04 czerwca 2015

Keep slipping away

There are concerts that you can never forget and there are bands that you can accuse of spending all your savings for summer festivals. For me that one would be an extremely noisy and wicked band from Brooklyn called A Place to Bury Strangers. After a wild gig in Paris I’ve asked the lead singer of the group, Oliver Ackermann, about their new LP, ’Transfixation’ and some other things that have been occupying my head ever since I’ve been blown away by their ‘wall of sound’ for the first time.

fot. Maria Kordowska, Paryż, kwiecień 2015

Magazyn: So, at the very beginning, how is your tour going on? And how is that possible that you haven’t visited Poland during it yet? Here’s a lot of people waiting for you impatiently!

Olivier Ackermann: The tour has been going great. We've broken a lot of our equipment so far but have been rebuilding it while we go. The shows have been really crazy and exciting as well with some new experimental work we have been doing in mind control. We will definitely be coming to Poland in the fall of this year as it is one of our most favorite places to be. 

You’ve played a number of new songs from ‘Transfixiation’. I’ve seen the audience really enjoying themselves, but how it is from your point of view? Do you prefer playing older stuff or maybe you are curious how the new songs will turn out live?

We change up our sets every night and I like that. So if we play a lot of new songs one night we probably play a lot of old ones the next night. It is really a random mix for what we are feeling each show night for what we play. We like variation and challenge and do that to keep us on our toes and fired up.

How do you generally feel about your new LP? Was recording it similar to the previous ones or you’ve changed your attitude to creating new things somehow? And how did you end up creating something like ‘Deeper’? That’s exactly how I imagine the soundtrack to the nuclear bomb explosion.

I think the new LP turned out to be our best record yet. We went in to the recording process thinking we were going to write and record this record capturing what it is like to be at an A Place To Bury Strangers show. I was so focused on recording techniques as being the key to making this happen that it wasnt until we recorded "I Will Die" that we realized something of great importance. We had actually been trying to rerecord that song because the demo was recorded real bare bones with just a couple of mics in the room pointed randomly around the space. We tried and tried but could never make it sound better than when we had first played the song which was a complete improvisation and that is what you hear on the record. What I realized then was all the years focusing on recording techniques and how this waveform effects this other one just didn't matter as much as actually capturing a wicked performance. So we did that for this record. Recorded mostly live we just tried to capture something special with each song. 

"Deeper" was recorded in Norway at ABC studios in Etne and the scenery and starkness of the area really brought that out. It was a little bit like living in a town you would go if the rest of the world had blown up. We were completely away from everything and humbled by the amazing mountains and scenery.

I’ve seen you several times, every time in a rather small but quite different venues. In what kind of places you like to play the most? Do you have your favourite ones where you feel that the atmosphere during the gig is extraordinary?

(For me, to see you play in a small club in Warsaw ‘Powiększenie’ in 2009 was the most mind-blowing concert experience ever. In that really tiny, sweaty club you sounded louder and wilder than I’ve ever experienced at any other show of you.)Keep slipping away

I like that. Being in a small club where people are crawling on top of each other is my favourite. I like to be in the crowd and my equipment covered in sweat and barely working. Any chance to be hanging on for dear life and bumping in to bodies makes the concerts way more enjoyable. It is all different and enjoyable though just sometimes more than others and I don’t know the reasons. It just happens that some nights are extra intense.

Talking about the venues, I’d like to ask about the closing of ‘Death by audio’? I am aware of the importance of it to you so it seems pointless to ask how you feel about that. However, I would like to know something else. Do you think that there is no, or soon won’t be, space for such independent places up there in Brooklyn? 

Do you feel like it’s an important part of local social life in Brooklyn? Because it seems that ‘Death by audio’ was not the only DIY music venue closed in the neighbourhood lately and it feels like in NY it is really intense. 

I think it just takes guts to dive in and start a place where this can happen. To everyone reading this they should support the arts and hold concerts and events at their house or warehouse. I think it is an important part of life and it is always getting shut down for people who want to move into fancy apartments or want to just own real estate or make money. It is a shame when places like these close down but so many keep on popping up it is amazing to know that people are still willing to risk it all and make this happen. When you have a space where you can smash a television on the ground with a hammer at 4am it is liberating and free and promotes good creativity and artwork. 

I would like you to tell me how did you come across the ‘zZz’ band? Must say – they did their job. The audience, including us, was thrilled. And how do you usually pick supporting bands? Are they sometimes groups that you feel like they will be a perfect match or it happens somewhere beyond you?

We had played with them a couple of times before and ever since the first time I was hooked. They are a wicked band. We try to pick the support bands when we can but it isn’t always possible. I like to pick bands that could be better than we are so that people get the opportunity to get turned on to something that I think is really great.

What bands/musicians have impressed you lately the most? Did you recently discover something in music that completely blew your mind? 

I think the most mind blowing experience I had in a while was the Dreebs last show ever. Everyone should write them and tell then to reform and tour in their hometown. Besides that there are a ton of absolutely amazing bands going right now, Viet Cong, Matchess, Grooms, Pharmakon, zZz, Bambara, Yanatan Gat, Beach Creeps.....

And what about your music roots? From where the loudness of APTBS came in the first place? 

The first time I remember being blown away from sound was right when my brother just got his license. He drove us somewhere I can’t remember but as soon as we got in the car he put on Minor Threat and turned it up as loud as it could go. The speakers are blowing up and it sounded like we were inside a machine gun. It was a taste of being inside something real. It was affecting me and it was bliss. Then a few years later when I got an electric guitar the same thing happened. I used to have this amp in our house and turn it up to the point at which the speaker would be cutting in and out. It was such blissful mayhem I was hooked then forever.

There was something about the past so let’s move to the future. What are your plans for the next months, except for touring (and popping into Poland as well, as I’ve heard!)? 

We will be coming to Poland for sure. We can not stay away. Besides that we are going to record a bunch while we tour in the future. I feel like so many good ideas come up while we are travelling and only a fraction of them actually make it back home after a tour. So we are going to try to record at places in different areas of the world while we are there. It is an experiment but such is life.

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