Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Wild Palms

FREE MP3:Over....Time

It’s rare these days to encounter anyone who dares to hold steadfast opinions; those who will assert themselves without fear of condemnation have become a dieing breed amongst the so called creative community. Lou from Wild palms can be counted amongst this dwindling number. Although his band may seem at first an over-hyped re-hashing of the gloomy, gothic, post punk of the 80’s, they are in fact far more than a Bauhaus tribute band. Labelled as Converse music’s one to watch, Levi’s one to watch and suitably revered by the NME, a media sceptic may dismiss them as PR whores, unlikely to have any real substance. But a listen to their latest single ‘Over Time’ will remedy any such blasphemy.

I read that, like me, you are a fan of Alexander Von Humboldt, whose footsteps I retraced along the Orinoco River. Is this fascination with the wild and mysterious something that translates into your music?

Lou: Well you're a very lucky man, and I am an envious one. Wilderness, un-chartered territory and exploration have always been things that I have had a deep interest in, but not literally as geographical exploration. Lyrically much of what I write is based around these kinds of ideas: finding and inhabiting new and unknown spaces, both literally and metaphorically. I guess its escapism but in my eyes its attainable escapism, dreams and desires that are mysterious but within reach. I mean 'Deep Dive' is the shining beacon of exactly that. it's not about being in a jungle it's about working hard, and overcoming obstacles that are sent to try us in search of something original and unique, and yours alone; so, yes, in that sense its exactly what we're trying to do as a band in a work ethic way but also sonically.

You recently played in Dubai; did you perform to the idle rich sons and daughters of expats or in the lavish harem of an Arabian oil baron?

Lou: Dubai is weird, opulent and very hot. Not somewhere I’d particularly want to go back to; it's only been developing since 1971 and therefore is devoid of any arts culture, it’s completely about commerce. Saying that, we had a good time and were treated very well. We were out there for four days but only played one gig, at a place they called the 'Irish village' at midnight in 40 degree heat and then we were taken directly to some club in a hummer. As I said: very weird.

As well as Dubai, I hear you will also be spreading yourselves across Europe and over to Japan. What part of the world would you most like to see?

We’ve just come back from a tour of Italy, it's an absolutely beautiful country and we can't wait to go back next year when we go on the European tour. Japan has always been a place I’ve wanted to go, I’m a big fan of Japanese literature and haiku poetry which is quite pictorial and so I have a picture built up in my mind of what it will be like, which I want to put up against the real thing. I also really want to go to Iceland at some point, I think I’d really appreciate the amount of space that you have there and also that essentially you could be living in either total darkness or light all every day depending on what time of year it is: it would be interesting to see what effects that has on a person.

Do you consciously attempt to emulate the post punk sound of the 80s?

post punk has had such far-reaching effects on popular music since its conception that its hard to pin-point when it finished, because in all honesty all that moniker means is 'after punk' so in that sense we have been influenced by post punk but there has been no conscious attempt to emulate it. Like I said 'post punk' has evolved and developed to infiltrate a lot of music and there has been no cut off point. I mean listen to a lot Sigur Ros and I can hear post punk elements in that but you’d never categorise it as post punk. Our influences are quite fragmented because of the people we are, in that bag would be Captain Beefheart, Can, TV on the Radio, Bjork, Timbaland, Liquid Liquid, Billy Childish, Nick Cave, Stockhausen, Sonic Youth, New Order, Battles, Pan Sonic, Neu!, DNA, ESG, Jimmy Hendrix, Velocet, Radiohead etc ….

Please tell me about each of your interests outside music, what odd hobbies, pursuits and peculiarities take up your time?

Personally, I read and write a lot as well as doing carpentry to earn some money. Darrell (guitar) is the painter within the group. Gareth (bass) never stops watching programmes about nature or modern history also I think he's probably a comedian at heart but a solemn-faced one at that: he's got an acerbic, quick wit and can shoot you down with a couple of words. James (drummer) is a music man through and through; he never stops studying it, picking it apart. None of the rest of us really know what's going on in the music world today but he keeps us updated with his knowledge.

Who do you resent most and adore most in the world at this time?

1) Style over substance, definitely in regard to the music industry.
2) I resent that lack of responsibility that people seem to take for their actions, it seems likes everyone just does what they want with scant regard for the consequences. People just kind of float around doing what the fuck they want, me included sometimes. we're are all capable of acting like that and for that reason I have a lot of respect for people who don't get sucked into that and realise the weight of actions and decisions.

Published: P.i.X magazine: issue # 39, December 2009

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Sunday, 6 December 2009

A Grave With No Name

FREE MP3: Open Water

The cream of the UK lo-fi crop; A Grave with no name, nurtured by the consistently awesome No pain in pop label, have blossomed into a maturity that surpasses their humble origins as mere example of passing musical trend. Their new album ‘Mountain Debris’ is a demonstration of their staying power, the kind of album one plays to arouse a state of emotional and spiritual contemplation. It’s hardly accessible and certainly not as disposable as much of the content associated with the lo-fi riff raff on both sides of the Atlantic. Singer and guitarist Alex Shields, approaches Christmas with a sense of optimism and accomplishment, defending his self confessed egoism as Yule see in the following interview.

How do you feel about Mountain Debris, what do you think people will
make of it?

Alex Shields:I have a cool relationship with the record - it's a pretty accurate
representation of me as a person, so I both like and am frustrated by it in equal measure - at the same time, I am going to ensure the next LP is even better; I want it to be a total masterpiece.

'Mountain Debris' is kind of all-over-the-place, but that makes perfect
sense to me. Some people really seem to get the record, others really
don't - I read one review of it that said it was "conceptual art" as
opposed to music, when actually I intended the opposite - it's supposed
to be pure music.

What drives you as a band?

Nothing really. I just make music when I feel like it, and it will
probably reflect my mind-state at the time of recording. I'm not gonna
say something for the sake of it, like some post-punk bank trying to
sound intellectual, quoting modernist architecture or some bullshit as
their primary influence. That's exactly why I hate post-punk so much.

How do you see yourselves in relation to the increasingly popular lo-fi
music scene in the USA?

Well, I don't really want to be associated with any bands who record
their music badly in order to be part of some scene - what's more, I
really can't stand garage rock, it's mindless, meaningless and boring,
so I don't feel a whole lot in common with them at all. Believe me, if I
had some more money I would make the most hi-fi sounding record you've
ever heard.

If you could change any law what would it be?

None of them seem to intrude on my life too much, and people seem to
find ways to get around the ones that do - I guess growing up as a young
kid, it kind of bummed me out that I couldn't rent some horror movies
because I wasn't old enough, but that's about it.

If there is one thing that to you most symbolises the nature of your
music, what is it?

I am going to sound like an egotist, which I probably am, but I'd have to
say myself - the whole record is either me writing about myself, or
trying to react against myself. I'm super-inward looking, and don't have
much time for anything occurring outside my own world-view.

What are your plans for next year?
Go to the cinema; hang out on my balcony; finish off the second record;
play some shows; hang out with friends; have take-out pizza every

Published: P.i.X magazine: issue # 39, December 2009

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