Traversing the waters between electronics and post rock, described as Mogwai meets Aphex Twin, Sheffield’s 65daysofstatic are going strong for years. With a new record coming up, a big European mainland tour on the horizon and a fascinating project in an art gallery, Ghost Cult Magazine felt it was time for a chat with the band’s creative mastermind, Paul Wolinski.
How was the recording process for your latest album, entitled Wild Light?
The guy that co produced it is called Dave Sanderson, we worked with him in Sheffield in his studio for quite a long time, but we took him and moved to a new studio in the middle of nowhere which used to like an old church. We got ourselves out of our comfort zone a little bit. he approached recording in a very different way to us, so we knew there would be a little bit of healthy conflict, so we really pushed ourselves to get the record better than out previous records. I think we pulled that off.
Your new record balances the sort of rock and digital type sounds quite well.
We’ve always had sort of electronics and live band together, and on some records the one is more prominent than the other, but usually that’s never been our choice it was just the way it was recorded. With this record we really wanted to get that balance exactly right, because compared to our other records it’s really quite stripped down and hopefully a lot more focused without losing any of the intensity. It was vital to get every sound down perfect, regardless of whether it was an electronic bit or a guitar of a piano, everything was treated with equal importance.
You said that you got yourselves away from the world a bit in that studio, did it help focus? and are you going to do this again?
I think so, it was interesting. We’ve made a record like that once before and it didn’t go so well, but we were a lot younger and our priorities probably weren’t in the right place, we kind of misunderstood what was really the best approach to making a record because we were still learning. But now we’re just so much further into doing this and it feels like we’re getting better. It felt like the sensible thing to do. We were very close to recording it in Sheffield in the same old studio, I think we ultimately made the decision because that was the interruption. We knew that if we stayed in Sheffield we’d still be connected to our own homes everything the morning and evenings and just the general world that we know. We knew how that experience was gonna go and we knew how the sounds in that studio would sound like. It would sound a lot like our old records and we really wanted to push past that. That kind of tipped the balance and made us make that decision to just go away and just cut off all distractions. I think it paid off.
A lot of bands that mix electronic sound with band sounds, it’s quite difficult to get the balance right live. How will you guys solve this and keep this interesting?
Actually what we’re doing right now is building the new live show, to incorporate all of the new songs. We get accused of playing to backing tracks quite a lot, which is disappointing because we put so much work into making it not that way. I’m certainly not a purist. If somebody told me that daft punk or something just press play on a machine and do nothing, I wouldn’t really care because the kind of show they put on isn’t about the liveliness of the music. And also with electronic music some things are gonna be better, they need that mechanical element to them to work. If you translate it all to live people on synthesizers it won’t have the same sort of preciseness to the rhythm. It can sometimes be a good thing but it can also be a bad thing.
And also with us there’s the added complication that we do all play a live instrument as well, so for us there’s sometimes literally not enough people in the band to do everything that needs to be done. The solution we’ve found so far is basically taking loads and loads and loads of stuff on tour. The stage is loads of drums and lots of midi controllers that are all hooked up back to computers and pads and keyboards and things. We just sort of share out the electronics. As far as the audience is concerned we could probably make it a lot easier for ourselves and just hit play. People probably wouldn’t notice that much difference but it’s important to us to keep as much of it as live as possible. And because we’ve been doing this for years now that’s always a problem, and so in writing this new record it was on the forefront of our mind. Like you said the electronics on this record are a bit more real sounding and kind of looser, and having that sort of tone to the record will allow us to play those electronics live in a much more interesting way then on our previous record where the electronics are so precise, it’s quite hard to play that live.
Your music seems to have a really cinematic feel about it, is this something you consciously think about? And if so what kind of movie would your music soundtrack?
We’ve actually been thinking on this quite a lot since we did a thing called silent running a couple of years ago. We wrote a soundtrack to an old film for a film festival. We approached it like proper soundtrack work, rather than playing some music over a film. We ripped out the old soundtrack and build a full one. It ended up being very well received and we toured it a Little bit and wrote a record. The experience of doing that was really interesting. It’s only in hindsight but at the time it was a big discovery because when you;re writing a soundtrack it’s playing a completely subservient role to the image. You don;t really want to grab the attention you’ve got to move in secret. While as out songs have always been described as cinematic and I agree with that, but actually they’re always written to demand people attention and to get in the way. They work as a stand alone thing and not need any images at all. I think our music works really well with visuals but it;s not in the same way as music and film works together. The installation was very effective but it’s not in the same way as a film and music work together. I’d love for 65 to score a film, that has yet to be made, because we would produce something that works in combination with the image. It might stand alone in it;s own right, because good soundtracks can do that too. But the primary role is to serve the image. Putting our exciting songs onto film, I’d like to think ti would work, but at the same time it;s not quite the same process. I guess any film that would sue out music, especially the last record, would be some sort of futuristic post apocalyptic bleak fad film. I think that’s a pretty good world to be sound-tracking, no it’s not it’s a terrible world to be sound-tracking. But it’s what we’re doing.
Finally, what touring plans do you have in support of the new album?
We’re doing a few dates in the UK and then we’re going to Europe for ages and ages, like 6 or 7 weeks. In the Netherlands we’re playing Amsterdam and Groningen. The reason bands keep going to Groningen is because they have one of the best venues, the Vera, you can wish to play as a band, You get this beautiful food cooked for you and they have these apartments for bands above the venue. Most places in the Netherlands take pretty good care of you though.