May 23, 2007 by Kristof Vande Velde (original link (in Dutch))
Now that The Destruction of Small Ideas has been out for a while, its creators will realize that the response hasn’t been completely positive. At the moment of our interview, the release was still some time away, and the band’s two guitarists, Joe Shrewsbury and Paul Wolinski spoke about their new musical gold with the infectious enthusiasm of nine-year-olds being told their mum was getting them ice cream. In the Hotel Atlas’ dining hall two guests had just started eating their lunch, and they probably didn’t care that just a couple of meters away 65daysofstatic’s two guitarists were giving their third interview of the day. Their third interview is always their best. At least that’s what Joe, who just introduced himself as a member of Green Day, tells us.
enola: Hello boys, how are you?
Joe: Really well! We’ve just visited three continents in three and a half weeks: we were in America, Japan and Moscow. And now we’re here, pretty tired. We have just about a week left to prepare because then we start touring again. With new songs, this time.
enola: What exactly are you doing in the coming days?
Joe: Rehearsing! Maybe I’ll visit my mum’s house to have decent food for once.
Paul: We’ll mostly be busy rehearsing. We still have to practice how to bring the new songs live in the best possible way, because we need to change a couple of things. We also have to load up a whole bunch of t-shirts, wash our own clothes for once, pay our bills. Things like that.
enola: It’s well known that shows are the most important aspect of your music. So what does recording an album mean to you?
Joe: That’s a different world entirely. Both of them are complimentary though: playing live is very direct, very sincere, and only holds one truth. Whatever happens, happens, and it needs to be great immediately, even if it’s wrong. That’s what you do night after night, and it’s a lot of fun. And yet it’s necessary to interrupt that and record an album, to reflect on things, put them in their right places, and take the time to write. Now especially, the writing process has been very calm and thought out, because for the first time in a while, we had quite some time on our hands. Our first two albums consist of songs that were recorded live in a studio. This time, we were able to record everything layer by layer, and it nearly drove us insane. Now that we’ve actually gone insane, we’re ready to bring those songs live (laughs).
enola: Is time in the studio a necessary evil for you?
Paul: Let’s just say that we’re better at touring and playing live. Despite that, time in the studio certainly isn’t a necessary evil and even just as important. Our recorded music is what will outlive us. In theory. Shows always leave a temporary impression, and secondly, they will stop at some point in the future. Our records are our documents. Our base. What we’ve recently learned is that it must be very easy for bands to write an album, and record it with the idea that you’ll tour it. That’s basically recording an album for the wrong reasons. It’s having your fans pay so you can have some fun. It’s crucial that you make an album because you sense that you should make it because you have something to say through it.
Litres of red wine
enola: I saw you at Pukkelpop last year. You looked really tired after your set. When you’re not touring, do you keep in physical shape?
Joe: (laughs) We should, and yet touring is the only physical exercise we have. I’m really looking forward to it, because I’ve just been smoking and sitting down for the past eight months.
Paul: I think we at least eat healthily. But that gets undone by the litres of red wine we consume.
enola: So touring is a bit like working out for you?
Joe: I like that idea, because I don’t enjoy sports at all.
Paul: A friend of ours is a promoter, and he ran into The Dillinger Escape Plan once. Apparently, they have a lot of tuna on their wishlist, and they have some sort of physical training session with lots of push-ups and sit-ups before each show. They gorge on tuna for the proteins. I think that’s cool in some way. Although I’ve heard other stories about them which are less cool. But I won’t get into that.
enola: Okay. What’s your most negative experience on a tour so far?
Joe: Touring is a fantastic way of living. Nearly all of our experiences on tour are positive. But there are a number of interesting rather than negative experiences, especially when something goes wrong. For example, there was this show at a festival in Dordrecht last year. Someone wanted to film the performance, which is no problem, but they decided to use a camera with a gigantic light on top. Instead of standing at the side or at some distance, they’d put the camera centrally in front of the stage. The audience was behind this gigantic camera. We started to play, and we thought it was ridiculous, as our priority is to play to people. That’s when the issues started, because we asked them to stop filming. They wouldn’t. We then stopped playing in the middle of a song, and he gave us the finger (laughs). Luckily, back then we had a tour manager who looks like a retired pirate. He started a fight with the cameraman, and that’s how we got rid of the whole situation.
enola: Any other interesting stories?
Joe: Another time, we were in London and we went through what’s probably our worst touring experience. It was a late show, and when we had finished, it was 2am already. Our van was outside in the rain. I went to get something from it. When I wanted to close the door, the key broke inside the lock. Our van was open, in the rain, and I didn’t have my phone with me, so I had to go sit inside of it. I sat there for an hour before the others came looking, and we only managed to get to our hotel at five in the morning. As if that wasn’t enough, the police then blocked our van. When we showed up to our van in the morning, new key in hand, we then had to go pay the police to remove the block from its wheel. That was a real nightmare.
enola: Please do go on…
Joe: Once, we returned from a gig in Munich very late, and were stopped by the police. It was actually kind of funny. They told us they had to search everything, so we let them. Everything had to be moved from the van, and we didn’t really feel like it. I never found out what they were actually looking for. They definitely didn’t find it.
enola: They were probably looking for good music…
Joe: Probably. But they didn’t find that either (laughs).
enola: In Japan you once played to 10,000 people. What’s the smallest audience that has ever attended one of your shows?
Paul: That would’ve been fifteen or twenty people. It was a small place in the north of England, just outside of Newcastle. There was a lot of industry, mud and pollution.
Joe: I don’t think a lot of bands play there. Well done to that booking agent. Almost no one came to watch us. And it was raining as well.
enola: How does that impact your enthusiasm?
Joe: We performed really well that night. Ten thousand people or three people, it doesn’t matter to me.
Paul: It just takes a little longer to get into it, for starters because there’s so much space.
Luckily before Mogwai
enola: Your internet diary is called ‘Till The Fuel Runs Dry’. What will you do when the fuel has run dry?
Joe: When all of the world’s oil has run dry, we’ll have to invent a gigantic bike to transport everyone (laughs). That’s the most important meaning behind this: it’s fantastic to listen to music, to write music and to live our lives as we feel is right, but soon, there won’t be any oil left…
enola: I thought the meaning was related to your own energy levels…
Paul: That hasn’t happened to us so far, but we do talk about it often. There are few things worse than bands who continue while having nothing left to say. I hope we’ll stop when our inspiration has run dry. And if we don’t, I expect all of our fans to force us to stop by no longer buying records, no longer attending our shows, … Music is too important to just be wasted by bands who should no longer make it. That’s tough for those bands, but you have to be careful to avoid dragging everything you’ve made through the mud.
enola: So you’re hoping this album will still be bought?
Joe: (enthousiastically) Absolutely! We really love our new record! It’s the best one we’ve made so far.
enola: Which bands that you’ve shared a stage with have impressed you the most?
Joe: Oh, Servants of the Apocalyptic Goat Rave. They performed in Dordrecht as well. Fantastic band. We were lucky to have been able to select our support acts in the UK. There’s the new The Miramar Disaster, who’ve just released their debut album, which we were fortunate enough to witness its development from the start. Then there’s Youthmovie Soundtrack Strategies. A lot of fun to play with. We’ve shared the stage with Mogwai. When they’re in their element, they’re still an incredible live act. That was the case here at the Dominofestival, and again in Italy, where they were even better. Then there’s Grails. They impressed us a lot as well.
enola: Have you ever been so impressed by other bands that you were afraid that people wouldn’t want to watch you afterwards?
Paul: We played before Mogwai (laughs). But that was the right call.
Joe: It’s positive to face challenges. It makes us work harder for it.
Paul: This is something bands talk about a lot. I’ve noticed this kind of thorough competitiveness. We completely trust our own band and want to go on stage before another band so we can blow them against the wall.
Joe: That whole atmosphere is really strange. Bands never talk to each other before going on stage. Then there’s the soundcheck and you say hello to one another, and the bands go to their own spaces. But then, after the gig, when they’ve seen each other and liked each other’s work, all of a sudden it’s all “Hey, you were fantastic!” Bands always seem a bit cautious towards each other.
Paul: Because you always want to be honest. If you form a friendship before the show, and then you don’t like their music, it’s hard to lie to them.
enola: In Belgium you’ve booked Transit as your support. Have you heard any of their music?
Paul: (apologetic) No… We don’t know anything about them. We weren’t able to book our supports for Europe ourselves. But once we’re home, we’ll listen to all of it, so that’ll hopefully be a fun surprise.
Electronics instead of a good friend
enola: In your online diary you’ve promised to make the album to end all records. Did you manage to do that?
Joe: No. And I’m happy with that. It’s just that every band should have the motivation, when they’re making a new record, to write the best record ever made. If you succeed, then you should stop. We’re just happy that we’ve made the best album we’ve ever made. Luckily, we think we have it in us to make an even better one.
Paul: The interesting thing as well is that we’ve learned a lot from this album, because we did things completely differently, and we’ve become wiser on a technical level.
enola: What’s the best record ever made?
Joe & Paul: There are so many: ‘White Pony’ by Deftones, ‘Relationship of Command’ by At The Drive-In, ‘Scream, Dracula, Scream!’ by Rocket From The Crypst. New Order’s ‘Substance’. ‘Harvest’ by Neil Young.
enola: Have you heard Young’s new live album?
Joe: Massey Hall! (whistles) Crazy! I was in a record store in Japan and I was fucking jumping up and down. It’s a really impressive recording of someone who’s so good.
enola: Do you feel like, since you took so much time to make this record, that this is the music you really want to make?
Paul: Good question… The problem is, or rather the good thing is, all four of us had something different in mind. We don’t really know what that is ourselves. On some days there’s nothing I enjoy more than making massive drum and bass beats, on others I prefer making walls of guitar noise. It changes for all four of us daily, and what we’ve made now, is the result of four different influences. None of us could’ve made this by themselves. When people ask us about our influences, we find it hard to name bands we like because it doesn’t make a lot of sense. We listen to all kinds of music. The bands we do mention, are those who have influenced us through their approach and attitude. We’re rather proud of the fact that we’re following in the steps of big bands without a definite frontman.
enola: Which one of you brought the electronics into the fold?
Joe: That has always been fundamental to us. When Paul was studying at university he hadn’t met me, so he didn’t have a good friend to support him (laughs). So instead of that, he bought a sampler and spent his time in his room experimenting with that. I think everyone who makes music should do that with the means that are coincidentally available. We definitely didn’t start by wondering which instruments we wanted to get involved. None of us could sing, so we don’t have a singer. But we did have a computer.
enola: But there are more electronics this time around…
Joe: You’re the first one to say that, and you’re right. Except that it’s audible differently this time. That’s because we’ve gotten closer to what we’ve always wanted to create, the equalization of electronics with the band. I think the electronics on this album are among the best Paul has ever written, and the music we’ve made alongside them just fit so well that it becomes one unit. There are parts in there which you might believe to be electronics, but they’re not.
Paul: For our drums we use a lot of loops that we’ve recorded ourselves, instead of using existing ones. When Rob drums, his own electric sound accompanies it and it fits together perfectly.
Avril Lavigne’s relief
enola: You live in the same city as Arctic Monkeys. Do you ever run into each other? By accident?
Paul: They stould our sound guy (laughs).
Joe: They recorded in the same studio where we were playing. Their manager has an office underneath ours. Sheffield is a pretty small city, so…
enola: What should people know about Sheffield?
Paul: It’s not that small here. It’s actually a big city but everyone behaves like they’re in a village.
Joe: Everyone knows everyone here. It’s quiet and friendly. It’s a good place to live in the UK because it’s far less pleasant in plenty of cities. It’s big enough to be a city, but small enough to feel good in it. A bit like The Hague.
enola: If you could organize your own festival, who would be the headliner?
Joe: (immediately) Tom Waits. And Saul Williams. And… us. No, I’m joking.
Paul: We’d make At The Drive-In reunite.
enola: Where would you place yourselves?
Paul: Maybe we’d open and play the best show we’ve ever played so that the rest can never live up to that.
Joe: But we’d do that especially so we could see all of the other bands.
enola: What’s the biggest misconception about 65daysofstatic?
Joe: We think that a lot of people in England feel that we act like we’re full of it. That we’re arrogant and difficult just to be difficult. The truth is: we’re just like everyone else. We’re trying to make sense of the world and we try to make good music. Pop music.
Paul: Someone asked us if it’s true that we’re not interested in anything to do with pop music because it would be inferior to our own music. That’s the exact opposite of the truth: we’re all big fans of pop music. Just recently we were discussing Avril Lavigne’s latest single, because I think it’s fantastic.
Joe: I think her relief is better (laughs).
enola: If you should summarize all of your music in one sentence, what would it be?
Joe: I don’t think our music can be expressed in words. If there was one message we could endow, it would be…
Paul: “This is everything.”Joe: People should refuse to accept mediocrity in their lives and do things that make them feel like they’re sixteen again. That’s our beautiful message.