An interview with Eric Copeland from Black Dice, a noise/rock experimental band based in New York. By our lovely Marcel Thee.
1. Why did you decide to compile some of your 12′ materials for the new album along with newer songs?
The idea was that at it’s conception; to release all the songs on vinyl through other labels and then just have a CD and digital release at the end of recording it all. Initially, we’d intended to put out the CD, but when Paw Tracks came along, it made sense to work with the instead. Plus, I like having all the songs on some special little vinyl releases, with the posters. The last five songs will also be released as a 12” on Paw Tracks at the same time as ‘Load Blown’.
2. In terms of the writing and recording process, how is it different from your previous albums, such as Broken Ear Record/Creature Comforts? Did Eric’s solo album influence it in any way?
We spent a long time working on this one, on and off. It was also the first one where a lot of it was created in the studio to some extent. And it was also the first one where we recorded ourselves a little bit, which was an entirely new experience. ‘Hermaprodite’ I made it all by self recordings, so I felt pretty capable in our practice space doing it ourselves.
3. Most Indonesian “noise/experimental” musicians tend to gravitate towards more electronic sounds rather than organic ones. Do you and the rest of Black Dice have any preferance in this matter? And why?
I’d say we all love electronic sounds and work with them to some extent. But we definitely don’t restrict ourselves to any one sort of sound. As long as we like what is being done with the sound, the source tends to matter less. We don’t really take a stance in this matter.
4. The earlier Black Dice materials was much more harsh and trash oriented, but had a more “traditional” song structure form. Do you see Black Dice infusing some of the more traditional aspects of songwriting again into future materials?
I don’t know if they were really ‘traditional’ arrangements or structures. But the music was different, as was the instrumentation. But I guess if you keep going, you eventually end up at some familiar places, to you or to your audience. But even then, how do you mean traditional?
5. Are there certain secret languages or cues that all of you have when writing and performing, in distinguishing parts of a song? Maybe as a signal to “move” the song from one part to the other? Do you have it written down?
Definitely, but not always. Sometimes we all have a tolerance that we act upon together to know when to do that. Sometimes one of us leads, while the others follow. Alot of it depends on how a set is moving, where it needs to go. So, for instance, some changes have to be initiated by one person as the others aren’t in a position to make the change alone/first. Sometimes we have to write it down, sometimes we just talk about it, sometimes its eye contact. It really all depends on the circumstances..
6. Was there any specific moment/inspiration when you decided this was the kind of music you wanted to make?
No, not really. We’ve been stumbling into these places pretty accidentally.
7. Which of your albums would you recommend to a Black Dice novice as an introduction to your materials?
Me, I’d always say the newest one. Or, I will sat ‘Creature Comforts,’ because it was hard for a lo of people to get into, but I also feel like is a good place to get on board with the trajectory of following up with the rest of the records.
8. Would it be okay if you share with us some your live equipment set up?
We play a guitar, some delays, pitch shifters, electronic drums, a sequencer, some minidiscs, a sampler machine, some mixing boards.. Nothing to exciting for gear people I don’t think..
9. What would be the perfect setting for listening to a later-period Black Dice record (Broken Ear Records, Creature Comforts, the upcoming Load Blown)?
I’ll sat that I usually think our records will be complimented by some serine setting, but they tend to sound real aggresive and urban in those surrounds. Now I’d say just taking a walk maybe. Maybe here in NY? Although I wish everyone could sit in a huge room with floor-too-ceiling windows, high up anywhere, with a huge sound system playing the cd, DJ’d with no song interruptions, all three in a row. That’d be perfect.