Photography by Zen Sekizawa and Jiro Schneider
Hi Aaron! What have you been up to since we last spoke? (For the “Mess on a Mission” video.)
I’m not sure if we’ve ever been as busy as we have been in the last few months, but we’ve gotten to do some amazing projects and it’s all to do with Liars so I’m definitely not complaining. In between playing more shows in support of Mess, we hosted and curated an event called Friday Flights at The Getty Museum in Los Angeles, which was really special. We assembled and installed a wide range of visual pieces all exclusive to the event and space. We also got to involve our very special friends like Mary Pearson Andrew, John Wiese, Kate Hall and Protect Me to do the same. At the moment, Angus and I are working on a special project that’s somewhat a secret at the moment, but we’ll be dropping clues on our social media and website to keep everybody informed as soon as we are able to. When we last met, our beloved Clippers were still alive in the NBA playoffs, so we’ve been dealing with the crushing blow of our early dismissal and are looking forward to the future and rebuilding for next season.
In the immediate future we have some exciting plans, all things we’ve never done before. First we are going to be performing at the Roskilde Festival where some little band called the Rolling Stones will be headlining. After that we are performing at All Tomorrow’s Parties (ATP) in Iceland—our first performance and trip ever to that country!
Really, we’ve been super busy and we’re so grateful for all of these amazing opportunities.
Can you tell us about the process of making Mess? Is there anything you would do differently if you had the chance?
The process of making Mess was all about immediacy and trying not to over analyze too much. WIXIW was such an intense experience where personal issues mixed with our inexperience with tools we were using. This led us to a very critical, doubtful, and calculated process. With Mess we had more experience with the music programs and we really felt grateful to be in the position to make records. It was a much more relaxed and confident atmosphere that I think was—dare I say—more playful. It’s not to compare one album with the other; it’s more that both records were made over a period of time where as we moved forward, the more we learned, and the more songs were able to flow with less debate. There are always things you wish you did differently, but you always realize that it’s better to learn from it than to be able to change it. Whatever happens is part of the album, and the experiences around it that you hope to incorporate into the music. If every record was perfect you might lose any sense of place or timing the album should hold.
What can we expect from your upcoming Afterfest performance?
To be honest, our live shows are similar to how we write our records. If we start feeling too comfortable with what we are doing, we naturally gravitate towards an environment where we are forced into feeling like complete novices. We like to feel that anything can happen, both good and bad, during a performance. It’s been our experience that when we play a show where we feel there were no mistakes, this rarely equates to what the crowd feels is a great show. This contrast is what keeps putting on a great performance a mystery and not a formula, which is great since there is the band experience meeting with the crowd’s experience. That said, I think the highest expectation we could hope to attain is for the crowd to expect the unexpected.
Are there any bands you’re excited to check out while in Chicago?
There are certainly a lot of great artists performing that we admire. I’m sure Kelela, Grimes and our friends Factory Floor will all be amazing.
And any spots you like to visit whenever you’re in Chicago?
Chicago is a great city. While we’ve been there many times on tour, we’ve never had any time to take in the sights. We’ll be so preoccupied with preparing for our show, we won’t be able to devote the time and attention a great city like Chicago deserves.
What’s been one of the best parties you’ve ever been to (besides this Afterfest, of course)?
For Angus’ birthday we raced go-karts and went to a Clippers game. We don’t have much downtime and when we do we tend to spend it apart doing our separate things, which is totally understandable. It’s nice to get together outside of band situations and cut loose a bit.
We saw the recent video you did with Yoonha Park for “Pro Anti Anti.” How did that come about?
What we like to do is give the directors complete freedom to execute their interpretation of the song. For all of our videos that aren’t directed by a band member, the story and vision is all from the director. One of the reasons we prefer this method is because we feel it adds another meaning or possibility for the song’s interpretation by having someone else’s vision represent the track. While in certain circumstances we like to make the videos ourselves, we fear that if we do it too often it might be perceived as how the song should be heard. We feel that once we’ve released the album, the song’s meanings are no longer strictly based on our perspective. Any misinterpretation is not only welcomed, it’s an invaluable part of us being able to learn what has been communicated by our album.
The ending was awesome, but do you wish you had gotten to keep the busts of yourselves?
I don’t know… for me it was really hard seeing my head that way. I got to see angles of myself that I’m more than happy never to see again!
What do you think are the best albums of 2014 so far? Any upcoming releases you’re stoked for?
Container’s Adhesive 12" is amazing. Also, HTRK’s Psychic 9-5 Club is pretty amazing. I’m excited for the new Grimes record, though I’m not sure when it’s due to come out. We did some shows with Jana Hunter recently where she played some of the new Lower Dens tracks solo. From what we’ve heard, the new Lower Dens record should be pretty amazing.
What are you listening to currently?
The two records I mentioned above are played quite frequently. I recently got a hold of Free Kitten’s discography, which is awesome. I think Kim Gordon’s bass playing was so huge in defining Sonic Youth’s sound. If you imagine any song of theirs with a different bass player, with a different bass line, you might argue that it’s the backbone of their sound. I got to see Free Kitten play once back in the day and it made such a huge impression on me. At the time I hadn’t ever made songs or played in a band but I had been playing guitar since I was really young. They sort of fortified the concept in my head that anything is possible. I know that sounds cliché, but I can’t describe it any other way.