miércoles, octubre 12, 2011
An interview with FEDERATION X (2006)
(This interview was answered by Bill of Federation X on january the 14th 2006, shortly before I saw them live at Siroco Club in Madrid, in one of the wildest and most vital and ferocious gigs I´ve ever attended. They were one of a kind and they are badly missed by the ones that love R&R at his purest stage. No boundaries. No limits. Just pure, raw NATURE. The spanish translation of the interview was published in the first paper issue of KAPUT, under the title "Los Osos son Amigos, no Comida". Here you have the raw english version of it. No editing. I´m trying to recover most of the original material from KAPUT that wasn't posted here and to scan the mags in order to give the followers a glimpse of how it was. I still got issues stored somewhere in my flat, though, for the ones interested in the touch of paper and the smell of ink. - LUIS BOULLOSA)
KAPUT- You´ve agreed in some interview that you consider the band as part of a tradition that includes bands such as Mudhoney, Karp, Unwound… Which are the common points that define that tradition? Where does that tradition really begins?
BILL- I view the integral parts of the tradition being in a general sense a feriousness without aggression or pretension, and in a more specific sense: volume, syncipation, and performance in odd time signatures, a fusing of prog with metal and some form of punk rock that is uniquely northwest, and by this i mean something that it is honest to a fault and very blue collar. For me, the northwest tradition begins with the bands that you mentioned plus godheadsilo(subpop) and hammerhead (amphetmine reptile). those bands were around when i was in highschool and forming my opinions about music, also influential at that time was Zeke from seattle, nation of ulysses from d.c., and big black and jesus lizard from chicago. the thing that drew me to this bands was the intensity of the music while at the same time communicating a very friendly and loving, and open armed kind of sentiment. everything is o.k., nobody wins and nobody loses.
that's why i love music and not sports. in music you doing good doesn't mean someone else has to loose.
K- How would you define your sound to someone that has never heard of that bands?
B- I guess i would describe it as a metalish, country-ish, american folk kind of thing. which i know is pretty confusing, but those are the things i see in it.
K- Is there still such a strong musical scene in the northwest as it used to be? Do you think that the weather, the enviroment and the social circumstances of that part of America have been influential in the way rock bands sound and think?
B- The weather definately plays a strong part. we were once described as the serial killer sound of federation x, and the northwest has long been known for it's high amount of serial killers: ted bundy, the hillside strangler, the green river killer, and the most recently the d.c. snipers all spent time in the northwest. it is known amongst sociologists that hot weather produces a rise in crimes such as domestic violence and petty theft. i think these kind of crimes act as a sort of pressure valve for crime in society, when this doesn't happen the weather can produce a kind of bottling effect until the crime is expressed in a radical way. i think this same kind of sentiment is alive in the music.
K- As a group, you practice the DIY idea. Is it still something powerful in the USA? Apart from that, what good things did the hardcore era left behind, if any?
B- Tthe diy identity is the thing that everything musical in our scene is built from and has kept the musical community strong and thriving for years, so in that sense people protect it because it keeps all alive and working. as far as hardcore goes-i don't know much about hardcore.
K- What is Rock&Roll for You? What does it mean philosophically, as an idea?
B- Rock n roll to me is intrisically blue collar, so in that sense i think it is less tied to form and composition as it is to what kind of music blue collar kids are making. This kind of thinking i think loosens you up ideologically to different things that are going on around you and accepting the most of what is going on around you as the changing face of the same old feelings that music has always been busy expressing i.e. whatever feelings/emotions these particular individuals cannot express in their jobs and or personal relationships. emotions that can only be released in music. Punk rock i think only differs to rock in that it more specifically addresses a more desperate and urgent feeling but can be expressed in many different forms, and often nowadays is better expressed by bands that people would not be so ready to describe as punk.
K- You say that the band has turned into a family? What does it exactly mean?
federation x is most undoubtedly my family. that's why breaking up has never really been something that we've discussed, because you don't call up your brother and tell him he's not your brother anymore. it just doesn't work like that. there is something pretenatural about ben and beau and i's realtionship and i'm just really appreciative that we have been able to keep playing together all this time (in may it'll be 8 years) it's how we communicate with each other, and we all work very hard to protect our relationship. when we first started the band i thought of it as ben and beau and i playing in a sandbax with the world happening unoticed around us. i still think of it like that. while i love for people to enjoy it. federation x is just for us.
K- Lately, when speaking bout federation X, everybody uses the term "metal". Do you consider Fed X as a metal band? Why? (particulary I see you in an equally distant point from metal, punk and 70´s rock, but that´s just my opinion)
B- I do consider fed x a metal band but only in so much as a northwest indie metal kinda way, but i just as equally identify it with the other forms you cited. but now where starting to get into the ideology behind the name federation x. jenny tatone, a reviewer from portland, once said, "why federation x? Because federation x is aligned with no one." this i think is very apt. and also has alot to do with genre conversations related to the band as well.
K- Hardcore music used to be the most experimental one, when talking about aggressive sounds, but lately seems that metal has taken its place. What do you think about it?
B- I never identified too much with hardcore. it was a little too angry for me and a little too male. i like the ambiguity that is contained within the metal genre. it makes more sense to me. it seems less confining.
K- The song "Hydrogen, Nytrogen...", reminds me of the first Unsane records. Have you been influenced in some moment by the NY noise scene?
B- Not so much, just in so much as most people have heard of these bands.
K- You use four string guitars. How does it affect the sound and the way you have to play? Was it intentional not to have bass from the beginning?
B- It was not intentional in fact it was an absolute accident. i showed up to our first practice in may of 98 with a guitar with four strings on it. in fact it only had four tuning pegs and so did ben and we thought it was really funny and we just kept playing only really started giving much thought until years later. the thing i think it does for the music is activates the band as alsmost like dueling basses. I mean we don't operate in the rythm/lead kind of thinking that some duel guitar bands do, this is where you get references for thin lizzy as well because of the dueling guitar type of things, but because of our four strings and low tuning they are closer to basses, they are actually a kind of basterdized baratone guitar. this lends itself to the bringing out of the bass as a focal instrument that bands such as karp, godheadsilo, and hammerhead were integral in doing.
K- Which is your political position towards the war in Irak? How > would you define the political moment in the USA?
B- The situation in the u.s. is frightning, discusting, and embarrasing at best. i think alot of americans are so bewildered as to the state of our country and our current leadership that they just don't know what to do. but i think most people take a tiny bit of solace in the fact that it can't go on for ever, the world won't put up with it. which is very good, and it needs to be regulated. i just watched a documentary on the u.s. patriot act called "unconstitutional" that i highly recommend. frankly, it scared the shit out of me.
K- Critics insist that there´s a part of folk music in your creations. Do you agree with that?
B- Yeah, definately. our first record on estrus was called american folk horror and i think is some of the best music we've ever done. but the folk element i see in it is more a matter of storytelling and lyrical form rather than guitar or drum related. when we were first working on some of the songs for that record i was singing them over the phone to my mother who is a great piano player of 30 years and she said. those are folk ballads, and it just made a shitload of sense, and so that has influenced my thinking alot in further writing.
K- Seeing it from another point of view, rock&roll is old enough to be, somehow, considered "folk music". What do you think about it?
B- I'm really glad you said that, about rock being old enough to be folk, cause i think that's really what rock music should be at this point: a heritage, a jumping off point for new things, i think when people miss that and just play straight ahead rock, it's often really boring and unaffecting and those are two things that anything that is described as rock should never be.
K- In the light of all this. Do you consider yourself old as life or vanguard?
B- I don't know that i can answer that question. that's probalby a question better answered by others opinions of me.
K- You have a strong reputation as a live band.What can we expect to find on a Federation X Gig? Has it something in common with the records or is it a completely different thing?
B- it is a very different thing, but it's not like you won't recognize the songs or anything. their will just be an entirely different layer going on as well. The great thing about a live show is that they are so volatile. a record is static, but a show can go anywhere depending on the people who are their and the feelings the band brings that night. it's really your opprotunity to physically work out whatever might be going on with you at the moment, and you get to work it with those around you, hopefully facilitating their ability to work out their own feelings during the whole experience. we get to mesh ourselves for a time with people we've never met, but know, you know?
K- Of course your sound is aggressive an heavy… but the first word > that comes to my mind when I listen to Federation X is "natural". I mean, it makes me think of a grizzlie bear or something. Something alive & free. Do you agree with that vision?
B- Yeah, that really complimentary thank you. i think that really just stems from the relationship that Beau and ben and i have together. this band is the farthest thing from a "hired gun" type of band where every member is brought in due to their individual talents. our band is a totall accident, not to say that we don't work hard, we do, but so does everybody. What happens happens, and in the end you never have that much control of what a project does and that is what excites me about art in general. the project decides its own fate.
K- How would you define your evolution as a band, sonically, lyrically and personally?
B- I think we've just gotten better at doing what we do musically, and our communicating with each other has evolved into this very effortless and hormonious kind of thing. we've been through so much together at this point that we are very relaxed about our music and our life together. that ends up freeing you so much mentaly that you hope it pays off in the music but i believe that it does.
K- Your image is somehow aggressive (I mean, for example, the backcover of American Folk Horror, with the rifles) What is the intention of that image? Is it real or are you trying to give some kind of message?
B- Yeah the back of that album was more satirical than anything and it bummed me out when some people didn't get it and thought it was serious. i myself am very against guns, i think they are very dangerous and they make me nervious and i grew up around guns, shooting guns, having them in the home my whole life and i just feel more comfortable without them around i think they are just another example of american excessiveness like mcdonalds, or huge cars or something. it's just so rediculous it has to be pointed out.
K- You´re lyrics have always been more interesting than the usual. Wich are your main interests as a writer?, wich are your main themes and how do you approach them? Are you interested in american history?
B- I love american history and i believe in circular history, history repeating itself and the true nature of man and all that. i feel the best way to look into the future is to look into the past, because it all comes down to a matter of logistics right, people are interested in the past for the most part because it may give them a peak at the likelyhood of their future survival. i really geeked out on the history of manhattan when i was living in brooklyn because you basically have the history of the united states from the end of the last ice age 11000 years ago to know in a geographical pinprick that is 10 miles long and 2.5 miles wide.
K- Your vocals have been often compared with Ozzy or Chris Cornell (I cannot see this one clearly). Any clear influences apart from that???
B- I love ozzy. i thiink he's tops. one of those people that is just born with a beautiful voice and really did alot with it. i really don't care for chris cornell's vocals at all. they give me the willys.
K-- Which are, in your opinion, the most interesting American bands, nowadays?
1.SHELLSHAG- 2 piece, amazing fucking performers and
song writers from s.f. by way of brooklyn
2. SILENTIST- solo project form portland, live drums
to pre-recorded piano tracks, sounds like steve
reich's piano phase with slayer drums on top
3. TUNNEL OF LOVE- 3 piece from boston, stadium rock
through tiny amps, fearless garagerock anthems
4. JAPANTHER- brooklyn two piece www.tapesrecords.com
5. LIGHTING BOLT- you know these guys, from rhode
K- What does "Federation X" means?
B- Affiliated with no one.
K- Could you give me your opinion on some bands I see somehow related with you?
-Stooges- i've never really listened much to this
band, obviously i'm sure their a great band but some
many people are ripping them off these days and we end
up playing with this bands so much that i just can't
listen to their records. the other bands ruined it for
me. this issue is actually addressed in the liner
notes on x patriot
-Unsane- used to dig alot, now not so much.
-Seaweed- great fucking band, loved them at the
time, haven't listend to them for years, should
-Black Sabbath- love em. listen to them all the time.
i wasn't allowed to listen to this band growing up so
i'm really just really getting into them know.
-The Band- never heard of them
-The Melvins- these guys are like the musical
parents of northwest ragers
-Tad- never listened to too much
-Neil Young- getting into alot more as an adult