Finally in the spotlight, the four-piece come to Hong Kong to play the Saturday night headline slot on Clockenflap’s KEF stage. We start by asking member Paul Wolinski about their most recent release…
What was it like creating a soundtrack for a video game?
It was a huge undertaking but ultimately very rewarding. The biggest challenge was that, within the game itself, the soundtrack was infinitely long. And also, it reacted to what the player was doing. It was an entirely different way of thinking about music because you can’t arrange songs in a traditional, linear manner. Instead of songs we created huge libraries of sounds and worked with the sound designer to build the rules that would generate soundscapes from all this material.
And some 15 years on from starting the band, how different are your lives now?
Author William Gibson said something great on Twitter: “The one single way in which we can choose to not get old: by choosing not to be militant nativists of the era in which we first got laid.” This is kind of the problem of being in a band for such a long time. You can only ever write your first record once. Bands can make the mistake of trying to recapture that energy and confusion and excitement, but it gets more and more difficult. We don’t want to be stuck in one mode of being just because that’s what bands are supposed to look like. I don’t know if we have the power to outrun or sidestep the expectations of popular music and pop culture in this manner, but we are still naive enough to try.
What are the songs that stick with you after all these years?
It would be a lie to say ‘all of them’, and it’s not like we lose sleep over records we have made and regret. But there’s plenty of stuff we no longer like or could ever imagine playing. Sometimes it’s a bit like looking at photographs of your younger self and no matter how hard you try, you cannot inhabit the mind of the person you see there. Listening to old songs can have the same effect. But the ones that still resonate are the ones we still play live. There’re plenty of them and they never, ever get boring.
What are your expectations ahead of playing the biggest music festival in Hong Kong?
So excited. We’ve played Hong Kong only once before and that was a spectacular show. Our expectations are very high. Although we appear to be playing the same time as MIA, which is unfortunate…
Sometimes we feel a long way from successful, but that’s a really indulgent thought because all it takes is to remember back to when we first started doing gigs to realise how much luck we’ve had. We’ve worked really hard but so much of it is down to luck. I’m loathed to give any advice to an aspiring band. I think the whole point is, if you’re in a band that actually wants to carve out its own space, then you’ll figure out how to do that by yourself anyways. Otherwise you’ll just end up as a diluted version of your musical heroes and none of us need more bands like that.