TERA MELOS INTERVIEW
I talked to Nick and John from Tera Melos after their sound check and before their gig in Dada club (St. Petersburg, Russia) on the 1st of March 2014.
Following my tradition we started with “a fancy task” – I suggested musicians to free the space for the interview record via deleting of the player-dictaphone some stuff from M’Opinion’s Best Forever Releases. The guys generally shared my musical preferences and removed only Joy Division, Bloc Party and EMF.
Musical reporters show high level of interest in your band. How many interviews do you give per year? How many did you give this year?
Nick: Kinda 10 per year.
John: This year we did some short video interviews, gave some via e-mail. This one is actually our first sit down interview in 2014.
How do you think, who needs the interviews more – musicians or journalists?
John: Journalists can help bands a lot publishing the interviews, we appreciate, when we don’t need to answer the same questions thousand times, otherwise it just becomes part of their work which is not properly done and in this case it is more important to journalists.
Nick: I would mention the ones who read interviews, I think these people need them more.
In 2012 you visited Russia during your famous very busy tour (59 gigs in 60 days). Is your current tour schedule more relaxed?
John: Yeah, the current schedule is a pretty easy one. It is only about a month and we had several days off but spent them for driving. We use plane only to get to Europe and Russia, in Europe we use tour van.
Why do you play so many gigs while touring? Don’t you want sightseeing, just hanging around playing one gig in three days?
John: We prefer to play every day, we don’t like to have days off while touring. At the same time I can agree, that we just come and go, seeing no places around. We came for the second time in St. Petersburg but didn’t see much of the city, though we walked around a little bit with the guy from Stop the Silence after the gig last time. We know that there are beautiful statues, buildings, historical monuments at the places we come to play, sometimes we manage to see some part through the van window.
What was the farest point you reached while touring? Japan?
Nick: I guess, it depends on how you look at it, Japan might be even closer to CA than Russia. But Japan is the farest point culturally, lots of differences.
John: In 2012 we drove the Europe through and reached Spain, we played Northern Ireland as well, in Russia it was like ten days of driving and playing very far from Moscow, some of the places I’ve just mentioned can bó viewed as our farest.
Do you want to play in some bizarre places following Nomeansno’s Brunei experience?
Nick: We played in South Korea, that was bizarre enough. There lives a guy we know from California, who is doing some art happenings. But it didn’t actually work out well, the only people who came to the show were Americans, who’s working in Korea. Now we try to visit some major places of our followers not getting too far.
Nick, the next question is personally yours. Taking into consideration that in early times Hella was kinda shock of impression for you, do you think Bygones had the chances to come to the current level of Tera Melos’ songwriting before your band did?
Nick: Partially yes. It was even before Patagonian Rats, at that times I started to change my writing style, just for instance, the chords were different sounding. Definitely, making that record changed how I want to write music.
Let’s pass to your recent album. I read like ten of your interviews after the release but failed to find questions concerning album’s title. Maybe it is clear for English speakers but can you explain the title meaning for Russian audience.
Nick: X’ed Out is like crossed out. We’d used that phrase on the t-shirts before the record came out. I heard, that Charles Manson followers carved “x” on their heads and said, that they felt x’ed out of society. There is kinda weird parallel with our band, how does it really fit into anything.
Last ten years were revival period, but in 2010s there are no actual new tendencies. How do you feel about the X’ed Out album now? I mean, you succeeded in composing songs like no other band in the world – they’re experimental and poppy at the same time. How is it to play new music in the lack of new tendencies period?
Nick: I don’t think we play some new type of music. We just do it not in the way the major part of bands do it, but in the way a few bands do it. We are technical band and like to play technical music, though I personally don’t listen to lot of technical music, just like a player. We just add technical aspect to the songwriting tradition of bands like Nirvana and Pixies.
In my X’ed Out review I wrote, that Tropic Lame is a perfect substitution for the actually disbanded Sonic Youth. Maybe I should have mentioned Fugazi instead? So, for this particular song which band do you choose – Fugazi or Sonic Youth?
Nick and John: Sonic Youth.
Nick: Yeah, it is an absolutely Sonic Youth song, but it is an interesting one. When I wrote guitar parts I treated it like Dinosaur Jr. song, but it was just a song I wrote in my bedroom and it was not originally for Tera Melos. Kinda cool, but didn’t really fit into our band. Not familiar with this type of sound, something new. But we started doing it with Nathan and John and it actually did make sense.
You release EPs as well as sophisticated albums, what form of musical product do you prefer?
John: Each form is enjoyable in its way. There is more freedom about EPs, you can try something new, as it’s no fun to make the same record two times in a row.
Nick: When we released EPs it was the only material that we had, there were other reasons as well: Drugs To The Dear Youth was split with my friend’s band, IDIOMS was cover thing. Complex Full Of Phantoms is the songs written with no matter how short it’s gonna be. But what is actually an EP? A short LP. I don’t even differentiate between two in my head. EP Drugs To The Dear Youth is only 3 songs divided into 5 tracks, 20 minutes of the music, and our first album is not actually longer, 28 minutes of the music and 30 minutes of noise.
You all started in punk bands, do you agree with the statement, that all the coolest music in the world can be described as punk in reincarnations?
John and Nick: Yeah, exactly!
Nick: The transformation of idea what punk should be is important. We saw in this crazy squat… Where it was? Berlin?
John: Squat Kopi? Yes, in Berlin.
Nick: Kopi. It’s kinda famous, been around for years, there was 20 years anniversary party, band playing and stuff, something like two thousand people. And everyone there seemed to be “punk”, like from the 1970s – colored hair, crazy costumes. I don’t know how this fits into the idea of punk today. Ok, perhaps it’s like, we’re punks, we don’t really care, we can do whatever we want, but at the same time they care enough to colour the hair, make spikes and mohawks.
John: More than 30 years passed since Ramones and Sex Pistols had started. We prefer the bands of punk origin, who listened to punk and then said – oh, that’s cool! now I want to do something different. Bands like Nirvana and Fugazi. I think, one of the first to do that was The Police – they were captivated by the energy of things going in London, but were as well great musicians and brilliant thinkers and they started playing new music, new wave. Punk is a good springboard for something new.
Nick: When we formed Tera Melos, we decided, that not working in the punk musical context would be the way we remain true to the punk ideals.
© V. Piniaev 03.03.2014