This is the second part of our Made For Chickens By Robots interview. The first part of the interview can be found here.
Awesome. Somehow the MFCBR sound doesn’t really need much vocal ingredient, we noticed that with The Wrong Brain E.P., the lyrical content evaporates. Is this because you are so busy manipulating your equipment that there isn’t enough time to consider “singing”, is it really hard to sustain all the energy and syncopation required? Or are lyrics irrelevant? “Cheap Cold Chicken” is probably one of the more lucid and eloquent moments from MFCBR.
Well I record and write at the same time, so sometimes lyrics just don’t come to mind for a song and I will fill it up with sound effects or leave it pretty bare. I’m a big fan of instrumental music and I’m not really a very good lyricist. I do more “singing” live fro my shows than on record. I use the megaphone as an instrument more than just a microphone to sing through though; I do a lot of screeching and barking into it.
But, something that has surprised me lately, as I have been working on some new recordings, I’ve recording a love ballad, of sorts, which is loaded with lyrics, comprehensible and almost sincere. Maybe I’m getting old, or maybe it will be a one of a kind thing.
Also, whenever I hear music, the words are the last thing I hear, the rhythm comes first, then the harmony/melody… for example, I only heard and listened to the words of the Tom Waits song Hell Broke Luce when I watched his recent video clip for it. I have heard that song a hundred times, but the words were just part of the music until I watched the song on youtube and it changed my view of the song from just a heavy drilling dirge to something quite serious, potent and important.
I presume when it comes to live shows you are perilously treading the fine line between low-fi spontaneous audio imperfection and…technical collapse?
With the syncopation, that all comes good and automatic after doing a long tour. I generally have my eyes closed when I play live, not sure why, it just happens.
It all falls into place, or if it all falls apart I can just pretend it was meant to happen because fortunately enough I don’t have a bass player or lead guitarist who will go red with embarrassment and give away the faults to the audience, in an imperfect performance, destroy the conviction of the performers – then the audience might stop hearing the music and focus on the technical failure, the mistakes.
Starting with Momo Hokey. Is there, perhaps a deliberate disintegration in SONG focus across your work over the course of your Ep’s. Momo Hokey felt somehow more rock-a-billy, and almost song based. Are you here to break all the rules?
Maybe. I guess so. I am finding myself getting more and more addicted to this disintegration of sound, hearing it crack apart and become un-listenable. Momo Hokey was recorded when I was just starting out with MFCBR, over a long period. I guess I hadn’t established exactly what I wanted the project to be at that time and was also writing more traditional types of songs.
The idea that as the project ages, so does the sound, like humans as we get older, more wrinkles, muscles and bones start to wear out. My songs are also getting shorter and faster, which you could correlate to ageing, the desperation and urgency to fit all your ambitions into life as it creeps away.
And “the rules” of music? Are they irrelevant then?
It is important to break the rules. People who stick to all the rules bore me backwards. It’s just conservatism, not conservation, but it doesn’t really help anybody and preaches a blandness and conformity. That is not good for society I believe. Music should be dangerous and push people into uncomfortable places, like a good French circus.
In 2008 you published “Piece of Thing” a 1 track album only .58 seconds long, “Got Shine” a two track 3.01 minutes album, and on “The Trash Truck” another two track album totaling 3.15.
That’s 7.14 minutes of music in one year. Deliberate strategy or just the way it happened – when and why do you decide to record?
Oh. Those facts are wrong. That is just me being lazy with uploading to bandcamp…. “Piece of Thing” is a 5 track ep, “Got Shine” a 4 track 7″ and “Trash Truck” is a split 7″. So I will ignore that part of the question.
What is your opinion on the current digital distribution network? Do you think record labels are a waste of time? Why do you use Band Camp and do you sell any recordings?
It’s good and bad. It’s another opportunity for people to hear your music who otherwise might never find it. It’s an ugly format, and the audio quality is always reduced a lot, it also promotes a short-attention span I think. People will download some artist’s tunes and spend a day listening to them, maybe less, then move on to something else. I find it completely bizarre how many songs you can put on an ipod. I have an ipod, and whenever I start to use it, there’s just too much music and choice on there and I rarely listen to an entire song start to finish, waiting to see if the next track will be more exciting.
The world is inattentive, lazy and spoilt for choice?
It’s a weird world. I guess it means albums, as a collection of songs, a story, a thematic pile, is easily lost quite because of the mighty power of the shuffle button. Record labels are still a good thing. I have a few labels that release some of my stuff. They are lo-fi and dedicated folks, extremely enthusiastic and committed to producing quality individual products that are special. They CAN create communities amongst artists and fans.
I use bandcamp as it was just the option I chose out of the 2 million choices available on the internet to host music. It hosts high quality files and people have the choice of the quality they want to download, it’s a simple site to navigate and use, no penis enlargement advertising. I sell a bit through Bandcamp, mostly to women in Florida or men in Austria.
Some artist use low-fi as an excuse to make lazy badly produced music. Would you like to defend the art form – your methods and madness?
My nephew, who is now 5, spent the first 3 years of his life terrified of dirt and mess. It was the strangest fear I have ever seen in a child. If ketchup fell from his hotdog onto the plate he would burst into tears. If the football was muddy he couldn’t go anywhere near it. Hygiene is important but cleanliness can be taken too far. It can lower the immune system. If kids don’t eat dogshit or share somebody elses chewing gum, they are more susceptible to disease and their bodies can’t fight against germs. For me low-fi is about dirt and germs and ketchup, it’s a necessary contrast to magic-wipes and disinfectants. It offers balance.
I often hear more truth in Low-fi recordings… like, you can hear the humans in there breathing, their fingers bouncing on the guitar strings, the world outside the studio, garage or bedroom is audible, you know it’s real, somebody pushed a button and was a bit clueless about production technique but you know it’s honest and alive and somewhat organic. It’s also relatively cheap.
Made for Chickens By Robots. Thank you for a great interview.