Friday, 15 October 2010
Interview with World Atlas
Some of Brian's World Atlases
Brilldream recently caught up with Brian out of World Atlas to discuss journals, writers and the those damned comparisons with B&S
Q:So, are you bored by the B&S comparisons yet?
not really bored per se, but anxious to move beyond the sometimes flattering and sometimes scathing reviews and comparisons while ultimately remaining happy even to be mentioned in the same sentence. we do love the belles as much as any other fans of theirs and anyone who was melted and changed by tigermilk or sinister back then and even now, then had the deal sealed by arab strap. hopefully we can be seen as furthering the orchestral indiepop genre or at least contributing to it rather than repeating something. there wouldn't be genres of any art without pastiche or influence. we have a lot of other influences that i hear in our songs as well like nick drake, donovan, the smiths, simon & garfunkel and gilbert o'sullvan and we'll have more of an opportunity to present some songs and expound on our own sound with our upcoming full-length.
Q:How did World Atlas come about? You guys seem like a gang who started a band. Is that the case?
not exactly. world atlas was a solo project at first, then i realized i couldn't have all the textures that the songs called for playing alone. i started out with some bedroom demos i had done while learning protools and just played them around to some friends, started a myspace band page then jonathan our drummer became involved. he's someone i had met years ago but we reconnected through a friend, then fred thomas, another acquaintance at the time was living in brooklyn- we reconnected and he joined up. in that way we became a gang and started playing with the songs then adding parts and fills and nuances. everyone else came along through friends of friends and joined up adding their own opinions and ideas. we're more of a band who started a gang.
Q:Who would you describe as your influences? Do you, like most bands, all have completely different favourite artists?
i mentioned some before, but beyond those i know jonathan has some punk roots, jenny's in another band called ribbons who get a lot of joy division comparisons, and jessica comes from a musical theater background but indiepop songs and scene have brought us together.
Q:How do you go about writing songs? Is there one main song writer or do the songs come from jamming together?
in every instance so far i've come to the band with parts and lyrics and we'll build the song around them- play it a bit and see what keyboard textures are called for (rhodes, hammond, piano, something new), when a tambourine or vibraphone line should enter or exit, but as far as chord bases, lyrics and harmonies i've been the main song writer.
Q:What or who made you want to create music? Is it something you felt you had to do?
i grew up with members of my family playing and listening to music. my first instrument was trumpet though, through school band class, but i was rubbish and had little interest in it. so i've always been around music, but it wasn't until i first discovered bands that i wanted to create songs and emulate players, singing and playing guitar and bass. i had listened to michael jackson since i was very young who was more of a general presence than seen as something to aspire to. i can remember listening to the lemonheads and poster children around age 11 and wondering what instruments and pedals made what sounds and that was it. i was in my first "band" at age 12; making noise in a basement with friends- 2 guitars drums and bass and mics. it's evolved since i've been in ands for 20 years now and one of my undergraduate degrees in guitar performance so it is something i felt i had to do, or liked to do more than anything else anyway.
Q:You seem to have a sort of coffee ringed notebook, stare out of the window kind of asthetic, is that something youve had to work on or has it grown with the bands progress? Your whole, for want of a better word, vibe, is wonderfully romantic. Is that something youve nurtured?
well the name world atlas comes partly from a series of journals i've kept for a long time, which include stories, photos, lyrics, lists, drawings and ideas. they start out at as two-inch-thick, bound drawing books and end up almost a foot thick sometimes like big world atlases. i'm sure there are some coffee-ringed pages in there. it also comes from the sort of library aesthetic of faded maps and books that i feel surrounded by and from my growing collection of world atlases from the 50s to 70s. our aesthetic has grown with the band's progress and the romantic vibe was certainly what i've gone for since the beginning, albeit with a mysterious and playful side.
Q:Are you as well read as your lyrics would make out? Who are your favourite writers?
i have been in school steadily until recently. i finished a MA at columbia university a few years ago and am planning to start a PhD program next year so i do read and have read a lot. i'd say i'm interested in bookish things like... books and reading them, so yes, but as soon as i think i might be considered well-read, everything i haven't yet read comes to mind. so.. yes? i love paul auster always, and wells tower lately. there's a shakespearean reference in girl on a boys' bike too, though he's not really an influence. or does that make him an influence if you include a reference?
Q:Are there any up and coming bands you've come across that we should know about?
Very Truly Yours from Chicago are friends of ours and they're great live. definitely watch out for them if you don't know them already. We played the NYC popfest with them and saw them at the athens popfest. also Dream Diary from here in brooklyn. love them. they recently signed with kanine records (surfer blood, chairlift) so the stage is set for them and we wish them the best.
Q:How did your UK tour go? What are you favourite memories? Any plans to return?
the UK tour was dreamy and fun. we met so many great bands and people. otherwise- a flat tire, parking ticket, cramped van and hotel rooms- the usual, can't wait to come back in the summer again.
Q:What's next for the band, and what ambitions (if any) do you have for World Atlas?
next up for us is recording a full-length LP, which is mostly written. we just need to get us all together to finish recording it, which is proving difficult lately schedule-wise. hoping for a spring release in time for press to start for summer tours. otherwise... new photos, a few new players, merch to accompany the release.
Q:And lastly, what is you favourite Record, Book and cheese?
i've always had a problem with favorites. as soon as I decide or say something is my favorite I think of other things I should have said, so i'll try- record- Blake Babies- Sunburn (really influential and i can still come back to it and enjoy it in a current and not solely sentimental way) so i'll say that one, but also don't know what i'd do without tigermilk. book: wells tower- everything ravaged, everything burned / miranda july- no one belongs here more than you. they're both collections of short stories, both in yellow paperback and i'm reading them simultaneously, again. cheese: manchego, especially if there's quince paste involved.