The 4 piece instrumental, experimental-rock group 65daysofstatic are back with a 4th album, We Were Exploding Anyway. The word 'experimental' can be ambiguous and used as a cover up for all kinds of musical disasters. Not for 65 though. The new direction in the sound of this latest album defines the nature of an experimental band as they explore new, more dance-orientated music. I spoke to guitarist Paul Wolinski about it's release and their current European tour.
Rory: Hi Paul, how are you enjoying Belgium?
Paul Wolinski: Belgium is...well, it’s my favourite country in the entire world. It’s always got something to offer us here. We’ve turned up today after like lots of cold showers and no dressing rooms and a little bit tired. Then we got here and we’re being treated beautifully and we have the best kind of dressing room and backstage area and we’re getting spoiled with the catering. It makes you feel like everything is going to be alright when you’re in Belgium.
Rory: How have the responses been to the new material in Europe?
PW: It’s been surprisingly good actually. After a few days in we just sort of assumed that the album had been leaked and was all over the place because people were responding so quickly to the new songs. But it didn’t actually leak until late last week, a few days after the release, which was unexpected. I guess we put it on myspace so people heard it. It’s been great, people are dancing so much, so quickly and so happily. There’s the odd face in the crowd that’s frowning a bit because we’re not using enough delay pedals. But mostly we seem to be winning, it’s great.
Rory: Have any shows on your current tour particularly stood out for you?
PW: I have to say that the Domino Festival which we headlined in Brussels a few weeks ago was a really big deal to us because one of our first ever european shows was at the Domino Festival supporting Mogwai 4 or 5 years ago. This is our 2nd Domino Festival. We were headlining and Fuck Buttons were on right before us which was quite intimidating and Three Trapped Tigers were playing as well and we’ve played some shows with them, they’re really nice guys. They’re a great band and we had a lot to live up to I think but we seem to have pulled it off.
Rory: Have you got any festivals planned for this year?
PW: There’s some coming in, there's some on our website I think. I know we’re playing Glade Festival. We’ll hopefully play a few more that haven’t been confirmed yet. We sort of shot ourselves in the foot a little bit last year because we managed to get loads of festivals without having a record out and that was really nice but now loads of festivals like Reading and Leeds, people don’t ever like to book bands two years in a row. We’re not quite sure, but they’re coming in bit by bit.
Bestival and Latitude last year were so much nicer than other festivals.
Rory: The songs have so much going on and especially on We Were Exploding Anyway are impressively complex. What’s the starting point for writing a song?
PW: Oh god, I wish we knew because it would take us a lot less time. It’s always different, on this record probably more than the others electronics started things off. With this record we wrote about 30 songs and we were coming out with was the same 65 stuff so we threw them all away becuse we weren’t into it any more, we were quite tough on ourselves. Then what we did was we just started playing with loads of electronics but not to write songs, just to play with live electronics, synths and drum machines all hooked up so we could have some fun really interacting with it. We did that for a few months and when we started writing all of that was in our heads and any electronics we had we sat down and programmed a bit more meticulously and we knew we’d be able to recreate it when it came to playing the songs live. That was quite a big difference for us in terms of the approach we take in writing our songs.
Rory: I read a quote claiming you didn’t consider yourself a post-rock band and more of a dance-orientated group which I think certainly comes across in the new album. Were you trying particularly hard not to emulate a post-rock sound in the album?
PW: I have to admit there was a small element of reacting to that when we were writing but I’d hoped that it wouldn’t be the overriding reason why we were doing it cos that would be a bit childish really. Really it was sort of like when we first started we didn’t have a drummer so all the beats were fully electronic and it was a lot noisier, kinda very electronic basically, lots of synths and when we got our drummer Rob we evolved into more of a live band and then with the last record we made a deliberate decision to make a record that was interesting as a record rather than something we could necessarily recreate live, so we have grand pianos and double bass and strings and all sorts. I suppose if any of our records were exploring post-rock ideas it was the last one, but then I guess it’s depends on how you define post-rock. I guess for us it’s just unfortunate because it’s always been sort of a byword for lazy instrumental guitars that’ll never sound as good as Mogwai because Mogwai are amazing and Godspeed are amazing.
Rory: Here here to that!
PW: Anything else is sort of diluting that idea and we’ve always had this electronic element. Because a lot of people said there were less electronics on the last album it took us by surpise because there were loads more actually, it was just the production techniques we used and then they got lost a little bit.
Rory: On the track Come To Me you have Robert Smith loaning his vocals talents, have you been planning this since The Cure tour?
PW: Oh no, no. Touring with The Cure was amazing and was one of the high points for me and such an experience, they’re all really nice guys. But after the tour I mean there have been emails back and forth but you know we’re not speaking every week or anything, we’re all doing our own thing. We were in the studio and it was quite late on in the recording process. We had this instrumental track and it sounded almost there but was missing something and it just kind of evolved into this idea. We were working on vocal ideas on some other tracks with some other people. So we were like, "who could we ask?"
So we just you know, had a couple of bottles of wine and said "why don’t we just email Robert Smith and we’ll see what happens?"
So we did and he said "Yeah, yeah send me the track and I’ll give it a go", so we did. We didn’t like hook up in the studio or anything, we were in Sheffield and he was in down in Brighton and a few days later he sent us all of these tracks of vocals and said "Do whatever you want to my voice, I promise I won’t mind."
The more I think about it and the more we get asked about it in interviews, the crazier it sounds. It’s amazing the level of attention to detail that he has on everything. On The Cure tour every single lighting cue he was on top of, so the fact that he trusted us to not ruin his voice, because he wrote the lyrics, so it’s quite flattering. Seems to work quite well.
Rory: You once claimed to be disappointed to only have played 91 shows a year. Are you satisfied with your tour this year?
PW: It’s a good start, that’s for sure. We had our first day off yesterday in three weeks and only one more day off to come so we’re nice and busy. I think it’s 44 shows which is pretty good. I don’t know how many festivals we have in summer. I think relatively we’re incredibly unsuccessful and very few people have heard of us but compared to where we were a few years ago we’re doing really well for ourselves and the downside of that seems to be the bigger you get, the less shows you play. You start off touring and you’re playing Colchester and Wigan and all these tiny little towns outside of big cities as well as the cities but then it becomes just the cities and you just play one city in the area. It’s kind of a shame in a sense because we were disappointed when we didn’t break the 100 barrier. But I imagine this year we’ll tour pretty much constantly. We probably won’t break the 100 barrier this year but it would be very, very good if we did.
Rory: Having played so many live shows, does performing still have the same impact for you?
PW: Definitely. It’s what we’re best at, it’s where we have the most fun. One of the beauties of not having vocals or a frontman is it just seems to keep the songs fresh, because every song can mean a different thing every single night depending on how you’re feeling and depending on how the audience reacts. It’s always a little bit different and that’s fantastic. We’re all so happy with the new record, we could play that record from start to finish if we want to. Apart from not having Robert Smith to hand, the rest of it is totally recreatable and that’s just completely fresh music for us to get our teeth into and it’s great.
Rory: You’re playing Sheffield on 6th May, do you enjoy playing your hometown or is it just another gig?
PW: It’s definitely not just another gig. For me personally, Manchester always freaks me out more because that’s where I’m from originally but Sheffield is terrifying because that’s where we’re based and that’s where two of us are from. It’s best and worst feature is, this type of...I’m not quite sure what the word is, it’s not apathy because that sounds a bit negative, but it’s very relaxed. The last time we played Sheffield we were in the big room at Plug and on the day of the show they were desparate to move us down to the small room because we’d only sold about 70 tickets, but we begged them to keep the big room and 900 people came in the end and it sold out. But that’s the kind of Sheffield attitude, everything’s very downplayed. This is going to be our biggest ever Sheffield show, it’s at the Octagon which is about 1600 capacity so it could go very badly wrong or it could be a career highlight.
Rory: Seeing as you’re relatively well-known for being quite political thinkers, (last year 65dos cancelled a performance funded by British Aerospace), do you have any words on the general election?
PW: Political thinkers! [Laughs]. Well I know that it’s all kicked off a lot since we’ve been away. That’s kind of the worst thing about touring. Well there’s two really bad things about touring, one is how hard it is to get through a book for some reason and secondly you kind of lose touch with what’s going on in the world despite your best efforts, so I don’t want to talk with too much authority. We’re all going to try and vote because despite the fact that I know for a fact that my vote in the place in registered in Manchester won’t count for anything because Labour have always won there and always will win there because that’s just the type of place it is. I just have to say, it’s better to vote than to spoil your ballot because...well no actually it’s better to spoil your ballot than not bother voting in the first place because at least it’s counting as something even if it’s an anti-vote. I’m sure someone said that if enough percentage of the population actually votes it would be like a kind of none-of-the-above vote and they’d have to change the system. But I don’t know man, they’re all essentially in the pockets of big business and they’re all the same and I don’t know what's to be done to stop the rot, it’s just getting worse and worse and worse.
Rory: I couldn’t agree more!
65daysofstatic's new album We Were Exploding Anyway was released on 26th April and is available to buy now.