Music Feeds is pumped to have the premiere of A Place To Bury Strangers’ new video for ‘Now It’s Over’ right here. Check it out below our interview with APTBS’s Oliver Ackerman.
A Place To Bury Strangers are a band that thrive on pushing things to the limit.
Apart from their reputation for being destructively loud, they’re just as much renowned for exerting themselves and their creativity to the jagged edge on both album and on stage.
It’s a relentless pursuit of evolution that has seen them constantly mutate their sound and their line- up, to the point where the group’s current three members had to take time away from one another in order to actually complete their latest record, Transfixiation, as the stresses of the road and life in close quarters became too much.
But as usual, just when the wheels looked like they were about to spin off, APTBS reined the chaos back in on their latest record, delivering one of their grandest statements of their career, and honing in on a sound that is as pure and harmonic as it is a total cacophony.
The band are now poised to bring the noise of Transifxiation to Australian shores in September, so Music Feeds caught up with the band’s creative force Oliver Ackerman to discuss how they’ve adapted in recent times in order to survive one another; the creation of their beautiful new video for ‘Now It’s Over’; and what it’s like to still be a ‘New York band’ in the face of gentrification.
Music Feeds: You’re about to return to Australia. Are you excited to be performing down here again?
Oliver Ackerman: Totally. Super excited. I think it’s going to be really good – it’s been a while to catch up with friends. I think our Australian fans are so great and so awesome it will be great to play with some more of them and try and step it up to another level.
MF: You guys have been on the road almost non-stop since releasing Transfixiation in February. I know the actual recording of the album was a difficult process and required the band members taking some time apart due to rising tension. Is there any semblance of that tension in the band at this time? Or have you managed to find a happy medium within which to work now?
OA: Yeah I think so. It was just we were going too strong for too long. It was all just too intense physically and mentally for all of us. We’d planned out these tours where sometimes we’d just go and go and go never take a day off and just play more and more shows and the tours go on with no days off. You’ve just got to be a little smarter with what you do and give yourself that little bit of time.
Watch: A Place To Bury Strangers – We’ve Come So Far
MF: So what are the live shows like at this stage? Are you guys feeling honed in on the songs from the new record and connected when you walk out in front of an audience?
OA: Totally – yeah. Even some of them kind of transformed into other things. We do a lot of that – manipulation on the fly and changing around of the format of how we play the songs. So yeah, we could probably put them on the record again and they would sound different.
MF: I was going to ask, you guys are known for being a really progressive and improvisational band and you’ve been taking these tracks from the record out on stage for six months now. Have the songs evolved much in that time? Do you think any have perhaps improved since the album?
OA: I don’t know, they’re just kind of different. I mean, I like the record a lot. Somethings you could never quite capture the same as what’s on the record but that’s cool too – you kind of take something and make it as strong as you possibly can for the environment and that changes from night to night.
MF: Have you found that audiences are connecting perhaps more emotionally or intensely with certain songs from the new record?
OA: I mean different kind of things sort of do. We kind of change how we interact in all sorts of ways and it changes and I think there is this thing going on where different songs change out and people get more excited about them and there’s shifts and they kind of readapt and change as well.
MF: So I’ve seen the video for Now It’s Over. It’s really beautiful. The illustrations are really hypnotic and there are multiple progressive themes – at first I thought it was kind of a noir piece, and then it gradually evolved into something Hitchcockian. What’s the story behind it?
OA: Yeah it was directed by Dave Merson Hess who had done some stuff with us in Los Angeles and is a really good friend of ours. We’d been friends for a while and we’d really wanted to get together and make something for a while and we got it together and I think his interpretation is exactly what it’s about. It’s pretty sweet.
MF: Did the band have much input into the video? Was it a collaboration with Merson Hess?
OA: No, not really at all. He just kind of went with it and I guess the collaboration was just the song as the inspiration and the video is what it was.
MF: It works really, really well with the song. Do you think about a song differently once it’s been complemented by a video and now has a visual representation? Does that effect the way you envision the song?
OA: I think so. I mean it even just songs change over time. There’s a point where songs that I’ve written years ago – you kind of forget some of those things and those feelings that it was even about. And so even now it’s been a couple of years since we wrote that song and it’s changed what the meaning of that is and the video definitely does that too.
Watch: A Place To Bury Strangers – You Are The One
MF: I was listening to the Dave Harrington remix of Fill The Void and fuck man, he really gave that track the Darkside treatment. What’s it like to have your song deconstructed like that and then presented back to you? Is it a challenging thing? Is it a fascinating thing?
OA: Totally. I love that kind of stuff. I have this whole particular kind of language or whatever that I’ve developed about how I feel about music and how things should kind of go and what things work for me. So it’s always cool to hear other interpretations and what they do – especially if they do something that’s really cool and stands on its own.
It’s like looking at artwork or anything like that. The language that they’ve developed, changing different elements or making sense of the works is interesting and cool and his remix definitely does that.
MF: You guys played the final night of the Death By Audio space in Brooklyn a little while ago. That moment will be significant for a lot of underground and influential New York acts and bands that toured through the city. What was it like to be a part of that night and what did that venue represent to you?
OA: Oh man, crazy. I don’t know, it’s kind of weird when things change. Now I live in a different neighbourhood and I feel neglected from a lot of those things, which is weird because at the time you probably didn’t even realise that there was going to be a page turning in your life and just being in there with something that’s crazy going on and all of those kids working to do something really cool with friends – that was awesome.
You can try to build yourself back into one of those kinds of scenes or create something else but when that ended it had been built up for 10 years and so you kind have got to re-start all over and make another little scene in a new area. But with those kind of things you can try and if you can make it happen it will happen and I’m sure it will again.
MF: You guys are synonymous with the New York underground scene and when a venue like that goes down or the scene changes do you see yourself staying in New York and continuing to be a New York band or do you see yourselves moving away and evolving – kind of like your music does?
OA: I don’t know. I keep on thinking about moving someplace else. New York is just – the place where I am right now just seems to be changing for seemingly the worse. Whether that’s happening or not really – there’s still cool people that live there, but a lot of cities are looking like that, so it’s kind of scary.
I wonder if the whole world is kind of changing for the worse but I don’t know. I don’t even know if I feel like a New Yorker. I mean I’ve been there for so long but it’s kind of one of these kind of places where everything is constantly evolving around you and you never feel that sort of security or connection with the city – when your favourite restaurants have all disappeared and all your favourite bands don’t live there anymore.
APTBS return to Australia for a tour starting next week. Grab all the dates and deets below.
Watch: A Place To Bury Strangers – Now It’s Over
A Place To Bury Strangers 2015 Australian Tour
Friday, 4th September 2015
Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Saturday, 5th September 2015
Manning Bar, Sydney
Sunday, 6th September 2015