‘Powders’ is a primal audible mental and psychical exorcism that feels so raw and is quite possibly my favourite track of 2016. It tears at the chest and elicits an almost interactive response of the listener. The pain, the frustration, the anger is transferred. I felt uncomfortable. “Indifferent Rivers Romance End” is an unflinching crescendo in W&R’s discography. How long was this album in the making and what makes this album stand out from your previous releases?
Ignat Frege: We’ve been working on the album since the 16th century. It was starting to get unreasonable. We actually invented computers to write our music, using horsehair for wires. A highly conductive material, little known.
Felix Skinner: The lyrics to “Powders” came to me in a dream as they themselves were conjured in a dream beheld by my ancient fore bearers. The words, nonsensical to them in their semi-evolved pre-lingual pitiful condition were but a series of grunts and howls, etched into cave walls. We are but a conduit for these words, as meaningless now as they were then.
Have you both sat down and listened to the album from start to finish since finishing it? Or is that something that gets left behind as you move towards the experimentation and evolution of the live performance of the album?
F: It’s fairly well known now that the CIA uses certain songs, played at blaring volumes in maddening repetition, to wear down the spirit of those they have selected for torture and rendition. The Barney theme song, Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”, and every song ever recorded by Wavves are all well known examples. Our album was actually funded in full by the CIA to add to this arsenal and is therefore not recommended for civilian consumption.
I: I am sorry to anyone that has listened to the album from start to finish. Sorry!
|courtesy of invisibleoranges.com|
What is evident from start to finish – is the importance of the dynamic between the both of you. The vocal carnage is carried along beautifully by Ignat’s drumming and similarly shaped by the synths and sounds orchestrated by Felix. Can you explain the relationship between you and how the interaction shapes both the creation process and the live performance?
F: We’ve been close friends for a long time, so long in fact that we share a hive mind, but you know, not technically a hive because there’s only two of us. Some kind of sick, conjoined, chimera consciousness.
I: Felix and I are very close. He lets me pet his cat, it’s really fluffy to where it looks like they should feed it less. But they don’t feed it very much. I saw them feed it so I don’t really worry about that anymore. I do worry when it rips the shit out of my hand when I try to pet it.
F: I cannot say enough good things about my cat, she is wonderful and at a healthy weight.
|Photo © Eron Rauch|
Often when reading anything about you guys the word “Post-metal” is used which to be honest makes me vomit slightly in my mouth. There seems to be an incessant need in the music industry to try and cram something into a genre or label. If anything at all, how would you describe your music?
F: Ok, here we go. I think in general genre is a reductionist ploy for conformity and suffocation. That being said, one can easily recognize the utility of genre to both criticism and capitalism. So long as it’s sincere and intelligent (which it rarely is), criticism can be good and genre can be used as a helpful relational construct to situate art in a larger context, stimulate community building, etc.. In the capitalist setting, however, genre is generally slapped upon the art without or against its will in order to commodify, market, and monetize. To me, that’s when the vomit really starts flowing.
|Photo © Maximilian Ho|
When someone listens to W&R whether live or on record what do you want them to walk away with? Or is this something you don’t even consider but rather is a byproduct of your catharsis?
F: I try hard not to consider the audience when writing or performing (a foolish position, probably). I would really prefer not to have any responsibility over how anyone digests the things we create. If someone does insist on getting something from the music though, I suppose I’m glad, although now that I think about it we should probably start making everyone at our shows sign waivers. We’ll have to consult our legal team.
I: Really sorry! If you want a refund text me!
Lyrically, the new album feels evolved and sharper. Would you agree? And what comes first- lyrics or music? Or is something that sparks back and forth?
F: For me, both music and lyrics are best when they come over unplanned and uninvited, sometimes with each other, sometimes months apart. There’s always extensive editing on both though. Write drunk, edit hungover, etc.
I: It’s way sharper sonically. The boss Samur behind the faders did his magic. You can text him if you want, I have his number. He has this crazy plug in where it makes the reverb go away. Literally every track on our record has that one. It took seven servers at Facebook working around the clock to export each track. We are in a lot of debt now. It was crazy.
|Photo © Maximilian Ho|
Hurt is something you definitely feel when listening to the new album. What are the major lyrical themes throughout the album? Would you say this album is very much a personal emotional work rather than some 3rd person exploration of emotion?
F: There’s a little bit of both. Others reflect the self and vice versa (forever lost in a hall of mirrors). Imagination, dreams, lies, etc. allow us to experience multiple realities, we are able to simulate others’ experiences, relate them to ourselves. There’s a lot of hurt out there and no one wants to own up to it (especially not in America). I wouldn’t claim to express an experience or feeling outside my own but I think you have to be really numb or have the blinders on tight to look around you and not be affected by the suffering that populates the world.
Amidst what some may see as a dark project it’s also clear music aside the black dark humor of W&R is ever present. Your twitter account is one of my favorite daily reads. In an industry that prides itself of taking itself too seriously how important is it to take the piss every now and again and shake the ego down from the trees?
F: Absurdity is one of the primary flavors of existence and I think you’re right that the music industry is over saturated with it. If you’re taking yourself seriously you’re either trying too hard to become financially soluble in a system that’s gamed against you realizing that dream long term, or you have some serious psychological issues that you should probably seek treatment for.
What are W&R listening to right now and what/where do you draw your own musical influences from?
F: Top records of the year for me are probably Jenny Hval and Anohni. For most of my day, I’m typically listening to a lot of ambient and minimal electronic music, the more pretentious and experimental the better.
I: I like Jenny Hval a lot. I heard the new one and was like why are we making this dumb music with screaming in it?
What does the rest of 2016 hold for Wreck and Reference and are we likely to see you guys tour outside the US anytime soon?
F: We’ll hopefully do a few more shows this year if the right opportunities presents themselves, but our focus now is writing new and radically different music. We’d love to get out of the US again as soon as possible though, perhaps next summer.
I: I want to play Berlin again and go to Berghain because I heard it rules. If you’re reading this please let us in!