Piano Wire is one part tongue-in-cheek not to the rock star egos and mythical marathon tours, one part the real deal. We caught up with them after they finished their recent tour of the UK.
Is there anything you learned from touring in your previous band that you are adapting to Piano wire?
I have a complete inability to learn from my mistakes so nothing has changed I’m glad to say. Touring is like everyday life, really. You start at the bottom of a mountain in the morning with messy hair and broken finger nails and you have to race to the top blindfolded. We usually find this quite easy but we need to have certain things. A compass, Time Venning’s mind, a biker jacker and a few ladies of the night just for the idle banter and gossip and possible the directions in the unlikely event that get lost. I sincerely believed that music the only thing worth living for…
You have spoken out about the importance of dynamic live performance. How do you keep things fresh? What are some of the more memorable shows you’ve had? What bands do you think are progressing music in a live setting, in any genre?
We have a constant stream of new material disturbing our rehearsal space so we are shedding new ideas to each other and to our fans. We love playing live so it’s a passion as much as a necessity. We have no other way of communicating with society or dealing with the individual pressures of being four young fanatics in London. We’re obsessed and we’re excited… Personally I think Sleaford Mads are the only current thing worth talking about. I need to see them live.
Most of our readers will have been rather young during the early ’00’s, when you were part of your previous act, Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster. What was being in a touring band like then, and how does it compare to now?
It was a different dimension. No worse and no better. Just different. You can live a million lives in this body and Eighties Matchbox was one of them. A great band with incredible people.
Guitar pop is increasingly being replaced by elaborate, digital soundscapes and hip-hop influenced sampling. What is there left to be accomplished with the guitar? As a band how do you think you fit into the current pop-culture narrative?
Absolutely everything can be accomplished with guitar, bass and drums. It’s rock’n’roll in its purest form. Totally flawed but completely unblemished. You can change your perception of the world when you see a band. That’s how it is for us. We don’t belong here or there or anywhere really. We’re inspired by Captain Beefheart, Bavid Bowie, Gun Club, The Clash, Oscar Wilde, Frank Black, 13th Floor Elevators, Charles Bukowski, Elliot Smith and Braniac. I think we are totally on our own and we always have been. The people, the music press, our contemporaries and ultimately the universe made it that way. It wasn’t really our choice necessarily but you learn to embrace it.
Can you talk about the influences on your album The Genius of the Crowd?
The title refers to a Charles Bukowski poem. One of Andy’s favourites. We’re inspired by literature and film as well as music and each other. When Andy and I worked through songs we weren’t really sure where they came from. The melodies, chords, lyrics and experience was mind-blowing. Whn you try and explain any process you rupture its magic. Sandanista, hookers, drugs, Arthur Lee, A Storm In Heaven and the memoirs of being a socio-path all played a part on the day.
Songs like ‘Superstar’ and Blue Canyon Eyes’ combine some very melodic, pop sensibility with more abrasive, electric elements. How do you challenge yourself in terms of your song-writing? And do you think you have a compositional signature that people will be able to look for in your music?
I believe in dreams and the realm of the fantasy. A sub reality of extreme pleasure and passion. Hasn’t everyone felt like a ‘Superstar’ when in reality they are a selfish, ignorant prick? ‘Blue Canyon Eyes’ is about wasting your life on heroin. We aren’t saints but we try. We aim to be the best we can but I’m sure we fail. Failure is an integral part of the battle really. When you start getting desperate everything starts falling into place. That’s been true in my experience.