Home > Interviews > Interview with Lachlan of GODSWOUNDS Part II

Interview with Lachlan of GODSWOUNDS Part II

Part I can be read here.

Ez: That raises a point then. Do you see it as a piece of art, let’s just say for music’s and theatrical’s sake, a piece of art and not just a piece of entertainment that can only in some ways come together as a cohesive whole once people have their input?

Lachlan: Essentially yeah. I feel about that really strongly and I imagine the other guys feel the same way too ‘cause I send them really really awful MIDI versions of the songs where there’s shitty MIDI guitar and “Bong bing bong” bass and drum sounds… it’s really horrible and a bit too fast too so it’s a bit difficult for them to hear what the fuck it is.

So yeah. Absolutely. That’s the embodiment of what I do. “These are the notes. These are how shit the notes sound and now we actually have to create it.”

I’m at the stage now – what I’m doing is demoing songs for the new stuff that we’re doing and I’ve showed Muel this morning before I came and saw you some new stuff that’s starting to get fleshed out, but it can’t exist until he plays it. The guitar won’t exist until Sam plays it. The bass won’t exist until Simeon does. Secondary drums and trumpet, Danny, Paul Murchison. Same deal. I think that’s a massive part of it. That’s a sense of like…

Maybe that’s a theatre company thing too ‘cause you have a sense of the company, the group and the connection of those players, and when I write I think of it. I think about their identities and how they play and how they approach music. I try to write things that they might think is fun, or silly, or it might make their life hell. Essentially what I do to Sam all the time.

That’s sort of where I’m at with how I approach it. I really think it is a sense of accompaniment. My little MIDI score bullshit is a small part of what it ends up as.

Ez: All blueprints become plans with [improvement]. So the original sound of Death to the Babyboomers; It was just essentially three people? Fourish?

Lachlan: Kind of, yeah. Obviously what happened was – it’s a snowball, right? So for budgetary reasons and timing and stuff Muel and I were the only ones that were there. Toshi was there as well. Then we had Jeff coming onto it, then we had Sam recording in Australia. We had Simeon recording in Australia. We’ve got Danny, this big snowballs’ building up. Paul Murchison’s recording the trumpet.

So even though it starts with us as the little frozen turd in the middle of the snowball, obviously it’s picking up the white substance as it’s rolling down the hill.

Ez: It’s interesting that it was partly recorded piecemeal.

Lachlan: Hugely piecemeal.

Ez: Well it’s interesting as to how tight and non-piecemeal it sounds.

Lachlan: I actually think that it could be a lot tighter, but of course I’m going to be OCD enough to say that, right?

Ez: Anyone… Most people who make music out there – I shouldn’t say anyone ‘cause we all know there are artists out there who say “Yeah, it’s the best thing ever! It’s the best thing ever!” and they’re like “No, it’s perfect! It’s perfect.”, and that’s fine, but obviously for a lot of artists there’s a certain amount of uncertainty there and when you do go to do something, you’re like “This could’ve been better”, but to the listener it doesn’t always sound that way.

Lachlan: Thank you. I appreciate your comment. Thank you for that, but for me… I guess you’re always going to be attuned to hearing the things you want to do better. I can hear the intrinsic separation of the way it’s recorded. I can hear the fact that Simeon wasn’t in a room with Dale and even though the playing is great there’s an energy to it that I wish I could have given to the guys. I wish I could have put them in a space and just recorded them all at the same time and done forty takes of this one song so we all got it the way we wanted.

That’s kind of the hopeful aim next time. I want to approach the recording for us just a little bit more unanimously, I guess.

Ez: Personally, I think the record is good. I think it’s great.

Lachlan: Thanks man. I’m still happy with the result and I think that some of the stuffiness adds to the thing that I wanted the sense of grunge and electronic music sort of not quite matching and I do enjoy the ugliness of it.

Ez: Obviously if I went back… oh actually no. I listen to it fairly regularly. I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to “Pygmalion”. I smashed that song in Japan one day.

Lachlan: Oh right.

Ez: I cycled from Miyajimaguchi, almost the whole way to Hiroshima because I was looking for a lookout. Then I smashed it on the way back and I still smash it every now and then because it’s a well composed song, I think, but I imagine if I had to sit down and then just really, really concentrate on it hard, maybe I’d pick up on those things, but do you think that recording it piecemeal maybe creates the energy that I’ve perceived it has and other people perceived it has?

Lachlan: Yeah, I think so too and that’s something that I’ve been struggling with a lot.

There’s this almost hip hop-like sense of sampling that can kind of happen when you record stuff piecemeal.

It was recorded pan-nationally. Some of it was recorded in America. Some of it was recorded in Australia. Some of it was recorded originally in Taiwan and Japan. It’s ridiculous how all over the place it was recorded.

I wasn’t at the sessions for the vocals for Carla and Eugene, or Dale of course, so there’s this real sense of… I do know what you mean. I definitely agree. I like the sense of pastiche, of collage about it and I think that’s definitely something that’s always going to be inherent in the idea of us building up layers of different music at the same time rather than the approach of people like John Zorn or Carl Stalling or even Mr. Bungle in the early days where it’s more of a jump / cut concept where you’ve got fourteen seconds of country and then you’ve got five seconds of hardcore and three seconds of surf music. This idea that things are kind of layered together rather than existed in these separate little blocks and I think that kind of breeds that sense.

Ez: And you have said that you kind of wish it was recorded more live, but do you think it would have worked live?

Lachlan: Yeah. I think that the rhythm tracks would’ve. It’s always cool to let a bassist and drummer be friends. It’s always a really nice thing to do.

Ez: Well they’re the backbone of any band. You can take one or another element out, but you always need a strong rhythm section.

Lachlan: Yeah, 100%. And I think that alone would kind of give it that identity, but I guess we’ll find out. If we do some of these recordings with the new stuff we’ll probably demo them first, then we’ll have a bit of a listen to them and if they suck like that we might end up going back to the weird piecemeal recording method again.

Ez: Would you live test it as well?

Lachlan: Yeah, for sure. Actually, that’s the big debate. Do we just get this thing polished and come out with the album, or do we try to test it and build the identity first? I guess Death to the Babyboomers was a widely untested album. The majority of the songs on the album were never played live before we did it as an album. A lot of the songs transformed a little bit when we did finally play them live.

So maybe it’s worthwhile. Maybe we play a little gig locally somewhere and just play the album beginning to end and see how it feels.

Ez: So being back, you’re booking shows I imagine?

Lachlan: Not yet. Haven’t booked anything yet. Basically what’s happening is I’m sort of in the middle of demoing lots of stuff. I’m sending it to Muel, I’m sending it to Toshi and kind of when we fabricate the first of those three albums, that’s when I’ll start putting those cogs in motion.

I mean obviously we’re open to offers. If Someone comes along and wants us to play something we’ll obviously do that but I’m not going out of my way at the moment to sort of engage anything.

Ez: I will back pedal a slight bit. You said that you noticed mistakes and whatnot. There are some bands, say such as Meshuggah or Kate Bush…

Lachlan: Interesting comparative there. Kate Bush and Meshuggah.

Ez: Well… I’m going to speak about me for a moment.

Lachlan: Yeah go for it.

Ez: So I like Kate Bush.

Lachlan: As you should.

Ez: I think she’s an amazing artist and I kind of like Meshuggah sometimes. Generally when I want to listen to something really intense and aggro I will prefer Napalm Death, or Godflesh for that matter.

Lachlan: Yeah Godflesh are amazing.

Ez: Napalm Death I once had to listen to to calm down and Godflesh, well, has helped shape my own musical leanings.

But the reason why I mentioned these two artists is that they’ve both released albums where they’ve said there were mistakes on there… well Kate Bush has said that she’s not a perfectionist and that mistakes help shape the music.

When you listen to their albums you don’t hear mistakes. You don’t hear it.

Meshuggah on their last album they recorded everything live but they recorded through multiple different channels so they could see what worked and you can hear mistakes but when you go back to it as a listener you don’t really hear it.

Do you think that kind of thing is just a selling point?

Lachlan: I think it is partially. I think you’ve got to understand there’s a framework particularly with those sort of guys when they’re talking about that.

What Kate Bush considers a mistake will be quite different for what another band might consider a mistake.

I think the problem is when you’re creating an album and you care about it and how it sounds, the little edges of OCD start creeping in and you become obsessed with very specific things that probably don’t have an overall construct and I think that’s traditionally why more producers have to help with seeing the forest and not just the trees a lot of the time.

But I think that talking about the concept of mistakes from most band’s perspective is that their idea of a mistake might be something so minute and minuscule it’s probably not worth mentioning. Unless they’re like an improvise band I find it hard to believe that there’s something so jarring that it’s changed the direction that the song’s gone on.

I imagine that happening on a Necks album, or The Dirty Three, or on a jazz album. I can imagine something like that happening in the context of that. Or a noise album. “I didn’t mean to push this oscillator that way”, but who notices anyway?

But I don’t think it’s a mistake in that sense. It’s probably, maybe they sang something a little different harmonically, or maybe there’s a little bit more feedback going on or something like that.

Ez: I guess that makes sense. Not something I thought of. When I was listening to the last Meshuggah album – I can’t remember what it was called. I’ve mostly pushed it out of my mind at this point. Not anything against Meshuggah. Again, I prefer Napalm Death, I think there’s a bit more musicality in their content than Meshuggah.

Lachlan: The album I really got on board with Meshuggah was None. That was super early on. I really liked that stuff. Really intense. The vocalist was super fragmented and what’s going on with the guitars and stuff like that.

Ez: For me, like most people, it was Obzen, but it took me a number of years before I got into Obzen, because I heard about it and when it was released I was twenty at the time and I know that the cover was too graphic for me. “I’m going to stay away from this. I might make fun of it or whatever.”, and then a few years later I got into it. I should go back and listen to the earlier stuff, but it appeals to me only at times.

Lachlan: It’s a different band. You don’t necessarily have to listen to the earlier stuff. People identify with different periods of music in different bands. The band that played “Stengah” is very different from the band that is functioning now as Meshuggah. They’re a lot more clean-shaven.

Ez: The other thing as well is that I find it to be too loud.

Lachlan: Too loud? Are you talking about how compressed it is?

Ez: The mastering, yeah. I know saying “Well I like Napalm Death” is kind of a bit, you know…

Lachlan: Yeah but the thing with Napalm is that it still feels as though the wheels are going to come off the cart at any second. They’re a very unruly band and even with the new record that came out a couple of years ago, they still have that sense of chaos about them. You don’t know if they’re going to come out of this song okay. There’s a sense of mania about what those guys do.

I think that’s the identifying with punk in coming from a punk background. Meshuggah has made a name for themselves as being a grid band. They’re so mathematically precise that I think that’s what shows the compression a lot more. There’s so much precision in how they’re playing and how they’re approaching the music that I guess it does feel a bit too loud.

That’s sort of the identity of where metal’s going in a lot of technical metal music. It’s kind of a disease of maximisation, you know?

Ez: Well, with GODSWOUNDS, do you think dynamics is more important to your identity?

Lachlan: For sure. A lot of what we do looks to connections with film music, stuff like that which is inherently dynamic, but for me a big influence on just approaching rock music and writing rock band music – I don’t know if you could call ourselves that – is The Pixies. Probably my biggest influence vocally and sort of compositionally is Frank Black, who is the master of dynamics. You don’t hear it as much nowadays with the new stuff. The new stuff is awesome, but if you listen to the early Pixies records, that whole concept of the quiet / loud thing is just amazing. It seems so obvious and so primitive, but just the idea of introducing that back into rock music is such a breath of fresh air and I love the idea of that in a rock sense, but I think a lot of the queues are dynamic and I really want a sense of space. I want a sense of movement.

Ez: Going to live performance, I guess there is a sense of theatrics to an extent. I do remember at the Regurgitator gig you were doing a bit of dancing around, especially on the closing track which I can’t remember the name of.

Lachlan: That would be “Pro Boner”.

Ez: No, it was the same closing track off Death to the Babyboomers.

Lachlan: “Trails!”?

Ez: Yeah.

Lachlan: Oh no, we didn’t play that at the Regurgitator show.

Ez: Yeah you did.

Lachlan: Nup.

Ez: You sure?

Lachlan: Yep.

Ez: Alright.

Lachlan: We played “Pro Boner” and it would seem very similar because it has an ongoing riff at the end that will morph and mutate. They’re kind of cousin songs so I understand that connection. “Pro Boner” is from the E.P. but we drag it out and play with it live.

So a lot of that hand gesture stuff is from a collective that I founded called Violence in Action. Violence in Action is essentially using sign language queues to conduct large groups of people.

It came from this idea that, when I came back from Taiwan, I wanted to create a sense of unity that the guys had over there over here and I wanted to bring together musicians from all these different bands and backgrounds.

So we played some gigs over here and it just felt like a competition. Guys from different bands weren’t speaking to each other. It was really weird and a strange feeling.

So I created Violence in Action ’cause I wanted guys from different backgrounds to play together in an entertaining way, in a noise and weird kind of music format and I wanted it to be an equal ground too.

So I wanted musicians who didn’t have a lot of experience to be able to play with really experienced guys. A lot of the time you can see that sense of insecurity straight away when you’ve got a musician who isn’t very experienced and a guy whose been playing ten or twenty years. It doesn’t work.

I wanted to create a language that kind of unified that through game pieces.

Game pieces is something that was sort of popularised early on by dudes like Stockhausen and more recently by guys like Frank Zappa and John Zorn. John Cage has played around with it as well. It’s not an original concept, but the idea of wanting to be able to conduct as a group, so by simply doing that, and that *Lachlan was displaying two hand movement patterns*, they’re going to know that this guy has to play a drone note and that guy does, and that guy does, so you get this amazing natural ambient soundscape just from this.

So what you saw at the end there, that dancing around is that gesture work. So I have different signs that equate to different controls of where the music’s gonna go.

Ez: Fair enough. So obviously when you do eventually return to the live thing is it going to be completely new music or would you mix old with the new?

Lachlan: Well we’re going to be comfy with some of our old material so I’m sure we’ll play some of that. I’m not going to do some weird, elitist thing and “Only play these songs“.

Obviously I like to revisit a lot of stuff. We’ve got a lot of stuff we haven’t recorded that is going to appear on these recordings and a lot of stuff that isn’t going to appear on these recordings so I think we’d still want to serve that, because it would be nice to play things that people wanted to hear, right?

Ez: You also have to feel it as well. If you’ve played something so much you do kind of want to retire it if you feel like you’re phoning it in.

Lachlan: I did that with “One by One”. I stopped playing it and I started feeling like a bastard ’cause people just started shouting for it at gigs, and then I brought it back and Paul Murchison’s like “Oh, you’ve given up, have you? You’ve finally brought it back”.

Kind of from that point on I’ve been like “Fuck it, someone wants to hear a song that we play; why not play it?”

Ez: Yeah, fair enough. Alright. Well, I’m now going to run a bunch of bands that I think are obscure past you, so let me know if you’ve heard of them. I don’t know, I just feel like you would.

Lachlan: Yeah cool cool.

Ez: Obviously I’ll start with the most obscure of them all: U2.

Lachlan: Yep.

Ez: I mean, nobody’s heard of U2. …No. Have you heard of High Pass Filter?

Lachlan: High Pass Filter. No.

Ez: The Mark of Cain.

Lachlan: Yeah of course.

Ez: Blacklevel Embassy.

Lachlan: Nope.

Ez: Spod.

Lachlan: Spod. Yes.

Ez: Another one I was going to mention, but I forgot so it doesn’t matter. Of those couple that you have heard of, do you think they’ve had an influence on you?

Lachlan: Probably Mark of Cain did. I love John Stanier’s playing. I remember kind of… I think I heard them for the first time in primary school. I’ve got that sort of angular approach to rock music. Very specific kind of patterns that, you know, sit in an almost uncomfortable way. It’s a big part of probably how I approach drum writing and stuff like that.

Muel in essence is a hip hop player and Danny in essence is an everything player. It’s sort of like, I can definitely understand where there would be a connotation of The Mark of Cain affecting me in some way.

Ez: And now that we’ve got that covered, just one last thing that I can think of:

What is Death to the Babyboomers about?

Lachlan: Essentially, I remember seeing a… I’ll give you a slightly different story ’cause they’ve already written about this, with French dudes.

For me, around about that time and being part of the Millennials, part of Generation Y felt really ugly in this country. We came into our adulthood voting for our first prime minister, Kevin Rudd, essentially. Right? That was an amazing thing. To be an adult, to make a vote. There’s a dude, he’s kind of nerdy, he speaks Mandarin, he’s got a more progressive attitude than this old bastard that’s been around for most of our lives. Let’s make a change, let’s kind of pull away from that identity and he got in and it was amazing. This dude’s all of a sudden apologising to the Indigenous population here. He’s already starting to shift our attitudes.

He gives us $1,000 that we can spend on keyboards and T.V.s and shit. It’s amazing, we had a vote and it had this effect.

Then he was usurped and he was kind of kicked out as obviously there’s a lot more to politics than we perceive. We had some narrative about how he was aggressive and pushy with his staff members. For fuck’s sake, he’s running the country. Maybe that’s appropriate?

Then we had someone in that we didn’t vote for and I felt this real sense of heartbreak from myself, or maybe I projected it. But as by and large, I thought that maybe we could change something and then it was sort of stolen from us in a way.

I remember this sort of glib arrogance about a lot of the Babyboomers that I met. Obviously I was living in Sydney. I was renting at the time as I am still now. The most people who owned these properties were Babyboomers and they had this real sense of entitlement, but not only did that feel like this sense of entitlement – talking about our parents, basically right? – that they also felt that we didn’t have a right to feel any sense of entitlement as well. So there’s this weird duality that we live too selfishly while they have two investment properties.

There was this psychological sense where we were basically trying to be pushed down and really perceived as being having this certain identity which I didn’t believe is true. I remember watching this T.V. show where it was some quiz show or something with a guy on it saying… Talkin’ ’bout Your Generation. You had a member from the boomers, a member from X, a member for Millennials and the joke was that they’d always say “oh can’t you hurry up and do something?”, and that’s how they approach the Millennials.

There’s an incredible sense of arrogance used toward us as an identity.

What’s really interesting is that we’re this generation that were really wanting to appease people. The first post-structualist generation where we’re listening to their music. We’re respecting Nirvana and The Beatles at the same time.

These guys haven’t done that. They’re trying to separate themselves from the previous generation. We were the first generation that wanted [a] historic sense of all these things and yet we’re the ones that are being denigrated and treated badly.

I felt in this country that we were really being stopped having identity and I felt that the guys that were maybe crushing down and stopping us from having any perception of that were the Babyboomers.

So I wanted to create an album that sort of crystalised us and the spirit of our generation and for me I felt that was elements of the video game music, the elements of the music and the things there. I felt it really had this sort of central emblematic identity as being from that culture, as being from it so it seemed obvious that I should call it Death to the Babyboomers from that.

So really it was about that sense I felt at the time of how frustrated I was that you had this generation that supposedly were all about revolution, were all about change in the 1960’s and 70’s and then suddenly when it’s their children’s time to do it, they’re the most resistant people to change with development that’s ever been on the face of the fuckin’ planet.

Ez: Fair enough. Well, let’s call it a wrap.

Lachlan: Cool man.

Ez: It’s been a pleasure.

Lachlan: Likewise.

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