Factory Floor are redefining the term art rock

Describing Factory Floor’s music is not easy – it sounds like nothing else you’ve heard, which is a right pain for us writing about them. A snappy ‘The Fall covered in experimental synth-gaze’ would be a perfect and pretentious start, or ‘Joy Division with an extra side of gloom-wave’. Neither are strictly true – nor make a great deal of sense – and yet, at the very least, both band names clanged down here are bound to arise again as the twitching compositions of this trio creep out of east London and rumble deep into the bowl-cuts of hipsters everywhere. That’s what happens when you make dark alternative music that’s quite brilliant.

“I have a bit of a problem with it,” says Dominic Butler, bass-thumper and synth-pusher. “Last night in Paris we were interviewed for a fanzine and asked if we were part of the ‘dark wave’ scene, and you’re instantly building up walls around yourself. I’d like to be in a band that makes music that makes us tick at that particular time, so I’m happy being on the fringes of any scene.”

Recently topped back up to a three-piece – care of their rock-star-named manager, Nik Void, filling an unwanted gap on guitar, loops and more synths – the remaining Factory worker (see what we’ve hilariously done there?) is Gabe Gurnsey; a softly spoken Mancunian who’s the group’s veteran member, in charge of drums, samples, more loops and even more synths. Nik joined properly a heartbeat ago (bringing “a more rhythmic feel to the band; an extra colour,” notes Dominic) but Gabe’s been there since day one… nearly.

Explaining how he joined four, sacked one, watched one leave and recruited Dominic, Nik looks comically alarmed at the forever-changing lineup. “Next you’ll be saying that you’ve got a basement full of bodies,” she grins/grimaces from the other side of their Hackney practice studio. They spend a lot of time here. Three hours ago they were in Paris, having played there the night before, and their first port of call on return has been this beloved sound laboratory, festooned with jack leads and instruments and decorated with an equal amount of artwork ideas. Because art is important to Factory Floor.

Already the band notably as influenced by photographs as other bands, their talk and love for visuals, installations and galleries suggests that ‘art rock’ could be the pigeonhole we’ve been looking for, providing it’s real art rock of course, and not the swath of spiky guitars that have been trying to recreate ‘Take Me Out’ since 2003. “I was cleaning a load of stuff out of my mum’s house and there was a folder of my granddad’s old artwork and cine-film and stuff like that,” explains Gabe “for me that was quite inspiring. I dunno, we just take little stories off things, names for tracks…”

“It’s inevitable that you react to something,” adds Dominic. “You might walk out your door and see something, or go to an art gallery, or you could see a film, and you react to it and then hold it in your thoughts and it gets recycled in [the studio]. It just comes back out somehow, in whatever I’m doing creatively.”

And, creatively, Nik’s talking about contributing a piece of art to a collaboration the band have in mind with a Japanese clothing label.

“We’ve talked about a collaboration with this designer where we send over some visuals,” she enthuses “but we were actually thinking about building something and casting it, and sending over the sections with a diagram of how to put it together, so it’s like an installation. We’d like to do some more things like that, and possibly write something for a film, so if anyone’s making a short film out there…”

You’ll not find any visuals at a Factory Floor live show though. Art influences the music but to project imagery over the bands experimental noise-scapes “would dilute both,” feels Dominic, while Gabe notes that it’s been done to over saturation and is thus boring. The music, weird and otherworldly, will be more to hold your attention anyway. It held Bonnie Carr’s of Electricity In Our Homes, so much so that she made Factory Floor the debut release for her new label, One of One, putting out five-track 12” EP, ‘Planning Application’. Hypnotically, it loops and, on tracks like the opening ‘Taxidermy’, grooves to tumbling drum sequences and pre-polished Klaxons bass thuds. Dominic and Gabe’s vocals mumble on and glimmers of calculated math-rock guitars come and go.

Next in line is a Japanese mini album, a new 7” single for us UK-ers, a split single loop collaboration with Colin Newman of Wire, and an appearance at our club night in April. There you’ll be able to see just how much this trio resemble ‘Radiohead’s bastard son with a lust for deconstructing and re-welding Depeche Mode’s shrouded pop’… or something.