Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Protomartyr : Interview

Detroit's Protomartyr are poised to release a new album on Hardly Art and venture over to Europe for a slew of dates and I for one couldn't be more thrilled - I got to talk to Joe to find out what makes 'em tick - and well dressed dogs.

This might be the first time people hear about Protomartyr, so I thought I’d start things off with asking what’s the ‘goal’ of the band? Is there something you’ve set out to achieve?

There's no goal, really. It started as a way to get free drinks at bars and it just kinda snowballed. We do have the goal of trying to be a punctual band and to smash the "punk-time" hegemony. We load in fast and load out faster.

I saw you just did a show in your hometown at The Lager House, how did it go?

It was our best Lager House show yet. It was packed. Our pals from Austin, Spray Paint played. I see you interviewed them as well. Nice. We also played with Shelley Salant aka Shells. Her album "In A Cloud" is great. In the past, not many people would come out to our shows, which is typical. I remember having to buy my friends drinks just to cajole them into coming out. If you can manage it, that's a good tip to have people like your band at the onset: Get them drunk.

I’m a big fan of Death & Index.... I’m curious to know if there are any traces of these older scenes around today in Detroit?

Both great bands. There's ghosts around here and there if you're looking. We played a show with DAS, whose album "Non-Chalant" is one of those lost classics. I guess he did the original artwork for the Death album that was never used. We played Jumbo's with him along with The Intended, another good Detroit band.

Over here in Europe it feels like the only time we learn about Detroit is through images of dilapidated buildings in newspapers, but I read about this Heidelberg Project which looked kind of awesome – have you seen been to these houses?

Yeah I have. It's kinda turned into a tourist trap slash arsonist's dream. I honestly didn't register how dilapidated Detroit was until I traveled around. I assumed all cities looked like this.

From pieces already written about Protomartyr it sounds like you formed from hanging out and playing in Butt Babies, looking back did you think the band would reach the scale it has now?

Not at all. If the early Protomartyr knew a blog in England would want to interview us after the first leg of a two month North American tour we'd spit up our Wheaties. It's all rather exciting, but you can't let it affect you. I did purchase some prescription sunglasses though. Ha ha.
Protomartyr have been active for around 4 years, has your approach to playing and writing together changed over this time at all?

Not really. We've moved from an overpriced shithole practice space to the cozy confines of Scott's basement. That's about it.

What can you tell us about your new album on Hardly Art? It’s been 2 years since the first album, so were you still fired up from ‘No Passion All Technique’ and ready to crack on with some more material?

A good number of these songs were written right after the first one, so yeah, we were fired up and ready to go. Larger labels move a lot slower than something like Urinal Cake. A bunch of lawyers and departments, etc. So it took a bit. We already have an album's worth of new songs ready to go. We've been playing a couple on tour. I hope we can start recording again after all this touring rigamarole is done.

I streamed the new album on NPR I LOVE “Pagans”, can you tell me a bit about that track?

A bit. It takes place in Jumbo's bar and involves two philosophical drunks. It's about contrapasso, the Detroit Tigers, and the trash that covers the city. It's also about other things.

The recording of the album itself sounds significantly different from the first LP did you approach your studio setup in a new way this time around?

It's a different studio (Key Club in Benton Harbor) with a different guy recording it (Bill Skibbe), so we just adjusted accordingly.
How do you know an album is finished?  Do you have a plan from the get go or does it evolve more organically?

We don't really have the funds to have an album develop organically in the studio. We kinda need the songs to be ground into dust by practice and demoing before we step into the studio. Maybe if the label loosens the purse strings the next time around we'll be more opaque about it. But again, we almost have a whole album ready to go, so it's being planned out as we speak.

Do you prefer playing or recording music?

I prefer sleeping above all things.

Protomartyr gets described predominantly as a Punk band when you go through reviews, do you agree with this?  Do you care how people label your music?

Well, we self-identified as "punk-ish" early on because I yelled a bunch and the songs were short. I know people need shorthand identifiers, especially in this world of made-up microgenres. Now we get called "post-punk". I guess that's because I was born in 1977? I can't quite figure it out. But people can call it whatever they like, unless they call it "shit" or something.

What’s your definition of ‘punk’ in 2014?

A true punk wouldn't define punk. Did I get it right?

You’re coming out to Europe in August is there anywhere/anything you’re excited to see/do?

Everywhere and anyone!

“I’m full of dust and guitars” Syd Barrett – if you were sliced in half what would be inside?

A genteel world where dogs walk on their hind legs, talk, and dress really nice.

Protomartyr FACEBOOK

London show is on Tuesday 19th August @ The Lexington
presented by Upset The Rhythm tickets are HERE !

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.