Yellow walls, yellow lights, blurred mind, programmed beats, anxiety, burning in hell, an epic scene, a golden throne, dispersed distortions, a bridge with no end, Stalingrado street, ATMs, washers at the traffic lights, the Wolf Parade lose a member, Feuerbach and God, within one hour Alexei will say: From religion to drugs, what a hell of interview. While Dan prepares some drinks, I take the chance to ask his wife something more about her writing work, it comes out that she writes short stories and poems, then she prints them privately and sells them indipendently, but this has nothing to do with the lyrics of the songs…
Alexei: I write short stories, poems … but they have nothing to do with the lyrics of the Handsome Furs, we write them together, myself and Dan. It’s different from my short stories or poems, the lyrics of the songs should be singable and they should bring lot of emotions. My writings instead are intended to be read.
I know there is an interesting story behind the title of your album ”Plague Park”, you will also be tired of telling it, but now with ”Face Control” around the corner I would like to know if there is any particular story behind this name.
Alexei: Yes, we like to put strange stories in our titles,”Plague Park” is the name of a park in Helsinky where people buried the bodies of the plague’s deads; in the past it was located outside the city, which then growing incorporated it. Now it’s a huge lawn, very beautiful. The interesting thing is seeing all the people who go there and drink beer, have fun, have parties. ”Face Control”is the Russian policy to let only good looking people into clubs or pubs. Before you enter you have to be controlled and judged.
Dan: Yes it is strange to see these big signs: FACE CONTROL.
I noticed you travel a lot, you’re almost always on the road, between your favorite places it seems to be Eastern Europe, what fascinates you of these places?
Alexei: Dan and I grew up in Canada, and studying history the East seemed to be the enemy of the West, so we wanted to discover what was really there. We were curious about this staff and we love discovering new places. At the end we were very fascinated by these cultures, I think ”Face Control’’speaks highly of the political differences between East and West.
Dan: I agree completely.
Is there any evolution from ”Plague Park” to ”Face Control”?
Dan: It’s different, the instrumentation is always the same: guitar and keyboards, drum machines, but the songs are much more powerful, more quick. We played ”Plague Park” live a lot and noticed that the songs got more powerful during the gigs. Then we reflected on how to develop this power, and in a sense we wanted to understand what kind of band we wanted to be.
Alexei: Yes, it changes a lot. Now we want the people to dance with our music.
When they told me i was going to interview you, i went back to listen Plague Park, and i got a feeling that went over mi head, it was like if the electronic beats of your music are there to limitate the feelings you want to express. I compared it to todays society, do you think that all the technological stuff limitates the real interaction between human beings?
Dan: Definitely yes, we wanted to put this oppression. Now you can do anything with the technology, which in the end behind the screen is always the same, when I look for something on Google it always works the same way. Or when I go to check the email I have always the feeling of losing something. We communicate through bites, we lose that aspect of communication that is the direct interaction between us. I also have the strange feeling that they control us constantly with these stuff.
Dan, you come from a small town, and you Alexei are from Montreal. And this, I believe, is reflected in your music, minimal electro vs psych folk …..
Alexei: Yes, I am from Montreal, but I am originally from a town in the Caribbean, when you’re in a city you are missing some things of the village, and when you’re in a little town you are missing something of the city.
Dan: The expression of two lives … neither is better than the other.
Living in a village forces you to interact with other people, the community is so small you cannot avoid that, the negative factor is that you are not exposed to all cultures that can be found in a city, but at the same time the city makes you feel completely dehumanized, people care nothing of the other. Our neighborhood in Montreal is very nice and beautiful, but when I go downtown i don’t feel any connection with the other people, it’s a bad thing. I feel like a laptop in the middle of others laptops.
I know you get married, how is the life on tour with your husband or your wife?
Dan: It’s very nice, we get along well with each other.
Alexei: Yes it’s beautiful, we both like traveling, we love being on tour.
Did you get married in a church?
Alexei: No, we are not religious. We married on a kind of hill with our friends, it was like a party and we played at our wedding.
So you don’t believe in God, have you got some other kind of belief?
Dan: I don’t have any religious belief, or mystic, I am a realist. I grew up in a Catholic family but after I quited, recently we have seen a large religious meeting , by them, even if I don’t believe, made me realize that these beliefs in the end are a good way to gather people. I think it’s easy to believe in these things, I have many friends who believe in Buddha, my family is very religious and the thing that most annoyed me is that if something happens you are going to blame God, you don’t take it seriously, you think that everything is a plan of God.
Alexei: You are like a leaf in the mercy of the wind.
Do you use drugs? Do you think drugs are a source of inspiration?
Dan: Yeah I use them, but not all the time, I like to use them and then see what happens, but they’re not the source of my inspiration. I don’t use them to be creative, or to write songs , or to play, but I think it is an interesting culture the one of the psychedelic drugs.
”PlaguePark” is well-suited to be listened to after a night of partying …
Dan: Yeah, well I think is suitable, and perhaps returning home after a crazy night. While ”Face Control” has to be listened during the party.
Dan, when you play in the Wolf Parade you have four other people with you on stage …
Alexei: Um … no more …
Dan: We’ve lost a member, Hadji Bakara who was playing electronic keyboards, he is becoming professor in English literature … so … what you wanted to ask?
I wanted to know, as with the Handsome Furs you are only two on stage, how do you manage to capture all the attention of the public on you?
Dan: I have to work hard with the Handsome Furs, especially to make the show energetic and continuously. In Wolf Parade I sing half of the songs, and then during the rest of the show I can concentrate on the guitar. While with the Handsome Furs I have to work more.
You know that these days there is the ”wonderful Festival Of Sanremo”?
Alexei:Yes, we have heard.
Some Italian artists that you like?
Dan: I like Jennifer Gentle a lot, now we have some cd: Disco Drive, Zen Circus …
And I know the old stuff like the work that Morricone has done. I have the cd with his soundtracks and I really like them a lot.
Here in Italy the situation is not very favorable to the bands, and Britain is burning herself with her own hands, so we look with great interest in the scene overseas, what do you think of the American scene?
Dan: I don’t know, I like it in part. A lot of bands play for the colleges, so everything is becoming very predictable, and we are approaching what is happening in England.
However here in Italy for what I saw I really like the scene, the band that will open the concert (Wolther Goes Stranger) is crazy, here bands can do what they want, they seem very free and you can see that they love playing and making music.
Thanks guys, that’s all …
Alexei: Well, from religion to drugs, that was a hell of interview.
Dan: Thanks to you and also to IndieForBunnies …