Saturday, December 31, 2011
Total Control: INTERVIEW!
It's a real pleasure to present an interview with Total Control as the final post in 2011 for Gilded Gutter. Their debut album 'Henge Beat' has received a massive slobbery kiss from nerds, labels and music weirdos alike. They've just completed a 2 month tour rounded off here in London courtesy of Upset the Rhythm, which was easily one of the best shows I've seen all year. Special thanks goes out to Daniel Noort for helping hook up this interview.
You can hear some songs recorded live earlier this month at the aforementioned UTR show on NTS Radio, click here!
DW = David West/Guitar
DX = Daniel Stewart/Vocals
MY = Mikey Young/Guitar
ZAP = Zephyr Anthony Pavey/Bass
So you’ve just finished a big tour, how is it being home? Is it weird when all the shows stop, or are you kinda relieved to get a rest?
DW: Being home is weak, I really believe in the redemptive power of repetition so it is very disappointing to not make the same motions with my hands and voice for half an hour every night. It's a bit Zen,innit?
ZAP: I'm catching up on 2 months of food and sleep in the NSW Blue Mountains, quite a necessary treat. I'm having weird dreams about missing flights at Heathrow and lining up at the express checkout at various international supermarkets but the line never moves fast enough think i'm playing bass in my sleep as well.
How was ATP? What do you make of big festivals like that?
DX: There are festival people. I am not one of them. But ATP is the best festival I've been to, and it was great to play.
ZAP: Also not a mega festival chad type but ATP is sweet. It doesn't have shitty sponsors with ugly logos, disgusting "young zany energetic" orange skinned promo slags shoving their carcinogenic product down your throat while you're already choking on dust and dehydration because a "young zany energetic" marketing team decided that the desert in summer and $5 a bottle water is how festivals work. It does have good ticket prices, fantastic hospitality and accommodation, cheap drinks (a bar tender apologised for my pint being too expensive at 2.50), no need for expensive bottled water as you can just stroll back to your cabin from any of the venues in 2 minutes and make a cup o tea. BUTLINS! PROPER CHIPS
DW: It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times. I would never contemplate personally attending an event of that magnitude but I must say were I forced to attend one festival, it would probably be an ATP. My main impression of ATP was that British seaside resort/festival staff are incredibly nice and polite, and also 'Butlins!!!'.
What’s been the most memorable part of this recent tour?
ZAP: Mikey performed a PERFECT parallel reverse park in exactly 2 moves.
DW: For me personally, an epic ping pong battle against M.Young in Memphis. He so sporty!
What shows have you attended in the past that made an impression on you?
DX: Directly before the tour Zephyr, Mikey and I watched a Bob Seger covers band called TOTAL B.S. in San Francisco. Easily one of the best bands we saw on the entire tour. I am forever impressed by a great song being played by great players, and I grew up without access to bands like the Silver Bullet Band. To see this scab tribute made an impression on me.
Gary Numan's set at ATP made an impression on me. It was terrible. Gary Numan's first four LPs, including the Tubeway Army LP, have SO MANY great songs on them, and Gary decided to play a industrial metal chugga of 'Cars', and a handful of Nine Inch Nails covers.
Those are the shows that come to mind. We did also see Thee Oh Sees every night for five weeks. They work harder than most any band I've come in contact with.
ZAP: I saw Emmy-Lou play in golden gate park and that was good enough for me she had fantastic hair and a great outfit.
Do you remember the first show you ever played? What brought on that “I can do that” feeling that got you on stage?
ZAP: 16/17 years old, a pub in Enmore, Madball style band called Never You Mind, I was nervous so played my guitar a little too intensely rendering my hand almost useless for a week after. At the time Sydney punk was mostly bored old bastards that had been playing the same shit for 15 years and just kept doing it coz theres fuck all else to do, also because 'changing' is the worst thing anyone can ever do in hardcore, there was probably more interesting shit going on but I loved the bonehead crap. I have always felt like I could get on a stage and do whatever I wanted because I saw my dad's friends mic up a lobster and lower it into a pot of boiling water at a real animal rights'y squat show when I was 5, how I could I do any worse than that?
DX: 15 years old, Wollongong Youth Centre, punk band called xTwo Right Handsx. There was a strong straight edge / hardcore scene in our town, and a lot of people got involved at the same time. It was a violent shithole, it was something to do.
Do you prefer playing or recording?
MY: They are both entirely different feelings so it's hard to compare but I think I enjoy the creative process and working towards and finally releasing a product more than I do performing. I don't think performing is a natural thing for me to do sometimes and I feel kinda sweird. though other times it makes me feel ace so who knows.
ZAP: I like playing the same thing over and over and fucking around with it then adding some wacky effect and realising it sounds crap then going back to the initial idea blah blah and all that kinda thing more than I like lugging all our gear across town and up or down some stairs then waiting around at a stinky pub with shit beer for 5 hours to play a selection of songs precisely in quick succession, BUT I also love getting rat-arsed on cheap/free piss with my mates and kicking out hot licks with all knobs to the right! (aka up to 11)
DW: I don't look forward to playing live but usually feel good afterwards, whereas I look forward to recording and then question my entire involvement with music afterwards.
Tell us about the tracks on split 12” with Thee Oh Sees, were they made post ‘Henge Beat’? I was wondering if it was a taste of things to come…
MY: Yeah they were made around middle of the year at the rehearsal room we usually practice in. All of them were pretty new. I don't think we had played any live before. I don't really think they are a sign of things to come, they just happened to be what we had at the time.
DX: The were made post-Henge Beat. The first song was worked out of a demo Mikey put together when he was living in my parents house in Philip Island, the next two were written by Al and Mikey respectively and tuned up by the band, the last song was worked out of a demo Al made. They are great songs, and a thing of come to taste.
How do you feel about 'Henge Beat' topping many end of year lists? Did you expect or care if people responded well to it when it was made?
MY: I usually have no idea what people will think of records I'm involved in. I'm usually so over exposed to it that I don't know whether its good or not, but I felt strangely satisfied when this was done and thought it would be received well. We did a pretty good job and while it's not why we make records, people digging it so much definitely gives us some sense of achievement.
DX: I am very happy with the record and would hope that people listened to it more than a couple times. I haven't heard many records this year that I would want to listen to next year, so it'd be in my top ten too.
ZAP: I appreciate a good response to the band but im only interested in grocery shopping lists and 'to do' lists.
I love the artwork on the album cover, a conundrum for everyone who looks at it - I was wondering what were some of your favourite record covers?
I like the cover of the first Ramones LP. I like the cover of Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan. I like the cover of Agitated / Cyclotron by the Electric Eels. I like the cover of The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks. I like the cover of the first h100's record, generally referred to as the Dismantle EP. I like the cover of the Lil Bunnies 45. I like the cover of The Age Of Quarrel by the Cro-Mags. I like the cover of the Straight Ahead 12". I like the cover of the Replicas LP by Tubeway Army / Gary Numan. I like the cover of Rikk Agnew's All By Myself.
It should be evident that the TC record looks nothing like any of the record covers that I like. HAHA.
ZAP: Recently I've bought a couple of records with great photographs on the cover, A Suicide 12" with a color photo of Marty 'n' Al wearing cool ass clothes hugging on the Bowery sidewalk in the early 80's with trash and boarded up windows all around them. The Nikki Sudden Rowland S. Howard 'wedding hotel' 12" with Rowland on one side at the peak of his impeccable dandy style, sitting in front of the old church the record was made in with a guitar and a slightly unimpresssed look on his face, single long dangly earring, red scarf, spikey mullet, great shirt and coat. perfect.
What do you want to achieve with the music made in Total Control?
DX: Music for people to try to have sex to, and then get too anxious and paranoid to deliver, but try anyway, and something memorable happens. Maybe a baby comes out of it.
MY: I'd like to achieve whatever we wanted. We all have varied tastes and are up for trying things. I just wanna try whatever we want and put out the stuff that works and we can stand by. I don't want it to be a band that has a consistent sound but also over time certain strengths pop up and they usually steer you in a direction whether
you know it or not.
Can you tell me a little bit about “See More Glass”? I really love how paranoid and numbed it is...
DX: I wrote those lyrics out of a couple of fragmentary images I took away from A PERFECT DAY FOR BANANAFISH by JD Salinger. It is one of the best short stories he wrote, and he wrote some of the best short stories I have ever read.
What do you make of people trying to put a label on Total Control? The need to define it somehow?
MY: It's fine I guess, I need to do it when explaining music to people so I see it's necessity but I don't always agree with the comparisons made or the labels used.
One genre that comes up a lot with descriptions of Total Control is Punk. Punk seems to morph into many forms nowadays and is constantly being challenged, what do you think makes 'Punk' these days?
DW: It's kind of like labelling the sun y'know, people can write poems about it, but let's see those poets actually look directly at that shit!
DX: As always, loud guitar and Schadenfreude.
What’s your take on the attention Australia’s music scene has got recently? As an outsider it looks like there’s been a sort of resurgence, is this accurate or have we all just been really slow?!
DX: No resurgence. It is better than it has ever been.
I read that ‘Carpet Rash’ is about being disappointed by the future, with that in mind, 2011 saw the end of the world predicted, incorrectly, twice. What do you make of people who predicted and believed judgement day was upon us?
DX: Carpet Rash is about that, yes. It's also about intimacy with inanimate objects.
Doomsday prophesy is a good way to get attention and maybe some money or control over other people. I'm not entirely sure that people could possibly survive the ecological catastrophes imminent, but we survived the ice age. I spent over a decade of my life utterly convinced that human extinction was around the corner, and the broad variety of conspiracy theories and ecological catastrophy propoganda was lit to me. It's a good way to avoid having to think about your own death.
Looking at the future – what plans does Total Control have for 2012?
MY: No plans beyond some early festival shows in Australia. We have all been away for a good while and need to settle our living situations and all that junk before we get too heavy into plans. I'd say we will relax and make some new songs for a while.
“I’m full of dust and guitars” – Syd Barret, if you were cracked open what would be inside?
DX: Purity, valor, nobility and war.
ZAP: The first riff in sweet home alabama,the abattoir scene from 'in a year with 13 moons',the Nan Goldin photos of her friend Joana, a pocket sized miniature version of my girlfriend and funny things James said.