21 Oct 2011
On October 12th, Codes In The Clouds played at the Prinzenbar in Hamburg and I used the chance to talk to the band before their show. Although Stephen, Ciaran, Rob, Jack, Joe and newest member Oliver (percussion) just arrived after a nine hour drive from Belgium (were they played the night before) to Hamburg, they weren’t too tired to answer my questions and rock the venue afterwards with two encores.
Nice to meet you! How was Belgium?
Joe: Very good. It was quite full, but the audience was very quiet, very respectful.
How’s your audience usually? Pretty loud?
Joe: It’s somewhere in between. If they are quiet it’s in a polite way, but the night before in Holland, it was more like a big party, dancing and singing and stuff.
Stephen: We like to encourage them to be loud. They don’t have to act like the typical post-rock audience.
When I saw you playing live for the first time about two years ago in London, you were really shy and introverted. Do you feel like something has changed since then? Do you think you have changed?
Joe: Yes, we’ve become a lot more up-beat and our live-shows are more energy driven. We also have a sixth member now, you’ll see Oliver tonight, see if this makes another difference. We always try to change.
Did the audience also change?
Stephen: We always had quite a mix of people. If people expect to go out clubbing, then they probably won’t be coming to our shows. What changed is more a difference in behaviour, not the sort of persons that come to our shows. To be honest, we’re still amazed that people do actually turn up.
Jack: Yes, like when we were in Holland the other night. There was a town where we’ve never been in, and we’ve only headlined one show in Holland before. And the venue was full of people. We didn’t expect that, it is still amazing.
What has been your best ever gig?
Joe: Oh, that’s very tough. We have favourite shows for different reasons. I probably say the Haldern Pop Festival that we played in August this year. It was just a good night, because we were playing with Ryan (Rival Consoles) and Nils (Nils Frahm), it was an Erased Tapes night.
Stephen: If it turns into a night that they want to be at anyway, just based on the atmosphere, than that’s a good show.
And what has been your best ever gig as a fan?
Joe and Stephen: Public Enemy!
Jack: Daft Punk, but not only because of the music. The whole show was incredible.
Joe: Also Arcade Fire, when they were touring with their first album. And Pavement was amazing.
What was your worst gig?
all: Spanky’s in Nottingham.
Joe: It wasn’t so much that the audience didn’t get it. It was more the case of, that there was no one in the audience.
Stephen: Well, the sound guy loved it!
Let’s talk about your album. “As The Spirit Wanes” was released in the beginning of 2011. Have you read the critic’s reviews about it?
Stephen: If someone’s taking the time to write about your work, then it’s always interesting to read about their thoughts.
Even if it’s a bad review?
Joe: I can’t remember a bad review, where we felt that someone has not genuinely connected with the album. It’s usually the kind of reviewer that says: oh, they should get a singer. Or they pick out like three other instrumental bands and say we sound like them and give us an average or a bad review based on this. No matter what we would’ve done, we never would have interested that person, and that’s fine. I don’t recall a bad review from someone that I thought really got what we are trying to do.
Stephen: One review I really hated was about one of our live shows in Iceland. And it was because the reviewer said that we’re weren’t enjoying ourselves. And that we said we were having a nice time, but that obviously wasn’t true. I thought that was just a really bad thing to say. And that stuck with me.
Which of your songs is your favourite to play live?
Joe: That can change every show for me, it depends on how we feel and that changes every night.
Rob: Plus there are some songs, which are just great to play live and some we tried, but they didn’t work.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Now for something completely different: If you could write a film score, what kind of film would be? Who would be the director? And who would be playing in it?
all: That’s a great question! Let’s see: Bill Murray would be the dad, Woody Allen would be the funny granddad and Jason Schwartzman would be the son. Each falls in love with Zooey Deschanel, but then Zooey runs away with one of the members of the band who did the music. Michel Gondry or Wes Anderson would direct it, the Coen Brothers and Ricky Gervais would be executive producers. Oh and, Audrey Tautou would turn up at some point, just looking good and Marion Cotillard would be in it. Michael Sheen would turn up, playing a real life person, because that’s what he’s best at. He’ll play Russell Brand! The film would have a lot of heart, let’s call it a romantic comedy. (Editor’s note: I definitely want to see this film!)
Joe: We also would remake any Buster Keaton film and just have slapstick music the whole way. With lots of reverb.
Which song would you like to cover?
Joe: I’d like to do one of Rival Consoles’ songs actually. It is hard to cover a song with lyrics, because you don’t want to sound like Kenny G. Stephen: We were thinking about a Madness song. Their music is beautiful to make some post-rock out of it. Doing a cover is not a bad idea, we should think about it.
Are there any emerging bands from Dartford you can recommend?
Stephen: Well, Dartford’s given enough, we have the Rolling Stones.
You’re laughing, does it mean there is no real music scene in Dartford?
Joe: There is a weekly metal night. If you imagine the worst metal music you’ve ever heard, played badly, that’s what it’s like.
Stephen: It’s a really small town and it’s hard to generate a scene, somewhere so close to London. London just sucks off all the culture.
If you could collaborate with an artist, who would it be?
Joe: Brian Wilson. And if Jack ever left the band, I’ll get Ringo to replace him.
Let’s do the money talk: Does your music make your living wage?
Joe: It doesn’t make the living for us, but it does enough that we don’t have to prioritise our other jobs. We have to do them to pay the bills, but none of us is climbing the ladder of work. We’re all committed to the band. Hopefully eventually we can cut off those other jobs completely. Work pays the bills and then the band pays for the fun.
Stephen: If someone asks us what we do, we say musicians.
What’s the worst thing about being a musician?
Joe: The worst thing is carrying equipment. But once we’re millionaire rockstars, that won’t be an issue.
Stephen: Sleeping in vans and being late and stressed all the time, that’s the worst thing.
What’s the best thing about being a musician?
Jack: Being on stage and it goes well, that’s the best thing.
Stephen: People wanting to know what you have to say, that’s a good thing.