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BOTW Interview: Battles’ John Stanier

Planet Notion caught up with John Stanier, drummer of Band of the Week, Battles. He spoke to us about the positive side of going from four to three band members, and a love for Newcastle United.

PlanetNotion: How would you say the new album has evolved from Mirrored?

John Stanier: Well, first and foremost Battles is now three people. So the new record was written by three people as opposed to by four. So right there that’s kind of a major difference. And I feel like because it took us so long on this new record that it’s more focused.

PN: Would you say you weren’t on the same page with the last record?

JS: No, we were. It’s a different page, put it that way.

PN: Do you think there’s any kind of mood or theme to the record?

JS: I kind of think when I’m asked this question that I honestly feel like we sort of took a negative situation and turned it into a positive one and that sort of somehow it comes out in the end result of the music, because it was not a Livin’ La Vida Loca record, sitting around sippin’ Pina Coladas. But if it came out sounding like that’s what we were doing, then I’ll live with that.

PN: Obviously you had to get rid of most of the record after Ty left. Did you have to get rid of everything?

JS: It’s hard to say exactly, it’s not like we were about to start mixing this fully complete record, it would’ve been a third of the record, and even with that third we weren’t even that happy. We were kind of forced to reinvent ourselves overnight and we decided it would be best if we just started from scratch again so we pretty much scrapped everything.

PN: I guess as an artist you’re never happy with what you’ve made.

JS: Well – there’s an art to knowing when to stop painting, you know. I think that the writing part is the easy part. It’s the arrangement and the unwriting that’s the difficult part. And the other hard part is knowing when to stop and knowing when to control yourself, and saying ‘OK, you know, it’s done. We’re through.’ And I feel like that was much easier with the three of us.

PN: The new line-up is still fairly recent, I suppose. Are you guys comfortable with it? Does it feel like a different band?

JS: I wouldn’t say it feels like a new band, but it definitely feels like everything across the board is easier. You know, it’s fun. To complain about this lifestyle, to me, is absurd. So, yeah, we’re a well-oiled machine now.

PN: It sounds like it’s been a really hard process for you.

JS: Oh yeah, it was very difficult. I don’t ever, ever want to go through what we just went through. That’s why I am just so happy that the record came out the way that it did, because like I said we were just trying to make something positive out of the negative.

PN: And would you say that bringing the guest vocalist in has filled a void and helped the process go along a bit easier?

JS: Gary Numan obviously was a fantasy artists, like, one of our songs I was like, ‘aw man it’d be awesome if Gary Numan agreed to be on this record’. We were like, ‘of course that’ll never happen’. But we were like, ‘what’ve we got to lose? We might as well ask him’. So we had a word with his people and he said, ‘yeah, OK.’ Although he scared us because he was the last person to deliver the vocals and it was so late, but he totally delivered. We were really very lucky with how easily and how well the guest vocalists thing was with our songs. It was sort of painless.

PN: Are you happy with the record?

JS: Oh, hell yes.

PN: So you haven’t thought how the vocals are gonna work in the live show?

JS: We have. I mean, we’re on tour right now.

PN: How are they working out?

JS: Well they’re there and they’re not there.

PN: You really push the edges of your songs and you really play with them during your live shows, don’t you?

JS: In my personal opinion, even more than 50% of what Battles is is live. The sort of vibe that we try to pull off live is really important to me.

PN: And what are you looking forward to most about playing in the UK?

JS: I’m looking forward to playing Newcastle and hopefully having a day off so I can go see Newcastle United.

PN: Are you a supporter of Newcastle United?

JS: Yeah. I’m at least gonna blow off soundcheck so I can go to St  James’ Park and then I have to go to the store. There’s this really big store where they sell Newcastle United toothbrushes.

PN: And you’re programming ATP in December?

JS: Yeah, one day actually.

PN: Have you started working on that yet?

JS: Yeah, that was awesome, as always. We’re doing one day and that’s amazing. It’s cool to curate it, you know. As the artist you don’t really do any of the work, you just basically hand them this giant list and then they’re like ‘OK we’ll get back to you’ and then you don’t hear from them for a really long time, and then they’re like ‘Well, we’ve whittled it down to 8 of the 40 groups, because some groups can’t do it ‘cause half of them are dead’.

 

-Seb Law



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