Seated in the corner of his cell wearing a raincoat and nothing else, My Disco guitarist Ben Andrews doesn’t seem the least bit bothered. The entire space is made of some pristine white plastic. Looking around it’s easy to lose your bearings and fall into the grips of vertigo. Basically, it looks like the band sounds.
Having formed in 2003, these three men from Melbourne have carved out a niche for themselves as minimalist-art-rock lords. Renowned for their incredible touring ethic and willingness to journey forth into uncertain lands such as South East Asia and Mexico, these intrepid lads have been spreading their own form of musical colonialism where others fear to tred.
“It’s just like, some of the better trodden paths are over rated now,” Ben explains scratching at his foot as I take a seat on the floor next to him. “You don’t have to go to UK or US to have a successful international tour anymore, especially when these places are as much if not more rewarding.”
“It’s difficult in the US unless you have a release out and even then you need publicity and promotion behind you, which you don’t always need that in these palaces, where the audiences are often more receptive and honest.”
“A lot of those countries have really old cultures, so they’re really friendly and welcoming. When we played in the Philippines a couple of weeks ago, they said look, ‘no one’s ever come here that ever sounded like you guys’, you know so it is quite an underdeveloped place, there’s a few sort of American influenced hardcore and metal bands and that’s it.”
He pauses for a moment in hesitation, and avoids my eyes for a second before continuing.
“Then again we still found some really interesting bands,” he corrects, almost apologetically. “Like we played with a noise band, and a sort of shoegaze band, a couple of like screamo bands, so there was still little pockets of other music that wasn’t so generic or anything, but I think we freaked people out a bit, they were so honoured we came out all that way just to play.”
All of a sudden a series of sprinklers in the ceiling start spurting forth water. Ben once again barely seems aware of the situation, rocking gently back and forth with a distant look in his eyes.
Their latest album Paradise sees the band further refine their sound, creating a minimal masterpiece as much microsurgery as it is music. I ask him what inspired this progression.
“Nothing really inspired us to take this direction with the music,” he gurgles as his mouth fills with water. “We sort of talk a lot when we’re writing new material, we probably talk more than we play actually. We decide, oh it would be cool to do a song like this, or a song with no drums, then it just sort of eventuates, especially with Paradise. It got written over a 4 month period, which is pretty quick for us, so it all kind of had a similar vein, and that was just the way it came out.”
“We’ve been playing music together long enough now that we don’t necessarily take a certain line of action or whatever, the way it comes out is just the way it comes out. With the newer stuff it’s a bit more melodic, a little bit more sparse even, but it just happens that way, if we like it then we just go along with it.”
The album was recorded in Chicago with Shellac guitarist and Steve Albini in the producer’s chair at his famous Electrical Audio Studios in Chicago (he also produced Nirvana’s In Utero and The Pixies’ Surfer Rosa, and is a God).
“He was really relaxed, really funny, whatever we wanted to do we could do, and anything we did want to do took about five minutes. He is really unassuming, you know funny and easy to get along with. He lives in an apartment above the studio; he puts on overalls, and goes downstairs to work.”
“It was mainly necessity that inspired us to put it out independently, that and the fact that it’s a little bit silly for us to sign a deal with EMI sounding the way we do, because it wouldn’t work. So out of necessity we put out our own records, it just seems like that’s the current trend. That’s what bands seem to want to do if they want to get their music out, seems to be the weird nature of the industry we’re in.”
As he tells me this, a man in a yellow hazard suit enters the room and ushers him out a side door. I catch a last glimpse of him waving to me as he’s almost dragged across the threshold and into the next room for his next interview. I wave at the Frank the guard and he lets me out.
Catch My Disco 29th Nov at The Gaellic Club with Pivot