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Album Review: TBA

Monday, August 9, 2010

Interview: 65daysofstatic @ Sonisphere 2010

Being strong advocates of playing live, 65days were never ones to turn down a hearty festival slot, but it still beggars belief that John Skibeat finds them preparing to play at a hard rock and heavy metal festival like Sonisphere! Joe Shrewsbury (vocals/guitar/keys) and Paul Wolinksi (guitar/keys) seemed almost as stunned as our interviewer.

You’ve played a wide range of festivals already but this must be the heaviest you’ve done so far.
Paul: Ever. We were quite surprised when we got the call ‘cos it is really heavy but as we’ve realised heavy metal music fans are fairly open-minded. Hopefully they’ll give us a break and we’ll get away with it!
Joe: We’re not going to pretend to be anything other than what we are.
Paul: We’re not going to get our Jacksons out and start down-tuning them.

You've played a wide range of festivals already but this must be the heaviest you've done so far.
Paul: Ever. We were quite surprised when we got the call 'cos it is really heavy but as we've realised heavy metal music fans are fairly open-minded. Hopefully they'll give us a break and we'll get away with it!
Joe: We're not going to pretend to be anything other than what we are.
Paul: We're not going to get our Jacksons out and start down-tuning them.

Are you changing the set-list at all to suit the occasion?
Joe: No. We're just gonna do what we do. We're loud too. We're certainly not going to be out-louded. We've got a lot of sub-bass, we may not be down-tuned but we certainly fill all the right frequencies.

Do you think it's an advantage or disadvantage to stand out from the other bands?
Paul: It's got its disadvantages on occasion but it's usually an advantage. We wouldn't want to sound like any other band. In the past we were probably quite stubborn about not sounding like anything else whatsoever. These days we've got a new appreciation of genre music which is a totally different discipline, but it's not for us. I think we'd get too restless.
Joe: We've got four heads. We do write together a lot so we have to find a middle ground between all that.

You seem to tour almost endlessly, cramming in hundreds of shows a year. Where does your desire to play live come from?
Joe: Well, firstly touring is our bread and butter and we're very lucky to love it. Long story short, we exist on a shoestring really so it makes sense for us to be on the road as much as possible. Also, until the last album, we always felt we represented ourselves best live. And it's a really great thing to do.
Paul: When you're locked away playing music it's really hard to know how useful you're being. It's quite a selfish thing being in a band and we want to know we're doing something that has an effect on other people. On the road, you get to experience that every single day. It's quite addictive really.
Joe: It's not like anything else. If you like it, you want more... like skag!

[Laughs all round]

The new album, 'We Were Exploding Anyways', is a whole new ball game to your previous material. Even your PR was claiming that you were "a band reborn". Where did the inspiration for it come from?
Joe: Oh, so many things.
Paul: It was a strange couple of years after our third album.
Joe: We're not a band that takes a concept into a studio. We're very hands-on. Our whole lives are the band. We've been doing it coming up to ten years so that really dictates everything we do. It would be hard to pinpoint a single inspiration. But we certainly felt that with 'The Destruction Of Small Ideas' we'd really side-stepped and explored a way of making music that was very satisfying in a studio sense but not in a live arena. The only thing we agreed on when we came back into the studio to write 'Exploding' was that we wanted to be the band that we were when we started who made people feel something visceral.
Paul: We wanted a record that could be recreated live from start to finish.
Joe: Except for Robert. He plays the only instrument on the album who doesn't turn up. [Joe and Paul exchange knowing smiles]

So, are there little bits of ideas taken from the dance music that you grew up on?
Paul: I kind of grew up listening to dance music instead of guitar music at first. Even when “65” started we didn't have a live drummer. It was all electronic beats and less weird time signatures. So it wasn't wholly new to us but, like I was saying before about genre music, listening to house music before and as we wrote this record revealed to me that you can use obvious rules in your favour. It's not cheating or being lazy, it's things that are effective. It's a totally different skill being inventive and being exciting within a genre. So we definitely pulled a lot from Daft Punk and Underworld and amateur producers.
Joe: To write something behind a 4-4 kick, and very little else, is actually a lot harder than to write melodies behind 5-4 time signatures which is what we've done in the past. So that was almost a learning curve for us. It was actually more about taking things out. 'Tiger Girl' is a really good example, because it came at the end of 18 months of writing when we'd already thrown out maybe 40 songs that we thought were old “65”. So we thought 4-4 kick and a melody and let's do what we want. So that was a really enjoyable song to write. That song is kind of an indulgence really.

How would you describe the album to someone who hadn't heard it yet?
Joe: Everything all at once... with no singing! [Laughs]
Paul: Hopefully not inaccessible. It's noisy but not without melody.
Joe: Mid-level band finding its place in the harsh face of stardom. [Laughs]

Robert Smith does guest vocals on 'Come To Me'. Did you write it specifically with him in mind?
Paul: Not at all. It came really late in the day. We were working on trying vocals in different songs but it didn't work. We'd tried recording it and abandoned it. It was finished and arranged but we just needed something to lift it. We talked about trying vocals on this and we were thinking about which vocalists we knew. We know Robert Smith.

From your tour with The Cure?
Paul: Yeah. So we thought, send him an email, what's the worst that can happen. And he said “yes”. He didn't come to the studio 'cos we were busy, so we sent him some tracks and he recorded them in his studio. He sent them back a few days later and said we could do what we want with them - which is cool in itself, because he's very precious about everything he's involved in. So to get permission to cut him up and cover it in distortion was... well... he liked it!
Joe: We didn't want to do it just to have his name on the record. We wanted it to fit; to sound right.

Have you any plans where to take your music in the future?
Joe: We never have a plan. I don't think people believe us when we say that. Schedule-wise, we know… but we never know what we're going to write. And this time, we really mean it.

So the next album could be heavy metal after all!?
Joe: Yeah, we could write a metal album! Could be anything. I think we're still enamoured with the idea of how to write a good pop song without it compromising the integrity of your music. I don't know if there is a way.

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