Æ: Aglet Eaters

Making Plans with the Microdance

Posted in Feature by R on December 14, 2014

TMD

 

Every online publication has its darlings. Drowned in Sound unfailingly raves about the National. The Quietus will never get over Swans. NME is still hung up on anything that sounds remotely like Oasis. And I remember my budding hatred for Pitchfork came into full bloom when they removed MBV from the #1 Spot on their “Top 100 Albums of the 90s” replacing Loveless with OK Computer (which, till then, had sat at the equally undeserved #2 position).

This is where I would usually launch into my rant about the hypocrisy of ‘independent’ music publications that are meant to serve as stalwarts of taste but instead end up catering to audience expectations, and their own set preferences, but let’s accept it – advertisers want eyeballs, not originality.

Me, I’m no innocent. The Microdance are Æ’s babies which is why I’m stoked that Alex is down to talk about their new album New Waves of Hope months before its official release.

It’s TMD’s very first LP – they’ve been a singles group so far and I’m a big fan of their before-they-were-famous stuff (‘Fucking Fucker’ is fucking phenomenal). However, given this, er, DYNAMIC era of music production and consumption we’re living in, why put an album out? What purpose does it serve? Does the end justify the means? Why are we even here?

 

Existential crises rule. OK, here we go:

Æ: FINALLY we have an album! Thank [higher power of choice] New Waves of Hope releases in 2015 because if not I’d have to make room for it in my best of 2014 list and I really don’t want to do that. How does it feel to have an actual long play album out and why did it take you so long to put one together?

Firstly, it feels great to have New Waves of Hope ready to go. I’m confident that this one will feature in your best of 2015! I’d say it’s ten years overdue – not for this band, but for me personally.

The short answer to your second question is: ADHD. It’s a term that’s being thrown around quite liberally at the moment to describe the cultural and artistic shifts of this generation – you know, instant gratification, the death of the album: what we’re calling the iPod shuffle generation. Referring to that cultural change – which has as much to do with new business models as it does the people buying into it – as ADHD is a lazy misnomer. I’ve lived my whole adult life with no executive function. It’s a pretty pernicious and insidious disorder and my diagnosis this year certainly explained to me why I have been functioning at something like 5% of my capacity in every element of my life, including music.

Anyway, we got it done and I really hope that it will open the floodgates for this band to be as prolific in releasing material as I am in writing it. This is not in any way a reflection of my band-mates – it’s not their fault I never finished and sent them the 1,200 song ideas I’ve had in the last three years. They are fucking fantastic – they just have to deal with this dawdling idiot!

Æ: Is there really a point to putting out an album at all? Why not just stick to EPs and single tracks? Don’t get me wrong – I think full albums are manna from heaven, but who else does?

That’s a tough one for me to answer because I think I’d need to divorce my romantic idealism from the cold truth. New Waves of Hope  is 70 minutes long; there is no dip in quality anywhere – we made damn sure that it’s A* TMD throughout. So, in theory, it does its job for those people who still want to be immersed taking in an opus and I’m happy about that. I also truly believe that we’ve made an album of the sort that not many bands out there are even capable of making – notwithstanding whether or not they would choose to, whether their label thought it a good idea etc. So, given that it’s ten years late, given that it’s 14 songs from a pool of hundreds, and given that we would want our favourite bands to release something as expansive as this, we’ve justified it.

The album format also gave us the opportunity to go a bit deeper with a particular sound. We were very conscious that it should be a cohesive work – just because we think albums work best that way – so it allowed us to explore and mine that territory as deeply as we could. What we have lined up next could be material that we didn’t feel was congruous. We’ll probably put out a gothy, new wave, shoegaze type EP within 9 months of the album’s release. I’m also super keen to go heavier – like crushingly heavy! (zomg a Jesu version of Devour! – ed)

The cold truth may be that no one gives a shit! But at least Gavin, our amazing producer Frankie Siragusa (who played a huge part in guiding the album’s vision) and I can say that were integrious and didn’t pander to some low common denominator even if we were being somewhat quixotic!

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Æ: I don’t blog as much anymore, because I’ve got a job now and it leaves me with not much time to put my thoughts together. Do you feel the luxury of time to introspect or come up with ideas is where creativity comes from or am I just being a slacker who should get off my bum and go write something amazing?

Ha ha! Maybe a bit of both. I have no idea how I create – none whatsoever! I’m amazed that people think I’m a productive guy because it feels like I’m doing nothing 95% of the time; especially during the depressive periods since my diagnosis. I think what actually happens is that those flashes of inspiration and what becomes of them are somewhat out of your control on a cognisant level. That’s not to say that we are not responsible for them – more that we are a conduit for an energy that we did not create consciously. I know people who allot time to write – as in ‘I’ll sit down to write my album from 3-6pm every day’. That’s alien to me. Maybe you’re the same. Don’t think about it too much!

Æ: What makes you WANT to make music every day? Are there days where you feel like going ‘fuck it, this is pointless, no one cares”? (aka: what are the best and worst things about the music industry today?)

I don’t want to make band music every day. If it wasn’t for Gavin (the longest serving member of TMD besides me), I’d have gone solo a couple of years ago because being in a band this good in London in 2014 is a thankless task. There is no reward commensurate to our quality. There is nothing good about the music industry these days. People can argue that there is more opportunity and freedom for emerging artists. That is bullshit. The open market that is the internet has completely removed any filtering system and so we’re competing with 100,000 bedroom artists for a write up in a blog that has 50 readers [gee, thanks – ed]. In the old days, you listened to what was played on 120 minutes because there was no other means for bands to reach you – there was a quality filter that at the very least ensured that what you heard what fit for public consumption. I’ve also noticed that the model is now predicated on giving people what they expect; whereas there was a time when it was about spirit – the spirit and life of something new.

Æ: I have asked you nothing at all about New Waves of Hope. What are more than one and less than five things you feel everyone should know about the album?

1: It’s a grower not a shower. It has depth and that will lend itself to longevity.
2:It features Nicole Fiorentino (Smashing Pumpkins, Veruca Salt, The Cold & Lovely) on backing vocals and Eric Gardner (Morrissey, Tom Morello, Tegan & Sara, Cyprus Hill, Moby, Iggy Pop) on drums.
3: A digital download will cost you less than a round of beers at the pub and will lead to you owning an emotionally edifying work of art that will live under your skin like an internal comfort blanket for the rest of your life.

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Up until the album’s release, I find I can afford to buy a pint AND invest in a TMD track without burning a hole in my pocket. Who knew? ‘Making Plans for the End’ off New Waves of Hope is up for purchase over at Boxing Clever Records. Click here to pick it up.

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