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Interviews

Aufgehoben: Counter-Intuition

By Published: December 4, 2007
Playing Together

GS: I think [the drumming] is one of the strong points of the band.

PG: Sometimes I find it hard to tell who's done what.

GS: The drumming always sounds very different.

SR: It's much more obvious live than when it's been mashed.

GS: It's very noticeable to me, the difference between the drummers.

DP: When you actually get the disc, it's a lot harder.

AAJ: It's very clear there are two different styles of drumming.

SR: It wasn't like that initially though because that was one of the things at those very first sessions; there was some core stuff where we just had shared references. We could just play in time...

PG: ...and virtually duplicated ourselves.

Aufgehoben / Anno FauveSR: It wasn't really until Anno Fauve that we started taking it apart.

GS: I think it's a much better improvising group now.

DP: That comes with practice.

GS: I think live, from an audience's point of view, two drummers is great; [to SR and PG] you do look different when you play.

SR: I think the more diverse we've become, the better it is...

GS: Of course.

SR: ...because Phil's doing stuff that I don't even attempt to do.

GS: I'm regressing into rock now. No, I am. I've picked up on all of you lot. How do you feel about that?

DP: It's OK. I like both of what you're doing. Some of the quieter stuff, it's very hard to hear what you are doing.

GS: Over time I've been asking, "Do you want some more of that?"

SR: I think for the live context, it works.

GS: If you do all of that stuff, people love it.

SP: On the long track from Fifth, there is no rock guitar in that at all. That is what really interested me in that.

GS: I only work on what I'm playing now, like yesterday. That is how I work. But in a group context...I like doing it; I just don't do it, because I'm working on something else. It might creep in; it might work. But I play the same whatever I do.

SR: I'm more interested in how Gary's ongoing developments pose interesting challenges for how we respond—it's one of the key elements that opens the path to our on-going integration of rock music and its supposed constituent elements.

GS: I don't think it is rock guitar; it's just bending strings. I did do a bit today, and it made me laugh. But live, the truth of the matter is, people love it.

SR: I think the absence of it in the recordings for the albums is what's really interesting. It means we're responding in completely different ways; because there isn't a vocabulary to go with that, we're off somewhere else.

GS: What I'll try to do is find a balance, where it is right to bring certain things in.

SR: It does present interesting problems; particularly on the fifth album, where there were points, when I was working on that, where I can't find any reference points in it. Nothing is working in any orthodox way whatsoever. There are points where it gets really kind of scary, where I think they've just lost the plot but actually pushing it to the point where it gels into something.

GS: The way I work, obviously, when we're all playing together I will be listening to all of you. Today I could hear all of you, what you were all playing. From my point of view, I am reacting to all of you. That is important to me. It's like me playing the guitar by myself, but now it's a group, so I'm reacting you as opposed to just solo guitar or a duo or something. There is more to feed off.

SR: That was something that I only really became aware of when I was working on Magnetic Mountain, where I did a lot of close listening to what you were up to. There were ways in which you were doing things that were responding to the two drummers even when we're not together. That's just a different league of playing, really. You were fielding stuff between the two drummers that brought the two of us together, even when we were pulling apart, and that is something that I don't think, coming from where we'd come from, was even a thought we'd had. I think we've still got technical limitations doing that but we're quite comfortable going with that.

GS: Essentially, it's rhythm-based, isn't it. You listen to stuff when you're playing with people.

PG: It has to be when you're playing with two drummers really.

GS: Not necessarily.

SR: I don't think it is the drummers that are doing it, that's the thing.

GS: It is a very rhythm-based group. Even when it is quieter. And also, there is a very strong textural thing, especially with what David is doing now. And my playing has become much more textural. Really, in many ways, there is not a lot of air. A very textured group with strong rhythms and a strong rhythmic undertow too. In many ways, there is not a lot of air. For me, it's very easy to feed off all the things that are going on. But in many ways, it is very defined; there are two drummers, David and me. I can hear what you're doing. And I can play or not play; it's interesting, a lot of the time I'm not playing very much. I'm underneath or not playing sometimes. So, from my point of view, playing in the group is very defined. It is very easy to work with even though there is a lot of sound. To someone listening to it, if you said to them it's easy, they'd go, "what?," but if you're inside it and you know how it's working, it's quite defined from my point of view. Besides the sounds you're using and the actual positioning, I quite like that.

GS: The thing about being in a rehearsal space or recording studio is that you can stop. There is no energy from the audience. As a band, you pull together; that is the thing about playing live, you pull together. That's why there is no trouble playing live. Our evolution is improvising, isn't it?

DP: We're not improv.

GS: Not improv. Not that.

AAJ: Are you militantly not improv?

DP: I am.

GS: It's a debased term.

DP: I think we're against the formula of improv. It is so un-improv, it is such a definable dead language.

AAJ: It is interesting your use of "counter-intuitive," because part of the improv ethos is that you are always counter-intuitive, you never go with the flow, you work against it.

DP: There is some really good line about when the counter-intuitive becomes intuitive, then you're in trouble.

GS: Things move.

DP: We've always wanted to have that raw energy that a rock band has.

GS: The actual music itself, there isn't a heavy content. I shouldn't really say this. The overriding thing is the attitude of the people doing it. That is why this group has got an identity, an attitude.

DP: Speaking for myself, that is where not really being able to play helps.

GS: I think it's just the sort of people that are doing it.

DP: That is my whole attitude to everything. I'm not a musician. I don't really play anything. I'm very much more interested in structure, in aesthetics, in the mood and tone of something than I am in anything to do with the musical virtuosity of it.

GS: I don't think virtuosity...

DP: That is what interests me in playing with you; you've got virtuosity and to me I'm more absolutely interested in aesthetics...

Aufgehoben / Violence of AppropriationGS: It's only what you do with it. That's true of anything. You can be playing your Bach violin pieces and got them down pat, but step outside of that situation and you're dead, you know. It is only what you do with what you've got. That is really what it is all about. If you've got limited resources, you can make some fantastic statements. Statements are important; they're a really big thing in music, making a statement. It can be one or two things. It might be the only thing you've got; it might be a blast. They're important, those kinds of things.

DP: That's why I love that Ornette Coleman, where he got his twelve year-old kid to play on an album. Everyone was horrified. He's self-taught on violin and trumpet as well.

GS: But it's really about how you do it.

DP: He hasn't got the technique.

GS:It's about how you do what you do. I suppose it's true of everything, say sport or something. You've got a footballer who's got fantastic skills but is a bit boring, another's got less skills but is a fantastic team player. It's really about how you deal with what you've got.

AAJ: It's all about energy and commitment, is it?

GS: And shin pads.

DP: That's the rock'n'roll bit as opposed to the improv thing..

GS: If you listen to the music, there's really nothing there; you've got the drums when it's kicking in, there's no riffs, no harmony.

GS: I don't know if it's a good thing, the differences; it's sad in a way. I can't always share all the things you love to get enthusiastic about. I might do over a period of time. What I'm interested in would bear no resemblance to what I play on the guitar.

SR: That is the funny thing with this. It really has become so divorced from anything that I can relate it to. I might even be thinking about something when I come to work with this stuff. It's so far removed from anything.

DP: I can't think of anything that's influenced what I do in any way.

PG: The only thing is free jazz drumming when I'm playing with Aufgehoben. Although there is a bit of a free jazz element to it.

GS: To your playing? Yes, there is, sure.

SR: I have none of that at all. I've just been listening to a lot of Napalm Death and Slayer.

GS: You know what I'm like. I'm somewhere else.

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