January 15, 2006, by Matthieu Van Steenkiste (original link (in Dutch))
How do you express your dissatisfaction with the state of the world as clearly as possible? By scribbling hollow slogans on your hand? By singing or shouting world improving lyrics? As 65DaysOfStatic prove, it can be done more directly: by channeling all of your energy, fear, pain and hope in an assault of furious, instrumental rock – and add some computer bleeps for good measure. goddeau (the old name of the enola website; tofr) brings this live-sensation to Leuven for their mainland debut. Expect nothing less than an explosion.
65DaysOfStatic has built quite the live-reputation in England. If you’ve listened to debut The Fall Of Math or sophomore record One Time For All Time, it’s pretty clear that that’s exactly what was expected: this band oozes pure power. Think of early Mogwai and forget the calmer sections, add scintillating electronic beats, and finally add the conviction with which Explosions In The Sky performs. Is it possible for a band to keep this up?
Joe (guitars): “We have no idea how our music will evolve. Our goal is to make music that’s as powerful and relevant as possible. And yes, we’re a rock band, we use electronic instruments and computers, so we’re going to be loud every now and then. Are those two things connected? We’re not sure about that just yet.”
Paul (laptop): “It’s hard to explain since we’re just following our instincts. And that relevance differs from song to song. If we feel that a song is useful, and has this urgency within, we assume that it’s necessary in some way.”
“We’ll try our hardest not to become softer, it’s not the time to do so. The fact that all these innovative laptop musicians like Kid606 didn’t manage to conquer the mainstream in the late ‘90s, happened because a guy behind a computer doesn’t really invoke wild behaviour. We’ve learned from that, and that’s not who we are. We still jump around a lot.”
enola: And yet One Time For All Time sounds a bit gentler already.
Paul: That’s how you feel, but others have already told us that the album is unlistenable to them, because it’s so relentless. And then we are told that the album is more electronic, while others complain that we’ve left the electronics behind us to focus more on guitar. But this was the only possible music that we could make. And let me be clear: it wasn’t easy.”
enola: How would you describe the difference with The Fall of Math?
Rob (drums): “One year, four tours, too little sleep, a concealed low self-esteem, a lack of sobriety. A gift we have to cloud our own message only to rediscover it. This whole album has been a lot of guessing, an opinion that has been formed without knowing all the facts. Or rather: an opinion while it’s being formed, purely through trial and error.”
Paul: “The record is about something different for all four of us. It’s about touring, about the things we’ve learned or are still learning. Because of the lack of lyrics, the meaning doesn’t get locked in. The same song can express different things depending on how we feel or what is going on inside of us while we’re playing it. That’s what keeps our shows fresh, as we don’t tire of our own songs.”
enola: You’ve mentioned Godspeed You! Black Emperor as one of your influences. Do you feel any kinship with their political views? What’s your message to the world?
Joe: “We love Godspeed’s music and a lot of the views they express. Every band should have something to say, as music is still something that’s born in a community. It can still be a political weapon, a way to share ideas, even when our ways of protesting are taken away.”
“It shouldn’t be possible that a band has nothing to tell, even if it’s just sharing the ideas of others, like we do: let’s stop buying stuff we don’t need, let’s do something about climate change before it’s too late. Let’s question everything because it is our right to do so. If we don’t have the right to have our say, let’s say something anyway, because humanity is pushing itself towards extinction. And let’s dance while we’re at it.”
enola: A quote by you: “We want to make something accessible in an inaccessible and elitist corner of the music world. We wouldn’t mind being popular. We’d rather see an entire generation with a certain idea of what music should be, realizing that it can be completely different.” So when is that major label deal happening?
Joe: “A lot of people just allow the dominant culture to be shoved in their faces. They don’t look beyond that. At the same time, people who listen to or make alternative music are very elitist about it. Wouldn’t it be amazing to just show in the mainstream and show people that there are other things out there, aside from the bands that get infused with loads of money?”
enola: I’m looking forward to the day you perform at Top Of The Pops.
Paul: “We should clearly write a couple of great pop songs. We wouldn’t be denying our integrity, as we always try to write pop songs. We want our music to be as accessible as possible. And since we’ll always be 65DaysOfStatic, we’re pretty certain that will never sound like Coldplay. It will sound like us. There are plenty of examples of songs that get accepted by the mainstream because they’re just too good to ignore: “Born Slippy”, “Firestarter”, “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, … They’re some of the best pop songs ever. However, we are aware that this idea might be quite naive or even defeatist, because it assumes that you have to be a part of the mainstream, something we shouldn’t really believe in.”
enola: A collective like Godspeed You! Black Emperor rather believes grassroots economies. Is that really a better way: a network of tiny economies connected with each other?
Paul: “That might be a more hopeful thought in a certain way, as it’s based on the idea that at least there’s the possibility of an alternative that can challenge the mainstream. If Godspeed or whomever would start such a network, it would bring more to the world than just writing another song, no matter how good it might be. As a band we often talk and think about topics like these.”
enola: In everything you write – mails, liner notes, even interviews – there’s the same despair at the state of the world that bleeds through in your music. Where does this bleak view come from?
Joe: “Making music is a form of honesty. If our songs evoke a certain emotion, it’s because that’s what we wanted to evoke.”
Paul: “Look: we’re coming to Belgium to play two shows and then we’ll play a third in the Netherlands on our way home. That means we’ll be traveling about 2,000 kilometers in a van that excessively drinks gasoline. Once, we did some research for the two weeks we’re going to be touring the UK in February. For the 3,000 kilometers we’ll be driving, the four of us will each be responsible for over seven hundred kilograms of carbon dioxide that gets emitted into the atmosphere. It’s assumed that an emission of four hundred kilograms is safe. Per year.”
“It’s a very uncomfortable feeling to realize that everything you’ve worked really hard for all your life, turns out to be incredibly harmful and just not tenable in the end. And we don’t really know how to handle that. We’ve come to the realization that we should at least start to recognize that. The choice that everyone in rich Western civilizations faces in the coming decades, is between controlled and uncontrolled decline. There’s no third choice, except for pretending like nothing’s going on. But that’s very selfish.”
enola: On that tour in February, you’ll be working with visuals. Is that the typical post-rock move to disappear in the dark and let the music speak instead of the personalities behind it?
Paul: “Not to me, anyway. We’re not scared of being recognized as a band, we’re more interested in being people who gain people’s trust instead of being just an anonymous post-rock band that hides behind their music. The visuals will just be another layer to hide the unavoidable chaos on stage and to blow people away with a relentless barrage of everything at once.”
enola: What’s the stupidest thing you’ve done as a band?
Joe: “The top five: almost being arrested for trying to steal ceramic swans, exploding a mixing console while mashing up Underworld and New Order, talking to different annoying label people, trying to fly out of a van while it was doing 140 on the motorway, and attacking a band that was nominated for the Mercury Prize.”
enola: Do tell.
Paul: “It’s not important, they won’t remember us anyway. We were on tour, we were drunk, and our intentions were good. We wanted to make that band (my guess would be Franz Ferdinand, mvs) aware of their responsibility, now that they were the first group in their genre to be signed to one of last great independent labels. We felt like it was their duty to explore the borders of what four guys with guitars can do, instead of bringing back ‘80s artrock that’s just style over substance. It’s not clear though if we made ourselves all that clear after a pretty big bottle of Bourbon.”