laut.de – “Bono and Geldof are fucking idiots.”

Interview by Matthias Manthe (original link (in German))

They’d love to collaborate with Christina Aguilera. At the same time, they had rejected several major labels before they released their second album. The rely on word of mouth, the indie label Monotreme, and their own company Dustpunk Records. The tireless guys from Sheffield have been touring the country. In between tour bus and back room catering, Paul Wolinski, Rob Jones and Joe-Fro took the time for an e-mail interview about their new album, the drum ‘n’ glitch scene, vodka filled trips to Russia, and every day’s politics. “Meaningless thoughts are worse than not to think at all,” cites Paul. Not that this is an issue for the band.  

Your show last May at the Blue Shell in Cologne was incredible. For me, it was one of the best concerts of 2006. Where do you get that energy from? How do you manage to reach your limits every single night?

Paul: That’s easy. We have the chance to be a part of this band, and it’s the best job in the world. It’s our responsibility to deliver a great show, and we take that very seriously. We put as much energy in each performance as possible. During gigs like the one at the Blue Shell last year, it’s even better, because the club was so small and intimate, and the people were really into it. During such shows, we give even more than 100 %.

Joe: To be in front of an audience is the best motivation. Recently, we have realized that it’s the audience that has full control over a performance. We have been playing a lot of our songs for a while now, so we know them well enough to offer a high standard night after night. We write the songs together; they mean a lot to us. It’s probably the sincerest wordless way of expression that we have. We try to perform at each show as if it’s our last. When the audience responds well the concert gets even better, that’s almost for sure. We definitely prefer to see them dance than just stand around. We want to get them to dance. That’s our motivation to play as loud and powerful as possible.

There aren’t many bands that follow a tour-studio-tour schedule. Is there any time for a life apart from music?

Paul: We preserve our tiny bit of private life by talking only in jokes when we’re on tour and by locking away our emotions until they start to rot and grow into something bad. Since we have been in this band for a long time, most of our closest friends are somehow connected to 65daysofstatic. That’s not a bad thing. Regarding the question about what we do when we don’t make music, I’m not sure. I don’t understand music anymore. I guess we have gotten completely absorbed by it and fail to understand what’s in right now.

Rob: When you are part of a band you put your whole heart into it. I think it’s pretty frustrating for everyone who isn’t inside that context. Sometimes, it swallows you, but I think it’s a good thing. We apologized to all our friends in the only way we’re capable of, with a record named “How I Fucked Off All My Friends”.

Is traveling around a conscious part of your lifestyle rather than a need? Is it also about broadening your horizons?

Paul: Performing is definitely our priority. Traveling is just a part of that. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here much longer, unless we turned into a musical and played at the same place every day. Like “Cats” or “Joseph & His Technicolour Dreamcoat”. That’d be cool. Besides, coming from England, I get humble every time we cross the canal to tour mainland Europe. It’s always fantastic.

Rob: We have the privilege to have complete control over everything we do. We decided to travel around in a van with our equipment. That allows us to visit the cities we play at. Many bands don’t do that. Traveling is one of the most important experiences you can have. We have that possibility. At the same time, we are able to play our music. How cool is that?

There are a lot of rumors surrounding your beginnings. For instance, that you found each other to write the soundtrack for John Carpenter’s movie “Stealth Bomber” that was never released.

Paul: We got accused over and over again of having started those rumors. That’s not true. I have heard about the “Stealth Bomber” thing, but I’m not sure what it is about. After a gig, a fan came up to me. He knew the entire background story about a canceled Carpenter movie in Alaska. There were no special effects, and apparently, it was released on a Betamax video. I would love to have a copy. Truth is, 65daysofstatic goes back to the CIA’s coup d’état in Guatemala in 1954 during which the intelligence service put into practice the white book. According to that, it’s enough to disrupt radio reception and spread false propaganda for 65 days to destabilize all state institutions.

“Our songs are are the sincerest way of expression that we have.”

Regarding “One Time For All Time”, you explained once: “These are songs with no words, but they are screaming.” Is there a vision that dictates your entire output?

Paul: I think so. When we write a song, we push it until it has this particular sensation of urgency. It’s quite a vague feeling, like the one we keep chasing, and I hope it has the quality to be universally present in all our tracks without making them sound all alike. Until the latest album we kept asking ourselves whether it’s our goal as a band to create this perfect song. I’m not that sure about that now.

You described your latest record as a mix of confusion, guilt, exhaustion and rage. Describe the leitmotiv of “The Destruction Of Small Ideas” I a few words.

Paul: A mix of confusion, guilt, exhaustion, rage, blind confidence and blind fear.

Rob: Sorrow, confrontations, misunderstandings, joy—repeat.

What’s your understanding of a small idea?

Paul: Being useful?

65daysofstatic make very escapist music. Do you aim to find this timeless sound? Something that can be regarded beyond the context of an album and exist for the sake of itself?

Paul: I think the answer is yes. However, we don’t want to give the impression that our music is better just because it’s more “serious” or heavier than the latest pop album. It’s just the kind of music that emerges from us, and we want to touch as many people as possible. Despite its uniqueness, we’ve always tried to keep our music as direct and accessible as possible. If someone who owns our records gets up in the morning and puts on Avril’s latest album, the effect could be similar, I guess.

For me, “Destructions” seems more than ever to celebrate the moment before the roller coaster plunges into the deep for the first time. What’s more important to you, to keep the tension before the climax as long as possible, or the ups and downs during the ride?

Paul: You can’t really separate that. The higher the climb, the higher the fall, and the more you can lose. I don’t really know, though. However, I can tell you that as a band we don’t approach tracks like that. We are skeptical toward “artists” who call themselves just that. What value has an idea itself if people are capable of describing their visions and thoughts behind it? What is it what such an “artist” does, then? During the songwriting, we incessantly pushed ourselves to bring the songs up to a new level. You can read in them whatever you choose.

You took a risky step during the mastering. Instead of turning the album’s entire volume up to the maximum how it’s usually done, you focused on the dynamics. The rather low parts are indeed lower, giving the explosive parts more contrast. However, you only take note of that when you turn up the volume. It gets lost at a moderate volume.

Paul: We were aware of the risk of recording the album that way. We see now that it polarizes. It’d be a pity if people didn’t like “Destruction” because of its lacking punch. In the liner notes we recommend turning up the volume. Yet, I don’t think there’s some sort of misunderstanding if someone doesn’t do that. It was very important for us not to record an album dominated by the standard mastering and radio compression processes that make everything sound alike. It’s what makes commercial music suffer so much. However, we didn’t do it just to make a statement about contemporary pop music and to be able to say: “If you don’t like it you just don’t get what we do.” We did it because we’re convinced music sounds better at a high volume and with a broad dynamic range than on one single level.

Rob: Besides, it’s possible to locate every single part of a song. All the instruments harmonize, but it’s still possible to distinguish them. I’m glad you have experienced two different ways of listening. It’s important to put on a CD after a while again and get a completely new experience. There lies the beauty of recording music.

There’s something definite about the album. It’s as if you have been aiming toward this sound for the last years, with broader ranges, less stop-and-go, more piano, strings, layers…

Paul: It was the first time we had the chance to write an album as an entity. The previous ones started as EPs and we recorded them in a very short time. This time, we started with nothing. We were aware that we needed to create a song set that would work out as an entire album and that we could record at a bigger studio with lots of time for adjusting the details. We wanted to incorporate more instruments from the very beginning and merge programming and our band more than ever before. I hope the album sounds broader, heavier. Even though we hadn’t planned it that way, “Destruction” is like some sort of final assignment following the three previous LPs, like a report of our learning curve during this integration process. Maybe after having achieved that, we can move on to something completely different.

Do you believe your sound can become even bigger, more monumental, and broader? In which direction do you want to go next?

Paul: What I appreciate most about our band is the fact than we can evolve in every possible direction. It never even crosses my mind that we have reached the end our of capabilities and ideas. If this album sounds as if we have ended something, it only means that our next project has to be something truly exceptional.

Are you going to change direction?

Paul: Absolutely.

Rob: If I manage to convince the others, our next output will consist of 30 minutes of drone.

Are you afraid that the surprise effect of your drum ‘n’ glitch sound might get lost at some point? How do you avoid routine during songwriting?

Paul: There’s no routine at all in 65daysofstatic’s songwriting. That’s no problem for us. Every genre gets old someday, maybe even old-fashioned. Still, that doesn’t mean a lack of quality. The Pixies still burn their firework in all honesty, don’t they? The drums at the beginning of “Bone Machine” still thrill me. Everything is a cycle. 65daysofstatic have never been cool, so we don’t have to worry about trends.

“We’re all caught in a safety net.”

Are you sometimes afraid of the future? Your personal and humanity’s future in general?

Paul: Yes, and yes.

Rob: What did Gandalf say again? “You have to do what you can with the time you’ve got.” I like that. That’s fatalism.

The booklet mentions the beginning of an illness. Are you referring to something like the Last Judgment, the apocalypse?

Paul: No. There are too many powerful people who believe in some kind of Judgement Day. In my opinion, it’s a cruel and cowardly way to get rid of the responsibilities over your own actions. The only destruction ahead of us is man made. That means it’s up to us to avoid a disaster. The booklet says that everyone of us who plays in a band, loves music and was born into the rich Western world by coincidence, has the possibilities to buy CDs, listen to them, go to concerts. Everyone lives their lives, has their own struggles to fight, and that’s perfectly fine.

Yet, in our existence and as 65daysofstatic, we realize every day that our world is not the real world. We are all caught in some kind of security net that prevents us from seeing what’s really happening. That in order to keep up our Western lifestyle, the vast majority of humanity is kept from any power. While I’m writing this text, I’m wearing a T-shirt of a big clothing company, probably fabricated by Chinese or Indonesian children. My expensive sunglasses are also from China.

Probably, there’s nickel from mines in South Africa or Asian, run by militaries in my laptop. In order to tour Europe, I am sitting in a van fueled by petrol that was traded in US dollars. It’s a reserve that allows the US government to invest trillions in military superiority and, paradoxically, to be the most indebted Western state at the same time. Those investments allow the USA to take control over organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund that then ensure that poor countries stay poor.

For us, everything’s fine, since we’re programmed not to see reality. Whether we like it or not, due to climate change and decreasing prime materials, the borders between our and the real world start to vanish. One day, this illness will definitely haunt us. It’s up to us to either open our eyes like civilized people or to bury our heads in the sand and keep consuming without thinking about it.

There’s also a picture of a baby in the booklet. Does it represent your desire to leave something behind? Do you plan on having children?

Paul: I have no idea. The only thing I know is that I wouldn’t be a very responsible father right now.

Rob: You can also understand it as some sign of hope. We just think babies are cool.

The title “When We Were Younger And Better” makes me think what getting older means to you. Do you think the exchange between youth and energy for age and wisdom is fair?

Paul: It was Oscar Wilde who coined the saying “Youth is wasted on the young”. I don’t know whether I agree with Oscar Wilde on other matters, but it makes sense to me. Is it fair? You get older, it just happens. So, it’s probably for the best not to waste too much time thinking about it. “Meaningless thoughts are worse than not to think at all.” Someone famous told me that once, I don’t remember who. Let’s say it was Jerry Bruckheimer.

You claim to have lost faith in your ability to change the world. When, how and why did that happen? How do you cope with this loss?

Paul: Seeing people like Bono and Bob Geldof misunderstand the issue and launch their RED campaign [“buy more to save people!”] makes me ashamed of even wearing sunglasses, playing in a band and speaking about “important stuff”. Fucking idiots. I’m still convinced that I’m able to change something. Everyone is. We just can’t do it the superhero way. We still aim to be the most meaningful band and we’re working for that. Maybe, the difference is that when we get there (I just wrote “if we get there” instead of “when we get there.” I’m getting old.) we won’t waste our time meeting PMs. We would use our millions of pounds to fill the pockets of people who know what they’re talking about.

What does the title “Music Is Music As Devices Are Kisses Is Everything” mean?  

Paul: There are different meanings to it. It’s about secrets and truths. While we keep worrying about our dying world, truth is, music, families and kissing girls are the most important things in a 65 day.

From children and the world’s end to hard liquor: tell me about your last “Eastern European Dance Party”.

Paul: It took place in Moscow at 3 am at some abandoned factory. Some spooky guys drove us there in illegal cabs. The place was on the third floor and could hold about 30 people. There were about 15. Half of them were unconscious, high on heavy tranquilizers. 65 drank some vodka and disappeared again. They never invite us to the cool parties…

On your remix record “How I Fucked Off All Of My Friends” you have used Christina Aguilera samples. Have you fulfilled your dream of working with her, or do you still want to do a collaboration? How would the song look like?

Paul: We would love to. In our opinion, she fell in disgrace after working with Nelly some years ago. That was bad. But if she liked to work with us, we would do anything to write the best 3-minute pop song of all times. It’d be a mix between Prodigy’s “Firestarter” and Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend”.

On your last tour you had some great visual show. How is it this time?

Paul: You’ll have to wait and see. We have three months of the most confusing and annoying technical problems behind us. We can’t afford to use visuals on tour right now. We’re not a rich band. As always, you can expect full engagement from our part. Just keep in mind that your ears won’t work for a few days after the concert.

Last question: from time to time, you release semi-legal “Unreleased” EPs during your concerts. How can people get their hands on older stuff from you?

Paul: Check our official forum on 65daysofstatic.com. People exchange stuff there all the time. If we find it again, we’ll upload the artwork, so people can download it.

Translation by 65kid Arabella Lutz.

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