Seventeen Evergreen takes some time to talk with Ian Girle from ThisIsNotAScene. They talk about music, videos, and other stuff. They even banter about how to classify their latest release, “Steady On Scientist!”. We at ThisIsNotAScene are intrigued by the though of science party club night.
“Steady On, Scientist!” is a glorious album, one of the best I’ve heard in ages. Why so long between this one and the last one?
Thanks very much, that means a lot to us! This record has been finished for quite awhile now (it sometimes takes a long time to release records even after the recording is finished) and we’ve been dj’ing, living, exploring and recording other stuff during this absence. It seems like forever, but we’ve released a few ep’s and generally been busy with lots of things.
There is so much going on in this album – stylistically and instrumentally. Who would you say are your main influences?
Always a hard question, as we both have experienced lots of music and at this point, have also been influenced by our own experience as writers and producers. But, we have been influenced by psychedelia and pop music from every era including David Axelrod, Gainsbourg, ELO and also 80’s pop groups like OMD and some of the great bands from Sheffield. New Order has been a mainstay for us as well as some 90’s Weatherall productions and acid house tunes. These are some obvious ones that come to mind, but we have been digging into desert rock, arabic psych, krautrock, some current club music and sounds from everywhere.
How did the idea for the “Polarity Song” video come about?
This idea was pitched to us initially by Terry Timely (Oakland based directors) who wanted to do a collaboration with a textile artist named Sarah Applebaum. The idea sprouted from there. It seemed to grow darker and more mysterious and humorous from there.
Does the ability to play various instruments open up new creative avenues during the song writing process?
Yes, definitely. For instance, some of the songs arrangements have been completely rearranged or replaced entirely using radically different instrumentation. In our case, on this record, some of the tunes that started with guitar ended up de-emphasizing that beginning and opened up new ideas in terms of rhythms and sounds. We tried to remain open minded until the song was complete, trying not to fall in love too much with any one musical performance, but to look at each song on the album as a scene in the over all movie or world we set out to create.
How do you handle the multi-instrumental aspect of the music when you’re playing live?
Part of the record was inspired by the desire to perform these songs as a duo instead of having a larger band on the road and so we’ve created live versions that retain the energy of the album and sometimes add something to it. We are using a variety of drum machines, sequencers and analog synths, guitars, etc. to play the key parts and allow us to sing the songs boldly. We sometimes will play several different instruments in the course of one song as the song dictates.
Both the music and lyrics are so good on this album. When you’re writing, which comes first?
Thank you, glad you dig it! We do both. Generally the music comes first, but we have several songs that were sparked by theme or lyric that was written prior to the song.
My personal favourite on the album is “President Clavioline”; it pushes the ‘traditional’ instruments (drums and guitar) much further to the fore than the other songs. Was there a different approach to the writing and recording of this song?
Yes, only in that the guitar and drums came first. After that, the production and recording was similar to the way that we collaborate and write together. We had other songs that had a more “traditional” band sounding approach with drums and guitars, like this. But, they morphed into what they are now.
“Burn The Fruit (Pegasus)” is almost twice the length of many of the other songs. Did you set out to write a longer song or did it develop organically?
It developed organically and during our experimentation, we decided to let the polyrhythms coast for more of a club length and explore some different melodies and noise. We envisioned a kind of Noisy House music, we jokingly dubbed it “Floyd-House” at one point.
“Steady On, Scientist!” is a wonderful title for an album. Does it reflect a deeper philosophy or world view?
Yes, it’s based on the idea of empowerment based on amateur or pseudoscience, also Pataphysics not in the spirit of parody, but in the spirit of hitting upon innovation only after exploring the depths of absurdity. Not taking oneself so seriously, but being open to big ideas that may come from the most bizarre or surreal places.
“Steady On, Scientist!” is such a kaleidoscopic album, it would be almost impossible to describe in just a few words. But I’m going to ask you to do it anyway!
Future pop zenith rock. If there was such a thing, a science party club night?!?! Now, it’s your turn.