LA-based quartet HEALTH hurtled across the globe several times, being pigeonholed as nomadic noise rock savages. They like surprises though. Nobody expected them to come up with a subtle remix album – let alone two. And then just last year they did a soundtrack for the video game Max Payne. Currently they’re busy finishing off their new album and are about to embark on a European pre-album tour. They hardly seem to have a reason for being bored. Still, we called up bass player John Famiglietti to verify that.
Interview by Zofia Ciechowska, photos shot on tour by Nick Helderman
‘But it always pays off – you’re bored a lot of the time and the end is just AWESOME when you release your pent-up boredom and shoot your wad that night, get drunk and do it all over again’
Is there a window near you? What can you see out of it?
‘Yes, I am looking out and I can see a hillside of houses and palm trees in Echo Park. It’s sunny and warm. I can see a dude.’
Do you ever get bored?
‘I guess nowadays it’s hard to get bored, there’s constant fucking entertainment. Even when you take a shit, you’re on your email or whatever. I don’t get bored that often. There is a handful of times that I do get bored of… life? I feel like nowadays we have the smallest amount of boredom in history, you’re always occupied with some bullshit.’
Do you think that boredom is necessary for the creative process? Can excitement exist without boredom?
‘There’s probably some truth to that, I’m not sure. Maybe art has suffered, because people are just less bored? I’ve always believed that really good art or music comes from people who are kind of miserable or live someplace shitty and have some angst to express, so they make great art. But I guess you don’t look back at these creative periods of boredom or shitty living conditions as a really inspiring time either. You don’t remember stuff that way. No one remembers when they were bored, because that’s boring. But sometimes you remember moments when you were bored and then you put that thing up your ass, y’know?’
What’s the most boring thing I could ask you right now?
‘You could read our Wikipedia page to me and rephrase what you read into questions. I fucking hate that.’
HEALTH has toured a lot. What things do you look forward to when you’re about to go on tour?
‘I’m just really looking forward to being on tour, it’s boring being at home! When we’d be touring for long periods of time and then we’d come back home, we’d get this anxious feeling where we wanted to be gone again and play, get the rush and live the lifestyle. I love being on tour.’
Does it ever feel like Groundhog Day?
‘Of course it’s also extremely repetitive and the majority of being on tour is actually really boring, especially the travel. But it always pays off ‒ you’re bored a lot of the time and the end is just AWESOME when you release your pent-up boredom and shoot your wad that night, get drunk and do it all over again. When you’re at home, time can seem to go by really fast and it is not very memorable, but when you’re on tour one week can be very long. Your perception of life is much longer and you enjoy your life more because of that and because you keep changing location. Also, when we were on tour in China we went out of our way to eat funny or crazy shit, like 14 ox testicles.’
But how do you deal with things like not having any clean underwear?
‘I guess that makes tour a little bit more exciting – guessing where you’ll get to do laundry next. European washing machines are the bane of my fucking existence. I don’t know why or how your washing machine technology is so shitty, like World War II or something. I don’t know why it takes four hours to wash clothes in Europe. Especially in Germany, in Germany it just goes back and forth in a cupful of water in there for hours and it’s wet and wet and still wet. And the dryer takes hours and hours too. I don’t know what the fuck’s going on. I can’t fucking stand European washing machines. I love Europe, but there’s a handful of things where you’re just like WHAT THE FUCK?!!!!’
Have you played any of your songs to death to the point where none of you ever want to play them again?
‘Bands complain about that a lot and maybe that’s because their music is boring. I find it very fun to perform the same songs, we’ve played some songs for years. We have the same set list for the entire tour, because we’re just going to play it better as we progress through our tour. By the middle of the tour we play our set so much better and we don’t have to think about it any more. It does not get fucking old to me.’
HEALTH are at De Verdieping, TrouwAmsterdam with Toronto’s electro-hallucinogenic freakout Doldrums on 31 May – free for Subbacultcha! members.