THE BEGINNING

Each month we ask a past interviewee to quiz someone of their choosing. Fiction picked Suuns.

Suuns2013

We saw you at Les Nuits Botanique in Belgium a while back and it was astonishing. How much room in your live show do you leave for improvisation?

“Lots.  We tend to view ourselves as a live band first and foremost, and improvising is a way for us to keep the songs fresh and ever-changing.  That said, there’s no stated mandate of improvisation in our band – it’s something that has always been happening with our songs and continues to happen. When, on one night, things are flowing well in your brain, you just pluck ideas out of the air and play the first thing that comes to mind.”

You use a lot of dissonance in your music, refraining from giving the listener an easy sense of ‘home’. I think this lack of resolution also stems from your tendency to linger on one note for extended periods of time. Has this always been your musical leaning and what made you this way?

“Yeah that’s always been a proclivity of ours. Our goal with a song usually involves keeping the music buoyant while using very few elements, which can be challenging, but definitely repetition and non-resolution are ways to keep the music afloat.  Also, I think that’s there’s a correlation between the improvisitory nature of our music and the concepts you’re talking about here.  Using few notes that have vague resolution points, or rather more transitional than definite resolution points are forms that provide a lot of fodder for improvisation, which is an important part of the way we rehearse, compose and perform.”

How conscious of an ‘unwritten manifesto’ are you with regard to each time you get in a room and create music? Are there any specific musical taboos you can share?

“In rehearsal we’re aware of actually a pretty definite unwritten manifesto (it’s becoming less and less ‘unwritten’ as I answer more interview questions like this one!) that shapes our sound, at least in the backs of our minds.  When something has, say, “The Suuns Sound”, we know instantly and we follow our instincts, but there are lines.  We toe the lines and try to expand on our sound, but when an idea crosses the line, it is booed mercilessly and quickly thrown out.  We derive our sound as much from exclusion of ideas as from inclusion.  It’s interesting that you should ask that, cos I like to think that the fact we’re a band that even has mandates is pretty evident upon hearing our music, eclectic though it is.  Specific musical taboos?  Ummm, only play what’s necessary; if you don’t have anything nice to play, don’t play anything at all.”

I know you often get comparisons to Clinic and that you put them on when you curated Sonic City. What is it about them that so enamours you?

“They’re an endlessly creative and uncompromising band who do whatever the fuck they want and still manage to be nice chaps.”

How did you find the experience of curating a festival and would you do it again?  

“Curating Sonic City was such a tremendous honour. We were so incredulous that at first we didn’t even know where to start, but after a few sessions in my kitchen, we started to put some things together.  In keeping with our style, we shot for the stars, and put together a festival that even exceeded our expectations.  We’d do it again in a heartbeat. It’s like organizing the best party you can imagine, on a scale much larger than you are used to.”

Tell us about some Canadian bands we haven’t heard of but should.

“Most Canadian bands that I know about are Montreal bands.  Let’s see, there’s Pat Jordache, there’s Valleys, Jerusalem In My Heart, Technical Kidman, Each Other, Ghostkeeper…”

What is your favourite Sonic Youth album and why?

“My favourite Sonic Youth album is ‘A Thousand Leaves’. It is the more experimental side of Sonic Youth. It’s crazy poetry with freakout jams mixed in there. Not much different to most Sonic Youth albums, but this one is craftier. Plus it was in the Jim O’Rourke days, which saw the band get real experimental. Very nice. It wasn’t critically hailed, but that’s because sometimes critics don’t get it. Wildflower Soul is the stick out jam on this one. Originally appearing as an instrumental on the Tibetan Freedom Concert triple cd, the album version has lyrics that please the psych rockers.”

Do reviews affect music?

“Do reviews affect music’s, like, gestalt?  Or do reviews affect our music?  For the former, sure, yes, I think they do insofar as they create trends, especially in the case of music-critique-cum-pop-culture-gauge/advertising-front-style-monoliths like Pitchfork.  And as for the latter, no, thankfully not really.  We’re pretty certain about what we do.  If some people love it, and others totally hate it, then we’ve done what we’ve set out to do.”

Is love the King of the beasts?

“Yes. Always and forever.”

One could say fairly that the narrative of music – in as much as that exists – is predicated on advancement of technology and a notion of progress e.g. the pick-up, the synth. Where do you think the next technological advancement in music will come from?

“Probably from some sort of open-source internet community where a musical idea is uploaded onto a server and then someone manipulates that idea and puts it back on and it keeps going around and around and so then there are no such things as bands anymore, but music becomes this really, really democratic repository of social notions all together at the same time.  Fuck.  That sounds awful.”

With the previous question in mind but on a wider scale, has the internet broken the future?

“Sure, yeah, in a way. But that’s not to say that the zenith of musical expression exists in the most accessible, democratic platform possible.  I think that in fifty years, we’ll have been to a point where music fans realize that the bursting of the content dam that the Internet has recently proliferated results in just too much choice and too much mediocrity, and we’ll return to being a more discerning, less content-hungry public. For all the talk of future this, open source that, everybody express him/herself whatever, I like to think that the desire for music that aligns you with the cultural movement you feel most a part of, music that you listen to over and over and identify with, will overcome this new found omnivorous, almost gluttonous consumption of music that the internet has endowed us with.”

And to end on inane question so that we all go home feeling safe and comfortable: what was your last encounter with a paperclip?

“Used one to keep my taxes in order.  Suuns do taxes too, you know.”

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