"It is wonderful to be able experience art without understanding how it was meant or what makes it good." (Kim Boekbinder said that during an interview I did with her) I might not have the biggest knowledge about music but I have a great passion for it. Passion is what counts.
I live in Berlin, Germany (born, raised and still resident) and this is my personal blog about music and other things that cross my way. Things I love to be exact. And even though I am German and my English is still not perfect, this blog is in English.
This the end of all lists. It’s my own. There may be some familiar sounding names in this list - one or the other was kind enough to take the time to give me their “best of 2012” list. I was curious what the musicians I like, would listen to. Some bands were mentioned in several lists like Alt-j, Tame Impala, Grizzly Bear, Fiona Apple, Flying Lotus, Tall Ships, Scott Walker, Swans, Dinodaur Jr., Efterklang and Godspeed you! Black Emperor I did discover some bands that I have missed like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Meshugga, Yeti Lane or Tame Impala. It’s been a tough year for me and my blog with writing my diploma thesis in Chemistry.
I didn’t need to think very long about mine own list because I have a personal connection to all of the music, the albums, I chose. They move me, they make me feel, fascinate me and some are just utter fun.
I have prepared a youtube playlist to accompany your reading – a few aren’t on Spotify or these kind of portals. Please list to it in full while your reading my (little too long) list. Enjoy!
My most beloved albums of 2012 in no specific order*
Archive “With Us Until You’re Dead”
Songs about love – the self-destructive, the hurting, the one sided, the hopeless, the secret kind of love with a shimmer of hope in the end… I always feel their music with every muscle and every nerve in my body. They combine a couple of styles like Rock with Electro with Classic Element to create their own sound.
Veto “Sinus Point Break”
I am cheating a little here. The EP “Sinus” was released in 2012 but the follow-up EP “Point Break” and with it the resulting album “Sinus Point Break” will be released in 2013 (but I have heard them all already). I love their Electrorock and the clear lyrics which still leave room for me to find myself in them.
Tall Ships “Everything Touches”
“It’s complex, occasionally playful melodies, it’s controlled chaos and sound explosions and some rock guitars. What I like is their liability to scientific bits in their lyrics and the pictures they use in them…” (Me, a few weeks ago). Just a an incredible band.
The Good Fiction “Escape Pod”
Love. That simple…or not. The Good Fiction are one of my favourite rock bands around. I love how drums, bass and guitar work together and make it more interesting to listen. Ben voice sounds so familiar without reminding me of someone else.
I Am Oak “Nowhere Or Tammensaari”
Soothing. The voice of Thijs Kuijken wraps you up in a warm, comfy cloud far, far away from your own troubles – I always lose myself within the album. I still love its mellowness which break up into a mild thunderstorm every once in a while. It sounds very unpolished. And friends who I give a lift in the car still love it, too.
Birdpen “Global Lows”
The video for “Nature Regulate” is my favourite of this year (it’s in the playlist). The song is thought provoking in a gentle but direct way - they are not very heavy or very loud. It’s more like they lull you with Dave Pen’s soft voice and instruments that sound like they could disappear every second. The title tells everything about the main topic of the album – it’s food for thought and questioning yourself at times. The lyrics, combined with the soundscrapes they create, are magnificent.
Sycamore Age “Sycamore Age”
Actually this was my favourite in 2011 but it wasn’t released until mid 2012, so I can mention it here now. And as predicted I still love them dearly. Soothing sounds for my dark side, hypnotising, sinister, haunting, beautiful. They are a gritty fairytale.
Gentlemen & Assassins “Mother Says We’re Innocent”
It always sounds a bit like a love letter every time I write about Elyas’ or Sxip’s music – one reason might be that I got a lot more into out of the ordinary music after I have listened to their music and saw them live for the first time. Adding Brian Viglione to the game, you’ll get a one of a kind rock band – rocking storytellers who don’t need words to make you understand their stories but also can work with words very well.
It’s fun. Classic KISS really. I just have an immense pleasure to listen to those four dudes doing what they do. The riffs, the piercing drums, the make up and lyrics about sex as if they haven’t aged a day since the 70s. Sometimes it’s the simple pleasures that make me happy.
The Candle Thieves “Ballons”
The Candle Thieves create playful Pop music with lyrics that are touching – sometimes utterly sad hidden behind a happy façade, sometimes “just” sad and then again the can be so amazingly uplifting – it’s a bit of everything. And they are uncanny for me as they pick up the feeling and thought I have never spoken out aloud.
Other albums I enjoyed a lot: Efterklang “Piramida”, Oliveray “Wonders”, Chorus Grant “And The Villa Nova”, Pulled Apart By Horses “Tough Love”, Bretterbauer “Bretterbauer”…
Favourite live performances of 2012 (as far as I can remember)
Archive in Berlin and London – there no intensity like theirs, no band make me feel like they do. Just no one.
Henry Rollins, Huxley’s, January 2012 – thought provoking as always.
Sky Architects – What a surprise in an sold out Schokoladen! Sweat, sweat, sweat!
Kevin Devine, Magnet Club, February 2012 – He reminded me of the joy of live music (read here) which I forgot a bit
Alcopopalooza (London) and the Christmas Party (Oxford) – favourite label and favourite bands like Gunning For Tamar and My First Tooth combined with awesome people - best days.
Mars Red Sky, every time I saw them in 2012 (and ever) – I love how their sound vibrates through my whole body without being ear-deafing loud. With every gig they play get better and better. I am really looking forward to hear new material next year to see how the developed!
Eagles of Death Metal, Lido, June 2012 – I caught a cucumber. Most fun live band and to see BOC back on a stage was good as well.
Gentlemen & Assassins, Wild At Heart, Knochenbox, September 2012 – one of a kind performances. To watch Sxip Shirey creating his sounds is just stunning.
Bretterbauer, White Trash, November 2012 - performing “Dörte” 3.5 times (soundcheck plus actual concert) – it made me a bit fuzzy in the head, an odd interview was made, fun was good.
Tall Ships, C-Club, November 2012 – Simply magnificent!
The Shanks, White Trash, December 2012 – What a Rock show that was! Even I was dancing.
My most beloved other stuff of 2012
Earlier this year I watched a couple of music documentaries during the In-Edit music documentary festival here in Berlin and two left a very deep impression on me. The first one is “Last Days Here” about Bobby Liebling, the lead singer of the 70s metal band Pentagram (www.facebook.com/pentagramusa). It is an very intense story which is as tense as a good thriller. When they started to film it, Bobby was a 50 something drug addict living at his parents house, more dead than alive. During the 90 min you follow the recovery of Bobby with the help of a fan and then manager Sean Pelletier. It’s an emotional rollercoaster ride to watch them going through everything over a couple of years.
The second music documentary is by William Miller: “Don’t Follow Me (I’m Lost)” about Bobby Bare Jr. (http://www.bobbybarejr.com/). I think me and Bobby have the way of dealing with problems in common – make people laugh while telling them about them. You see the son of a Country legend, Grammy winner at the age of 6, father, divorced, struggling musician who is writing some fantastic rock music with influences from various genres. I love his lyrics – the songs always sound as if he had an immense pleasure and fun writing them even if his topics aren’t as much fun. The stories he tells in “A Storm – A Tree – My Mother’s Head” (2010) are so exaggerated, it is fun to listen and discover them.
A couple of days ago I bought a beautiful film called “This Time Tomorrow” (http://itendstomorrow.com/) about a romantic guy who convinced his ex-girl friend to spend the last day before the apocalypse (21.12.2012) happens. The way these two characters develop and the pictures are just wonderful despite it’s not so good ending.
My favourite idea to have something different to a simple CD: the Book Club by Olympians (http://www.onwardolympians.com/)where you got 4 CDs in the course of a couple of month and a craved out book where you could put them in. Fabulous idea! (Sorry, Jack, but that was just awesome.)
Also, we had a little series of concerts called “KistenKonzerte” here in Berlin. Absolute wrong timing as most concerts were held during the last few months of writing my thesis but it was so much fun. We had Eric Eckhart, Miss Kenichi, Saudia Young, Die Wanderdüne and Elyas Khan. Yay!
A few reasons why I am excited for 2013:
There are countless things I am excited for in 2013. Archive will release another album in spring – as they are one of my all time favourite bands I am of course excited what they will do this time and what the theme will be. Another spring related release is the upcoming album of Spring Offensive – their lyrics, music and videos never fail to amaze me. Owen Kimm of Elephants (who split a while ago) has a new band called Chewing Gum – I missed his voice a lot and just want to hear a lot more from it! The same goes for Ollie – singer of Salvation Bill and The Grinding Young. I just want to hear more for those two men.
My favourite Electrorockers Veto will release the second EP and make the album complete by the end of January and go on tour – natural excitement about the new releases. The Shanks will release an album around their last single “Feel The Holes” - as they are a rather new band on my radar, I am looking forward to this as well. The new video from The Good Fiction for “Tucked In”. And the new Eels album!
There is so much good music coming – it seems ridiculous. And the plans for my blog? More writing, plan another “Session For The Heilewelt”, do more interviews again but I don’t know what the future brings and what job I will do and this kind of things**.
Exit the old to conquer the new!
Thank you all for following and reading,
*Well, I tried to make the playlist not sound weird really.
**I made my diploma (like Master) in Chemistry and search for a job - it’s not easy with the things I want to do.
The fifth list is from a very beautiful and nice woman. A couple of month ago I met Saffron Sprackling - we both have a band in common which we both love and she is friends with (guess which-it is not that difficult). Saffron is the singer of a band called Republica who released some songs and albums in the 90’s and reformed a few years ago. “Ready To Go” is such a strong song, it still is buzzing in my head as soon as you mention the name to me. They reformed after a long break a few years ago and are now playing gigs all over the world.
Saffron Sprackling (Republica)
- Archive of course - friends since 1992!
- Gary Numan ‘Dead Son Rising’
- Echo and the Bunnymen album ‘The Fountain’
- 80’s Matchbox B-Line Disaster
- Chatelaine. My friend Toni Halliday who had the band Curve with Dean Garcia, She has got the most beautiful voice in the world!
- Watched Alt-J + Foals last night do live session on TV at Abbey Road Studios. It was just brilliant.
- Wild Beasts liked them for awhile and again amazing live. So yes far to say like them in general.
Ones to watch.
- Jayce Lewis last album self-titled. He is touring with Wes Borland from Limp Bizkit in Germany Jan. 2013 with his Project Black Light Burns. http://www.jaycelewis.com/
- Tenek ‘EP 2’, single ‘Another Day’. They are touring with Republica on the UK tour 2013.
- Passarella Death Squad, label ‘The Republic of Desire’.
- The Amazonica. Uk singer/DJ.
- A-Star. Band from NYC, albums:’Flashbulb’, ‘Days of’ and the new one ‘Lotus’
- Khufu (Republica drummer Conor Lawrence)
- Tricks of the Gods.
- Treasure House. There are the singer Julie Harrington and Johnny Davis is the guitarist who is also in the band Tricks of the Gods.
- Analog Angels.
- Adam Sky: Neo-Waltz
- My fave Texan band: Girl In A Coma, from San Antonio, Texas. They are on Joan Jetts Blackheart label, the best song is ‘Stay’
- Martin Rossiter’s new solo album ‘The Defenestration of St Martin’. He is the singer of one my favourites bands of the 90s called Gene.
- last but not least: Brighton band Kovak. They played me their new album and its good! The new single called ‘Radiate’
- [A few days after Saffron send me her list, I got a little belated note:] Forgot to mention my own new song ‘Christiana Obey’! Tim Dorney from my band has put it on Republica Official page on Soundcloud. Also, Tenek have done a remix. We are starting our UK tour next year March 14th at the Garage London then York, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Leeds, Glasgow, Nottingham, Bristol and Winchester. We are also playing the Isle of Wight Festival June 16th.
Last Tuesday had been the first time, I drove home from a concert with tears filling my eyes*. It wasn’t tears out of sadness or anything. They were just there. Archive played a concert in Berlin and they were immense. I had been a little concerned beforehand as they had to cancel the concert in Hamburg the night before due to illness. So, it could have easily become the worst show but they wiped this thought away within the first song.
Someone told me afterwards that I looked like I enjoyed the concert - I assume massive singing along and dancing while squeezed in the first row are a good indicator. At the end of the whole evening Smiley throw the drumstick right into my hands on purpose which is like Christmas and birthday on one day when you’re a fan. But in the end it is their music, the beats, the words and the sounds that filled every little corner of my mind and body that night. Everything just seemed to be over in the split of a second. I think half of the time I spend in other spheres, a different state of mind. I don’t really know how long (2 hours?) or every song they actually played although I know and sang them. For me an Archive concert is more about the feeling they give me rather then the songs they play - they have so many songs I love from the deepest bottom of my heart that it doesn’t matter. Sometimes I rediscover song I have forgotten about like “You Make Me Feel” or “Waste”.
They played “Waste” as the second encore song of the second encore. Maria Q, Darius and Steve played a stripped down version of a brand new song which I really loved and that Maria sang it made me happy because Archive is a collective after all. Ever since I saw them the first time at the Visions Spring Break 2006, they had a relatively steady line up and I got rather used to it. However, I remember how they just blew me away in 2006 - totally unexpected as I didn’t knew them before. Hearing “Fuck U” live was amazing (as always). It didn’t lose any of its intensity in all those years - it is one of my all time favourite songs of everything I have ever heard or witnessed live. The song just levels me out in so many situations. And the audience on Tuesday loved it as well. In general the audience loved the concert just as much as I did - they clapped along, cheered and - I think - sang along, too. But I must admit that I didn’t notice much of the things going on around me. They have played a lot from the most recent album “With Us Until You’re Dead”. “Rise” was amazing and “Stick Me In My Heart”…but wasn’t a weak point in the show. Not for me.
The bottom line is: I can’t really put in words what this band means to me - no matter how often I try. And even though I have meet some of the members several times already, chatted with them, did interviews, I wouldn’t tell them even if I had the words. What I tell them is always just a scrape on the surface. What I tell you, my dearest reader, is just a scrape on the surface. I love Archive. That is all.
They are still on tour through Europe:
Thank you for reading,
*For guaranteed tears during a concert, it has to be William Fitzsimmons. Oh, I miss William. I hope he is back soon.
This is the second part of the very enjoyable interview with Danny Griffiths and Dave Pen of Archive. We already talked about orchestras, Simon Lole, missing lyrics and the live set up. Here are the links to part 1:
Now we continue with the two Ladies of the collective, Maria Q and Holly, success, alcohol, England and other things. Enjoy!
Dörte: How did you get Holly invited?
Danny: Holly. Well, someone came up the other day and confused it “So you met Holly in a bar”. We didn’t meet Holly in a bar at all.
Well, I have read in an interview that Darius met her at a party.
Danny: What it is: it is an publisher who is a friend of ours who actually has been the first person to ever invest money in Archive back in ‘94, Andy, amazing man. He has been the first person to ever have faith in Archive back in the day. He put money in the album which we spend recording the album and then we didn’t actually sign to him but he always is just a fan and he loves what we are doing. Darius got back in contact with him over the last year or so. And he is a publisher and he was publishing this young girl Holly Martin. And Darius said to me “You got to hear her voice. She can fucking sing” and I said “Alright, Australian, nice girl, 21, young” and then I heard her voice and thought fucking hell she really has something to it - really soulful, really powerful and she has been working with loads of other people, I think she has been going to writers and stuff in LA and all over the place.
I think they are trying to turn her a bit more into Adele or something but she hadn’t made up what she really wanted and she was up for experimenting. We said - I haven’t really met her to this point – “you got to come down to my house and play some of the backing tracks”. Straight away it was just dealed. She just settled in straight off. And she loved the fact that she sings whatever she wanted. She didn’t have any boundaries and it was like… swearing is not being clever in records and anything and the first line was “who the fuck is anything”. She said “I fucking love that” and then she started to just about getting involved. Me and her together is just a really great writing partnership actually and really natural. For someone who is only 21 - and we have been doing this a long time - her confidence was amazing. It didn’t bother her whatsoever in the fact that I am almost twice her age and that sort of thing. Me and Darius had experience. She is a bit of a lad, a tomboy. I don’t know. And that was her first gig last night with us. I think she did an amazing job.
Really? It was amazing. You couldn’t tell. I was wondering whether it is the first gig or not.
Danny: It was the first time she has been with us. When she did “Hatchet” at the end she fucking really belted it. She has got a really positive future. Not necessarily with us but for her own thing. I feel a bit like a proud dad with Holly. It’s a weird thing it feels like a family member. Thankfully. That was it: follow instincts and she settles in straight away and we said ‘let’s play live’ and she said “Yes, of course. Would love it”.
Would you have done it when you were 21?
Danny: Oh, I would have shit myself at 21. No, not at all. I wouldn’t have the confidence to do it, was too stoned. [To Dave] With 21 would you just have gone out there?
Danny: Ah, yeah, you would have done it with 12.
Dave: 21 that was when we just started. We just started music when I was 20. I was doing gigs in pubs, I don’t know, a lot of that level.
Danny: To go out there and play in front of thousands of people brilliant. That the first of many. When the tour starts I tell you what she going to grow and grow. I think it is going to do her a lot of good, I think. For her confidence level and stuff and for her future stuff.
Dave: That is sort of the beauty of this whole collective mindset behind Archive now, I think, is the opportunity to do that for us to work with younger people, to work with people from different genres of music that they are into but it all comes under the cloak of what Archive is, the sound of Archive.
Do you decide together or…
Dave: It’s one of those instinctual things with Darius and Dan. They just knew. They knew she was great and Dan said they started writing the tune. There is no like a protected sort of ego in this group. It is what it is and if it’s right for the sound and it works.
Danny: It could have so easily go wrong.
Dave: Yeah, but I think we are brave enough and wise enough now to know if it’s not quite right it’s not going to happen and the fact that the two tunes she has done on this record and the other songs she has written - we recorded almost 28 songs - so there is loads of stuff in the pipeline and if it wasn’t right within the first day it wouldn’t have happened.
Danny: It’s not the talent, of course the talent is a massive part, it’s mainly the personality really. It is straight the thing you get from someone. It straight away felt like “I can work with this woman”.
Dave: You know the line up as well has been so solid since kind of since the Noise tour and Lights since Pollard came in. It’s just we knew that was gonna change, wasn’t it? As far as the mindset behind it was that it always gonna be an open ended book in a way. There are no closed doors in it and I think that is what kept us growing and we are still growing as a band. Plus to first to get 23 in the charts in Germany. It the first time that ever happen.
It was long overdue for me.
Dave: That’s nice of you to say but for us it is a huge achievement because Germany is a huge market. I don’t like getting into that it’s about market etc. but in the end of the day for us to get there with all the work we have done it really feels good to us. And to bring back another new singer into it, you know, we did “Controlling Crowds” and brought Rosko back, we did “Lights” with Pollard and myself. Before that it was Craig etc.
It’s always nice because you never know what comes out with a new record.
Dave: That’s it. And with the new stuff we are doing it’s just even more…we really starting to push the boundaries because just wanna stay interested and it seems like the fan base is just on a long boat.
Danny: I think everyone is going to be into the Death reggae.
Dave: Yeah, I think it got potential. Doo Wop Death Reggae…
Danny: [laughs] Doo Wop Death Reggae…
You may lose me then.
Danny: No, no, sorry, we just started rambling. That’s all.
I have heard something about recording by the end of the year.
Danny: When the tour finished… I think we finish on the 4th of December in London and me and Darius are going straight away. [To Dave] Are you coming straight away?
Dave: It depends. I might have to do some more shows.
Danny: The next album we will finish by February. There are a lot of us and we like writing songs and we like producing music, so it just happens. It has been 3 years since controlling crowds and just a lot of stuff build up in that time. A lot that needs to be released and a lot came out at once. If we had our way we would release two albums every year and would be quite happy with that because we do write enough to do that but other things like touring and stuff gets in the way. It’s a hard life. [laughs]
How is it going in the UK? I remember last time you said you don’t see a market for you there.
Danny: Well, you are right. I remember saying that. Personally: I don’t think the timing is really been right for Archive in many ways. It’s a very strange market in the UK. I don’t think it is completely different but so many people focus on the UK now as “What’s going on in the UK? Blablabla” and what’s happening throughout the world. We are not, as you know, necessarily a very radio friendly band. We released this album now, it is actually released in the UK which is great and I am very happy about it. We got really good reviews in magazines I actually care about like Q and Uncut and Mojo. I mean 4 of 5 in Mojo and stuff like that is brilliant. It says everything. It is really amazing. That to me is really positive, it is a positive start. And we do have fans in the UK. There are not many, in weird little parts of the UK and if you put them together there would be 10 of them. And we are going to do a gig in London on the 4. of December. And we are going to start a bit of a campaign now, I feel like the time is gone already. But I think what we going to have to do is playing live more then anything which is what we have done in Europe. We just go out and play.
Dave: We are hoping to get some support tour plan for next year and do some festivals in the UK. I think in England with a band like Archive it is about mouth to mouth and it is a fan base group so it just got to start. It’s the only way to do it. We are going to release a single tho. “Hatchet” is the next single.
Dave: Possilby? Ok, that’s news to me.
Danny: I think it is. [laughs]
Dave: We got two singles in the pipeline for the UK. Just go and suck it and see with the UK and see what we can do there it is such a quick fire country for music. It’s just so swamped. It’s crazy.
Danny: If I had my way personally, we would just go straight out to the states and go out there. Fuck the UK to be honest with you. I am really quite content not touring around the UK and go up to Halifax and Portsmouth…no, Southampton [giggles all around, side note: Dave lives in Southampton]… Just head out to the states. I think Americans will get Archive more then the people in the UK.
Why would they?
Danny: I think music wise….if you look at the history of America it’s like… a lot of the bands we are compared to, throwing in there with, is always someone American. I don’t know. I just got this feeling there, maybe that’s not what the band thinks…I don’t know really.
Dave: I don’t know. It’s tricky. It depends, again it is all just down to the vibe. We are very sincere. American music public they like that and they like bands that mean what they are doing but the English do as well…
It always depends, I guess, on the crowd there.
Dave: Of course. Americans love their Rock. Everyone knows that and I think it depends. I think definitely the coasts would dig what we are into without a doubt.
Danny: Actually we got more fans in California then we have in the UK. Strange. We got a good fan base in Canada.
Dave: That’s probably a realistic thing where we should go first because the French speaking part. It makes sense. For a long time there has been a big following.
Danny: We just couldn’t afford to go on tour that’s the problem but we got a good fan base there. If we could afford we would go. Something about the UK: I was thinking of it like home. Don’t know what it is, it is like home, it’s like normality, it’s like go back paying the bills and sort of stuff, being in the pub with mates and playing pool and stuff. […] I like the fact that we go on tour and you feel fucking amazing that people love your music and I go back and no one knows what the fuck what we are doing. Even friends haven’t got a clue.
[A young man comes in to tell us we have 5 min. left]
Danny: He is hungover.
That’s the downside of drinking alcohol, I guess, I don’t know, I never drunk alcohol.
Dave: Fair play. You’re not missing out.
Danny: Not really.
I heard so. But funnily only people from the UK say that, here in Germany they always ask why when I say that.
Danny: Germany I think there are the biggest drinkers in the whole of Europe - isn’t that Germany? Beer drinkers.
I would have said the UK.
Dave: UK have the biggest binge drinkers.
Danny: Binge drinkers but not just beer drinkers. You have actually good beer.
Dave: It is impossible in England if you have a social life, well, it’s not impossible but very difficult, to not drink. It is just part of our culture.
Danny: I think it’s part of most cultures.
It’s the same in Germany but I have just always been weird.
Dave: That’s good. It’s good to be unique.
Danny: A very good friend of mine, German Ann, I knew her from London and she has never drunk in her life and she is the life and soul of a party. She is brilliant. [laughs]
Dave: And Maria. She doesn’t drink at all. Never. I have seen her drinking an inch of Champagne.
Danny: I have given her once one Tequila. That was a long time and she was absolutely hammered.
Dave: She is like the mother in the band.
She is looking after you?
Dave: Yeah, she is great. She is very calm.
Danny: She does no wrong in our eyes. She is perfect.
Dave: Like a big sister.
She always looks happy with herself.
Dave: Yes, very confident.
I like her voice because she is always very clear but in a way she is sometimes really kind of cold. I think Holly is a little bit warmer in her voice.
Danny: You’re right.
Dave: I think Maria very much she is quite…I am not getting all pretentious with her but she is quite a mysterious character. We know Maria because we work with her; Dan is knowing Maria for years and Darius, you know, but I think the portray of her in the group and what comes across is probably she is the least known out of everyone. Maria is very much a unique character which is part of her beauty in a way I find.
Danny: Yeah, it’s a strange one. She has no interest in being a star or anything but she is so confident when she is up on stage but when she is off stage that’s it. She is in her bunk back in the bus in a bunk.
You never actually kind of see her really.
Danny: She is quite a mystery that one but she is wonderful company to hang out with her and to chat with. She is brilliant and she is puts up with us lot. Fucking hell… 16 people on the bus, now there is 2 girls, and she has to put up with all of us just talking shit and she just laughs. She finds it really entertaining in general. Occasionally frowns.
I guess she has no choice…
Danny: She could easily have the choice of not doing it. I mean she works with Anastasia and loads of other people and she really loves it. She actually really enjoys it. It always feels like - and that sounds very wank - but it feels like when we get together it’s only been like a week or so since we haven’t really worked together even though it has been months not even a year or so and she says straight away “ah, I just missed you so much” and it just baffles me and she just doesn’t say “Oh my god, now back with this bunch of bastards”. We swear all the time and talk bollocks. It’s brilliant. She is perfect. She find it really entertaining. She just looks at us, smiles and then goes to bed.
Thank you for the interview, Danny and Dave.
Please make sure to check out their tour dates - they will be on a massive tour in October/November all around Europe:
And watch the new video for “Hatchet”:
Archive is one of my all time favourite bands - ever since I saw them 6 years ago they have mesmerized me with their music and their concerts. It took three years after their last record “Controlling Crowds” to (finally) release their their new album “With Us Until You’re Dead”. For the new album they are introducing a new singer: Holly Martin. She is coming from a folky background. While for most bands, it would be quite surprising to bring a new member, it is almost like a rule for Archive - they are a collective, not a band. For the last album “Controlling Crowds” the brought Rosko back - a rapper who has also been involved in their first album “Londinium”. The constant in this band are Darius Keeler and Danny Griffiths. Along with Holly you get to hear 3 other voices: Pollard Berrier, Dave Pen and Maria Q. All of them bring their own characteristics to the mix.
"With Us Until You’re Dead" is just a "bunch of love songs" but mostly not from the positive point of view to say the least. It is about the dark side of love except maybe the last song "Rise". It’s a shimmer of light at the end of a long dark tunnel. But apart from that you’ll find songs about mental abuse like in "Violently", the secret, probably forbidden love to someone like in "Silent" and things like that. The song that surprised me the most is "Twisting" with its very soulful note. I just love the way Pollard sings on this song. Another favourite song of mine is "Stick Me In My Heart" - probably because I can relate to it in many ways. If you want to put the music into a certain box, it’ll probably be Progressive Rock. They create wide soundscapes with well defined details. They melt orchestral music with synthesisers and a Rockband. I find it quite hard to put their music in words - they trigger feelings in me and they can smoothen my feelings in a good way, too. It’s like that: When I feel anger, they made a melody which can pick up this anger with an equally aggressive melody and then level it out and that works with many emotions. They are intense, I can’t think of a band more intense then them, in every single way. One can quite easily imagine that this is certainly one of my most favourite albums of this year.
I had the immense pleasure to meet Danny Griffiths and Dave Pen for the second time. Well, this time it was personal and not through a phone (read here the first interview I did with Danny 1/2 and here the interview with Dave about his other Birdpen - that were long before this was turned into a music blog). Again it is an interview I did for FastForward Magazine and can be read in German over there:
The interview took place the day after their concert in Berlin beginning of September where they should have been playing with the Babelsberger Film orchestra but eventually had to cancel playing with the orchestra. It was the first time I saw them since about 2 years and I absolutely loved it despite the sound problems.
Dörte Heilewelt: Nice show yesterday.
Danny: It was stressful but it was good. We had a bad mess sounds. We haven’t played for a long time. Just a few technical things but otherwise… the main thing was the songs to us felt good live. The new songs felt great to play live but this technical shit sometimes happens.
You know, being a fan, you sometimes don’t care too much…
Danny: Thankfully most people I talked to also said “Oh no, it was bad, it was pretty shit on the first tune but it was alright after that”.
I missed the orchestra because I missed the last show when you played with an orchestra.
Dave: We just hadn’t enough time for one because we worked really hard on mastering using the orchestra and the orchestra we had yesterday… We hadn’t had enough time to get it sounded good enough unfortunately with the orchestra and we thought it was a good decision not to use them because we didn’t make it sound very good.
Danny: To be honest with you: it was one of those things it was a mutual decision because the orchestra weren’t comfortable playing with us. They weren’t used to it. They couldn’t hear themselves at all. All they could probably hear was drums. It didn’t work for either one of us - as a band or as an orchestra and we were both kind of happy when we made the decision not to do it. We were kind of worried that we were going to offend them but since we mentioned it they were like “yeah, fucking great. We don’t want to do it either“.
I am just sad I missed it again.
Danny: We will have it again. The thing is we have worked with orchestras quite a few times and it’s been brilliant when we have actually done it and it’s gone right. It’s a big job with an orchestra involved. It’s not the simplest of things, not just for us. When it comes down to it if we would have said yes to it with the technical problems that we had and we had the orchestra involved we would have sounded like a fucking pile of shit. It would have been awful, wouldn’t it? It would have been dreadful because it would have been 3 to 4 times worse and so I am glad. But if we get it right with an orchestra it is an amazing experience. And we will do it again. If Darius had his way we would have an orchestra at every freaking gig we did, wouldn’t we?
Did you actually changed your way of playing when you play with an orchestra?
Dave: You have to. You really do. I think with Archive, you know yourself, it is very sonically a big wall of sound and you just can’t do that with an orchestra because it just won’t cut through. You need to strip it down a bit. We played more acoustically and more softer as you can say. Because the first time we did it - we did it in Belgium - and we just did what we did normally. We learned a lot from it because there was an orchestra there but when everything kicked in there is not matter what you do it is never going to cut over distortion and drums. So, you do have to approach it differently and I think that was the problem yesterday. We hadn’t had any real time to focus and rehearse with an orchestra.
Danny: We were doing it as were gonna do it making the sound. So the orchestra didn’t had no chance.
Dave: So, it was definitely a wise move.
Danny: What you also need to know: Orchestras are a strange bunch. I never slag them off but they are just a strange bunch. They do things in a particular way, so it is very regimented in the way they work which it is just the way they are trained. And it is very different from the way we do things.
They are classical musicians.
Dave: The difference between classical and Rock’n’Roll, isn’t it?
Danny: Maximum difference in that way. But when we played with the Supersonic Orchestra with which we recorded the album it was amazing. They are brilliant. They just get into it. You can see that they are actually enjoying it. They workedwith a lot of others artists like Björk and other people so they are kind of used to working not just doing classical music, so that’s what everyone can see. It fits really well.
Dave: Yeah, they are great.
How did you find Simon Lole?
Dave: That was because we are massive fans of Aled Jones.
Danny: That is because he works with Aled Jones. [laughs a little]
Dave: You know the song “We are walking in the air”?
Dave: He works with the boy who sang that who is now a grown man.
Danny: Simon Lole was mainly through our tour manager to be honest with you. We were working with a string arranger before that, Graham is an amazing maniac that he is and then the last few times we needed a new string arranger and he couldn’t do it and Simon was available.
Both: He is a lovely chap.
Dave: He is very…when he works with orchestras he is very good with working with the orchestras, he is a very good communicator, he is very good at his profession. He is a very talented guy, isn’t he?
Danny: He is. And he loves it because …it is a strange one. I don’t know. I think they are re-living their youth with us a bit because we are fucking stupid [laughs]
Dave: The majority of us likes football and he is a big football fan and we like wine and beer and he likes all those things and again the classical world and the rock and roll world.
Danny: He loves it. He gets right into it. He is completely opposite to what he is listening to.
He is does church music.
Danny: Oh yeah, he does the whole church music. He does songs of praise and this stuff on a Sunday.
It kind of fits.
Danny: It works perfectly. As I say he gets out a bit. The little dark side of him comes out a bit which he fucking enjoys. He really likes it. Everyone needs a bit of that, it can’t be all positive.
Dave: God no. Who said the devil did bad things?
Danny: He did always the good things.
You also have quite a lot of drums now, Dave.
Dave: We do now, yeah…
Danny: He is taking over, isn’t he?
Dave: It is definitely another element personally I am thriving on. I didn’t know if I was going to do as much as that when we first talked about it. So, I know when the first stage of the album I was thinking “wow, there is a lot of drum programming on this” and I thought “How the hell are we going to do this?” and then Darius kept saying “We are going to get you another tom drum and we could get another snare as well” and basically I have become percussionist, guitarist, singer… But the good thing is I do think personally it is working. It is a very different element. It is the only way we could do it. We just didn’t want to stick all the drums on the track because that would be kind of really boring. It is a real challenge to get it going on and I think it brings a new dynamic to the live sound of the new record which is really exciting. I have to concentrate so much I really have to work… [laughter all around]
Danny: You are really working your ass off. In general we could really easily put all the drums on backing tape and just have Smiley for it but we want to get to a point close to get the Archive music live, to get the dynamics, you can’t…
Dave: We always used Sequences and stuff and we always will.
Danny: You won’t get that build and won’t get what Archive is about but we wanted to make this as live as possible so the only thing we had on backing at any point is drum machine but over that we got Dave and Smiley for it to make it as live as possible want it. And we got Maria and Holly to the shakers.
That is a new thing as well.
Danny: I know, that was just a bit out of the blue. We just like ‘how about you two doing some percussions’?
Dave: And I think we are still are working on playing the album live because yesterday we had a very limited amount of time. Whereas when we start the tour in October the songs are gonna be different. They are gonna have some longer sections because there are some of the grooves on this new record we really don’t just wanna do it formulated to the same as on the album. We really want to experiment with it and have sections that are longer and different interludes which are we really looking forward to do and it’s going to be really exiting.
Danny:We stuck to the structure of the songs mainly because we thought we were working with the orchestra, so that’s why we stuck to kind of do this like that and then end up with the orchestra.
I bought the vinyl yesterday. Why didn’t you put the lyrics on it?
Danny: See, everyone it asking this.
Dave: I know, we probably should have on the record, it was just one of those…We normally do that…. I don’t know why we didn’t actually… it’s just one of those albums, wasn’t it?
Danny: Well, we haven’t talked about it. It’s just like…the way we looked at it were, from what I can remember, was that is that we all said we wanted the album to be simple in the fact let say… it’s just up to the point that… The production and lyrically and everything else is actually kind of chaotic and has got this madness to it but in our heads it is kind of simple after “Controlling Crowds”. It felt simpler in a strange way.
Dave: It wasn’t so much conceptional as “Controlling Crowds”.
Danny: It was not a concept album. That’s the thing. It is just a bunch of love songs but not in a concept way, it’s just in a fact that they are love songs. When it came to the album we talked about it, usually we all say “thank you, thank you bla bla” all this stuff…
Dave: It’s the first album we don’t do those things…
Danny: No thank you’s, no lyrics and it just like “This is the album. Now fucking listen to it”. [laughs] It was kind of what we thought about it, just listen to the album and that’s it. […] We have put them on the facebook page and where ever else which is actually quite nice because all fans have been asking for lyrics.
Dave: Someone asked for the lyrics for “Calm Down”.
Danny: A few people asking that. Freaks. [everybody laughed] You know, “Calm Down” the instrumental piece. And people ask for the lyrics for “Calm Down”. And people like “Can I have the lyrics to Calm Down”. What? There aren’t any lyrics
Maybe they think they missed them.
Danny: There are weird little sounds in the background where I messed around with this stuff. Maybe they think they are vocals but they are not.
Dave: I keep hearing like a Mariachi thing going on on that tunes in the backing. There is some weird thing going on which I hear every time.
Danny: It’s almost like you are turning a record backwards…
Dave: That again [laughing]
This was the first part of the interview. The second part will be published next week. Then you can read about their newest addition to the collective Holly Martin and how she really joined the band, the wonderful Maria Q, alcohol, UK, the States, a new album…and you’ll get all the tour dates.
Update: Follow this link to the second part.
Since the first moment I have heard of it, I loved the idea of Kickstarter and Pledge music and such sites. I think it is an extremely good thing to support the artist you love to do a (new) record, a DVD, a video or a show. When they don’t end up with in debt, you sort of know beforehand if there is interest.
The first time I really got in touch with it was when I supported my all time favourite band Archive to make their first decent live DVD. And I love it that the artist themselves have influence on what want to give. In the case of Archive it were a lot of personal things from their time in Archive (there is an interview with Danny Griffith about this). Things for fans like me. In other cases it might be special songs, posters or whatever you can think of.
Not long ago Kim Boekbinder did full concert with the help of Kickstarter and fans. It works so simple and is so smart. She pre sold her New York show. This means for people like me who buy concert tickets in advance not much of a change - you buy a ticket to show and you can buy even more like posters made for the show and such things. And for the artist, for Kim, it means she can calculate how many are coming before even booking a room, she decides where she wants to go, she gets the money to travel around, to survive and also money for a good stage design and costumes and what else she or the artist in general needs for her show to be perfect.
And just like a normal concert it, you might be able to buy tickets at the door, maybe it is sold out but also it could just not happen. So, instead of playing to an empty room, the concert would not happen because there is no interest. This would be good in a way because no one would like to play to an empty room and the venues have nothing out of an empty concert. So, even the venues could have a benefit of this because there are people coming and they are bringing money (buying drinks etc. and money for the kickstarter money). It is probably good for venues who are decent and good, with a good sound and good people (instead of e.g. the venues who pay an artist when they just bring a certain amount of people and therefore don’t take a risk).
It sounds a bit odd at first but you must admit that a relaxed artist is much nicer to watch on stage. It is not easy these days (and it never was) to be a full time artist when you are not in the charts. It is not easy to be a decent venue. And now after the New York concert worked very good for her, she is planning to make whole tour through the USA with this system and if that works out, she wants to try to come to Europe, too. (There is also a Facebook page for 2 UK dates, look here.) But first Amerika - you have time until 6. September to get the tour founded… and I actually mean the date you prefer, not the whole tour. She wants every single date to be special.
Watch the video, she explains it by far better then I can and see the dates below and if you can attend one:
The dates are:
I just thought why you would want to help someone you don’t know? Well, I have seen her in concert before, I talked with her and I have listened to her amazing album “The Impossible Girl” over and over again and I just can tell you she is amazing. Very unique in everything she is doing, very unique in her music and pretty much she is the impossible girl. I want this to happen. I think this could make a difference. Imagine this would go happening on a more common basis. I personally believe it could be a great thing - for me it wouldn’t be much a of a change in the end except that I might get a special show, just for my town.
Thank you for reading,
Between being ill and study and sleep and being more ill and all that in the last days I thought about doing a 2010 what I loved list but there was so much and the list would be long! I mean what do consider a highlight in terms of music? Calling one of your favorite musicians in a hotel somewhere in France and do an interview for about an hour? Or traveling to Kiel, Germany, to do an interview with someone whose music mean the world to you but no one has ever seen the interview (which makes me still sad)? Meeting lots of new awesome people in Berlin and in England? Finding so much great new tunes that you don’t know how 2011 can actually beat it? (Despite -of course- William Fitzsimmons new record which is already a highlight for me and seeing him again in February.)
So, Archive have been in quite a few highlights. I have done an interview with Danny Griffiths, one of the founders and minds behind Archives sound (well, there are all somehow minds behind the sound but he was the one always working on this project along with Darius Keeler). I love them for years and that was really great. Their concert in Leipzig was amazing as well. Sweaty and intensive. And then I also did an interview with Dave Pen who besides singing/writing/etc in Archive has also a band called Birdpen (and were support for Archive and wrote “Airspace” which is one of the most fitting songs for many of my moods).
I think which got developed and big in this year as well was my love for indie record labels-mainly Alcopop and Big Scary Monsters (no surprise there). And I think it gets summed up in their sampler which was released not too long ago (listen and buy here or buy a CD in on of the two shops). I can’t even tell you who I like best of all those bands. I think The Attika State have a huge spot in my heart right next to Stagecoach and Screaming Maldini and Tall Ships and Tellison. Oh, and former Alcopoppers The Candle Thieves who are the reason everything started. And their “Sunshine and Other Misfortunes” album alongside with the EP’s released are the biggest bowl of colorful, sweet and sour bonbons you can imagine.
I believe I have stumbled over a lot of bands released by BSM without knowing it before and ending up being very surprised like Tubelord and Pulled Apart By Horses. I love PABH. They are awesomely nice (yep, another interview I’ve done) and their live shows are definitely one of the best I’ve seen this year. All 3 times I have seen them-even when they are tired they seem to be more energetic than most other rock bands out there at the moment. And you can heard that in their record as well. And Tubelord. I still don’t know how they actually are live since I’ve only seen an acoustic show but I am very keen to find out soon! And Shoes And Socks Off, oh how I love his voice….! And his records. I am rather happy that I’ve given in and listened to him. There is sometimes so much out there to listen to that even if a million people talk about that person, I won’t go and listen because I am already having too much to listen to but then I heard his music and he is amazing.
And then we have this bands and artists I found because of other people like Sxip Shirey and his mind blowing “Sonic New York” who I sought up after I saw him, Amanda Palmer and Kill Hannah performing together on Kill Hannah’s concert in Berlin. And his live performance is incredible. The first time I saw him alone was after the Eels concert in Berlin (I do love Eels by now otherwise I wouldn’t have had bought E’s complete studio albums within a year!) and both were almost an overdose of great live music! Sxip was playing with Elyas Khan and from that point on it just got better. Seeing Feloché because of them and then all of them together in the encore and later in the year meeting the fabulous Kim Boekbinder who took the word intense performance a bit to another level with her second set at the White Trash. Haven’t seen someone being that exhausted on a stage in a while. And she wrote “Rainbows And Unicorns”-yep, another song written about me without knowing me.
And then there was Peter Broderick who is music which is at some points even sadder than the music of William Fitzsimmons. I found because of a recommendation of Tubelord (one of them, not sure who, you’ll never know who answers). And rather differently to most of things I have listened this year (not that there are many band who actually sound too close to each other).
I also remember The Blue Van doing a rock show at the Bang Bang Club and the thought of never wanting to be their piano but only because they do rock’n’roller things to it and their album which I listened to a lot in the beginning of the year, already thinking it was one of the best things this year.
Same goes for Dukes Of Windsor. And in the middle of this year Scissor Sisters - sweaty, dancy fun with a straight sex record.
And Laura Jansen - if I ever fall in love with a woman it might be her. Her music is going right into my heart and she is funny and lovely and everything. And it is another proof of never judge music by the first listen! 2011 is going to be great for her in Germany.
And there are probably so many other things I might have forgotten now. I should add photos tomorrow, maybe not. Maybe the artists I mentioned in many cases have influenced me in some way. Some of them definitely did like The Candle Thieves, Sxip Shirey, William Fitzsimmons, Laura Jansen or Archive.
Thank you for all the good music and thank you to those who made a few of these things possible (=FastForward Magazine for whom I don’t write anymore). And thank YOU for reading.
Much Love and an awesome new year to all of you.
P.S. List of forgotten highlights: