Donnerstag, 20. Februar 2014

Interview with Connan Mockasin

As I join the Mockasin family, they just finished soundchecking. Connan is still up on stage, appearing like a troubadour while the rest of the crew is sitting in a front row of red velvet seats. "We have to watch this, otherwise we'll get kicked out of the band", they comment on his attempt at improvised comedy. The musician & painter also has a strong affinity for acting — if making music was still his favourite method? "Yeah, probably. It seems to be the easiest way anyway at the moment."

Ever since the release of Forever Dolphin Love, the follow-up album has been eagerly awaited. Once Caramel came out, the reception was ambivalent. Connan seems to understand this kind of disappointment: "It's a bit different to the first one, but I think they go together quite well." Indeed, Caramel starts off as sequel to Forever Dolphin Love but soon evolves to follow a different approach: "I think the new one's actually a better overall record." Whereas Forever Dolphin Love is one conglomerate of idea and state, Caramel sticks to its concept. "Just give it another listen, please?" Although Connan adds: "I don't expect everyone to like Caramel at all, no way. Nevermind if they don't like it."

Equal in their ethereal quality, both albums even might have the same artwork fate in common: "I did two covers for the last record, so I wanna do another one for this one. If the label's gonna press it again, then I'll make a new cover artwork when I get some time. So it's not gonna be like Cher's one", Connan notes after I reveal to him the similarity of Caramel's current artwork to the one of Closer To The Truth. Unintentionally (according to Mockasin), yet striking.

"It's quite a small town, isn't it? Are people coming?", Connan asks me. Considering the fact that the band is playing sold-out shows and venues like Trianon in Paris on this tour, it is rather exceptional to have them perform in a small and half-full venue like Palace in St. Gallen.* "I really like this building, it's nice. It reminds me of the town closest to where I live which was wiped out in the 30s from an earthquake and rebuilt all Art déco", Connan observes while looking around this red-light venue, a cinematic relict from the twenties which today is one of Switzerland's most remarkable venues.

"How was it?", Connan is asked by his bandmate Nick after our inter- view. "She just had one question, but I wasn't very good at it." / "What was the question?" / "She wanted to know everything there is to know about this particular live recording we did."

"This is from memories quite a long time ago, it's really hard to remember. I haven't heard it since we did it, I feel uncomfortable listening to stuff once it is done; I leave it for other people to enjoy, I suppose... I can't even recall how it went but I'm sure it sounds a lot different ——— It's a little bit different each night, anyway. If you're in the right feel or good mood, that can change quite a bit. But this recording is definitely far from how we do it now. Except for Nick was playing bass, it's also with different players: Elrory on drums and a man called Joe who is about 60 years old and never played with us before, he played on another guitar. But it was bascially the three of us playing. It was in the living room of Elrory's parents place in Shoreditch, London. It was evening, so we had to be careful with the noise. We did have to apologize to the neighbours afterwards. We had maybe 50 people coming in off the street, just friends bringing their friends, we kept it kind of quiet. The room was packed, more than half of people were sitting down, the couches were pushed to the back and used. It was just to do this live recording. It sounds like a demo, really. Like a microphone in a lounge. That was three, maybe four years ago? When I originally started recording 'Forever Dolphin Love', I would start with the drums first. There's two different drums playing. My friend Joe and my friend Ricky took over drums for the record with Will Ricketts on percussion. So I recorded those first and then I remember continuing working on it and thinking that the drum recording was really bad. Really bad. I couldn't do it again, though. So I didn't know what to do. I still think it's bad but in a way it sort of fits well with the recording, so it's okay. It was my first time recording, I was just learning. I remember it was fun and enjoyable and really easy to make, everything seemed to be just first takes ——————— But I didn't know what I was doing, really."
And that's exactly the moment when Connan is Mockasin. Ask him about aesthetics or potatoes, you will receive the same answer: None. Here is where it's at: "I just heard it in my head", Connan tries to explain the story behind 'Forever Dolphin Love' and continues: "'Forever Dolphin Love; a-a-a-a-a-ahh', that was the dolphin singing, so I just called it that." May the music of New Zealand's best artistic export since Flight Of The Conchords speak for itself.

Mittwoch, 5. Februar 2014

Interview with TOY

Hallogallo should be Germany's national anthem. Charlie Salvidge

 The Beatles or The Stones?
The Stones. (Panda The Barron) Stones for me, too. (Dominic O'Dair) We've been watching The Beatles Anthology, so we're quite a mess in the Beatles right now... It's a really difficult question to answer, but I think that we kind of always go for the Stones, they just got this slightly evil side to them. I think we've always been Stones as opposed to Beatles.(P) But we are pretty obsessed with both of them.(D) Yeah, we love them but if I was gonna join one clan, I'd join the Stones. We really like „Their Satanic Majesties Request“ and I was just thinking today actually about 'Not Fade Away'. I am also a big fan of 'Citadel', 'She's So Cold' and 'Waiting On A Friend'. The video to that song is amazing, Mick and Keith bumming around New York.(P) They went through lots of amazing different stages and each one of them is as enjoyable as the last, I really love them up until about '73.(D) I go all the way up to today. Team Stones! But we could equally switch to Team Beatles.(P)

Spinal Tap or Flight Of The Conchords?
Oh, Spinal Tap!(P) Yeah, although I really like Flight Of The Conchords.(D) But we're not on their team, we are on Team Spinal Tap. There's scenes that occur in our daily lives which are very Spinal Tap, we actually get lost all the time like in the 'Hello, Cleveland!' scene where they get lost in the big arena. Eventually, we'll have three basses and will sound like 'Big Bottom'. I especially find the Stonehenge part really funny when the mini- Stonehenge comes down. We visited Stonehenge quite a few times; the last time as we were droving past it, we actually put the Stonehenge song on.(P) Yeah, we always pass it when we're on England tour, so we stop and hang out there, although they don't let you very close to it.(D) And it actually is getting smaller, I believe. I also really like this little scene when David St. Hubbins is doing yoga with his wife on all fours and he sticks out his tongue really fast. Hilarious!(P) I like the end with the drummer in the bath and he's got this little bath cap on, he's my favourite Spinal Tap member.(D)

Neu! or Can?
Oh, don't make us choose!(D) Neu?(P) I literally can't choose, they are my favourite two Krautrock bands. They're both phenomenal, we love them and we're heavily influenced by both of them.(D) That's very hard, we can't choose. But we're doing a thing on this tour: A song per day on each town that we are in and as we are in Cologne today where Can is from, we're gonna choose Can.(P) I was thinking about this actually today that we're in Cologne that we played with Damo Suzuki. I still can't quite believe that this actually happened! All the times I have been listening to Can all my life, I never dreamt of actually meeting yet alone playing with Damo Suzuki. That this would happen is still incredible.(D)

Holger Czukay once said „Music means putting time in motion“. As the artwork of your first album is made from sound waves translated into an image, doesn't this make that cover art the visualized epitome of Czukay's words? It does, actually. It is the actual practical method of what Czukay was saying, he probably just thought it up 30 years before Leif Podhajský did who made the artwork.(P) Although it is not made from our sound, unfortunately. There is also the opposite method where you can draw waves and it produces those waves in sound, which is phenomenal.(D) I really like the idea of something coming out of the sound that is being made and the opposite way around, so it is quite an accurate pure interpretation of Holger Czukay. His description is great, I really like it. I really like his moustache as well.(P)

Because He Can. How would you describe the step from your first record to the second one? It's a nice development. We've had more time, experimented more and for us it's just a natural progression being able to expand and play different stuff as we go on and on. I guess with this one we had more time to play and go to the studio, we were much more involved in mixing and there is a lot more layers to this record. There is a lot more stuff, it is kind of more dense. It's just us having more fun, experimenting more and that's our progression. That is how I would always like to progress: Experimenting as we go.(P) We love writing songs so much and evolving them together. Lots of people do an album every three, four years which is fair enough but I prefer the idea of making a record each year. Each time it sort of becomes a picture of that particular year making music.(D) It's like a snapshot of what's going on. Going back to The Beatles and The Stones, that's how The Beatles and The Stones had to do it back in the day: You did an album per year, sometimes you did two. I think if you work that way it kind of produces more interesting results.(P) We always think about the next place where we could go.(D)

Which is quite a Nigel Tufnel way of thinking... Exactly! And you're not sitting at something until the point comes up where it gets old and it becomes uncreative and it doesn't sound like it has got that spark and energy in it, that doesn't interest us. We really like progressing fast.(P) Each time we make a record, we've already made two. Not literally, but you're just in a better place to make the next one. So the more you make, the better. And when you get into a band, let's say Sonic Youth and you find out about their phenomenal back catalogue to listen through, it takes you months and months to get your head around, that's what we really like.(D) With Can as well, or The Stones. They all just fuckin' did what they liked the most: Making records, which is exactly what we like doing.(P)

Captain Beefheart or Frank Zappa?
Beefheart.(D&P) Although I really like Zappa. I listened to Zappa as a kid, way before Beefheart who came a little later, but definitely Beefheart. I guess „Safe As Milk“ was the first record we all listened to together and then „Trout Mask Replica“, both about at the same time. My favourite now is probably „Strictly Personal“. Love Beefheart, he's cool.(P)

„Why don't you go commercial?“, Beefheart once was asked in an interview and he'd reply: „Either I'm too smart or too dumb, I just don't know which." Did you guys have any doubts about supporting Placebo? Not really. It just seemed like it would be pretty great fun and an insane opportunity which we grabbed with both hands.(D) You know, we are who we are and playing with a band like Placebo has no effect on us. I don't think it puts us in a different light, we just like doing things for fun. And this is pretty fun.(P)

The Velvet Underground or The Velvet Underground?
I'd personally go for the Velvets. You? (D) I prefer The Velvet Underground.(P) They are collectively our favourite band of all time!(D) We could probably say that. We did this cover of 'What goes on', which was kind of a fun idea and actually ended up recording it. It just feels really good to play.(P) There's a lot of different amazing live version of this song which are very extended and different from the record version.(D) We were all very sad about Lou, Tom actually had a wake which is some kind of celebration you have after someone's death, gathering people around & listening to Lou for a couple of days.(P)

Another banana to lay down.