The band 65daysofstatic has been one of the top acts in the world of instrumental music for almost 20 years. They will perform in Serbia for the first time on the first day of the Exit music festival. So far, they released five studio albums which redefined the very basis of post-rock, in addition to making a couple of soundtracks for various movies and games. Moreover, the band toured across the globe, leaving the audience mesmerized wherever they perform. In this interview, we talked with Paul Wolisnki about the band’s collaboration with The Cure, algorithm experimenting processes, and their exciting performances.
BR: Are you excited about performing for the first time in Serbia? Even though it is a small country, I assume there is always hype when playing somewhere for the first time.
Paul Wolinski: Absolutely. We are so incredibly lucky to be able to see the world with what we do and getting to a new country is always hugely exciting no matter where or what size it is.
BR: Your connection to Robert Smith and The Cure dates back to the track “Come to me” from the “We Were Exploding Anyway” album, and you also performed at Rober Smith’s Meltdown last year. Now, you are an opening act at the Exit music festival. How did your collaboration start?
PW: It actually dates back a couple of years earlier. We went on tour with The Cure around Europe and the States 2008-2009. That came about because at some point in 2007 we were playing a random show in Brighton and Robert Smith just turned up to see us play. He came backstage afterwards and said ‘Hi, I’m in a band called The Cure, you should support us one day’ and we said ‘OK!’. And then we did. I think it is great how the Cure have always gone out of their way to support smaller and obscure bands and help get them in front of bigger audiences. Ever since that first tour, we have loosely kept in touch with them. Meltdown was a great experience and we are very much looking forward to Exit.
BR: 65daysofstatic was always considered to be one of those bands that pushed the limits of their music with every new record. When working on a new record, do you usually plan to experiment with something specific or do you just go with the flow and see what comes up?
PW: Thanks. The answer is ‘both’ but the more honest answer is ‘don’t know’. We have often said in the past that we are strong advocates for ‘making it up as we go along’. Letting intuition lead the way rather than too much critical thinking. More recently I have revised my opinion on that. I think that, perhaps, we actually do a lot of critical analysis and reflection of the work we have done, but that reflection manifests itself directly as the new work rather than in our conversations or intentions before the work begins. Whether we try to be ‘experimental’ or not (because there are times when we really have tried to write the ‘generic’ 65days sound) this process seems to hold.
BR: For quite some time now you are teasing your audience with short videos on social media which show the process of recording your new album “Decomposition Theory.” Judging by those videos, you are using a lot of sounds made by algorithms. Tell us more about that process? When can we expect you to release it?
PW: Well, Decomposition Theory is not the new album. The new album is coming in the autumn, and more details will be announced in due course. Last year we did tour a project called ‘Decomposition Theory’, which, yes, was a live A/V show that was driven by algorithms that we had designed. That was certainly a very exciting and experimental project for us. However we had always thought of ‘decomposition theory’ as a methodology or particular technique, rather than as a specific album or tour. It is the name we gave to the process that I guess I tried to describe in the last question. It is the way that 65daysofstatic always try not to constantly redefine ourselves, but to actively escape definition all together. An ongoing process of un-defining, deconstructing, decomposing, looking at the ingredients and then presenting them in the appropriate way.
The eventual new album will certainly feature some material that was written during the last few years and emerged in the live shows, but this will not be ‘the decomposition theory album’.
BR: Will it be complicated for you to bring that concept to a live setting? What are the possible problems that can occur?
PW: It was a very complicated live show. It was a success, but it came with a lot of lessons. Not knowing what is going to happen next is a very uncomfortable feeling when you’re standing on stage! Also there are limits to the usefulness of algorithmic music in the context of a live show with finite limitations. We can’t play forever, we don’t want to become self-indulgent, we are a loud band and there is a physical limit to how long that is enjoyable for an audience… in short we are at our best when focused and everything we present has a strong intentionality to it. Presenting unique, algorithmic shows put a hard limit on that.
BR: Ever since your first album “The Fall of Math,” the audience could hear your affection towards the 90s IDM artists like Autechre, Aphex Twin or Boards of Canada clashing with post-rock pioneers like Mogwai, Bark Psychosis or Godspeed You! Black Emperor. What gave you the idea to combine these genres?
PW: Well, like most people, back then we listened to as much Autechre, Aphex Twin, etc. as we did bands like At the Drive-in, …Trail of Dead, Godspeed and so on. We also listened to a lot of New Order, who had been putting electronics and guitars together for years and years. So really, we were confused why there weren’t more people putting these sounds together. It didn’t seem that radical to us. It just seemed like that was the sound we wanted to hear. So we made it.
BR: You are famous for hectic live performances where you use every single atom of strength from start to finish. If you have to choose between concerts and spending time in a studio patching Max for live what would it be?
PW: Both are great in their different ways. If we could stay being in our early 20s forever, then the immediacy and excitement of touring would always be my first choice. But we can’t. We are not old as people, but we are getting older, and certainly as a band, wanting to keep finding new approaches and new modes of expression. We are lucky that we got to tour so much over the last 18 years or so, and we certainly hope to keep doing it, but creatively it seems like there is more opportunity for us to be found in the world of composing, at least at the moment. If we were a bit more successful I’d like to think we’d be doing what Bjork is doing – really testing the edges of what is possible in a live setting – because playing live is great. But the reality for us is that a tour is increasingly expensive and hard to pull off without losing a lot of money.
BR: What are your favourite bands to share the stage with?
PW: Can’t answer this until we have shared stages with all of them.