A Place To Bury Strangers interview
Their shoe-gazing heavy debut was one of 2007's finest albums. Pulled together from demo recordings, it nevertheless left a great impression upon all those who heard it. So there was much excitement when we received the amazing follow up Exploding Head (reviewed here). Adrian Mules caught up with singer/guitarist/effects-pedal-wizard Oliver to try and find out where the all the bones have been secreted ...
Hi Oliver, thanks for chatting to us at The Music Fix, for our readers who don't know you would you be so kind as to introduce the band?
We are A Place To Bury Strangers, it's me Oliver Ackermann, Jono Mofo, and Jay Space.
How did you all meet?
A Place To Bury Strangers was formed shortly after I moved to NY in 2003 and we used to play shows with the band that Jay and Jono were in. When the other members of the band left I asked Jay and Jono to join the band as I was a big fan of their band Mofo.
Who came up with the band name?
It was our old drummer Justin Avery. He was an amazing song writer and scholar himself. He got it from an Aleister Crowley poem, Akeldema which means A Place To Bury Strangers.
You are a bit of a wizard with guitar effects pedals. How did you get into building them? What's the most exciting one you've built so far?
I got into building effect pedals by wanting to create and manipulate things that I couldn't get anywhere else. It started by destroying just about every piece of gear that I owned and then slowly building everything back up. I read tons of books about circuits and building and just taught myself how to do it. I think what I have been most excited about recently are these effects using different metal elements to create reverb.
You signed to Mute this year. Were you a big fan of the label's output? Any particular favourites?
Yes, of course. They have put out some of my favorites: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Fad Gadget, Silicon Teens, Liars and so much more.
They are an amazing label. Is there a manifesto for the band?
I think it's just pretty much do what we want to do and make music that we want to hear. Nothing really that special, just what everybody everywhere should be doing.
'Exploding Head' is a great album title, is there a story behind it's choice?
Yes, but it is personal!
The new album sounds fantastic. I loved your debut, but this is a much fuller sound. How did the experience in making the two albums differ?
I think we all thought of this more as our first album. We really spent the time to get the right sounds and also focused on making it sound a lot more like our live show. It was really stripped down, there were a lot less guitars and layers on this record and there was a lot more focus on making those elements work together in a good way.
One of my favourite tracks is 'Dead Beat'. How did you get that amazing depth of sound?
That was one of the tracks that a long time was spent getting just the right drum sound. I think also the elements of the song have a real purpose. All of the instrumentation was written by the whole band, so that everyone was playing their part as they would so it is more natural.
What music were you listening to when you recorded it?
Initially I was listening to a lot of ‘90s noise and then when we signed with Mute I was re-listening to a lot of the older electronic music that they released. I think that had a big influence on what direction the album took in the end.
With such a rich and complex set of sounds how do you manage to replicate it for the live shows?
The live shows are something completely different. We are definitely much more playing for the moment and trying to make things more chaotic so there is more of a challenge to every show we play. We set up a lot of different amps to create a greater-than-stereo field as well so it can be more that what can ever come out of any stereo.
Do you have on pre-stage rituals? Do you have anything exciting on your rider?
We like to go and see the town we are in and hang out with the locals as much as we can. The rider is nothing special but just try to get as much alcohol as we can.
You were once described as New York's loudest band. Are there any other record breaking talents within the band we should be aware of?
Jono can catch 50 quarters off his elbow and Jay once drank 28 shots of Jam-o which is more than Dylan Thomas and Jay didn't die.
Wow! Thanks for your time today Oliver. What's next for A Place To Bury Strangers?
We are touring right now and will be recording a lot once we get back from this tour. Hopefully we will release an EP or another album sometime after then.
With that Oliver disappears - probably off to wire the fridge and microwave together to get a new guitar sound. If you want to see them live in the UK they will be playing the following dates:
6th November - Nottingham - The Social - 08713 100 000 / www.alt-tickets.co.uk
7th November - Birmingham – Flapper - 0871 230 0010 / www.seetickets.com
8th November - Cardiff – Barfly - 0844 847 2424 / www.ticketweb.co.uk
9th November - Dublin - Whelan's - 0818 719 300 / www.tickets.ie
11th November - Belfast - Auntie's Annies - 08181 719 300 / www.ticketmaster.ie
12th November - Glasgow - Captain's Rest - 0844 847 2487 / www.ticketweb.co.uk
13th November - Newcastle - Digital (Club Night) - http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/
14th November - Manchester - Moho Love - 0161 832 1111 / www.gigsandtours.com
15th November - Leeds – Cockpit - 0113 245 4650 / www.lunatickets.co.uk
17th November - Cambridge - Portland Arms - 01223 511 511 / www.wegottickets.com/greenmind
18th November - London – Garage - 0844 576 5483 / www.livenation.co.uk
6th December - ATP Nightmare Before Christmas (curated by My Bloody Valentine), Minehead