Interview: A Place To Bury Strangers
By: Rob Gannon
Ahead of one of their ever-legendary and predictably intense live-shows at Manchester’s Sound Control, our Rob Gannon took the time to sit down with the highly affable Oliver Ackermann and Dion Lunadon of “three-gaze/pop-noise” outfit A Place To Bury Strangers.
The band’s silent-on-this-occasion drummer Jay Space was also present, and thus equally gets the credit he somewhat jokingly requested too.
Rob Gannon: So this this’ll be the third time I’ve seen you guys here in Manchester. Do you get much downtime on tour?
Oliver Ackermann: No, not really. We just ate around the corner here but I haven’t seen much of Manchester at all.
Dion Lunadon: We drive to the venue, soundcheck and play shows every day so we pretty much time it so you can sleep as much as you possibly can.
OA: I try and see stuff, but a lot of time we’re on stage and you can be out in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes we get the chance to stay in places, but I mean this particular tour has been off-the-chain craziness. Non-stop.
RG: Will you be hitting the European festivals this year?
OA: I don’t think so. We’re doing some US touring and I think we might be going to Brazil around the time those festivals are on.
RG: What can you tell me about the support bands you’ve got at the moment: Lucid Dream and Kult Country? [The Kult Country drummer enters the room].
OA: Yeah, Kult Country is just a dream! The band is fucking wicked, but the drummer’s an asshole! No, they’re so cool. Lucid Dream is wicked too. Everybody should check them out if they possibly can. We only chose a few bands for this tour and Lucid Dream were one of a very small hand-selected group.
RG: No-one likes getting stuck with touring partners that suck, right?
DL: Well, it’s just not good for the show. When I go to a show I want every band to be good and the DJ to be good – the whole atmosphere.
OA: There’s something to be said for being eclectic and all, but I mean some stuff just doesn’t go together at all.
RG: You don’t have much influence over your own bills?
OA: It all depends. We played in London and got promoted by Live Nation and it’s like, you know, a horrible corporation and I didn’t even know who the DJ was, but it was like some weird high-school techno music or something. Whoever got everyone together had no idea what the fuck was going on.
DL: We don’t have a lot of say about that kind of stuff because you got so many people like promoters and booking agents. They’re businesses and they all want to make as much money as possible, which is fair enough, so they want a band that draws people. We might not necessarily like that band, but if it were up to us we’d be choosing all of our support bands.
OA: We spend all of our time on the road touring and creating music. We can’t nit-pick every single fricking show. I mean I’ve booked my own tours before and they end up kinda miserable. It’s so sweet to have other people helping you out. Booking the whole tour is someone’s job because it takes a whole person to do that job.
RG: What can you tell me about the new album? Any surprises in there?
DL: We haven’t completely changed the angle we’re going for or anything like that, so we’re still true to our guns, but moving forward and staying the path.
OA: We also kinda let this record write itself. We didn’t have any pre-conceived notions of what we wanted to create. We just sorta spent a lot of time creating and this is what the results are.
RG: Can we expect an extension of this year’s excellent Onwards To The Wall EP?
DL: Not really. I would have thought we were going to make an album that would be an extension of the EP but it’s not quite like that in my mind. It’s not that easy to pinpoint.
RG: Genre’s a difficult concept to pin down some times. Where would you guys concisely file yourselves these days?
OA: We’ve actually created our own genre. It’s a mix between two types of music: three-step and shoegaze – three-gaze.
DL: Yeah, three-gaze. There’s three of us.
OA: Seriously, what kind of genre are we? Reggae-pop [laughing].
DL: I don’t know … we’re kinda like a noise-pop band. We’re noisy and the songs are pop songs.
OA: I would say we’re a pop-noise band actually. It just sounds right.
RG: It’s all about word order then! Thanks for clearing that up. Moving on, everyone still seems to ask you guys about being the “loudest band in New York”. You must surely be pissed off with the tag by now?
DL: I can see how it’s an angle – an easy angle for a journalist. We’ve talked about it so much. If I was a journalist I’d probably not ask that question. I just find it a little lazy.
RG: Thanks for tolerating me asking the same question then, only slightly veiled.
DL: At least you didn’t ask us how we got out name!
RG: I’ll just scrub that one from this list! Yeah, there seems to be a reliance on a standard set of interview questions. I’m not going to ask you guys what your favourite colours are or something.
OA: People don’t usually ask us those type of question actually. I’m can’t even describe my colour. It’s a colour that nobody else can see.
RG: During the live-show it tends to be strobe colour.
OA: Yeah, that’s the closest we’re gonna get as a description.
RG: I’d like a couple of words on ear-plugs. Number one, you guys have your own brand of ear-plugs which is awesome. Number two, Dion, you wear them on stage; Oliver you don’t. Care to tell me more?
OA: I don’t wear ear plugs because I like to hear every subtle detail. I just kinda feel like why would I want to project something onto an audience if you’re not gonna stand there and endure it as well.
DL: I find that I can hear the details better wearing them actually.
OA: A lot of people wear ear-plugs at our shows. If Dion is wearing them then it’s like he’s making a really good show for the guys wearing ear-plugs, and I’m trying to make the show sound great for those that aren’t.
DL: Also there’s been times when I‘ve walked off stage and I literally can’t hear anything. I’ve only recently started wearing ear-plugs during the last six months or a year. I had ringing in my ears even when we weren’t playing shows and I don’t want that so I started wearing ear-plugs and the ringing seems to have stopped.
RG: Oliver, you just mentioned that you personally “endure” the APTBS live-show. You don’t think the APTBS show is an endurance test, do you?
OA: Sometimes. If you’re projecting this thing onto people and you’re in some safe fucking zone it’d be like shooting some people up from a sniper tower or something.
DL: I feel like I’m trying to push people beyond being comfortable. I’d had a few people at the last few shows tell us: “Man, I was feeling sick towards the end” or “It was a little too much”. I’m thinking cool, awesome. There’s not many other bands, if any that I know of that can do that – make someone feel physically sick or scared or worried. It’s interesting to be able to play with that angle.
RG: So you’re saying you curate the live-show for all the senses?
DL: Yeah, we try to attack all the senses – bar smell.
OA: … which we end up doing anyway in the van! Sometimes people don’t actually bring a show. You’re there and you have this opportunity to use these different tools to mess with someone’s senses. Why not?
RG: The world seems only too happy to be spoon-fed these days.
OA: Totally. There are so many bands that make people feel comfortable. We get club owners who are pissed off at us a lot of the time because they just wanna sell drinks and people wanna go out to meet someone and have sex, which is all cool and everything like that, but we’re creating something which is different.
RG: So you’re telling me the APTBS sound isn’t erotic?
OA: Oh, you should definitely be fucking to us, but I’m just talking about the dudes who are there just to pick up chicks. You should be having sex while we’re playing and not waiting to go home and roofie someone and take advantage of them.
RG: Wise words fellows.
Sound Control, Manchester, UK. 10/05/2012.
[sic] magazine would like to thanks Oliver Ackermann, Dion Lunadon and Jay Space for their time and for being generally good eggs. The Onwards To The Wall EP is out now and the forthcoming LP Worship is released June 11th on Dead Oceans.