’re going to write.

You briefly touched on the financial imperative for making records and touring. With the whole crowdfunding thing you did, what was that experience like?
It was a really nice experience. We’re not really very money orientated. The profit margin on that was almost non-existent. We did it as an experiment to see, on the one hand how the crowdfunding model worked, and secondly because that record was never part of our master plan — it was a soundtrack record for a project. We really weren’t sure if there was significant interest in people hearing the record. We didn’t want to go off on a tangent only to find out that it was a specialist thing that only a few hardcore 65 fans would buy and nobody else was really interested in. So putting it on Indiegogo was a good way of saying “look, if enough people want this record to be made, we’ll make it”.

And because that’s what was in our heads, the figure that we put down, I can’t remember what it was… six or seven thousand dollars or something, it basically covered the cost of making 300 to 400 limited edition vinyl and then the cost of posting them out and recording the record in the first place. The response was so wonderful that we hit that target in about four hours, by the end of the month that we’d put it up there four we must have raised four times as much. But the only reason we’d raised four times as much is because so many people wanted it, we raised the quantity of the limited edition stuff we were making. So the costs went up, so it remains non-moneymaking.

I was just trying to describe your music to someone who hadn’t heard you, and it ended pretty badly. It kind of ended with me just throwing around a bunch of genres and saying “it kind of sounds a bit like this… but not really”. How do you go about describing your sound?
Oh God, yeah… equally badly I think. I suppose the old favourite is Mogwai meets Aphex Twin, that’s been following us round for 11 years really. I can see where they’re coming from — I don’t think it’s quite accurate but it gives people an idea.

The term “post-rock” as well, I don’t know what that means in America because I know it’s different in Europe to in the UK. In the UK these days, or for a while now, it’s kind of shorthand for bands who are very quiet and then very loud and then go very quiet again and want to sound like Mogwai but aren’t as good. So we try to avoid calling ourselves that. But then again I know that in Europe it doesn’t have any of those negative connotations, it’s just a descriptive genre.

For Australian fans that haven’t seen you live before and have only heard you on record, which is probably most of them, how does your live show compare to 65 Days on recorded form?
As much as I’m proud of our records, I don’t think we’ve ever been able to capture our live show at its best. We’re all really proud of our live show and I think that’s where we’ve always represented ourselves most clearly. It’s incredibly loud. We try our best to get everyone involved, I mean we’re not rockstars about it, but we don’t want to play to an audience of serious looking people stroking their beards, we want to get people moving and having fun. Or, if not fun, then get a bit of catharsis going or something. We play as hard as we can and play loud and make it as relentless as possible, because why would you want anything less?

It’s funny that you mention the whole beard-stroking thing… a friend of mine calls that move the “post-rock beard stroke”.
[Laughs] Right, ok. I mean, I don’t want to force people to dance or have fun. I’ve been to plenty of shows… I don’t know, the number of times I’ve seen Godspeed You! Black Emperor and probably been standing there doing something similar. But that band sort of demands it, it’s just overwhelming isn’t it?

People should go to the shows and do whatever they want to do. But we don’t want to be so standoffish… we try not to add any pretentiousness to what we do.

Besides playing the shows, is there anything else you’re looking forward to doing in Australia?
Well, we don’t have much time off. Simon, our bass player, has been on holiday, but the rest of us have never been. We’re all just going to be running around before soundcheck seeing as much as we can see. And meeting people. That’s what’s great about being in 65, we kind of operate on this fairly underground strange level. So people that have taken the time to seek us out in the first place are usually really cool, interesting people that it’s a pleasure to meet.