INTERVIEW: BLACK DICE
Monday 17 September 2012 at 1:02 pm
Black Dice plays the OT301 the 3rd of October, and we thought that this joyous event calls for a recap of an interview we did with them a couple of months ago. Let's get uncomfortable with Aaron Warren.
The new Black Dice album is thoroughly amazing. It's raw, it's itchy, it's weird, it's unsettling and it's extremely cool. So we kind of prank-called Aaron Warren from Black Dice... well, kind of. He made us feel a little silly too, so it’s all fair and square. Fortunately, we managed to avoid making uncomfortable racist jokes, we had our flies zipped and no one even burped. Pretty decent for two strangers hugging telephones to their cheeks, separated by the Atlantic Ocean.
Phone interview by Zofia Ciechowska, photos shot by Landon Metz in Brooklyn, New York.
Zofia calls Aaron.
[One week later]
Zofia calls Aaron.
Hi Aaron, I’m calling to interview you for Subbacultcha! magazine.
Hi, I thought the interview was next week...
This is awkward...
[Two weeks later]
Zofia calls Aaron.
Hi Aaron, I’m calling to interview you for Subbacultcha! magazine. I think I got the dates right this time.
Yeah, but actually the clocks have changed in the USA, so it’s an hour later here and I only have 20 minutes. [laughs awkwardly]
What are you wearing?
Erm... jeans and a short-sleeve button-down shirt.
By the way, how do you know this is not a prank call?
I don’t actually know...
I won’t reassure you.
Let’s play the 'would you rather' game: Would you rather have a firecracker blow up in your mouth or drill a small hole in your own forehead?
Firecracker, I think. Less internal damage.
Would you rather French kiss a dog or have a baby spit up drool into your open mouth?
I’d probably go with the baby if it was my baby. If it wasn’t my baby and it was my dog, I’d probably go with the dog. If it was a stranger’s dog and a stranger’s baby, I’d go with the stranger’s baby.
Would you consider your music as a type of ‘would you rather’ game, in terms of making people expand their concept of music, perhaps sometimes by putting them in uncomfortable situations in order to show them something totally new and exciting?
That isn’t the aim of our music, but it’s great if it happens to our listeners. I guess I felt like that when I was a teenager growing up in Colorado, going to my first crazy gigs. That was when I first experienced a feeling of revelatory discomfort. When I saw Black Dice for the first time and then joined them in 1999, I felt like that, too. It’s a feeling I try to hold on to and it’s something that’s interesting to me in the way that we approach music. I don’t get that feeling very often, it really depends on the place I’m at in my life, I guess. I don’t experience bands the same way I used to, but we recently played a show with Dog Leather and they were really cool, that gave me a kick, they were fun and outrageous and really doing it.
What's the most uncomfortable sound you have ever made in the studio or live, or put on an album?
The thing that makes me most uncomfortable as a person, as a musician, is the challenge of dealing with my own voice. We often disguise vocals with effects, but when you’re recording and just yelling by yourself, that’s extremely uncomfortable. That being said, that’s from an emotional standpoint, not about the quality of the sound. We totally dig the sounds we make. But generally, the point of the band is not to make people uncomfortable or showing people something that they’ve never heard before. We just make stuff that is interesting to us and we want people to like it, understand it and to really rock out.
How does your music translate visually in your videos? What’s the story behind those crazy collages?
For a number of years, we had other people make our videos; Ara Peterson made our first one, Danny Perez made our second video. In 2007, we decided to do our own videos although we had no skills or gear to make them. So we made ‘Kokomo’ out of VHS tapes and internet clips and some software, and that took super long ’cause we didn’t know what we wanted to do! And that has a lot to do with our music, because we were processing an image until it became an image and processing a sound until it became a sound. Last year we’ve started to do a lot more video stuff. Animal Collective asked us to do videos for their Coachella show, so we spent five to six weeks solid on making video stuff. So we set up the video studio in a totally different way and instead of just having three dudes sit around one computer, we really got into messing with hardware, cameras and mixers, playing with feedback and generating shapes from it together. It was more like a jam session where we would all work together and make videos live. It’s really fun; it’s a new dimension for the band.
As an agony aunt, what would you tell our readers to do if someone put them in an awkward situation, like spilling coffee on their Ugg boots or laughing at their chihuahua? Would you tell them to totally fuck up the offender or just play it cool and walk away?
[Laughs] Play it cool, absolutely.
Black Dice are performing at the OT301, Amsterdam, the 3rd of October. This show is free for members.