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A Place To Bury Strangers

A Place To Bury Strangers

Interviewed by
Ben Coley
Monday 17th August, 2015 3:03PM

Back in 2007, the contract for A Place To Bury Strangers’ debut album was handwritten on a napkin. Since then Brooklyn three-piece have come a long way, they have travelled the world multiple times, released three more studio albums and toured with bands including The Jesus And Mary Chain, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Nine Inch Nails.

Next month, the band’s travels will bring them back to New Zealand for one performance. Their last visit was a blistering set at Laneway Festival in 2013, but this upcoming date is a headline show to support the release of their latest album Transfixiation, an album completed during a somewhat unsettled time for the band. UnderTheRadar spoke with the group’s New Zealand-born bassist Dion Lunadon (formerly of The D4) and chatted about the the new album, the struggles it took to finish it, band blowouts, and why he feels at home in New York...

UTR: How are you Dion?

DL: I'm good, we just got back from a European tour earlier today.

How was the flight?

Not too bad. It was eight hours. I am a little jet-lagged, but I'm okay.

APTBS have toured and played what seems like every place imaginable. You obviously enjoy the touring lifestyle and visiting new places?

Oh yeah! I love going to different cities. It's really exciting playing a place you have never been before. It's an awesome thing to do.

What do you think it is about APTBS music that transcends and makes you popular in so many different countries?

Hmm...we are quite abrasive, aggressive and even industrial at times. I think that goes down well in Eastern European countries, but I think it is the fact that we have toured so much and built a cult following. It's been a slow build through word-of-mouth and off the back of the live shows.

On the new album Transfixiation, I feel like most songs are trying to a capture a feeling or moment in time that gives the album a live feeling. Is that what you were trying to achieve?

Yeah definitely. It is the first album that we recorded with our current line-up. We were touring for a couple of years before that though, so the band was in a good position and we had a real connection with each other. It was about trying to seize a moment live and not worry about what we were recording with. It may have been one shitty microphone or a hundred microphones. One of the songs is actually us writing a song in the moment, not rehearsing and just pressing record. We made it up on the spot.

How does that compare to previous albums you have recorded?

The album we did before that [2012’s Worship] was mainly just me and Oliver writing all the songs. The two of us would jam and come up with some stuff. It was a bit like building blocks and was really weird actually. It became a very long and slow process and was very hard to see the end of it until the last few blocks were being put in place. It was almost the complete opposite of how Transfixiation was recorded.

So you prefer the way Transfixiation was recorded then?

I do prefer the way we did Transfixiation although it's good to change it up from album to album, especially with APTBS. We are always trying to do something different from what we did the time before or at least have a different approach. The approach might not be comfortable for us. It could be an uncomfortable way to do things and be monotonous or even a challenge. We are always trying to push ourselves over the edge and take our music to new places. This is Oliver’s band and he has a certain vision. We are all trying to keep with that vision and come up with new, crazy ideas to keep it fresh, no matter how wacky they might be.

It is quite well documented that your relationship with Oliver has been strained at points, do you feed off that energy and use it when recording and playing live?

Oh yeah! What happened was that we wrote and recorded most of Transfixiation before we went and did this massive tour in Europe. It was a lot of fun and a great tour actually. We had been spending so much time with each other though, and we got back and things just exploded. It was mainly between me and Oliver but kinda between the three of us. We didn't speak to each other for about two months. In that two months he wrote a bunch of songs which ended up on Transfixiation. So in that way it was good. We wrote most of it in a positive state but to finish it off we had to go through a rough period. You sometimes need some inspiration when writing music. You can pull stuff out of the air if you want, however when you have something that you really want and need to write about, that’s when it’s real. I think the listener can hear that.

I understand that. I feel your music has a volatility to it and sometimes seems like it could just explode and shatter into a thousand pieces…

Uh-huh. At times it was a bit like that when we were recording. The song ‘I will die’, which is the last song on Transfixiation was the song we wrote on the spot. The album version is the actual recording of us playing it for the first time and it could have fallen apart at any second.

Are you looking forward to coming back to New Zealand?

I really am looking forward to coming back. It's been a while.

You’ve lived in New York for a long time now. What is your relationship with New Zealand? Do you get back much?

No I don't. I pretty much only get back when the band tours. I don't have much family or anything left in New Zealand now. My Dad lives there but he comes and visits me. I have always been a very determined, hardworking and focused person - and not to say New Zealand isn't like that - but New York is made for the kinda person I am. I feel at home here because of that. There is so much energy and lots of opportunities to make a living from being a musician. I also really love to travel and it's much easier from New York. New Zealand is a long and expensive trip. I do miss it though and I miss my friends there.

How does it feel looking back on The D4? Does that feel like a long time ago?

It doesn't feel that long ago to be honest. They were great times. I was in my 20s and it was exciting. It taught me a lot about music and the different sides of the industry. I had a blast and I look back on those times fondly.

I heard you are also working on a solo album. How is that coming along?

It's finished. I recorded it after the blow up. I literally came home and within 15 minutes of us saying we weren't going to hang out for a couple of months I had written a song. I ended up writing and recording 50 songs in three months. Hopefully that will come out in the next year.

Nice! So what can we expect from the APTBS show?

I knew you would ask this question and sorry if I am rambling but I am really tired. My favourite bands live are ones that I have gone to see who I didn't expect to blow me away. I would advise people who maybe aren't familiar or not that into our type music but who are interested in the artistic side of music to come and check us out. You might be surprised at what you hear.

Thanks Dion, go and get some sleep!

Thanks, seeya!

A Place To Bury Strangers are playing at the Kings Arms Tavern in Auckland on Monday 7th September, head over here for more information and to buy tickets.


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