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Veröffentlicht am 24.02.2016 | von Jana

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NADA SURF – Interview

Eigentlich ist es für einen Wintertag in Berlin viel zu schön an diesem Morgen und viel zu schön um drinnen zu sitzen erst recht, doch Matthew Caws von Nada Surf hat sich dennoch für eine Promotag ins Cityslang Büro begeben um über das anstehende neue Album ‚You Know Who You Are‚ zu reden, das Anfang März erscheinen wird. Aber auch für ein paar andere Themen und ein kurzes Fachgesimpel über Handschriften und gute Füllfederhalter war in der entspannten Atmosphäre eines Dienstagmorgens durchaus Zeit.

Nada Surf - Interview

You work together with City Slang for the last 11 Years. Is it important to have people around you you know well and you can trust?
Yeah it is for a few reasons. And one is our early experience was a little wild. We didn’t know what record company to sign to. We wanted to be on an indie label but non of the ones we liked were interested. And then, some major labels wanted us, and that seemed weird. And then we talked to three of them and then settled with one, which was Electra, which meant different things in Europa and different countries. Our first record went ok and the second record started ok but then the Americans didn’t want to put it out in stores and so in Europa it was taken out of stores and then we couldn’t get the records back. And all the stuff happened, which for a while meant that in interviews somebody would ask the opposite question. They would say: “Oh my god, you’ve been on a million record companies, do you hate record companies?”
But we always wanted to get along. It’s just not the way it went at first. But now it’s ten or eleven years we’ve been on CitySlang, and we’ve also been on Barsuk in America this whole times. In England we’ve changed a few times but we are friends with all the people that we worked with. So, the really nice change is that early in our carrier part of being in a band was worrying about wether you got along with a record company. Did they really support you, were they telling you the truth about the future and stuff? And thats not even the question. You know, Christoph who runs CitySlang is a dear friend of mine and Severin too and I have a lot of friends here and Barsuk the american Label, the guy who runs it I would give him the keys to my house. It’s like family now. And that’s really nice. And so it’s gone from being negative to neutral to positive.

I saw your tweets about Donald Trump and american politics. Do you think it’s important for musicians to show their point of view on politics?
I know what you mean and I… well sort of yeah. I mean I think it would be ok if we didn’t express our opinion as well. But I choose to use this kind of platform in a positive way when I can. And whether that’s just by putting out an positive message. I think our songs do, I think in general some were written from a kind of a sad point of view, not all of them. I think the vector is always pointing up, no matter if it’s a happy song or a sad song, it wants to be happier. And you wanna be good to yourself and to other people if you can. While admitting that thats not easy.

And in terms of politics, there are certainly some people…You know on Facebook, when you post something as a company, as a band or whatever, you can read all the stuff about what your post did. How many hides and how many unfollows and all that stuff. And definitely when I post something about police brutality or even just sympathy for people who suffered an accident or an attack, a natural disaster, there are some people who won’t follow.

I try to be kind of a little gentle though, I posted something on my personal Facebook. But there are still a lot of people I do not know on it, so it’s kind of public. I don’t have 4000 friends obviously. So I posted something about these militants in Oregon, who take over federal buildings and making the point a lot of people made. Which was like, “Hey, sorry to bring this up, but if they’d been black this wouldn’t have lasted half an hour.” And now they still occupy it. It’s unbelievable! And somebody was starting of arguing with me and took a really opposite point of view. And I took a kind gentle tone with him. And some friends of mine then posted: “Why you being nicer than I would be?”. And I was like “yeah” but I don’t wanna be ailing him. Conversation is the most important thing. Just stay in an opposite point of view is fine but maybe that doesn’t always help change. Like in a way, everybody who agrees will agree a bit more absolutely and people who don’t really agree will be like: “Why are you so different?”. I think the ideal would be conversation, thats the best because than people learned.

Is it a possibility for you to write political songs?

I am not very good at it. And I don’t mean just that I am not very good at political songs. I am not very good at topical songs. If I attend to write more about just my own life in kind a direct way or if I am writing about my own life about something thats to personal, then I write about it in an more indirect way by putting metaphores in it. But I tried it. You know, there is a song called “No Snow On The Mountain” which is about global warming and there is a song called “Fox”. It’s about Fox News and about deceptive journalism. So I guess it happens now and again. And I’d like to try it again. I’d like to write a song for Bernie Sanders. I hurry up and do it soon. He is a candidate I like. I will be happy of course for Hillary Clinton as well if she is nominated but I think Bernie would be very good, too. So as I get older I do find that I am less willing to just write about my own problems. You know, I started out that way and it’s what I knew and I still do it sometimes but I am trying consciously to expend and not just doing that.

When you released your last Album you said you want to bring your live sound on that record. The new one sounds different, softer. It sounds like it starts more melancholic and gets more and more positive. So did you change anything in the record process again?
Yeah we did. That wasn’t the goal anymore. Very often we don’t have a goal, and I would say this time too. It’s back to freestyle. On the last record it was kind of a combination of a few years we’ve been noticing that we play faster on stage than we do in the studio. And that difference felt sometimes frustrating because you wanna do it naturally. But we had some songs, that I think, people are used to this record speed, like “Beautiful Beat” for example which has this really kind of medium controlled thing. And we played it live and sometimes it will get a little bit to much and I think it was strange to everybody including us. And so we did it and tried to bring this live sound on the record. And I am really happy with ‚The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy”‘. But here we were back to nothing. You know, back to whatever… and the only intention on this record came after the fact we recorded maybe 16 or 17 songs. And when we picked these ten we were consciously trying to keep it very mixed. And I thought in a very obvious way we’ve been gone for four years and now we are back and it’s nice to take stock. And so the song called “The New Bird” is very… to me it sounds like our first Album. And there is an other one that also feels like our excited beginnings. And then we want to be a little new to.

Your music is so constant over the years (and I mean it in a good way) but the character of independent music changed a lot. Do you sometimes think you should go with a trend or a hype? Perhaps thats also a stupid question.
No it’s not. Never ever. And I am glad to say that we never even thought about trying to sound like anyone else. And I think that’s because we were older when we started. When our first record came out I was 29. And that’s not to say we are to old to do something else. What I think I mean that we are old enough to be confident enough not to care. And I love all kinds of music and I am totally open to trying anything but not because of a wave. You know what I mean?
Yes. I think.
I neither mean that to be to proud cause its not.

But do you listen to records when you record your own?
Yes of course, I listen. All the time. My favorite record this year was Beach House, that was really great. 5 Years ago it was probably that PJ Harvey Record “Let England Shake” that was a favorite and Father John Misty the record before this last one. I’ve listen to a lot of folk music last year like older British folk music.

So you travel a lot. So how does it feel to come home after a tour? What do you do to feel connected to a place when you come back?
I live in two homes, in three homes almost. I live in England, in Cambridge, I live in Brooklyn at my house and now more and more in Brooklyn at my friends house. So thats a lot. I think more than having an issue or a problem with coming home or feeling like home, I have a problem or issue with feeling like calm or home anywhere. I am home so little, that I am not willing to do without a home feeling for all that time. Then it would be to hard to travel. But I can’t stop traveling, because not only is it my chosen profession but it’s the profession that makes me happy. It’s not the traveling that makes me happy. But I really like performing for people and that’s even not because of the performing, I think it’s cause I like the people. And it’s also because I have a social contract. After all this years I feel like people that like listening to our music has started get used to hear our records and used to hearing it every year or two years live and I don’t want to let them down. So I wanna keep doing it.
So I started to meditate more as a way to feel at home anywhere.

I love to talk about it for one second cause it’s so interesting that I used to want to meditate and then I would try and would find it to hard and impossible. And I would read that it’s such a great thing. Like apparently you are born with a certain number of neurons and then they just die, so your brain is just dieing your hole life. But meditation is the only thing that can actually slow that down or even change it a bit. Maybe that’s only you do a lot of it. But the thing is that I thought I could not do it. Cause I tried and I can’t be empty. I was always thinking and worrying about something. And then I realized that not being able to do it, is kind of the point. The reason you do it is you fail and failing is good.

Let’s say this bottle cap is attention. And ideally you are shooting for nothing, you just don’t wanna think, but it’s impossible, because you keep making this, you always have attention, you are making attention all the time. So where you gonna put it. So lets say you put it on your breath or on the sound of the wind. At the window, so there it is. And then you thought 3 seconds of this piece and then you start thinking something else. And then you think where is my attention, ok it’s over there, put it back on the breath. And then three seconds later you are thinking, „oh I need new shoes but I don’t know what shoes I like cause I can’t find the ones I like, because they don’t make them anymore. Is it weird that my taste is so specific. Does that mean that I am a hunger person. What does that mean?“ So where is my attention, bring it back. So bringing it back, is that little muscle that is relaxing you. And my mind doesn’t work very well and so I am working on that as a way to hopefully be able to get that home feeling in more places. We will see if it works. I am not there yet.

One last question. What’s art for you or what could art be for you?
Making something is art. Does that mean that you build a shed in your backyard that’s art? Not necessarily. Could it be? Yes. Maybe it’s making something and having your imagination involved in it? Is it art? Could be. Maybe another part of art is that you get something across to somebody else. So if you make a shed in your backyard and you use your imagination and you show it to somebody and they think: „shed it is, art maybe not“. But if you make a shed in your backyard and use your imagination and show it to somebody they think „oh prophetic shed or shed that’s telling me something or making me dream“, because something in the making of it transmitted something to them that was the thing you intended or not. I don’t think art has to tell the other person what you mend to tell them it can still be art.
So it’s something like that. I think it’s somehow your imagination and some intention – whether it is the intention you intended or not – reaching somebody else through something that is outside of you. I mean there is performance art for sure, so maybe that being outside of you doesn’t care.
Maybe, I don’t know if you follow me on Instagram or something, but I said something about David Bowie on Facebook. I was saying something about we have to much in our brains we built kind of weird. We’re built well but we’re built weird. There is a lot of imagination and a lot of activity up there and a lot of things that go wrong. But making things can only help – help you, help other people. So we should encourage each other to make things, whatever it is. Whatever kind of art you wanna make: Do it, do it, do it, it’s good for everybody.

That’s a nice answer. Thank you so much.
Thank you.

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