A Place To Bury Strangers is a band that’s impossible to categorise or define. Packing in key elements of a multitude of genres to create a grand choir of distorted alt-rock that has impressed everyone from Nine Inch Nails to The Jesus And Mary Chain. Now, prior to the release of the ‘Ego Death‘ EP on May 24 and a UK tour starting on the May 18, vocalist Oliver Ackermann talks with us about the inspiration behind the band’s last full-length and plans for the future.
“When you are too comfortable the music becomes boring”
S] What are you most enjoying about your current European tour is there a specific city you look forward to stopping over at in the UK?
O] I love going over to all cities in the UK, I guess I am really psyched about Sheffield to see some old friends and I love going to Manchester and of course London, fu** I would have to say I love the UK.
S] What was the overriding theme of ‘Exploding Head’ and how will you be looking to move away from that on any new material?
O] I think it was one of psychedelia and escape and we will be moving away from that as our lives have changed since its release. The next record will be a lot more experimental and we are going to have more time to work on the record and make it what we want it to be.
S] What inspired the track In Your Heart particularly, what was the creative process like?
O] That song was actually written and recorded in one day in a barn converted into a recording studio near Toronto, Canada. The demo was recorded with Graham from Holy F**k who invited us to come and record and engineered the session. I can’t reveal the inspiration for the song as it is quite mean in nature and reflects a rough period of time I was going through.
S] How has the band’s approach to designing sound developed over the course of your career as a band?
O] We are always constantly working on creating new sounds and sound effectors to play with to create something different and work with the spaces we perform at. As we gain knowledge there are a lot more tools at our disposal to work with to fu** more things up. We try to keep it fresh and what we are working with not quite so familiar so that there are always accidents which have to be worked into something we could never predict. I feel like when you are too comfortable the music becomes boring to perform and listen to.
S] How important is the atmosphere (created by the distortion and visuals you utilise) when it comes to an APTBS show, and will this develop in the future?
O] I think it is important to what we are doing but you have to work with what you have so even if it were a flashlight and a piano you have the means to bring it just in the feeling and what you do with what you have. We are always developing more and more interesting effects and things we can work with to create something really special. For this tour, I made a mixer that mixes six iPods projecting video which can be manipulated in real time as well as other light controllers and such which we are constantly implementing to make something previously unseen.
S] You guys are famed for going all out to create a vast spectrum of sounds using everything from kitchen utensils to broken equipment if you could pick an ideal location to record a song (considering your environment when it comes to creating sound and instruments that you could use), where would you pick?
O] I would say in a construction zone for a building. Because wielding massive tools that could end your life brings great power and danger – thus leads to excitement and would probably create very interesting songs and sounds.
S] You have always set out to create something different and appealing to different audiences, so how rewarding does it feel to tour with influences as diverse as Nine Inch Nails and Jesus And Mary Chain, and to be name-checked by up-and-coming EBM-electronic bands like XP8 as ‘one of the best bands around’?
O] It is all really mind-blowing to think of all of this, we are just creating something that is interesting to us and we feel reflects the feeling of an intense show. Any kind of praise that results from what we are trying to do is unexpected and welcome.
S] How do you manage your time on a daily basis between writing music with the band and running your effects pedal company?
O] I sleep very little, am always working, and try to surround myself with eager and inspirational people. It is very tough but I have gotten a lot of help through the past few years from other people. Without them none of this could not have been possible.
S] What was the inspiration behind the new video you’ve released for ‘Ego Death’ what ideas did you want to capture?
O] The video was created by Spencer Bewley who has done a lot of projections for us in the past and we wanted to let him do whatever he wanted to do because he is such a great visual artist. I think he did his best to capture what is scary and maybe perverse about the song.
S] What are your most exciting plans after June?
O] I really just can’t wait to record more music and build more devices for us to use to create this music.
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