With their old pals Animal Collective and Gang Gang Dance getting long overdue props from critics and music fans around the world, it’s about time Black Dice stepped out of the shadows and took a bow themselves.
But while Merriweather Post Pavilion and Saint Dymphna both found their respective makers’ channelling their long-suppressed pop ambitions, Repo, the new album from Dice, is one of their most weirdest and most abrasive statements to date. Annie Mac definitely won’t be all over this one, thank fuck. With that in mind, FACT’s Luke Jarvis sat the Brooklyn-based trio down to discuss Motley Crue, money and their striving to achieve “a vast sound vocabulary”…
You guys must be excited about Repo?
Eric: “I’m just really stoked for people to hear it. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like that before.”
It sounds like you had fun making it…
Bjorn: “I hope there’s some playfulness that comes across in the album. I definitely see it as a playful record.”
Eric: I think maybe people will feel this subliminally. It’s not like a disco record where there’s an immediate connotation of a party. It’s more like a loose, giving record and a loose, giving person is fun, I guess.”
Passages of Load Blown seemed like the closest thing Black Dice had yet come to writing a ‘pop’ songs. Does Repo expand on this?
Aaron: “I think some of the songs are poppy, but it’s also a little more stripped down than Load Blown. It’s a little bit more rocking, more like a hard rock album than anything. A pop metal album, like the first Motley Crue record or something, but I don’t know maybe that’s just my own personal opinion.”
Bjorn: “For me it reminded me a little bit of older ‘Dicerecords, which were definitely more punk. That was something I washappy to see. I guess in a lot of ways that’s still how we picture theband, but it was nice that it still felt like that. I was trying todescribe how it sounded yesterday and I thought it sounded like TheSeeds and Parliament mixed together, even though they’re so far apart.That’s really generous. But I feel like a lot of the ideas did come from thattype of music.”
Eric: “I was really into the idea of having a really vast soundvocabulary. Sometimes I think we achieve this but then I listen to ittwo years later and it’ll sound…refined.”
Anything you’d call catchy on there?
Aaron: “It’s catchy but also quite tough-sounding…”
Bjorn: “We listen to a lot of pop music, we listen to the radio and hear stuff on the television and I feel like that’s the type of music that we have most exposure to. In this respect we wanted to make something that we enjoyed listening to and playing.”
How did you approach the whole process of writing and recording this record?
Aaron: “It was our recession-era record, in that we spent not very much time in the studio.”
Bjorn: “Aaron has a video-editing suite, so it was the first time we were able to go in there and work alone on songs. We were able to see certain ideas through to the extent that maybe we wouldn’t have if we had to pay for studio time.”
Eric: “It was just really nice not having to worry about time or money.Also not having to worry about somebody else being there at thebeginning of an idea. Sometimes with a third party there you almosthave to make it work for them so this is time it was good for us not tohave to deal with that shit.
Have you been messing around with new sounds or instrumentation?
Eric: “It wasn’t really a case of bringing things in, I think just making the things we had to do more. It was a challenge, but also really satisfying. I feel like I’ve worked out everything around me.”
There seems to be a wealth of Brooklyn bands making experimental pop right now. Do you feel like this has created a positive climate for Repo to be released into?
Eric: “Shit man, I don’t know. I always want people to embrace whatwe do, but I also feel like it’s never what somebody wants to hear.We’ve never made money from a record, we’ve been doing it forever andfor the first time I don’t care…I’m just excited about people hearingit and liking the ideas and what it encompasses.”
Are you excited about taking Repo to the stage?
Bjorn: “Yeah, totally. We played a show with Butthole Surfers and realised that these are definitely a fun batch of songs to play. We’ve gone years and years doing things that we’ve wanted to do – so I felt like sometimes when people listened to our jams they’d take a while to sink in. It’s been nice to have a more immediate response from the audience at this point; it certainly wasn’t anything intentional, but maybe now some of the things we’re interested in, other people are into too.”