Foto-© Stephan Strache
Wir treffen Nation of Language in dem grosszügig gestalteten Pressebereich des Appletree Garden Festivals. Aidan, Ian und Alex sind super entspannt und sehr angenehme und aufmerksame Gesprächspartner. Die drei drücken sich unheimlich bedacht und reflektiert aus. Wir fühlen uns in ein New York zu Zeiten Susan Sonntags versetzt. Dieses in sich ruhende überträgt sich auch auf uns, auf die gesamte Atmosphäre. Das Gespräch wird zu einer Oase, einem Ruhepol inmitten des quirligen Festivaltreibens.
Thank you again for giving us the chance to talk to you. We are very happy that you made it to the Appletree Garden Festival this year. We missed you last year. When did you arrive here and did you have the time to walk around a little bit?
Ian: We pretty much only just arrived. We walked around the festival one time just to see everything. We are just exploring.
Aidan: We got here after driving from Haldern Pop Festival, where we played yesterday. On the way we stopped at a castle called Bentheim and strolled down there for a while. So we are actually really running late because we got so distracted by the castle.
So you’ve enjoyed sightseeing?
Aidan: Exactly. We thought of getting in. But it really costs. Still teenage problems.
Tomorrow you are playing in Poland.
Aidan: Yes, at Off Festival.
Ian: Tomorrow is a big travel day. We will be up early. We have to fly from Amsterdam. We have to wake up early, drive to Amsterdam and fly to Poland.
Alex: And then fly back.
Fly back to the US?
Ian: Fly back to Amsterdam for one night and then fly back to San Francisco on the West Coast of the US.
Aidan: We have a long travel. But it is worth to get to all the festivals in this weekend. It is really fun.
You travel with all your backline?
Ian: Yeah. I mean we keep things very…
Aidan: …occasion as possible.
Ian: Because we use like drum machines instead of our actual drum kit, it’s much easier to travel. The cases are heavy but there’s not so many of them, so we can travel.
Aidan: Pretty lean.
And in september you are back in Germany.
Aidan: Yes, we can’t wait.
Ian: We are in Cologne, Berlin, Hamburg and maybe more, I can’t remember.
Aidan: We are very happy to be back in Germany.
And we are very happy to see you.
Aidan: The audience here is very, very friendly and supportive.
Alex: Yeah. Every time.
Let’s talk about your new record. It will be released on September 15th.
Ian: Yes, it is called Strange Disciple. It is our third record. We basically recorded it in the breaks between touring at the end of last year. I’m very excited to play new songs from it live to have people start to hear the songs and get used to the songs. It’s always very exciting when the crowd shows excitement for your new music. It’s very cool.
So you did the recording in between tours. Does that mean you did the songwriting while being on tour?
Ian: Oh no. That was also done kind of between tours, just whenever we found the time.
Aidan: A few days here and there. It’s really hard for us. I mean, I know people talk about writing songs on tour. But I feel like it is really hard for us to be creative in that way on the road. Because we are usually just too exhausted or too distracted to put our minds to that kind of effort. But I respect and admire people, who can manage that.
So you are in a different mode when touring?
Ian: For me it is a very different state of mind. You are always focussed on the next thing, that is going to be happening. Like we have to get to this airport, at that time. You think about a lot of logistics and then you think about the show. In my mind I can’t think too much about logistics and feel creative. That really has to come from having the time to, for my brain to go to a seperate space.
Alex: It’s like a survival or operating modus.
Aidan: Like, when are we going to eat? When are we going to sleep? When can we go to the bathroom? Like the most basic things are occupying most of our thoughts.
Apart from having more time after the tour ends, is there anything else you do to put you into that creative mode, that you need for songwriting?
Aidan: Watch music documentaries.
Ian: I think, just kind of trying to surround yourself with as many inspiring things as you can.
Aidan: Read books. Ian’s desk ist covered in like countless of poetry books. If he needs some inspiration he just pulls one out, picks a random page and starts going through it and looks what is inspiring.
So what is your favorite poem?
Ian: Right now the book I’ve been reading is Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. But there has not been so much time to be in writing modus because we have started touring again and so it is really just small pockets of time.
Alex: Actually we have to think about making more music for a little while.
Ian: Yes, that’s true. Whenever I tell people that I am writing, they say: „Isn’t your album not even out yet?“
Aidan: We have to stay productive these days. No rest.
They always say the second album is the hardest. But what about the third?
Ian: With every album the circumstances are so different. The first album, we recorded before the pandemic. I was working at a restaurant and cafes and just thought of recording whenever we had the time in between work shifts and then we released it at the very beginning of lockdowns. The second album, we recorded during lockdown. When we came out we just started touring these two albums as much as possible. There is always kind of some sort of major to occupy your mind, why you are making each one. That helps to keep any sort of pressure or fear away.
Aidan: Or overthinking about it.
Ian: Which I think is good. Because I dearly want to feel as free and natural as possible while recording. And I think that worked out for us.
How do you know when a song is finished?
Ian: This can be hard to define. I think there’s some kind of emotional trigger in your head that makes you afraid to change the song too much. It’s like when people make bread. You don’t want to overknead the bread. You just get this feeling about when it seems right and you wanna step away from it. So you don’t abuse it.
The word in German would be „verschlimmbessern“ which means to make things worse while trying to make them better.
Alex: Yes, exactly.
Aidan: We had a phrase in the studio “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good“, like don’t try to overdo it to the point, where it is not good anymore. You know?
Do you sometimes have different opinions when this point is reached?
Aidan: Sometimes there are passages in a song, that I like very much and that I think do the song good. That’s why I want them to stay. But then you don’t see it that way and cut them, let them go.
Ian: That is one of the times, where having a producer on the song helps, because it’s someone else, who can help to see it from a little bit farer away than you can and that’s always a good person to have around.
Aidan: To be fair, Ian writes it all. So I am just like, “I don’t know what my impact will be”. I am always the first person, who hears the demos. Sometimes that fact alone, Ian’s knowledge, that I hear it first, influences the making of the song. If you are a producer, you don’t feel the same way. So it is really great to have a third party, who is not attached to the demos like the writer or a person of the band.
The clip for your latest single Too Much, Enough features many musicians and actors. How did it come to that?
Ian: We wanted the concept of the video to be like a news broadcast with many different people and then a couple of friends of us said they will do it. And then we thought it would be exciting if Kevin Morby will be one of these people. He is from Kansas City and so is Aidan. We’ve just been on tour with Reggie Watts and so we asked him if he would help. Just placed together all these people, that we knew and who we’ve met over the last few years touring.
Aidan: They are all so excited, which is very nice. The video turned out like so perfectly. I am really happy about the way it looks.
Ian: Yes. Definately. It turned out wonderful.
If you were to curate your own festival: Where would it take place and who should play there?
Alex: Where is our ideal festival and who’s on the line up?
Ian: Maybe we call it „Too Much Enough“ Festival and there will be Kevin Morby, Tomberlin…
Alex: …Reggie Watts (alle lachen)
Ian: …Reggie Watts, Adam Green. That’s good. We will do it in Prospect Park, so it is close to our apartment. (alle lachen)
Do you also play there yourselves?
Ian: Yeah. We will play.
Sounds good. We have to be there. Last question: What does your Bedroomdisco look like?
Ian: The song we put on at home? Recently Holiday House by Beach House is a song, that I’ve been playing a lot. It’s one of those songs, that when you hear it for the first time, you think you’ve always known the song. And that even though the song is new. Whenever a song can do this, it is very special for me.
Alex: The new Model/Actriz album. I am listening to it a lot. The album is called Dogsbody. It’s just blur unique. It’s just really different from everything, I’ve heard before. The way that the four musicians come together is just very special. So I’ve been enjoying it a lot.
Aidan: I was listening to the same Fiona Apple song a hundred times today which is „Paper Bag“. So that’s the song for me right now.
But no songs from the 80s?
Aidan: No songs from the 80s.
Ian: Not at the moment, but they’re always there.
Thank you very much for the exciting insight.
Ian: Thank you very much for letting us tell you something about our music.