As well as chatting to Blake from post-punk band, Moving Units, this month, we also talked him into writing an article for our end of year special (more details on the homepage) – which is very nice of him.
What would you say is the creative synthesis of the band?
Like most bands, we just started to create music to please ourselves. The structure of the band is such that allows us to each do what we want with our instruments and yet achieve our ultimate goal. Chris has this strong sense of rhythm and displays it well. He is a great drummer. I love the work of Glenn Branca, which is less about chords and more about creating sound and feeling. And we thought it would be great to have the bass hold the melody
What is your reaction to critics who just easily say “another post-punk band?”
We are just this band from LA that has been doing its own thing for some time now. I think people sometimes dismiss the sound in general because people want to dress up and frolic, you know? It is easy to be seen by critics as not credible. About the other bands, I would say it is more coincidental. We appreciate what those bands in New York do, like Radio 4, The Rapture, Liars, etc, but I think we are definitely doing something that those bands aren’t, so that makes us different. I think a lot of it is based around these indie-scenesters that are looking to find their own crowd. They find these like minded bands and just latch on to what is similar as opposed to what is different?
It’s funny you mentioned that because I was just about to ask you how you feel about the same bands being mentioned as direct influences?
I think a lot of it is laziness on behalf of the music press. They hear a band and they anoint what bands “influenced” them., and it is always the same “reflex” bands. I love Wire, I love Gang of Four. If I were in a blue-grass country band, I would still love Gang of Four, you know? They’re a great band. But I also love Merle Haggard, too.
You mentioned Glenn Branca earlier, what other influences would you say directly influenced your sound?
No one mentions Brian Eno when I am always surprised about. From the expression of my vocals plus the atmospheric sounds, he is someone I look up to greatly. Kevin Shields is another one. These are the guitar players I look up to, people who changed the traditional approach of what a guitar can do. Jimmy Page is a great guitar player, but he is a guitar players’ favorite guitar player, and that is not where I want to go with the instrument.
The last several years, it seems U.S. bands that eventually hit the States go through Europe first, like The Strokes, White Stripes, Rapture, etc. Although you are receiving a lot of press in England, there is not as big of a buzz here. Why do you think that is?
There is some truth there. I think that people are more willing to listen to new music over there (Europe), but I would also say that there are definitely bands that the European press ignores. I think it is just the musical climate at the moment. I think September 11th played a part in people recognizing those bands. After that event, people regained that romantic notion about New York and wanted to hear what was coming out of that city.
We are from LA and it is very different from people’s perception of what it actually is. There is a very dedicated underground scene with very intelligent and creative people. We always have to deconstruct the myths that people have about the city. We are doing that at every city we stop at. The kids are reacting to it locally, but it will take some time before it all connects here in the states.
So what should we expect from the new album?
Well it is called Dangerous Dreams, and it has been finished since June. That is an awkward question because I know what I expected from the album and what it means to us, and we achieved that. We had specific ideas of what we wanted tonally. We wanted the record to sound different from the normal 24-track recording studio sound. We took more time focusing on those details. We used a lot of old equipment to achieve a dirty, raw sound. We compositionally expanded on the music found on the E.P. We expanded on the dance beats, but we also went in some different directions. “Scars” is a very ambient sound, more like that Brian Eno work. We were looking for a more primal sound. “Anyone” began as a straightforward song. I originally had the idea and recorded it with an old-school drum machine. We only kept the original bass line. I worked for hours on this vintage synthesizer to create this specific sound. Lyrically we were looking for a stronger sentiment than our detached social commentary that we achieve.
I was gonna mention Fellini because although his movies are very autobiographical in nature, there is a detachment he achieves, which is what I felt about your music. Are there any films that shaped your view, which in turn shapes the lyrics?
I am very passionate about movies. David Lynch’s work is amazing. He has this dream like quality that he maintains throughout. Another great element of his work is he recognizes these conceptual influences, historical references, in his work and he incorporates it into the story. Ingmar Bergman. “Virgin Springs” is a very personal conflict about the existential nature of traditions we abide by. Spiritual convictions people adhere to during horrific tragedies. Andy Warhol films are kind of the opposite of Fellini in that he has a more simplistic form, a more direct approach, and that in turn reveals much more about himself.
I have realized that our more simplistic lyrics, from our earlier work, are the one’s people most misunderstood. People in this culture are starving for substance and nuance, and more subliminal messages and meanings in their art. That is a style we are more feel comfortable with, a sense of detached commentary. We want to bring across that what we are saying is important.