Interview

brains

brains

Friday, 18th February 2011 10:46AM

Matthew McAuley is who most would immediately recognise as the voice of brains. Besides his actual vocal responsibilities in the band, his persistently omnipresent online self can at times be as inescapable as his lower-case grammar aesthetic. Yes, it was a pain adding capital letters to every word in this interview, but at least it was a pleasure hearing the kind of insight McAuley doesnít usually divulge. And with the release of the bandís new album Constant Love Forever, thereís even more depths to this three piece band that are to be delved into.

Itís been a long time coming now. What delayed the albumís release?

We recorded it with our friend Tom Bell just before we left Dunedin, then I spent heaps of money on moving to Auckland, then back to Wellington, then back to Auckland. Basically I was super broke. So we didnít pay it off for about 8 months I think. Then Tom was busy, we didnít wanna rush it, it was kind of a perfect storm of chilling out. But yeah nah it was frustrating, no doubt.

Does the album mean more to you now that youíve had to wait longer to put it out?

Yeah I think so. Iíve thought about it a lot more now. The meaning thatís always been in the songs has kinda been magnified to me by the fact that Iíve examined it so many times. Iíve listened to it more than anything else over the last year, and in that time itís gone from being something I was pretty worried about to something that Iím totally proud of. More than anything, itís interesting to have something thatís just coming out be such a time capsule of where we were at a year and a half ago.

Whatíll you do if it isnít received well by your peers?

Depends what you mean by peers. Itís kinda already been pretty well received by most of the peers whose opinions I respect in regards to this kind of music. I donít expect all my friends to like it, to be honest I kinda hate sycophancy. Most of our friends still act real surprised when they like our sets. I can deal with that.

Whyíd you go for this particular sound? Would you call it ĎLo-fií?

Fuck no. Fuuuuck no. This shit is so hi-fi itís making my ears bleed. Basically we gave Tom some guidelines for what we wanted and he worked with that. I have literally no idea what heís done but I bloody well like it.

The name ĎConstant Love Foreverí Ė why this choice of words? Is it a Pavement reference?

It was just something I came up with one night. I guess I said it enough times that night to get it pretty inextricably stuck in my head. I didnít even know about perfect sound forever until about 4 months ago. I guess itís also kinda just how I talk. I like to speak definitively, even if I really donít mean it. But this time I do.

How much does the name mirror the lyrics?

For the most part I think itís pretty representative. Thereís a lot about fucking up relationships in there, not all of itís from my own experience and not all of it relates to love in a romantic sense, but that's what most of the album is about. I donít want to go too much into it, because I feel like explanation kinda ruins the speculative part of listening to an album. I like to make up my own mythologies for songs, Iíd like if people would do that for these ones too.

While the dry sarcasm of your twitter personality comes through in CLF, thereís also a more personal side that people arenít so used to seeing. Do you find it hard to expose and express yourself like this?

Iím so amped that people keep bringing up my twitter personality. Criticsí Choice Award is in the bag. And nah not really, thereís still plenty of shit that I havenít talked about in my songs. Itís kinda requisite for being in a band like this. Iíd feel like a bit of a fraud if I was just doing story-songs or something.

Do you think itís harder in New Zealand than anywhere else? Cultural heritage of Ďblokeyí stoicism etc.

Bro Iím from the lower South Island. Town population 700, main industries forestry and dairy farming. I spent my high school holidays working at a sawmill, which essentially taught me nothing but the (incredibly useful, actually) fact that all of that is nothing but a front. New Zealanders are stoic not because theyíre tough, but because theyíre afraid. I couldnít give a fuck if people think Iím weird or whatever for making this music, I write these songs in the hope that someone in a similar position to the one I was in hears them, likes them, realises that thereís more to life than driving laps around nameless rural towns and drinking woodstocks in carparks.

Do you prefer listening to emotional, personal music? Or the kind of darkly cynical stuff you try to put across in the album?

Definitely more of the former. To be honest thatís what CLF is to me. I guess it comes off as cynical but I can be a pretty cynical dude. My favourite album from the last while is Dear Timeís Wasteís latest. I just like Claire [Duncan]ís ability to crypticise things. Sheís a crazy good lyricist. Just really smart and thoughtful. But then at the same time Iím pretty into Boris. I was gonna say ďstuff like borisĒ but I realised that was a lie. I just really like Boris, Dear Timeís Waste, Blink 182 and Street Chant. Oh and Sonic Youth (duh).

Why do you take more of an active role online than your bandmates?

Iíve been a jerk on the internet for years, Brains came well after that. Theyíre just more sensible than me I guess.

Whatís their part in the band besides playing instruments?

Being good as dudes, shooting down all my great ideas, picking me up from the airport sometimes.

Are you guys friends, or is it more a mutual interest thing that brings you together? How do you interact?

Weíre friends with mutual interests. We mainly talk via email these days, but itís pretty amicable. Is that what you mean? I dunno. In terms of music, Hugh or I will generally come up with a riff and take it to the band, then weíll either make something of it or be like ďnah doubt itĒ. Then I usually write some lyrics. It doesnít always work like that though but yeah weíve got pretty similar tastes, so we tend to find consensuses pretty easily about most of our songs. We know when somethingís real shit eh.

How important are local musicians to you? Whoís your favourite local band?

If it wasnít for local bands, literally no one would like us. Seriously, I feel like the only people that like us that arenít our friends or girlfriends are other musicians. Street Chant are my faves probably, though if I started listing all the others that are close, Iíd have to type at least 3 more band names probably.

Whatís your overall opinion of music in New Zealand at the moment?

Itís ok I guess. Iím not really in a position to talk, I never go to shows anymore. Iím heaps looking forward to touring though, I kinda donít have an excuse then. Looking real forward to Sidewalk Meeseís album and new Seth Frightening though. Hardout.

Michael McClelland

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