click here for more
Interview
brains

brains

date
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 doesn’t usually divulge. And with the release of the band’s new album Constant Love Forever, there’s even more depths to this three piece band that are to be delved into.

It’s been a long time coming now. What delayed the album’s 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 didn’t pay it off for about 8 months I think. Then Tom was busy, we didn’t 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 you’ve had to wait longer to put it out?

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

What’ll you do if it isn’t received well by your peers?

Depends what you mean by peers. It’s kinda already been pretty well received by most of the peers whose opinions I respect in regards to this kind of music. I don’t 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.

Why’d you go for this particular sound? Would you call it ‘Lo-fi’?

Fuck no. Fuuuuck no. This shit is so hi-fi it’s 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 he’s done but I bloody well like it.

The name ‘Constant Love Forever’ – 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 didn’t even know about perfect sound forever until about 4 months ago. I guess it’s also kinda just how I talk. I like to speak definitively, even if I really don’t mean it. But this time I do.

How much does the name mirror the lyrics?

For the most part I think it’s pretty representative. There’s a lot about fucking up relationships in there, not all of it’s 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 don’t 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, I’d like if people would do that for these ones too.

While the dry sarcasm of your twitter personality comes through in CLF, there’s also a more personal side that people aren’t so used to seeing. Do you find it hard to expose and express yourself like this?

I’m so amped that people keep bringing up my twitter personality. Critics’ Choice Award is in the bag. And nah not really, there’s still plenty of shit that I haven’t talked about in my songs. It’s kinda requisite for being in a band like this. I’d feel like a bit of a fraud if I was just doing story-songs or something.

Do you think it’s harder in New Zealand than anywhere else? Cultural heritage of ‘blokey’ stoicism etc.

Bro I’m 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 they’re tough, but because they’re afraid. I couldn’t give a fuck if people think I’m 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 there’s 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 that’s 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 Time’s Waste’s latest. I just like Claire [Duncan]’s ability to crypticise things. She’s a crazy good lyricist. Just really smart and thoughtful. But then at the same time I’m pretty into Boris. I was gonna say “stuff like boris” but I realised that was a lie. I just really like Boris, Dear Time’s Waste, Blink 182 and Street Chant. Oh and Sonic Youth (duh).

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

I’ve been a jerk on the internet for years, Brains came well after that. They’re just more sensible than me I guess.

What’s 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?

We’re friends with mutual interests. We mainly talk via email these days, but it’s 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 we’ll either make something of it or be like “nah doubt it”. Then I usually write some lyrics. It doesn’t always work like that though but yeah we’ve got pretty similar tastes, so we tend to find consensuses pretty easily about most of our songs. We know when something’s real shit eh.

How important are local musicians to you? Who’s your favourite local band?

If it wasn’t for local bands, literally no one would like us. Seriously, I feel like the only people that like us that aren’t our friends or girlfriends are other musicians. Street Chant are my faves probably, though if I started listing all the others that are close, I’d have to type at least 3 more band names probably.

What’s your overall opinion of music in New Zealand at the moment?

It’s ok I guess. I’m not really in a position to talk, I never go to shows anymore. I’m heaps looking forward to touring though, I kinda don’t have an excuse then. Looking real forward to Sidewalk Meese’s album and new Seth Frightening though. Hardout.

Michael McClelland

links
http://brainsband.bandcamp.com/