From crushing waves of guitar noise to ambient electronica-infused soundscapes, UK instrumental rock band 65daysofstatic are masters of atmosphere. Since forming in 2001, they’ve toured the world, released five acclaimed studio albums and were handpicked to support The Cure back in 2008. While in the country for the Peats Ridge Festival and a series of headline shows, 65daysofstatic multi-instrumentalist Paul Wolinski recently spoke to Killyourstereo.com about maintaining creative control over their music, not writing ad jingles and songs to soundtrack the apocalypse.
G’day mate. Can we please start with your name, role in 65daysofstatic and all-time favourite novel?
Hi, my name’s Paul Wolinski and I play pianos/programming/guitar in 65daysofstatic. I can’t name a definitive favourite novel but a few that spring to mind are Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas, Immortality by Kundera, and Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
Can you give us some background on how 65daysofstatic started? What was it like back in those early days as a band?
It was exhilarating, confusing, wonderful. It’s still mostly is all those things, except we’re more tired and hangovers last longer.
We started because we all wanted to be in a band. There was really exciting things happening with guitar music (At the Drive-in, …Trail of Dead, etc.) and really exciting things happening with electronica (Kid 606, Autechre, etc.) but no one really seemed to be trying to smash those two disciplines together.
I remember reading an interview with Mogwai a few years ago where one of the members said he doesn’t mind if companies use their music in ads and films because it’s the only way some people will hear it due to their music not being played on commercial radio. Do you feel the same way? How would you feel about a company using your music to sell a product?
For a long time, we flatly refused to allow our music to be used in advertising. This was made a lot easier by never being asked by any advertising agencies if they could use our music in the first place. The music industry is an ever fuzzier place now than it was when we started and I can understand for a band like us, or a band like Mogwai, it’s useful to be able to get your music in front of people in different ways, not relying on the radio.
Personally, if I heard some achingly beautiful music soundtracking a new Honda car or something, it would do the opposite of make me want to own that piece of music, but I understand that this doesn’t appear to be the general perception of these things.
On the topic, would you ever write a song for a business? What about a documentary? Or are your songwriting skills not for sale?
I would love to work with documentary makers, filmmakers, tv show directors or computer game makers. There are different rules to making soundtrack music – I see it as a different discipline to ‘usual’ songwriting and they are not in competition with each other.
In my gut, the idea of writing music specifically for a business is awful and I would rather not do it, but at the same time, it’s better to write a specific piece of music for a business/advert than give away an existing piece of music that was written as something in its own right and forever ruin that piece of music for yourself/people who find it valuable.
Do you think instrumental bands attract a certain following? A lot of my friends who listen to instrumental music seem to be really deep thinkers.
I think that’s a dangerous way to look at it. I don’t think linking a person’s intelligence with the kind of music they listen to helps anybody. If you follow that kind of logic to its conclusion then it’ll end in jazz and we’ll all be in a lot of trouble. Nothing says you can’t go and jump up and down at a Deftones show and not go home and read Focault.
Do you ever wish you had a frontman to act as a focal point when performing live? Or do you like performing without any one member attracting all the attention?
Having no real frame of reference, it’s hard to say for sure. Not having a frontman keeps us all on our toes though, so that’s probably a good thing.
What are you more comfortable writing: rock or electronica? When you write, do you sit down and consciously decide to write a rock/electronic song or do the songs evolve somewhat organically?
Yeah, we really don’t separate things like that. Both elements have been there from the beginning and we just let songs take whatever course they seem to want to take.
What albums and artists have you been listening to recently?
Lubomyr Melnyk, Bjork, Emptyset.
Outside of music, what inspires your creativity?
We’ve read you’re working on a new album due out sometime next year. What can you tell us about this one? Does it have a working title? What’s influencing the sound and direction of the album?
No title right now. It’s still kinda hard to guess how it will end too. So far things are quite strange and noisy.
How did you first get in contact with The Cure’s Robert Smith? Are you all big fans of The Cure? Favourite album/song?
They got in touch with us, invited us to tour with them. We’re all huge fans, of course, and even more so after seeing them play for three hours every night about a million times.
Disintegration is their best record, hands down.
The Mayans predicted the world was going to end December 21, and, to no one’s surprise, they were wrong. Just for a bit of fun, if the world really were going to end what five songs would provide the soundtrack?
1. Mahler – ‘Symphony No. 10 in F# Minor’
2. Gorecki – ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’
3. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – All of the Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada EP
4. Orbital – ‘Are We Here?’
5. Diana Ross & The Supremes – ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’
What’s one thing in life that you really enjoy that you’re secretly really embarrassed about?
You should never be embarrassed about anything you enjoy. Board games, for example, are fantastic. As are about 4 or 5 Katy Perry songs.
Why has it taken you so long to tour Australia? Has it only been feasible up until now?
We’ve been trying a long time. It’s just a really expensive undertaking and without proper distribution over there, nobody has been able to help us. Bird’s Robe Records got involved and fixed all of that. We’re lucky to be working with them.
Do you have anything special planned during your time Down Under?
Just play as hard and as well as we can, like every show.
Any parting words of advice?