Having released their debut EP You Will Tear Down Everything That Stands In Your Way, as well as singles Blind and In The Name Of Fame since we last spoke, The Magnetic Heads are walking tall into the new year, with a series of shows including an appearance at Playground Weekender. We caught up with frontman Des Miller to discuss the band’s evolution and their future.
Music Feeds: You’ve got your single Blind out now, along with a video, can you tell us about the song, can we expect more to come soon?
Des Miller: Blind is probably my favourite of our songs. It’s about feeling totally out of control and lost all the time. Kind of like being in a dream, that’s what the video was attempting to construe. I think the director (Michaela Sanders) did a great job of that. The song is also on our debut EP, You Will Tear Down Everything That Stands In Your Way. You guys have featured the other single from that release, In The Name Of Fame and we’re going into our studio in late Feb to finish an album. Slightly stressed about that!
MF: How do you guys approach songwriting? Is it a case of you all working together on songs or do you bring songs to each other to flesh out etc?
DM: Some songs appear in the rehearsal space, they emerge out of an accident or a groove. The rest come from structured (but incomplete) sketches that I bring to the group. We meddle with them. Colour them in. There’s enough freedom there for the song to rebuild itself once it’s out of the notebook and in the collective minds of the band. I like that.
MF: Has it always been the case or have thing changed over time? How has your overall approach to music changed since you started out?
DM: Things have definitely changed, we’ve got a new member in the band and we’ve also got more ideas. I think we also get bored with the way we play our instruments, or someone buys something new. Every time that happens, our approach alters slightly. I like that too. In terms of an overall approach to music, I think the one constant is that I am always attracted to the songs that ‘feel’ good; that evoke an emotional response rather than just a technical or a intellectual one. I’m pretty sure I’ve always been that way.
MF: Would you say the music itself has changed much?
DM: There’s a theme to the sound that we have. That’s a product of our set up, and our influences. But I like variations on a theme. We recorded a whole lot of material last year but not much of it has seen the light of day. We might resurrect some of the material that didn’t make it onto the EP, but I’m more interested in moving on. What we’re doing now isn’t all that different from the earlier songs, but the ideas are better…
MF: Is evolution important to you or do you know what you’re working towards and it’s just case of refining it?
DM: I don’t think I can modify the way I write, and that’s generally a product of what inspires me. Different things do that at different times for me, so in that way there’s always a shift or a change. Evolution implies and improvement of sorts, and often I look back and think: why did we do that? But the overall movement of our sound is directed by what we like listening to and our playing styles. I think we have our own sound and we’re working hard to refine it and reveal the best parts of it.
MF: When it comes to the live show, do you try and recreate the recording or are the two very separate beasts?
DM: We always try and play the song true to its form, but there is a lot of room for modification. Spirited moments can carry certain sections into different places. But there is a lattice that we cling to underneath it all. Also I’m crap at free styling so the words are always the same. The closest I get to improvised lyrics is when I forget my own…
MF: Would you say you have a favourite between the two?
DM: The improvised jazz fusion skat bits…..
MF: What should we be looking out for in the coming months?
DM: In terms of gigs, we’ve got the STC Wharf sessions and the Playground Weekender coming up which we’re really excited about. Come to the Shack everyone! Then we’ll have another video ready for release with an album in May (cross your fingers).
Magnetic Heads will be appearing at Playground Weekend at Wiseman’s Ferry February 17-20