The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Interviews 2013 The Rockpit




lays down the challenge to not ask him anything the last five interviewers have... so we make it all up as we go along and throw the questions out of the window...





Mark: Hi Greg, how are you this fine morning?



Greg: I am fine, thank you. You are the fifth interview I have had in the last hour and a half! They’re all starting to run together, and I can’t remember which answers I’ve told to which person, and I don’t know if I am repeating myself or not! I have to ask that you ask me completely unique questions, something that no one else has asked, or else we might be in trouble!!



Mark: Ok, I’ll see what I can do! It’s not often I get a challenge like that first up, but I’m ready for it! It’s great to have you back in Australia. Are you still based in California at the moment?



Greg: No, we are in four different cities. I live in Brooklyn, New York, we have a guy in Albuquerque, New Mexico, another guy in Portland, Oregon, and we have one crazy bass player, singer, who lives in London.



Mark: I have just been reading through all the press I can find about your latest album, “Break up Songs”, and of course listening to it over the past few days. I think it’s fair to say it’s the most immediate thing you have recorded in your career.



Greg: Thank you. I guess we did want it to be immediate; we wanted the feeling to be not something you felt confused about, or that you sat down and thought, I’m not sure how I feel about this. When we first started thinking about it I was heavily campaigning the band to do an album in the style of the brief period in the early eighties where heavy metal broke in to the mainstream, with stuff like The Scorpions, Motley Crue. This sort of music inspired you when you heard it, because it had so much energy to it, and like you say it was immediate, you played it loud and you wanted to go out and do something! You want to forget your former self, and become something new, it was inspirational music.



Mark: It does, it sort of creates a moment for you to live in, I think.



Greg: Yeah, exactly, and I’ve started thinking about this a lot, over this past year, more than I ever have. Music journalism, and the way music rates, is sort of how does it fit within the history of genius music artists, and how do you rate it as far as how smart it is, or how clever, or what other music does it reference? It’s all in a closed musical world, and I started thinking I would rather think of music in terms of its use value to the listener, and when would you put it on? Would you put it on whilst you were doing the dishes, or when you’re feeling sad, or put it on at a party, when you want something to dance to. So, I started thinking like that.



Mark: That’s fantastic, and that’s the sort of take I got on it as well, using music to create a mood. I think with the way things are these days it’s just a product; it’s got a certain beat and a certain rhythm and length. One thing I wondered was, do you ever go in to the recording of a new album and consciously think, “Do I really want to do this”, or conversely, “We’d rather not do anything like that!”



Greg: Our problem is that we always go in to recording an album, not just with an idea, but with at least four completely contradictory ideas! We have four totally separate song writers in the band! So, we go in to it, with all kinds of ideas, and it’s actually hard to narrow it down, to decide which ideas are going to be used. It’s sort of a guessing game and a gamble, which one is the idea that we are still going to feel strongly about, and believe in, a year from now? Actually, we will still be on tour, so even a year and a half from now. When we get to Australia it will have been a year and a half since we started recording. It takes six months to record and then you give it to the label, and then there’s six months lag time, before they put it out, because they want to send it around the magazines and whatever, and of course, it needs to be manufactured.



Mark: I think the main thing that intrigued me about the album, was how different it is from your last release, “Deerhoof v Evil”. Do you find you grow out of music, faster sometimes than others?



Greg: Yeah, but, that’s not necessarily what happened in this case. It’s not so much a growing out of it, but I find, from looking back at when I was young and the band was first starting and you look at your first album, and many bands don’t get to do a second album, you don’t know if you are ever going to get the chance to make a second record. So, you absolutely want it to be your testament to life, to encompass everything you ever thought or believed in yourself, and the more times that you get lucky enough, that your band is still together and you still want to record more, I found that in our case we have been more generic, and been willing to do things that we wouldn’t necessarily have thought of them as being true to ourselves, the way that we did when we were younger. You try to almost grow yourself and force your mind to open in a direction which isn’t naturally where your mind is tending to go. So, it’s not that we grew out of, disliked, or, were no longer able to relate to any of our previous albums, which are all somewhat different to each other. It’s more that we wanted to try to create a kind of music that we could then perform and take from the world of imagination and take it to something that you actually do in real life, almost like a ritual or something, something that we would be happy to play, every single day on tour for months on end. I am really happy as the gamble has paid off. After “Deerhoof v Evil”, we wanted to encourage a different feeling, that was maybe a little less earnest, but, more fun, more sassy and more playful, showing that we don’t take ourselves so seriously.



Mark: It sounds like there is absolutely no chance that music could ever get boring for you!



Greg: No way!! I mean, it’s too difficult, sometimes you do feel like you want to give it up, because it’s too hard to figure it out, and it’s hard to feel that we ever have it down, we are always trying to understand how putting sound together works. How could it ever be boring when you have the chance to go on tour around the world, and not only meet people, who would like to meet you and talk to you, but also play for them and find out that no matter how many overly worked ideas you have about what your music means, as soon as you play it for real, you find out it means another million things that you haven’t even considered. Everybody interprets it in their own way. I feel that anybody out there who is trying to decide what kind of work to go in to, looking for career choices, I highly recommend becoming a rock musician! I really think it is one of the most exciting things that you can do. It’s great and very healthy, I get lots of exercise on stage, and I get to sample cuisines from all over the world, and it forces me to be sociable and courteous over the phone, and think my thoughts through, and, yeah, it never gets boring!



Mark: That’s great; I could really sit here talking to you for the rest of the day! Also, I guess in the spirit of Deerhoof, I haven’t asked you a single question, I had written down! I will ask you a couple of our standard questions though if that's cool, I think your answers will be quite interesting. If you could have been a fly on the wall for any piece of music that was recorded at any point in time, what would it have been for you, and why?



Greg: The one that springs absolutely first to mind, and I went to the record store today, and I go record shopping once every five years, or something like that! There is a place here in Brooklyn, called Academy Records, and whenever I go in they are playing something so cool over the stereo, and today they were playing a band I had never heard of, who were amazing, called The A- Frame, so I went up and asked the guy at the counter what it was, and he told me, and I thought it sounded so good, so I would have liked to be a fly on the wall for the recording of that album, which was called “Two”, because it was their second album. I would like to understand how they got the sound because it was so beautiful, I am a drummer and I want to know how they got that incredible drum sound on there!



Mark: What is the meaning of life?



Greg: (laughs) I was reading something, I forget where it was, and it was everything in the universe is asking why? I’m not religious at all, but in this book it was everything in the universe is asking God, why, and God’s answer is life, so, it’s not what is the meaning of life, but,  life is the meaning itself, it’s the answer of why. What does the universe mean, life is the answer that God has provided, and I thought that was a pretty neat way of thinking about it! Life is the meaning and therefore the answer to the question!



Mark: I was always told it was sex, drugs and rock and roll!! Well, it’s been an absolute pleasure to talk to you, and I’ll be seeing you when you hit Perth on the 28th February. How did I go with the questions by the way?



Greg: I think you made the grade.




by Mark Diggins January 2013




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