Friday, 19 November 2010

!!! Interview

“Everything you'd think we have on tour we do – beer, apple juice, Sprite, ginger beer...” Doing his best MTV Cribs impersonation, Nic !!! is showing us the contents of the band's fridge. As well as the aforementioned beverages there's also a lot of cured meat. We're talking parma ham, salami and even prosciutto. Fancy. Wanting to keep a clear interview head we settle for a glass of Copella (This is some really good stuff, right?) and cosy up on the sofa to talk partying, creative control and kung fu with the extremely bendy lead singer...

Your gigs are pretty physically intense. How do you prepare for them?

When we were living in Nashville together we used to start the morning with a kung fu workout but we don’t do that so much anymore. I guess just plenty of stretching – I notice when you stretch out you can do more out there.

You’re generally considered a live act. Is the live show more important than the records?

It’s not more important but it’s definitely something that we recognise we’re better at. It’s something of a thorn in our side because being a live act is not something we necessarily need to consider or work that hard on anymore. I feel like we’ve got it together now with that. In contrast we work very hard on the albums and we enjoy recording.

I guess it’s flattering in a way that the live shows translate so well. Better to have an awesome live show than be a damp squib when people come to see you.

Yeah I think so. Having said that, I would hope that our records would stand up on their own merits. Two of my favourite bands are The Stooges and Sonic Youth and I’m sure that at their peak their live shows totally eclipsed what they did on record, but their recordings absolutely stand up on their own. I hope ours do the same.

Why did you choose to do a remix album?

Fucked if I know. They asked if we wanted to put it together and we thought, why not?

So it was a management decision?

Yeah, pretty much.

Did you guys get to choose the people who did the remixing?

Yeah we did. The idea of the remix to me is that you throw something out there and hope that it inspires someone to turn something exciting in, and I think we got that.

Did you not worry that their versions would eclipse the original songs?

No, that’s what you would hope. Our worst fear was that someone would try and earn a couple of thousand bucks in a weekend but thankfully that didn’t happen. Ideally, it’s great if someone produces something better than the original and does something unexpected with it.

Do you still feel that !!! is a name that represents you as a band?

I feel that it’s absolutely who we are. On this trip I’ve been looking at the bills of the other bands playing in the venues we’ve performed at and I’ve thought to myself “I’m glad we’re us and not any of these other band names”.

Like who?

I’m not going to slag anyone off, but let’s just say I have a hard time coming up with band names that I like. Our name sets us apart and I’m very proud of it. I’m proud of who we are.

It’s a name that makes you look very excited.

When we started in the '90s we felt that the scene was defined by being a ‘slacker’ or a ‘loser’ or ‘creep’ and we wanted to be positive. We didn’t want to hate ourselves. Nowadays it seems to be the trend, with everyone swinging from Animal Collective's nuts and it’s become refreshing for a band like The XX to come out and dress in black and be very sombre, but I think at the time we felt that it was important for the pendulum to swing both ways. For us it was excitement for life.

And is that still the case? Is it still exciting?

Of course. That’s the guiding light of the band – when it stops being exciting that’s when we have to quit.

Where’s the world’s best party destination?

[Without hesitation] Spain. They go fucking nuts.

What’s a killer house party tune?

If you have Michael Jackson’s ‘Off The Wall’, you’re pretty much set.

How much creative input do you have on your videos, the 'Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass' one for example?

It varies, but generally not a lot. Often you have to let go and say “this is not our song anymore”, but it can be frustrating. I definitely understand why writers don’t like the movies that people make of their books because someone is telling a completely different story to the one that you’ve written. In terms of 'Jamie' we liked the simple ideas that the director came up with and he seemed like he’d make something exciting so we went with him. We were very pleased with the end result.

The flower motif is pretty awesome

As soon as we spoke to Saman (the director) I said “Let’s get down to business – when is it going to rain flowers?” It was something I was very excited about.

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