quarta-feira, 8 de julho de 2015

Exploding Heads with A Place to Bury Strangers - An Interview

É sabido que para o TBTCI Oliver Ackermann e sua máquina destruidora de tímpano, o APTBS é absolutamente predileto e fundamental por aqui.

Todavia uma pequena história, através das redes sociais, fui abordado por Tina, uma croata que viajou para Austin e acompanhou o Festival Levitation e claro, lá tudo esta em casa, e acabou conversando e fazendo um longa e interessante entrevista com Oliver, 

Tina entrou em contato comigo e pediu para a entrevista fosse publicada no TBTCI. Mesmo eu achando que Tina deveria abrir seu próprio meio de comunicação visto que ela fez várias entrevistas por lá e certamente talento há, para satisfazer o desejo de Tina, cá estamos.

Sras e Srs, um pouco sobre Kris Tina, e a entrevista com o mestre Oliver Ackermann.

Tina has recently travelled half way around the world to attend Austin Psych Fest (Levitation) and even though she is much more into many other bands of the line-up, she was so blown away by fast and furious theatrical live performance of New York City noisemakers A Place to Bury Strangers (APTBS) that after Levitation she has flown from Austin to New York hoping to see them again, not once but twice, first opening for Jane's Addiction at Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg and then playing for free at Brooklyn Bazaar. Determined to profoundly live through the frightening experience of the „New York's noisiest“, again and again surviving without earplugs, transfixed*, her head deconstructed in ears-eyes-mind formation, her conscious gone beyond the subconscious and her body overtaken into new reality where she feels no gravity any more, all the way to the end of the ominous ritual, she was hoping to witness again one of Levitation's best cathartic moments when Oliver attacks his guitar draining all of her blood out, sacrificially killing it, brutally like in a horror movie and finally throwing her up high towards the ceiling. Tina just felt this urge, she needed to hear again the moment of silence after that noise storm stops and before the crowd starts screaming, she honestly needed to figure them out profoundly, to the bone, as she says she does not mind APTBS's general one-note-aspect because they harness sound/noise and feedback, fuzz pedals and reverb in ways we never heard before and she knew right then and there, she was going to meet and interview the grand master of this ceremony, Oliver Ackermann.

Transfixiation is the title of the latest album by APTBS, released on Dead Oceans.

*To transfix means 1. to render motionless as with terror, amazement or awe, 2. to pierce or impale with a pointed weapon or object, 3. To hold or fasten with or on something that pierces.

More about the interviewer:

Tina (Kristina) Mavar passionately ended up in rock'n'roll media in her fifties and she runs a weekly radio show 'Psych Out' on psychedelic rock & new psychedelia/ shoegaze/ goth/ industrial/ stoner rock music, airing on Croatian independent online community Radio 808 and will soon start presenting the same show on Student radio in Zagreb. She worked for years in airline business and then in advertising. She is a loving mother, grandmother and wife. Born in the 60s, raised by parents who were leftist intellectuals influenced by existentialist philosophy, wearing black rollups, she is forever enchanted by the 60s' aesthetics, badass glamour and transcendental approach to matters of human psyche. Without any prior professional journalist or a rock critic experience, her first interview was with Christian Bland of the Black Angels at Levitation festival when her knees and voice trembled so much that he could hardly speak, but then she continued and interviewed at Levitation young psych/surf/garage bands Heaters and Cosmonauts and Costarican Las Robertas, then talked to Tony Malacara of The Mystic Braves on a rooftop in Williamsburg Brooklyn, when returned to Europe from USA, she went to Vienna to interview Italian New Candys and Austrian shoegazers The Holy Spirit of Nothing, and via Skype she had a late night chat with Will Carruthers, the legendary ex bassist of Spacemen 3, Spiritualized and Brian Jonestown Massacre and then Matt Adams of The Blank Tapes and A Place to Bury Strangers frontman Oliver Ackermann who also runs the rehearsal space, recording studio, custom effects-pedal manufacturing shop, performance venue (recently closed) and record label known as Death by Audio.

Buried Alive in the Radical Intelligent 
White-noise Cubist Theater 
A Place to Bury Strangers 
Interview with Oliver Ackermann

Q1: Could you please tell me about your background, and I mean your childhood, early education and upbringing, I did not find much about that online?
A1: I was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania and lived there for only a year or two and then moved to Minnesota and basically, my first memories are actually moving to Virginia where I grew up with very loving parents and a brother that I get along with very well. I attended public school and at some point, growing up in a sort of a small town, kind of discovered a lot of kinds of crazy music. Bands like My Bloody Valentine, Ministry, Lush and all of these bands that played alternative music that nobody else was listening to at the time, so a couple of my friends and I would go out to places like abandoned buildings and fields and just hang out and at some point we just decided that we wanted to play that kind of music ourselves. We thought, maybe we can do this. And then we found out about bands even like Nirvana and a lot of punk music, like Minor Threat, The Ramones and it almost seemed like it was accessible and possible to be able to play this kind of music. So we just did that, got amplifiers, turned them all the way up and played some crazy music.

Q2: Did any of you have any formal musical education?
A2: We had no sort of formal training, we just kind of fell in love with those noises that the instruments made even when you're not playing. There's kind of a sound which I feel like people do not necessarily tap into and it is kind of almost being somewhat amateur is what makes it sound so good. It is more about, you know like free dancing and a kind of an emotion or a feeling that you get when you hear these sounds, it is more about that than being a virtuoso in a sort of traditional music, so it was kind of fun.

Q3: Did you believe that you would 'come so far' as you did when you came to New York to join the band 12 years ago?
A3: I never thought so. You know, I just came from a small town and it was like things kept on happening when we got this opportunity to open up for The Brian Jonestown Massacre or get to travel on tour with BRMC or get to play some festival somewhere or someone wanted to release a record that we did.. I had tried so hard before but being from a small town it was hard to make anything happen and at some point we almost gave up on trying.

Once those things started really happening it was just, you know, after all these years, I still can't believe what is going on and I' m so humbled by all of these opportunities that we're so lucky to get and all the amazing people that we get to work with.

Q4: I have noticed time is speeding up globally and the pressure of everyday life is increasing, especially in metropolis like New York. Please tell me how did you settle in New York and how do you cope with time management, setting your priorities and daily information overload that tends to take too much of our time and in general what are, in your opinion, the pros and cons of living in the best city in the world?
A4: Living in a small town in Virginia, there were only so many places to go and so many artists doing things. I had a chance to travel a couple of times to New York where it just seemed like such a place where there were so many things going on and when I finally bit the bullet and moved here with a friend soon I found out that was completely true, there are just constantly so many things going on, so many amazing artists. You cannot ever really compete with all of the awesome things that are going on so it pushes you further to do more and there are also all these extremely talented people who are around you at all times who have to fight the same things like you do and you can work with these people and then they become your friends and it is just such an amazing experience.

It is the sort of a feeling that you get when you look up at the sky to see the stars and you just realize how insignificant you are, you get the same kind of feeling as an artist in New York because there are so many great artists here and so much cool stuff is going on so what you do does not really amount to anything and it pushes you harder to really try to make something that would change other people's perspective or their personal view and make them see something beautiful and great and bring a little piece of New York wherever you go.

I did not know if that is just in New York or it is everywhere, but time definitely seems to speed up and it's really hard to choose what things to do and which information to take so I'm just all over the place, really. I have multiple different spaces at which I work at, many different people that I work with and we are constantly trading books or watching video for each other or playing music with each other, it is like constantly shifting all over the place and it is hard to choose what things to do at what times. I do not like making commitments with people but you sort of have to and then your days kind of disappear which makes me wonder if I should move to some smaller city again. Something likes that... because you are just constantly going out and constantly working; it is a nonstop mad rush to do all those things that you have to do. I find myself barely taking any drugs or even barely drinking that much alcohol except maybe sometimes at the end of the night because there are so many different things that I want to do all the time and I like to stay focused on things. That is what is nicer about going on tour, life seems almost a little bit more relaxed but then you do not get to do all those things that you want to do, so it is all gives and takes. Even it is fun to do that too, it is still fun to take drugs but I do not have the time to take them all the time. But it is fun do these things sometimes and when you do that, it makes everything a little bit more exciting, more wild but…… I do not know, maybe not. It all depends.

Q5: When a big change occurs in your life it forces you to change direction. Which moment would you single out in your whole musical career as transformational?
A5: I think a few moments were extremely transformational for us. The big one was definitely when we released our first record because I did not even want our first record to come out. As we have done everything by ourselves for so long and nothing has ever come out of it, I was under the impression that we really have to go to some really professional studio and record for some really professional label in order to do something properly and I was holding off on that so when this guy really wanted to release our first record on his label in Boston (Killer Pimp) I was sort of reluctant and I did not think anything good was going to happen with it but so we let this guy to release it and it actually blew up and it made me feel like all these years and all these things I have been doing now made sense and that people really did like my aesthetics because I have recorded the whole record, we wrote all these songs by ourselves. It seemed like something that I could do at home, in the studio that I have built, we could actually get worldwide acclaim. That was really crazy thing to realize that something that I did personally could be en par with what other people have spent their money to go to some fancy studio. That made me feel good and gave me this kind of direction where this band was going and it made perfect sense. And I felt from now on I am not going to listen to what other people tell me and I will do what I think is right and good. That is what I always wanted to do but I did not know if I would get the opportunity to be able to do that so that was really great.

Another amazing moment was when we got asked by Nine Inch Nails to open up for them on a part of their tour. That was just crazy because NIN was one of those bands that I would just blast in my car, running around the neighborhoods and now, to be asked by NIN to go on tour, this was just completely surreal. Playing in those arenas, getting to talk to Trent Raznor and those guys who were telling us how they liked our music and what we are doing and you just feel like 'there is no way these people would ever interact with me' and to have those kind of things happen is just the furthest from your mind. It was just surreal.

But it was also a combination of lucky moments and hard work. I know people who work so hard for so long but they never get this kind of lucky moment when someone acknowledges what you are doing and it is discouraging and a lot of people give up before they get that sort of recognition and it is hard to keep on going sometimes. But I think it always pays to keep on going and being persistent.

Q6: Tell me about the creative process while making your songs, is it always the same or it changes?
A6: The process of what we do constantly changes. A lot of it is based around your imagination and your dreams, what you would want to experience. Going to a lot of different shows, you constantly search how those different things affect you. How could you potentially portray what you want to do in a sort of more true and pure kind of light. You constantly critique different things you watch: videos, recordings or bands you have seen. A big part is in defining what kind of faded memories you have of all of these things you have seen, like some show I have seen as a kid and I will never see that show again and I have a memory of what that show was and then there is a memory of a memory of a memory and all these kinds of layers of different experiences that build up and inspire you to go and do different things. That is this weird kind of oversaturated state of all of these different inspirations and experiences and what it means to imagine being someplace else and all of these different things that are the science of sound, you learn designing effects pedals and doing live sound and playing shows and all of it gives you this sort of an insight in what all these tools are that you use to change up and create different sort of live experience. We are always striving to do more and do different things to change what the audiovisual spectrum is in a live show, you potentially can be doing with changing the visual mood and you are constantly trying to push these things. We are interested in going to crazy and wild shows because to see something really surprising is extremely powerful. Any way that we can spread that kind of feeling, our personal experience to other people is what we are trying to do.

You mentioned the speed of things, too, and I think that is important. Sometimes you spend too long time nitpicking at some of these things and you need to go and just dive in and we try to do that as much as possible. Sometimes you are trying to second guess what you are trying to do, even in life, like ‘should I go talk to this person’, ‘should I do this or that’. I think it is better to go and try to do it and possibly fail because it is really not that kind of big of a deal to fail at these things.

Tina: It is interesting that you have mentioned this, it seems to me just like something I needed to hear J because I tend to second guess.

Oli I think everybody does. And when you fail, it is never that bad. You might feel like ‘o, I am an idiot’ for a couple of minutes but it passes, you know and it is ok.

Q7: How did you cope with the closing of the Death by Audio club?
A7: It was all such a good feeling because right at the end when club was about to close, everyone was so supportive and coming together. It was such a wonderful touchy thing because everyone from the neighborhood came together and we had like wildest parties ever, with so much fun, with amazing bands performing and it was really wonderful time and at the same time being really crazy.

Q8: Concerning that there is definitely hype around psychedelic/ surf/ garage/ stoner/ noise/ shoegaze scene, do you think that psychedelia could again be as powerful as it was in the 60's?
A8: Jeez, I don’t know… I think there is always going to be some sort of nostalgia for the 60s and what was going on.. I think we have kind of entered a time when I don’t even know if there is an identity to like 2000s, 2010s, or whatever is going on. I feel like the 50s, the 60s and the 70s and the 80s, all had such like pronounced.. that was right when kind of western music was sort of even invented, in some sort of ways, that is the start of rock’n’roll and all of these things and then rock’n’roll changed and there is this whole new type of rock’n’roll and that is just like, even that the fact that psychedelic was, that was sort of the start when they were discovering these things, in some ways it makes it so pure and so nostalgic and that is kind of the first and I think there is definitely a kind of a renaissance involved in these things but I don’t know if that is necessarily as powerful because it is always looking back on these kinds of things. I don’t know if psychedelic music even means what it did at that time. What is psychedelic now depends on if you are just thinking of the word psychedelic, to me that is kind of what a lot of psychedelic music is about. Us as a band, I don’t know if we play, what would be considered psychedelic as it is not like a flash back to psychedelic music but it is in some sorts of ways. Only in a rough sense, it is more like we are trying to create some sort of psychedelic experience like for real rather than someone else’s idea about it.

Q9: How is your pedal business going?
A9: It's going really well. We employ a bunch of people in Brooklyn and it is very good crew of people that we are constantly hanging out with and everybody is super nice and we have a good time and it is a real pleasure to be working with your closest friends on something that all of you enjoy.

Q10: Is having good work ethics important for living in New York?
A10: You have to, because if you don’t, either your parents are really rich and that is why you are here or you are forced to leave. It is an expensive city and if you don’t keep up and constantly do things then you cannot afford to be here and you can’t make it. With all the public transportation and walking around, with all these fun things to do a train ride away, you have to be motivated to constantly be on your feet doing things.

Q11: Did you know what you were doing when you started the production of custom effect pedals or was it a trial and error kind of process?
A11: It has been many years of trial and error. It took me a long time to teach myself how to do these things and before I even had any clue or a kind of understanding. It was all kind of a hobby or an interest. I would be trying to starter and never could do it, for like three years or so and then eventually, I learned how to do these things. Now I could show you how to starter properly in like five minutes but I did not have anyone to show me. Starting from the ground up gave me an interest in understanding how things work and the whole concept and now I think it was a good thing to go through all that.

Q12: My experience of your shows in Austin on Levitation festival and a week later in a small club in Williamsburg was very intense and incomparable to anything else, I was blown away. My senses were under such an intense sonic and visual attack like I was in some kind of intelligent noise theater, it even reminded me of cubism in a way, both in terms of sound and visually. My eyes, ears and brain were sort of deconstructed and reset, I kind of stopped feeling gravity at all, my body was light. Tell me about the whole concept of your shows?
A12: I have always appreciated when someone does not let me know what a movie is going to be like and I think that it is the same way with music, it is just one of those things that you have to experience and when you do experience it for yourself it is something different and kind of more personal in a way. I could not tell someone what some particular film is supposed to be described as. It is always attractive about the music that I can describe a song or something about it or how to play something but you do not really understand what it is like unless you experience it yourself. You cannot touch music. You have to hear its beauty; you cannot exactly describe what every little element is. It is just one of those things when you have to be there, at that moment, for that song to take you over, to be there at that experience because if you would just describe what happened it almost does not even do a justice of what the people who were there performing were feeling, what you get out of being right there at that moment, hearing sound from all different sorts of directions and shifting directions and these things are different for each person and their own experiences.

Q13: What would be your advice to young artists and young people in general?
A13: I would say just do what you want to do what you feel strongly about. Ask yourself and make sure that it is moral and follow your heart. Get together with your friends, work together and try to create good things for everybody. I think that is an important thing and if you need to do some other job and do some other things as well, everybody has to do those things at the beginning but if you keep on focusing more and more on what you love doing and what makes you happy, you will be working more and more on what you actually want to do and it will work out for you.

Tina: Thank you Oliver for giving me much more time then you have initially said, this was a very interesting conversation and I am looking forward to seeing you back in Zagreb in November. I really hope this show brings some new fans to APTBS.

Oli: Thank you Tina and thanks to Croatian audience. See you in Zagreb in November! And we will talk again then J