STORM – DECEMBER 5, 2013 – INTERVIEW (original link (in Dutch))
The idiosyncratic band 65daysofstatic has been active for almost ten years, and can be found on plenty of Dutch stages since 2006. There seemed to be no end in sight, and yet it has been three years since their last tour. 65daysofstatic used to be known for trying to do shows on as many days of the year as possible. ‘We’re doing that once again now. It feels really good’, guitarist Joe Shrewsbury tells us. They are trying to take better care of themselves now, however. They’re no longer twentysomethings, but thirtysomethings. New album Wild Light has been received very well by both critics and fans. Some call it the pinnacle of everything 65 is known for, or even the band’s best album ever. An opinion that Joe shares. 65daysofstatic seem to have found themselves once again, and maybe even reinvented themselves as well.
‘It feels like we’re a new band now. I can’t really explain it, but that’s what it feels like’ Joe says. Once again they feel like a band where everything just fits. What happened according to Joe, is that the band didn’t care about what they did anymore. There was no pressure while writing or playing. ‘We felt really free while making this album. We didn’t care anymore. Because we’ve been going for quite some time now, we’ve had some amazing experiences with record labels, but we’ve also dealt with complete idiots who didn’t have our best interests at heart. We’re no longer the weakest link, and it feels like we’ll stay together forever. So we made an album which is completely the way we want it to be. The last time we did that was with The Fall of Math . Back then, no one knew who we were so we just made that.’
Letting go of the notion of how the band was supposed to do things also allowed for a different way of playing. The difference between guitarist and drummer has been fading more and more. ‘We’ve started using more synths’, Joe explains. ‘The secret is that we cared less about which instruments we wanted to use, and instead cared more for which sounds we wanted to produce. On We Were Exploding Anyway we deliberately used many sounds that we got through software. Those are electronic in a pure way. For Wild Light, we wanted to give those sounds something more. We no longer differentiated between I’m a drummer and I’m a guitarist. That way, we became more critical about how to make a sound as big and cinematic as possible. It was a really good lesson for us. Paul plays multiple instruments, but guitar had been the only instrument I ever played within the band. I never wanted to put it down. 65 has to remain a guitar band for me, even if I was able to let go of that a bit more. I now play more synths and noise as well, and I really enjoy it. It’s really exciting to be a part of 65 now. We don’t know what we’ll do after this, and that feels really good.’
The balance on Wild Light wasn’t a conscious choice. ‘The songs didn’t need that, because we no longer make that distinction. It’s really weird, but I only realized that since I’ve been doing interviews. Rob is now as amazing on electronic beats as he is on drums, so any changes can happen really quickly. There’s less happening in a song now as well, instead of an electronic loop here and a guitar line there, we either chucked one of them out, or knitted them together.’
In the past few years, the band has mostly been working on a number of distinct projects. They created a live soundtrack to seventies sci-fi movie Silent Running, performed live in support of a dance recital, and, more recently, created an installation called Sleepwalk City in the Millennium Gallery for the Tramlines Festival in their hometown of Sheffield. ‘We discovered that plenty of things that interested us the most in the arts, happened outside of rock shows’, Joe explains. ‘That soundtrack was something we just rolled into, and dance was something we never thought we would be involved with. We were asked, and we said yes. Sleepwalk City was a far bigger installation, and our own idea. It gave us the opportunity to involve other disciplines like audiovisual and video. It helped us to add something to what we were doing musically, expanding it with some ideas that can’t transparently be found on the album. The Sleepwalk City-installation uses a lot of imagery from politics and science. We’re very interested in this big world of ideas. We just wanted to see if we could be a part of that. We’ve been looking into setting the installation up somewhere else, but it’s a very expensive undertaking. I’m sure we’ll do other stuff as well. We’ll do pretty much anything as long as it doesn’t bore us. As long as we can work, we’ll do anything. The worst case scenario is that we become a band that tours twice a year and just keeps playing to the same people. We want to keep building and growing.’
Working with different media influenced the band’s way of working and playing. ‘Silent Running was interesting because we were making music to images that already existed, which forces you to choose. If the source material already exists, there’s a certain message contained within that. The reason 65daysofstatic exists is because we felt like we couldn’t put into words what we do musically. It’s just a pure form of expression. In the end, all of these projects were instrumental, which makes them safer to us. We know we can do that. The scary part on Sleepwalk City was the visual aspect. Instead of hiring a VJ, we grabbed visuals from YouTube. That was interesting, since the internet is another playground of ideas. Being above copyright laws by taking things from YouTube, reminded us of the Unreleased/Unreleasable collections of remixes we made back in the day. It has nothing to do with a lack of respect, but with using things you admire in a very good way that deviates from the original. The audience gets to decide if we succeeded at reaching a certain vocabulary of imagery. But for a first effort, we’re really happy with it. Someone even came by crying, so either they thought it was awful, or we managed to achieve something.’
The band has been performing together for about ten years, and although some complain about things getting boring after a decade, the opposite is true for 65daysofstatic. ‘We feel that, as individuals, we’re quite good at pushing ourselves past a certain comfort zone. I don’t want to feel too much at ease while playing. I like it when it feels like everything could fall to pieces in the next minute.’ The band isn’t done yet though, because Wild Light is only a snapshot of these songs. ‘It’s really exciting for us that we can make Sleepwalk City into a six-minute song as well as a thirty-minute installation. There’s more room to discover all of the shapes of the music. We now feel very capable to do that as a band. There was a time when we kept holding on to strict arrangements, with very little space to do things, like on Exploding. But if you gave us another week with the songs on Wild Light, we could build upon them once again.’