Here's some video's that show where I was when we were making Era. A lot of these are just life influences but most of them played into the creation of Era in some part, either as a reference point to something specific we were working on or just the common ground you have with people who are your friends and collaborators. I picked most of these as they were seminal in some way to shaping where I want to go with the art I'm creating and how I communicate with people in that sphere.
The only reason I'm doing anything I am right now is because of skateboarding, specifically thanks to Bones Brigade and Thrasher magazine. I learned everything about creating, purpose and hard work through skating. This came out pretty recently and is an excellent reminder that skateboarding started out simply as the love of doing something, not cashing in or becoming famous.
My favorite band. They arrived fully formed and with their own agenda, attitude and aspirations. It'd be hard to say that we musically pull from them but they are certainly on my mind when I'm thinking about music. Lyrically I consider Morrissey a big influence, saying something direct without being straight forward, assuming your audience is intelligent, I guess. This is a documentary that came out just a few weeks after they split – excellent.
My other favorite band. Between The Smiths first album and Sonic Youth EVOL there's not anything I've listened to more or would consider more important in shaping the way I think about music. My wife and I listened to EVOL almost every night while she was pregnant with our first child, it's a really important musical awakening for me. I think a lot of people would assume our last record was our Sonic Youth record since Steve was involved but I really wanted to get some of the moodiness of this period SY on Era and consider it a little more indebted to them than Pre Language. I just found this show, has a nice cross section of some of their favorite stuff for me.
Great footage from The Old Grey Whistle Test. This record hangs pretty heavy over this band but this performance in particular was in constant reference while making the album. We get into our own world but take a few steps to get there and this was a big one for us. As the announcer says at the end, it's a very powerful performance.
What first drew me to the cover image we used (by the very talented Anthony Gerace) was that it looked like something out of Metropolis – it's easily one of my favorite films. Maybe the first dystopian love story? I don't know – but considering it was made in 1925 it's completely astounding and disturbingly resonant today. I've included the trailer so you can get a good look at some of the sets.
Again, just the trailer so everyone can see a little bit of the entire world the film encompasses…..we talk a lot about the world and where things are headed in this band and this movie is a constant touchstone for what we all feel is a very possible future. Not the exact scenario per se but the way they show how the world could be, how events and actions are handled. This record was made with a lot of uncertainty and improvising, it felt a bit like making a film might – deal with the immediate situation knowing what the end goal is supposed to be. The strings at the end of this trailer are completely ridiculous, not indicative in any way or where the movie goes.
This is one of my favorite movies and this is easily my favorite scene from it. I always come back to this, mainly I think because at the time I hadn't really seen something shot like it. I think it's just the repetition and the familiarity of the scene – somehow they took something that was so rote and ordinary for most people and made it special and artful. I think we're trying to take really ordinary, simple concepts that people are always thinking about and break them down and amplify them – this scene does that for me.
Jonathan and I talk about this scene a lot, I think it says something about the way we play guitar together. The sound design is amazing and very subtle, lot's of small compliments going on here that build tension. There's all lot of spatial awareness and repeating patterns that lock into this one, hypnotic scene. The resolution is really strange too, it's kind of after you think everything has come to a head – it's hinted at before it happens so it kind of fools you into thinking you've already had that experience. We try and play with perception and this is a good illustration of how.
Wire's influence looms large over a lot of what this band does but 154 was an especially pertinent influence on the way we approached this record, both sonically and structurally. It was the last one that I came around to out of the first three but I think now it's my favorite. It'd be nice to think we'll be able to continue to push ourselves and take chances like Wire. I feel like Damon took this one to heart when we were in the studio, he really experimented with his bass and how to get away from what he had done before. I credit him a lot with how some of these songs turned out, he really helped push Era into a new direction. Rockpalast was a German music show that has so many great guests and performances – pretty easy to find on youtube, check it out.
Lot's of credit goes to the artists (as it should) of Factory Records but two of the things that constantly influence me are Tony and Peter. Between Tony's recklessness for principle and presentation to Peter's minimalist and understated art I can't imagine making an album like Era without their guidance. They are definitely the two most eloquent speakers on the art of punk. Plus – Chicago and Manchester are spirituality connected. The first link is a quickie on ethos and the second is the first of a 9 or 10 part BBC doc on the label. Both are worth watching to get a glimpse into the respect and the recklessness that went into creating the monument that was Factory records.
I remember bringing home Ege Bamyasi on recommendation from a friend and really getting lost in it. That was my entry into CAN and I've been using them as a guide ever since. This is the documentary that came with the box set (from early 2000's I think?). A lot of people were hearing CAN at that time that had only known their influence but not the source material. This is a great way to get an overview of a band that is more responsible for the current state of music than a lot of people think. They are such a great example of what happens when a group is greater than the sum of it's parts – music that can only be made by the combination of personalities and people involved.
Fugazi changed my life, it sounds kinda funny but it's true. They were the influence that guided me into punk and experimental music. I'd never even considered music that spoke about current issues or was grounded in some sort of ethic or standard before I'd heard them. It came at the perfect time (around 13 or 14) when those idea's could really take hold. They also were my introduction to label culture and the trust you blindly give labels to be consistent. 90's era Dischord was huge for me – Jawbox, Shudder to Think, Circus Lupus, Slant 6, the Warmers – those really shaped me and introduced me to so many new bands and ideas. I hope Era will be remembered as our “Steady Diet of Nothing”.