Sheffield’s 65daysofstatic is the go-to band for art school post rock heads in need of visceral emotions-inducing instrumental music. The band’s mixture of glitchy electronics with post rock persuasion means broody chord progressions and an almost sci-fi ambience, unsurprising considering their obsession with John Carpenter and their last album Silent Running. Recently the band kicked off The Bee’s Upfront series with a set that proved exactly why they prefer their live shows over their recordings. JUICE spoke to Joe Shrewsbury on their sci-fi inclination and the proper equation to math rock.
You guys are kinda the go-to band for math rock. Tell us, what is the correct equation to a good math rock tune?
(Laughs) I don’t know if we are math-rock, we get called that a lot. I think it’s actually because we have different time signatures in our music. I also think that if we have formula, then we probably would end up repeating ourselves. So, the best way we can produce is to have no formula whatsoever.
There are a lot of theories as to how you guys got the name 65daysofstatic. From a CIA coup d’etat of Guatemala to a psychological experiment, any of them true?
Yeah, they’re all true!
You guys claimed it was from an unreleased John Carpenter film called Stealth Bomber though. Was this an elaborate joke? We can’t seem to find any info on it…
Stealth Bomber was originally made in Alaska with Kurt Russell, I think in late 1983, without the commission of the Alaskan authorities, which is why it subsequently became quite hard to find. It was released in England on video. I have actually seen a copy of Stealth Bomber without sound years ago.That’s kind of where the idea of starting a band came from.
Speaking of whom, big fan of John Carpenter? What’s your favourite Carpenter flick? Does the synthesised score of his films influenced 65daysofstatic?
Absolutely. My favourite flick is Escape From New York, probably. Well, currently we’ve been writing soundtracks. We’re really interested in film music. The synthesized thing – which is kind of what John Carpenter does, is becoming more and more interesting to us. I think its because he clearly has his own sound which is influential. I think our influence comes from many things, really. There are four of us in the band and we tend to take inspirations from lots of different things. John Carpenter is definitely in there, somewhere.
Being an instrumental band, does it get difficult to convey an idea through a song without using words?
That’s actually interesting. I think the difference between ideas and the kind of more profound emotive things that’s hopefully what 65 does is that I think if you asked any one of us what particular song was it now we’d give you four really different answers but the point is that when we play the music, hopefully it articulates and that’s what it’s really about. It’s a bit difficult, it’s a responsibility definitely.
How did the re-score of the classic sci-fi film Silent Running come to be? We read it was commissioned first before you guys decided to fund it yourself.
We were asked to do a live soundtrack for Silent Running at the Glasgow Film Festival 2011. That was really just going to be two nights and that was all we thought we were going to do but the response to that performance and the project was so positive. That was very successful so, we were able to now make the record.
With the references to John Carpenter and the Silent Running re-score, was scoring a film something you guys always had ambitions of?
Definitely! It’s definitely something we’d really like to do now. We really enjoyed Silent Running. It’s a side to our music that’s really cinematic. So… if you’re making a film, please get to us. (Laughs)
How does one compose an instrumental rock tune? Do you guys concoct an elaborate narrative in film form in your head before going in to the studio?
No, we don’t. We’re the kind of people who don’t really talk about stuff like that. It’s possible that the other guys construct a narrative privately. We don’t really discuss about the more primal ideas behind the music. It’s really hard to answer that question, it’s a question we get asked a lot. Again, go back to your first question about math-rock. It’s good not to have a formula, it’s a lot harder and time consuming not to have a formula but the outcome is much more rewarding.
Paul once said “the loudness wars are over… and Skrillex won.” Don’t you think maybe that’s just on the commercial level of the industry? By the way, we got good news for you – dubstep is pretty much a joke to everyone now thanks to him.
I think it was kind of a joke. Just the kind of continued rummaging up of radio production of that kind of music. There was a point around the millennium, when pop music was throwing up some really interesting programming and songwriting. That’s not the case anymore. Things really do feel quite boring in pop. But that whole kind of absolutely to the limit music has kind of almost become a parody of itself. You know… Skrillex and things like that. But we should regard these things because people are growing up in a whole new way of listening to music.
On a final note, we read that you prefer your music performed live the best because it creates a tangible connection with the audience. What is that connection? What do you get from the audience, and vice versa, from a live performance that’s lacking in studio recording?
I think the audience is really the most important part of the live shows. We can walk on stage 100 times a year and not know what’s out there waiting for us. The things that happen between you and the audience on any given night cannot be re-experienced. It’s really integral to the extent that the enthusiasm of the audience dictates the kind of show that you play. We play a lot of the same shows every night but the way it feels is really the way they look back at you and the way they listen to you.
65daysofstatic played at The Bee for the venue’s first Upfront gig this year on 8 January 2013. Find more on the band here.