Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Dale Crover

Regarded by the wise as the finest band to ever come out of the American Northwest/Seattle area, the Melvins have spent the last (almost) thirty years releasing confounding, mesmeric, unconventional, smart and very often thunderous rock music. Equally as influenced by Black Flag as they are by Black Sabbath, and by Alice Coltrane as they are Alice Cooper; a Melvins record (or show) will do things to your mind that 'normal' music can not. Core duo of drummer Dale Crover and guitarist Buzz Osborne remain steadfastly two of the busiest men in music - seldom finding time between touring and recording with the Melvins and their various side-projects to even take part in interviews - so I was delighted when he agreed to talk to me. From playing drums on the first Nirvana demo, to touring the world with the Melvins and Mike Patton's Fantômas project (alongside his time with Shrinebuilder and as frontman of Altamont), he doesn't sit still for long.

Dale Crover. Photograph by Mackie Osbourne

You're just about to go on tour, and you're finishing it off by playing at Mogwai's ATP. Are you going to see any of the other bands playing?
Unfortunately I don't think we're gonna get to see Mogwai, because I think they play the day after us, and we're playing another gig in France that day. But it should be pretty crazy playing with Slayer, y'know?! But we're just there for a day, so all we're gonna get to see is our show! I think us, Sleep and Slayer is all that's happening that day, but I could be wrong.

Yeah, so you'll be in the same room as Dave Lombardo - can we expect anything special from the two of you?

Not yet. But you never know! We'll see!

You gave your last EP away for free. Is this something you'll be doing with future releases? I know you've been experimenting with packaging...
Well, unfortunately it ends up for free anyway! Haha! Pretty much every release we've done in the last ten years has ended up online before it's actually out. So one thing that's sort of cool about this, is that (label) Scion is actually giving it away free. And, also, they've paid us for that! I think it's kind of a unique situation. I don't know how much this will happen. With people being able to download illegally, it's probably going to make it so that we won't make full-length records any more. But we will be doing things like you mentioned, like special packaging. Usually it's vinyl, but we've done a couple of special-package CDs, and they're all limited edition. The way we see it, music is now free, so you're basically paying for a nice package. Nice artwork.

And you're gonna give us that?
Oh yeah. There's a bunch of different twelve inches coming out from the live record that we put out last year. Thirteen twelve inches, because there's thirteen songs on the record, and the flipside is a split with another band.

How did these splits come about? You're doing stuff with some pretty cool bands.

Yeah! Haha! We just thought "Who would be cool to do this with?", and then we thought "The bands don't even need to exist any more!", so we just thought we could use some old bands that we like, and songs that they've released already. Bands like the The Necros, Die Kreuzen, you can't really find their stuff anywhere. We figured that if they could give us an old song it'd be something kinda cool. I'm sure a lot of people haven't heard some of that stuff either.

It looks to me that everybody you asked must have said yes.
Pretty much, yeah! I don't think anybody said no. Haha! Which is great! Like The Necros, who don't exist any more, were like "I don't think we can do anything", and we were like "You don't have to do anything!" So there hasn't been much of a problem.

How did Melvins Lite come about? Is it something that's going to come and go?

I think so. We've played with (bassist) Trevor (Dunn) in the past. Before the Big Business guys were in our band he did some touring with us, and also did the Houdini live record with us. Once we got the Big Business guys in our band we said "We don't want you guys to quit your band, but while you're doing your thing we might do something else, possibly with Trevor and possibly with someone else". The Big Business guys did a big tour last summer, and we decided that - since they were gone - we would see if Trevor wanted to play some shows with us. Buzz had seen him play stand-up bass, doing a more kind of jazz thing, and he thought it was really cool. Really different. We thought that if we played with him for this, it'd make it really different from what we were doing with the Big Band. We booked four shows, and worked out a set. It was a set of old songs, and we thought it worked out really good, so we decided to do a whole record like that, and tour it and stuff. We'll be doing that later in the year. We're about to hit the road with the Big Business guys and Unsane, and then the Melvins Lite record will be out. I think in June some time.

Is there going to be another one after this one?
Yeah, well, we recorded a whole bunch of stuff. We've got enough stuff for at least another EP, probably. Maybe more. We'll see what happens. Eventually we'd like to do a tour where it's Melvins Lite, and Melvins including the Big Business guys. We'd eventually like to do something where Trevor's playing with us as well. Two bass players. We've been playing with the first Melvins drummer (Mike Dillard) too, calling that Melvins 1983. We've recorded a twelve inch EP for that too. 
And you're working with (former bassist) Kevin (Rutmanis) again. What's that like?
We ended up doing a Roxy Music song with Kevin and Jello Biafra. We've kinda become friends with Kevin again. We knew that he had done this Roxy Music song before, with Tomahawk.

And what song is it?
Ahhhhhh... It's sort of a secret. Next year will actually be the thirtieth anniversary of the band, so hopefully we can do some sort of tour and have all three versions of the band play.

There are rumours of a new Fantômas album. Can you tell me anything about that?
Well, I don't know anything about it, and Buzz doesn't know anything about it at all. So if there is one, he's not including us. Haha! I read that some place too, like "Oh, there's a new Fantômas!", but I don't think so. It could be true, but I don't think so.

Melvins 2012. L-R Jared Warren, Coady Willis, Dale Crover, Buzz Osbourne. Photograph by Mackie Osbourne.

What about a new Altamont record then?
Yeah, I hope so. We've been recording some songs - slowly but surely we're getting stuff finished - but I've been so busy doing Melvins stuff that I just haven't really had time, y'know? Plus the other guys live in San Fransisco, so it's a little hard for us to get together and practice.

Where are you?
I live in Los Angeles.

Is anything going to happen with the stuff you recorded with Jason Newsted and Devin Townsend?
I have no idea. I haven't talked to either of those guys since we recorded that stuff. That was like... Oh gosh. I can't even remember when. That was like 1997 or so? It was when he was still in Metallica. The reason that that thing came about to begin with, was that Kyuss had split up - and Kyuss had done some touring with Metallica - and Jason had heard about it and called Scott Reader to find out what the story was, and Scott was really bummed out. He was like "Why don't you come down and we can record and have fun, and you can forget about this stuff?" That's when they thought of calling me, and having me come over to play drums. It was just this weird weekend recording/jam session kind of thing, and that was pretty much the last time I talked to either Jason or Devin. He should put it out. I don't know what he does. He's kind of disappeared off the map, musically. I'm sure he's financially set. He probably made a lot of money off the Black Album, y'know? I mean, that was huge! I guess he doesn't have to work... When I went over there and played, it seemed he was really into recording, and doing different projects, and playing a lot. I mean, he'd done a bunch of different projects with other people as well. He had his own recording studio at his house. It was really cool. I know he was in Voivod for a while, right? But now, I haven't heard anything.

Electrical Guitar Company were meant to be building you a drum kit. What became of that?
I think it's still happening. I talked to the guy not too long ago, and I think he's gonna have something for me pretty soon. He's just been so busy with building guitars that I think it's been put on the back burner a little bit. Actually, he built a bass for the new bass player from Metallica. And the guys from Cheap Trick are buying a bunch of stuff from him.

It seems appropriate that Cheap Trick would want his guitars now.

Yeah! He's having a bit of success.

What was that rototom thing you used to play?

Haha! That's exactly what it was. It was the bottom of a rototom. It kinda had a bell sound. I dunno, I think Terry Bozzio came up with that idea.

Is Bozzio your favourite Zappa drummer?
Probably. Actually, I like Captain Beefheart better. I like Drumbo. He was great.

Dale. Photograph by KRK Dominguez.

How were you introduced to ribbon crashers, and to Pete Engelhart's metallic instruments?
I found that stuff in San Fransisco a long time ago, and became a fan of it right away. I thought it was a really cool percussion piece. Very sharp and abrasive sounding. We were really into that band Pussy Galore, and he (Bob Bert) used to hit on a gas tank and stuff like that, and had all this metal stuff. We thought it was a kind of cool piece to add in with our sound. Now I use a bunch of his stuff. I really like his stuff a lot. He's great. I'm kind of surprised more people didn't catch on to his stuff. I think the people who use it are more kind of Latin percussionists. It's good for me, because it makes my sound more unique!

Where did you learn to do that 'gravity blast', the one-handed roll on your snare?

Haha! I just figured it out. I'd read this interview with Ian Paice - do you know who he is? He plays drums for Deep Purple - and he does this one-handed roll, and they were asking him about it, and he was like "I'm not gonna tell you!" Haha! So I just kinda figured it out on my own. Later, I looked up on the internet and discovered that there's a bunch of YouTube videos of people doing it.

And you can do it with both hands?

You play brushes on one of the tracks on Freak Puke. Is that the first time you've done that on a record?

Yeah. Actually it is.

I guess it sits well with the stand-up bass, and with it all being mellower.
Yeah, it just kind of fit the song. Y'know, maybe, actually, that might be wrong... That's the first time I've played with wire brushes, but I've recorded stuff in the past where I've used these plastic brushes a bunch. But traditional brushes, yeah - that's the first time.

How's your hearing? Do you have any hearing problems?
Oh yeah, it's goin'! It's just gonna get worse and worse. Oh well.

Bill Bruford or Neil Peart?
Hmmmm... Ahhh... Jeez, I don't know... I'm probably more interested in Neil Peart.

Bill Stevenson or Robo?

That's a tough one. But Bill Stevenson. Yeah.

John Bonham or Bill Ward?
Apples and oranges. I'd say Keith Moon.

Elvin Jones or Tony Williams?
Ooh, that's a tough one. Umm... I definitely listen to a lot of the Tony Williams stuff from when he was playing with Miles Davis. But they're both pretty good. I'll tell you who the best drummer is I've ever seen. And he'll be the king.

Go on.
Buddy Rich. He's the best drummer I've ever seen, for sure. He's from another planet. Most drummers I can watch, and figure out what they're doing, but when you watch him, you see stuff and you're just "Oh my God", y'know? Keith Moon's a little bit like that too. There's some drum solos of his that are a little bit crazy. I like more the kind of radical drummers like that, y'know? A lot of people don't like Keith Moon, and think he's too sloppy, but I don't know what the heck they're talking about. He might have been drunk a few times, playing drums, but he's a great drummer. Also Ian Paice, I did see him a few times, and I was completely blown away by his playing. He's one of the best ones out there.

What's your favourite horror movie?

Hmm. Probably Evil Dead. Either Evil Dead or The Exorcist. I like a lot of the real vampire movies, from the Hammer era. Christopher Lee movies.

What would you be doing if you hadn't pursued music?
I dunno. I'd wanted to play music since I was about eleven. With it being that long, I'd have probably wanted to be a fireman or a cowboy. Or a baseball player. Haha!

How did the shoe come about? Nike SB made a Melvins Dunk.
We had a friend that worked there. I can't remember what he did there, but he was in the skateboard division of Nike. They asked a bunch of bands about doing shoes. We got Buzz's wife Mackie to do the design. There's two different ones. It's weird, there's this whole shoe-world that we didn't know existed. There are people who are big shoe collectors. Buzz was in a shoe store where they had the Melvins shoe, and this guy, this total hip-hop guy, came in and was like "No way, there's the Melvins shoe! That one's the shit!" And Buzz is looking at him and thinking that there's no way he knows anything about our band. He just knows the shoe. We've ran across a few people like that, who had no idea who the band was but were really into the shoe. We were selling some of them on eBay, and people always wanted to know that it wasn't a bootleg, and we were like, "There's not going to be any bootleg Melvins shoes, what are they talking about?" but then I saw one, somebody showed me one, and I was like "Oh my God, there really is!" There's actually bootleg versions of that shoe out there.

The Nike SB Melvins shoe.

People download your music for free, and now they bootleg your shoe...
Haha! I mean, since they're 'collectible', they go for a lot of money, so I could see why people would do that, y'know? I could tell the rip-off because the label was different, and some of the material, wasn't the same. But that was a real surprise. I couldn't believe it.

I think it's great that you did it. Dinosaur Jr. have one too. Whether people are interested in music or shoes, it's cool that people are into something. Was it a hard decision?
It was a no-brainer! "We want to do a Melvins shoe." "OK!" "We'll pay you guys in shoes." "OK! Sounds good!" We had no problems with it at all. 
What other Melvins albums would you like to perform live?
Well, actually, we're going to do the whole EP on this tour. So, the new one! But as far as a special performance, I don't know, but I think we're gonna make it over to Europe and do that whole residency thing that we did here. Eventually.

Do you have any plans to play either Hospital Up, Inhumanity and Death, P.G.x3 or I'll Finish You Off live?

Umm... I'd like to do Hospital Up, at least. That'd be good, but it might be kinda hard.

Do you have any pets?
 I do. I have a dog.

A loyal, noble dog? Or a wild, ferocious beast?
He's a very well-behaved dog. He's very mild-mannered. His name's Arthur.

Have you ever posted on themelvins.net?

Have I ever posted there? Nah. I wouldn't post there.

Have you ever had a scary encounter with a crazy fan?

Well, there's certainly people who are very enthusiastic, and that you see at a lot of shows, but nobody's stalked us or anything. Which is good. There's crazy people out there for sure, there's fans of ours who are nuts, but that's OK.

Melvins 2010.

What's your favourite Nirvana song?
Favourite Nirvana song? Hmm... Smells Like Teen Spirit! Haha! No, actually I think my favourite one is In Bloom.

Did you hear that 'mash up' of Revolver and the Beyonce song Single Ladies?

No! Is that on YouTube? I'll need to check it out.

It's not bad, it sounds kinda 'right'.
Who did it?

Just some guy in his bedroom I think. Nobody famous or anything.
How did you get hooked up with Volcom?
Through Totimoshi. Those guys had a record on there, and they asked us to do a split. We figured it'd be cool. I guess I don't really know too many of the guys there, but I worked on the record by that band Tweak Bird, and Volcom put that out. They gave us suits a couple of years ago. Haha! For those times that I have to wear a suit. I still have a bunch of their socks too, Volcom's good for clothes.

It's cool that you get shoes and suits just for playing music. Apart from Tweak Bird, is there anybody you think people should be listening to?
I don't know... I've been doing a bunch of recording. The engineer that works for the Melvins and myself have been trying to work with other bands, doing either performance or production. Or both. I've worked with a bunch of bands that I've done drum parts for, or percussion overdubs, and one of those bands is a band from Canada called Indian Handcrafts. They're pretty good.

Is there anybody you'd like to work with?

Not particularly. I would work with pretty much anyone who was serious about doing something. Even if it was something completely not what I'm used to. I don't mind. It makes it more interesting. I always thought that hip-hop should have real drums. That would be something interesting.

The Roots do it quite well, but it's still just hip-hop drums. It'd be good to hear something a bit more out-there.

Yeah. The normal hip-hop stuff just now, it's not very exciting. I just think it could be way better. I used to listen to N.W.A. a lot, but they seem like a punk rock band, y'know?

Massive thanks to Kevin Parrott and Kurt Midness for helping me arrange this, and the good people of themelvins.net forum for the best questions.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Clyde Singleton

It's 16 years since the triumvirate of 101, Blind and World Industries released their Trilogy video, and consequently altered the direction of skateboarding (and its associated music and clothing) in a way that has rarely been seen since. The Wu-Tang, Lockwood and Polo Sport were as crucial to this package as the skating of Kareem, Gino, Dill, Daewon, Creager and Clyde Singleton. More than just skateboarders skateboarding, this was a movement, and Clyde epitomised everything that was cool about it.
Many of those involved have followed drastically different career paths since, some owning companies, and some quitting entirely. Clyde has skated constantly since, and has recently been honoured with a Blind 'Brotherhood Board' pro model. He's one of the most likable people in skateboarding, and has probably featured on more 'friends' sections than anyone else, over his time on Acme, 101, 23 and eventually Zoo York... He was good enough to have a very quick chat about the music he's digging.

 Clyde. Self-portrait.

What was the first skate video you saw where the music really jumped out?
I'd probably have to say either Love Child or Questionable... Hokus Pokus - and all the old H-Street vids - had some good classic punk in 'em too, though.
What's your favourite video section track, and why?
Sean Sheffey in Questionable. I was a huge fan of both him and Fu-Schnickens, and when 'La Schmoove' dropped on his part... Wow... I remember it like yesterday.
What's your favourite video overall, for music?
Minority Report, because I produced it as well as did the soundtrack.
Have you got a least favourite? Anything you had to watch with the sound down?
Any Thrasher video. Always good skating, always terrible music.
How do you go about choosing music for your sections?
Whatever I'm feeling. I usually keep about three songs to the side, and just picture myself skating to it.
Is there something you sing in your head to get psyched for trying something?
Depends. I could be singing a country song in the back of my head.
Clyde. Photo by Nick Garcia.

What's your favourite album of all time?
'Paid In Full', or 'Fear of a Black Planet'. Kinda tough... I can bump both all the way through, with little to no problem.
Was 101 the best company of all time?
Is this some kinda trick question..?

Does it bum you out what happened to the old World companies? Are you still in touch with those guys? 
Yeah, I still talk to a lot of my old teammates. They have this crazy new thing called the internet. You can communicate with people. And naw, it don't bum me out. That's them. I'm me.

What's your favourite album art?
BDP 'Sex & Violence'.

What was the first album you bought?
Motley Crue's 'Shout at the Devil'. My Momma thought I'd lost my mind.

What are you listening to just now?
Pac Div, 'The Greatest'. Dope song, dope beat, good message... Gets me hyped.
You ever meet T-Pain out there in Florida?
Nah. He's from Tallahasse, though. He used to be a really dope rapper, before he started singing. Dude can write a hit, I'll tell you that much!
Anything coming out soon you're excited about?
That M.A.R.S. project Cormega is putting together. It's Roc Marciano, Cormega, Action Bronson and Saigon. Albums gonna be produced by Large Professor.

Tell us how you got hold of the second KMD album.
Rodney Clarke gave it to me, on my first trip to Europe back in ‘93.. Rodney's the man!
What was your first show? How was it?
My first show... It was George Clinton. I was prob'ly about seven. My Mom and Dad took me. We were dancing, having a good time.
What was the last show you went to?
A punk rock show, at my friend's bar... These girls I know called, 'Dyke & Tuna Turner' were playing. 'Mr. Clit & the Pink Cigarettes' also played. It was dope.
What show in history do you wish you could have been at?
The Source Awards in NY, where they booed Snoop and ripped off Outkast for Artist of the Year.
How do you find out about new stuff?
I got connections...
What was the last album you acquired?
I'm about to be listening to that new Planet Asia, 'Black Belt Theatre', or new Torch (Tripple C)'s mixtape when i finish this.
Any band do you wish you could have been in?
Van Halen. They got a lot of girls, and drank a lot of brown liquor.

Who that you've met has the worst taste in music?
I respect everyone's taste in music. You might learn/hear something new.
Do you make music yourself?
I DJ. I use’ta make beats.
Why does everybody skate to shitty indie rock now?
'Cause skating's filled with posers.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Live. Be happy.

Anything else?
Stay away from women who wear Converse.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Black Dice

For more than fifteen years, New York residents Black Dice have been re-inventing and mutating punk music into wild new sonic shapes. The trio of Eric Copeland, Bjorn Copeland, and Aaron Warren have released countless albums, singles and EPs (and a book) varying from brutal hardcore, to shimmering out-of-focus drone-scapes, to discordant throbbing funk.
Having recently concluded a spell signed to Animal Collective's Paw Tracks label, Black Dice's latest album sees them strip down their sound (and equipment) to a primitive No Wave groove, as developed by the electronic punk pioneers of their adopted home city. As influenced by punk as much as they are by disco, and by their previous labels DFA and Troubleman, the band are now signed to Ribbon Music for the forthcoming release of their new album 'Mr. Impossible'. I spoke to founding member Aaron Warren about his past, present and future...

Who are Ribbon Music? How did you get hooked up with them?
Morgan's like this dude who we've known for ten years or something. We've known him for a long time, just through friends of friends and stuff. It just kinda happened organically. We've been working on this record for a long time and when we started working on it, Bjorn (Copeland, Aaron's brother and band-mate) was doing some artwork for Domino, and I think he designed the Ribbon logo, so Morgan knew we were working on new stuff. We'd been talking for the last couple of years about how we wanted to do the record and stuff, so it just came about that way.

So this guy had known your music for a while?
Yeah, yeah, totally. He's from Louisville, Kentucky, I think, but he's been in New York for around the same amount of time as we have. We've been in the same circle for at least ten years.

The new record's a lot less chilled than the last one (2009's 'Repo', released on Paw Tracks) - and it sounds much more like older Black Dice stuff - was that by design? Anything to do with the label change?
Definitely nothing to do with the label change, but something we've been talking about a lot is the music that you grow up on, and what gets you psyched when you're a teenager, and for me that was punk music, and hardcore music. I've been trying to do that music in a way that makes sense with my life now, where I'm a grown man. I can't just be playing a style of music that's like, thirty years old now. It's incorporating some of those ideas, with the progressive ideals of the band. Just trying to do something somewhat innovative, but with real limited instrumentation. That's sort of the way we work. Seeing what we can do with these really crude tools. In that way it's really similar to hardcore music. It's simple, it's easy. You know?

Yeah. It sounds like a much more informed Black Dice - the Black Dice of 2012 - playing the music you were doing at the beginning.
Yeah, yeah. It's just a response to ourselves. To the last record and to the one before that. We're always trying to do something a little different to what we just did. It also has a lot to do with the kind of shows we're doing, and the kind of shows we want to be doing. The kind of shows where people get psyched, and pumped up - and don't just stand there scratching their head. Which has happened for us.

So do you write with a mind to what you think people should do? Like, is this album made for people to throw themselves around, in the way that the last album possibly wasn't?
I think that's always been the goal for us, even as far back as Creature Comforts (2004). I think Beaches & Canyons (2002) was the last record we made without an audience in mind. We're always talking about creating this celebratory party vibe and stuff like that, and I think we're just a little more effective at translating that to the music right now, than we have been in the past, 'cause like something that's upbeat and aggro sounding to us can sound like it's just a fun party tune, but when it comes out on the record and when we're playing it out - especially in another country or something like that - sometimes it just doesn't translate to audiences. We always have an idea of the ideal audience, this fantasy version of what we want, but we don't really go to shows any more. We don't really know what's going on. When we were writing these tunes we were totally in a vacuum. We have an idea of what this fantasy show would be like, but until we're out there we have no idea of what shows are like these days.

Black Dice. Photograph by Barbara Soto

But I'm guessing when you formed the band you were aware of a lot of what other people were doing. Are you not any more?
Yeah, I mean... I still make an effort to try to keep up, and read about music, and find out what's going on. I listen to stuff online and what not. I don't buy a lot of records, either new or used, just because of the position I'm in with my life just now. I'm older, and I have a kid, so I don't have the disposable income for that like I did when I was in college, y'know? My life has just changed. The actual music is as important to me as it's ever been, it's just a lot more diverse. What I'm listening to now is like 50s rock, doo-wop, free jazz and hip-hop. And that's not the music I was listening to when I was starting a band. Fifteen years ago I was only interested in seven inches, and albums coming out on independent labels. Indie rock and hardcore was pretty much all I was into. I think it's just about being honest with yourself, and the stuff you're interested in. If I was more interested in digging up the new stuff I could do it. Everyone has access to that. There's a lot of good new stuff out there. I like this band Hype Williams. They're from the UK, they're pretty cool.

Can you chart the musical changes in Black Dice based on what you've been listening to?
No, I think there's more to it than that. To do a band for more than two or three years, I think it's hard to make that band fit with all these different phases of your life. We've become adults during the course of this band, we're totally different dudes. As such, we are listening to totally different stuff from era to era, but I think more than anything it's trying to figure out how to get a song to do what you want it to. But before, some of the songs were experimental to the point where it was like "Well, we were trying to do this, but we ended up doing this. And that's cool". Now it's more about what we want it to do.

How much does New York have to do with your music? You moved there to do the band. Could the band exist anywhere else?

I think it has a lot to do with it. It's tough to live here. There's a lot of distractions - a lot of weird stuff that messes with your head here. There's so many different paths to success here, and different kinds of success you can have here. You'll constantly have friends and peers who are like, all of a sudden, doing really well at something. It can mess with your head. And it's expensive to live here, which provides a certain challenge. To be able to work within that challenge. I think that's an environment that comes out in the music. But on the flipside to all that, there's the people. Access to so many brilliant people, all these really cool people who are turning you on to all these brilliant ideas. There's access to every kind of culture. There's all this cool shit going on. It's the best and the worst place for a lot of reasons, and all those things definitely come out in the music.

Can you give give me a rundown of what gear you're using live just now?
Sure, it's really the most basic set-up we've ever had, that we have right now. I just have a MPC sampler, and a microphone, and a mixer, and some effects. Eric has a Mini Disc player, a mixer and a microphone, and some effects. Bjorn plays guitar and he has a Boss sampler, and some effects. It's the least gear we've ever used. By far.

You use technology, but you're quite anti-technology at the same time. Do you think it's good now how anybody can make an album, and get it out there? Or publish a book? Is it good or is it an avalanche of sub-standard stuff?
I think you've always been able to do that. Within the lifetime of our band, anyway. You've always been able to record your own band, and put out your own record. You might not have been using a computer to do it, but I think that the computer makes it easier - and makes it more instantaneous - is just really exciting. I think it's awesome.

Don't you think it dilutes anything? You used to walk into a record shop, and all the stuff you liked would be there. Now you go on Soundcloud or YouTube, and there's just millions of things to hear.
Well yeah, sure. But it's just like you're in a bigger record store. I guess. It just depends how you want to come across it. Like, if you're on someone's blog, and it only has a dozen things on it that month, then it's pretty easy to come across stuff. But if you're on Pitchfork or iTunes, then that shit's changing by the hour, and you might not come across something so easily. When I was growing up, I think some of the most rewarding music things were the things I did come across on my own, or came about through a weird connection. Like somebody who wasn't even a friend, turning me onto some weird music. It still happens, but it just happens in a more modern way.

Did you ever skate?
No, and it's probably my biggest regret in life - that I never learned to skateboard well. I always had friends who skated, and Bjorn and Eric did. In the last couple of years I've become really obsessed with the Epicly Later'd show. It really makes me yearn to have known how to do that, and to have lived that life. If there's anything I could do to have learned to have done that from when I was ten years old, I would do that!

Not everyone on Epicly Later'd has been somebody to aspire to though...
It's interesting, I see so many similarities between that world and the sort of world that we're in. Some people are just exploring the artistic side to it, and have absolutely no head for business, and no idea of how to live any kind of other life, apart from the act of doing it. You know what I'm saying? I relate to that aspect of it so well, because in a lot of ways that's how we've been as a band sometimes. But then there's people who've just persevered through so many different movements of skating, and I look at that, and I'm kinda like "Well, that's kinda like us too" sometimes. I think the full spectrum of it, from the people who just flame out to the people who can go on and on, it's fascinating to me. It's really cool.

What are the band's plans for 2012? Are you coming to the UK?
Yeah, we're doing a US tour in May, then we're gonna just chill during the summer months - maybe play some festivals - and then we're gonna play some shows in Europe and in the UK in September.