Field Music recently came through Detroit in support of their latest album, Field Music (Measure). The Impact was on location to sit down with Dave and Peter Brewis and talked with the brothers about classic rock radio, the benefit of physical music, and recording neo-classical albums with Talk Talk.
Nick VanHuis: In music right now, there's a lot of people trying to sound retro, and I feel like you guys achieve this without it being forced.
David Brewis: One of the things about the way we record things, is that we can only do them one way because we have rubbish equipment, limited resources. We learned how to play drums, we learned how to play guitar, and that's what we want to do.
Peter Brewis: There are a lot of things about modern recording techniques that I don't particularly like. It's not so much that I want to sound like an old record, but it's more that there's such a suffocating quality in new recordings, which I don't like. I like to hear space, and as soon as you do that, it automatically sounds a little bit like a Led Zeppelin record.
DB: That's what we listen to, that's what we basically listen to to get us through the day when we're driving; we listen to classic rock. It's pointless listening to Talk Talk, cause you can't hear it.
PB: Queen, ACDC, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith.
DB: It's just like, let's get stuff on that feels good, sounds good, we can sing along to. We have good fun. We don't get classic rock stations in the UK, so we just flick around and it's hilarious most of the time. If we do tours longer than 2 or 3 weeks…
PB: We get sick of listening to Chicago.
NVH: What newer music are you guys listening to?
DB: It's difficult with contemporary music, because I feel that it's forced upon me a little bit, whereas all the other bands that I like, I've been allowed to discover. It has to be bands that I've discovered, I can't have read about it in Mojo, or Rolling Stone. I'm finding it difficult at the moment. The last things we've discovered were, I think, Deerhoof, The Fiery Furnaces, a lot of the Chicago stuff that we happened to discover. For instance, all the New York, Brooklyn stuff that's coming out at the moment, I'm finding it hard to get into.
PB: It's so heavily media-driven in the UK. You can't open a magazine without seeing something about Vampire Weekend, or the same sort of thing.
NVH: What inspired the 20-track double album?
PB: We thought that if we were going to release something as Field Music again, we should do something kind of ridiculous, something that doesn't make any sense and where we can be as varied as we want of be, where there are no rules. And hopefully it'll be good.
DB: The idea of making an album is almost a thing of the past, the last milennium.
PB: So if you're going to go for it, you have to really, really go for it.
NVH: It's definitely refreshing to encounter albums like this, as testaments to the physical form, because in our generation we are almost forced to seek out music digitally.
DB: I mean that's fine, and people do. But I'm 32 years old, I'm a husband. I'm not going to grow old gracefully, I refuse to. There are certain things about the ability to download which I absolutely love, that are absolutely amazing. But there are also things, where you ask yourself: the album's not the medium of choice anymore, or certainly not the pervasive medium. So, what is it, what can it be, what is it allowed to be? Is it going to become some underground art? That's fine by me. If you look at the last Jim O'Rourke album, for instance, it was one track. He questioned the idea of "What is an album", and that's the interesting thing for me.
NVH: What do you make of the resurgence of the vinyl form?
PB: I don't think it's caught on to the same degree in the UK, so maybe we don't feel it so much.
DB: It's certainly there. There's a microindustry there, where people just like to have vinyl.
PB: Downloading music is really quick, you have it straight to your computer. It's kind of a very passive experience, whereas with the vinyl, you have to turn it after 30 minutes, you have to be in the room with it. You've got to hear the needle, there's a physical interaction with it that I quite enjoy. It makes me listen to music in a slightly different way. I can't listen to vinyl while I'm washing the dishes, I have to sit in the same room.
DB: It's a good excuse to drink.
NVH: You took a brief hiatus before this album, how did that affect the process of the album?
DB: We were still working quite hard doing other things; we haven't stopped making music at all. We could have called those things Field Music if we wanted to, but I think we needed to get away from it for a while and look at it from the outside, from a different perspective. All of those things seemed to have happened fairly naturally for us. We got a bit sick of doing Field Music, took a break, and didn't know if we we were going to come back to doing Field Music. I, for one, am fairly terrible at knowing how I'll feel about something in 6 month's time. But then we got to a point where you have two solo-ish records, and some of the things we weren't enjoying about Field Music weren't there anymore. We figured out how to cope with it better, so we could come back and have fun making another record. If we got 2 or 3 songs into recording it and thought, "Actually, this is going to be horrible", we would have ditched it straight away. But as it was, we enjoyed recording this album more than anything else, so it was time to get the band back together and get on the road.
NVH: I know this is kind of a music journalist's blanket statement, but I have to ask. If you could collaborate with anyone, dead or alive, musically, who would it be and why?
DB: We'd get John Bonham in the band! No, he'd be a pain in the ass to take on.
PB: Yeah, he'd be drinking all the time, so no, not John Bonham.
DB: I want to do an album of improv neo-classical music with Tim Friese-Greene [of Talk Talk]. And Doug McCombs [of Tortoise] would be good for that, he's just a cool guy.
PB: The Kronos Quartet.
DB: Yeah, I'd like to write something for them.
PB: But we have a lot of collaboration left to do together. We can take up most of each others' time.
Request their song "Measure" to your Impact DJ today at 517-884-8989!