New album ‘The Third Day’ was produced entirely by yourselves; what drove that decision and how did the experience turn out?
Our sound is heavily layered, and it's always tricky to translate from the abstract plane of what-it-sounds-like-in-our-heads to the concrete one of what-it-actually-sounds-like. Previous collaborators have manfully wrestled with the task, but this time around I wanted to see if it was possible to pull it off without outside help. Doing so robbed us so thoroughly of objectivity that I'm really not sure whether we succeeded or not. If not, there's always show jumping.
Apart from the self-production, what else was different about the recording process this time around?
Because of the self-production, there was no demo stage. The demos effectively became the finished product, after honing and refining. This was good in that we only had to hear each song 50,000 times as opposed to 100,000 times, and so only wanted to maim, not kill, small defenceless animals afterwards. Progress.
Who designed the album cover and how did you decide on the finished design?
The cover was designed by Ross Macrae and Brendan McCarthy of the arts collective Ray. I had worked with them on the giant TR-909 project and also with Brendan on the video for the first single August. Both the video and the artwork were inspired by Codex Seraphinianus, a psychedelic illustrated encyclopaedia created by Italian architect Luigi Serafini in the 1980s.
The band came together in 2005. Do you collectively still have the same dreams and ambitions or have they changes as the years have rolled by?
The music industry is unrecognisable now compared to what it was in the early 2000s. Artists now are forced to be pragmatic, and to learn some non-musical skills in order survive. That's not necessarily a bad thing. How crap most music still is, despite the death of big labeldom's bête noire, is definitely a bad thing.
Do you think that you can categorise the band's music, you have had the tags of prog, post-rock and shoegaze before?
Different listeners hear different things and are free to categorise as they please. We certainly don't have a tag in mind while we're writing music. That way lies samehood.
What is your song writing process and where do you tend to write. Any particular places you draw inspiration from?
The process is to make it as easy as possible for yourself to follow through on an idea. Have the instruments set up and ready to go so that when inspiration does occasionally strike, the constitutionally lazy human brain can't make excuses to do something less taxing instead. I tend to draw inspiration from non-musical sources like books and films rather than other music.
Are there any particular stories you would like to share behind the songs on the record?
Some are quite personal, but I don't like revealing exactly what any song is 'about'. Music is a conversation between the creator and the listener. Lyrics are poetry, not prose. If you declare that a song means this and not that, you're essentially hogging the conversation. When a listener reads into the lyrics a meaning that moves him or her, that meaning is every bit as valid as the one the writer started out with.
Just how difficult is it to earn a living wage from being a musician these days and where would you say are the bands strongest fan base are domiciled at the moment?
Borderline impossible. Our fanbase is very widely spread; I'm not sure I could pick one area where they're concentrated more than any other. It's great to get positive feedback on Monday from Sao Paolo, on Tuesday from Tehran and on Wednesday from Calgary. For some reason we never hear anything on Thursdays.
In fantasyland, if you could play in another band on stage (past or present), who would it be and why?
None. My favourite bands are my favourite bands because they're so good. Why spoil them by adding me?
Finally, what is the one piece of advice you would like to pass on to any new band starting out today?
Don't listen to other bands' advice.