piątek, 25 lipca 2008

Interview with Brian McBride of Stars of the Lid

Wojtek Krasowski: Released in April, are seventh album of Stars of the Lid. On album we found 18 new songs. Tell something about recording session.

Brian McBride: Our recording sessions are really not that interesting. We typically do most of our recordings apart from each and then get together a couple of times to talk through and make sense of what we’ve done. After awhile you can only withstand so much online cryptic conversations about this sounds or that melody. It helps to have the other person in the room to have more detailed discussions of what’s occurring. 

Wojtek Krasowski: Yeah...I want to ask you about that because You live in Los Angeles, Adam in Brussels. How you works?

 Brian McBride: I think it’s great. I like it for a lot of different reasons, actually. I think if Adam and I lived in the same city, I don’t think that we would collaborate as well. I think the differences between us make the time we interact more special. And the reason is: instead of inviting somebody over to your place and saying, “Okay…This is what I came up with. Listen to it. React to it right now. Come up with a part this next week”. You know, by virtue of the postal service, and just the impossibility of getting together immediately after you have something… You have more time to mill over something. You have more time to sit there and listen to it. Instead of, “Okay. It sounds like C & D sharp. I think I kind of have an idea”. You have more time to play. You have more time to listen. Over and over again, in different contexts and different environments. 

Well, I can’t really say if distant recording works poorly for other bands, so I don’t have much to compare it to. I can say that it helps if each of the artists are motivated. You have to send stuff back and forth on a regular basis. You often need deadlines. You gotta talk about what you like and don’t like no matter how abstract and obtuse it is. Talking about the minutiae of music is real difficult from far away especially with our music. The most comical thing in the world is for us to try to describe certain sounds that we like to the other person, eventually we got smart enough to just talk in time,
“I like that melody at 2:15 – 2:50” I think Adam and I are just used to it really. Neither of us are so invested in our particular way of doing things that we’re going to stomp and stammer because we didn’t get our way. But each one of us also does have a sort of peculiarity to what we hold on to. Like I could send Adam a track, he could add a part, and then something about it will click and he’ll get this extreme attachment to it. For me, I could be totally ambivalent about the particular track in question, but I know that’s the way we work. You need to be okay when the other person hits the gong and also when the other person champions something as their favorite thing on the planet. And then lastly, you need time to dwell on what you’re doing. You need time play around with ideas and for us it often helps that the other person is not around when we do it. Usually when we get together we’re not as productive with the material act of recording. We may make some good headway in mentally cataloging what we have or we may even make a conceptual breakthrough or two. With another person in the room you expect too much too quickly. I know for me, I don’t want them to have to endure the 100 times I’m going to play or perform something over and over again. So we spare each other that and go off in our separate little laboratories.

Wojtek Krasowski: Which stuff you use to make these strange noises? I think about keyboards, programs, instruments. 

Brian McBride: Most of the “strange noises” are just guitars, strings and horns recorded in different ways. I have a tendency to record a bunch and then just sample parts of what I’ve done. It’s all about laying instruments and making new instruments out of the combination of different instruments’ decay and timbre. But the important part for me is that everything is real. I don’t use any sound banks or keyboards. I do have a midi keyboard but it’s just for playing my own sounds.

Wojtek Krasowski: If you could arrange collaboration with one of the artists who would you choose and why? Steven Wilson, Robert Fripp or Preisner these are my propositions. 

Brian McBride: It will be difficult to choose. On one hand I have listened to so much Harold Budd that I feel as if I could enter into the relationship with more ideas. On the other hand, I would want to be a spectator with someone like Bryars, Preisner or Desplat that I fill like I could soke up so much. Even if fantasy land, it’s hard to choose.

Wojtek Krasowski: Zbigniew Preisner & Henryk Górecki – I knew you love this composers, that’s a big pleasure for me! Tell us something more about your influences.

Brian McBride: Early on I think we where inspired more by what not to be. We were living in Austin and we were filled with a lot of purposeful distancing for the blues-meets-boogie rock-styling’s of all the
Stevie Ray Vaughn prodigies. I was also inspired by the ending of songs, the 10 seconds of decay where the songs of the grunge years would fade out. I guess you could also say I was imprinted by my father’s love for classical music in a roundabout way. I didn’t really care for his music when I was growing up, but I did hear a lot it seep through my walls over the years. So in the times between listening to my own music, I’d probably be falling asleep to this wall-filtered classical music. I’m sure that traumatized me into some kind of musical disposition. 

Wojtek Krasowski: Maybe we turn back time, when you’re a child. How looks your childhood? I mean, when you interest of music.

Brian McBride: I didn’t start making music until my early twenties. I’ve never had any musical training. When the time came to make music I think I was really mentally prepared. I was sort of a sound junkie, bursting at the seems with inspiration. As far as listening to music when I was child, I had a plastic beige radio next to my bed that would turn itself off. I feel asleep to music all the time. But as far as what I listened to, I listened to pretty normal stuff:
The Beatles, Kiss, heavy metal. It was my father who was the classical music fan. I was just a punk kid with a penchant for staring blindly at corners while listening to music.

Wojtek Krasowski: David Lynch – it’s a next important person in music of Stars of the Lid. I might be wrong but judging by the titles of tracks, it looks like you’re a big fan of him.

Brian McBride: Their was so much about Twin Peaks that hooked me: the score, the show’s dependence on the score, their love for coffee, Cooper’s intense celebration of everydayness, the over-the-top drama, especially Grace Zabriskie’s character. And then there’s the fact that this thing was on broadcast television. I mean, what was it doing on ABC for all to see? You have to admit is was this incredibly weird crack in mainstream programming. From what I can tell, Lynch loves to take in his environment, and that’s something I can definitely relate.

Wojtek Krasowski: When I look into history of music, I wonder, why ambient and electronic music is so ignored? Brian Eno, Steve Reich or Holger Czukay – these people changed music in 70’. But now young kids called this music - BORING. How to change this situation? Do you have any ideas?  

Brian McBride: I wouldn’t say electronic music is really all that ignored. It depends on what someone does with it. Electronic dance music seems to have quite a lot people who flock to it. It sort of depends of the function of the music. If the people use it to get up or maintain energy, it seems to be more of a favoured medium. People need rock and dance music to satisfy a certain need, it’s kinda like a drug. That’s why Led Zeppelin is always going to sell more records than Eric Satie. I’m not trying to be disparaging about it. I recognize it. I used to think in terms of the “tyranny of the up”But I don’t really mean that bemoan. There is no doubt that rock seems to have more use than classical music if you judge that sort of thing on the amount of people who consume it. But if the situation was reversed Stars of the Lid might not be here today. The fact that we didn’t hear anything out there in the musical world that ultimately satisfied us was in part an explanation for why we started making music. If you walk into grocery stores and feel surrounded by Stevie Ray Vaughn songs, you may want to go home and record on your four track if only to jar Stevie out of your head.

How do we change the situation? I’m not really concerned by that. Steering culture is kind of a fool’s game. It seems like the more you try to push it a direction it slips away from you. I don’t really want to know what the kids know as long as those damn kids stay off my lawn. Do what you do because t matters to you not because other people should.

Wojtek Krasowski: You released only one solo album. Do you think about another one? 

Brian McBride: I do. It’s in what we call the nurturing stage. Given that the previous record was concept heavy in the sense that it was kinda a scrapbook through a particular time in my life, I have quite a bit of music that is not apart of that time. At the moment, I’m sort of looking for the missing musical sock. I have so much stuff recording that I’m cataloging a bunch of what I can still listen to.

Wojtek Krasowski: SoTL have 14 years…Do you still remember the beginning of collaboration with Adam Wiltzie, the first meeting?

Brian McBride: I saw Adam eat this taco once, I mean like fast. Like maybe three bites fast. Then a couple of hours later I heard these deep rumbling noises coming from the room that Adam was in. I came into the room thinking he was playing some music, but I found out it was just his stomach. Right then, I knew. I mean I knew this guy had digestion issues, and I thought, that’s the kind of guy I wanted to make music with.

1 komentarz:

Scott pisze...

Hey, thanks for posting this interview. SoTL are an amazing band and it's great to get some insight into their process and ideas. And collaborating with someone based on their "digestive issues" is SO PERFECT.