Have A Nice Life Interview

Life is cruel.It is filled with isolation,despair,loss,and sadness.And sometimes you just want to wallow in it.

Well,apparently I wasn't the only one who wallowed through a miserable 2008,as Have A Nice Life set the underground on fire with the release of their double disc debut,Deathconsciousness.Genre tags be damned,Deathconsciousness reached across all horizons to make music that thoroughly bummed out lo-fi pop fans and bedroom black-metallers alike (in a good way).Now that Deathconsciousness is poised to do a victory lap (vinyl on Enemies List,2xCD reissue on Tumult) I decided that it was time to talk with Tim and Dan about the after-effects of peaking their heads above ground,if only for a minute...

HAMMER SMASHED JAZZ:So,most people reading this have probably already heard the story behind the years it took to make Deathconsciousness.I know the first time I heard the Big Gloom I was going through some heady shit,and that song just WRECKED me.Funny how stories get romanticized,as it sounds to me like the making of Deathconsciousness was something that nearly wrecked you as well.

DAN: There was a lot of things in the air at that time for us, yeah. Personally, it was a really difficult period, and that got emptied into the record. It was exciting, too, because we had this project we'd been working on forever, and were finally getting ready to put it out into the world; it could've been anything, turned into anything, and that's a really heady feeling, one that's hard to get back after you've put stuff out and have an "established" identity...

HSJ:When people mention you guys,they usually say "shoegaze" or "postpunk" or "drone"....but to me I hear your music more in emotions like "pain" or "anguish" or "isolation",which seems so much more apt than all these genre tags.Do you remember any crazy descriptions of your sound that stood out,like "What the fuck?"

TIM: I dunno, genre tags aren't offensive if they correctly identify technical devices (e.g, repetitive droning for Drone). But of course, employing more devices, adding more hyphens to the genre, it gets ridiculous, are Wolves In The Throne Room trve Black Metal, is anything that doesn't sound like Hellhammer, charges of elitism, hipster-ism, who's what, that's not, on and on and on and on. I suppose we're to blame for attaching some of these tags early on as device identifiers, as very very few people had heard our material.

You're right, though, general mood and aesthetic works better. Then again, those are entirely subjective. We are most likely not the embodiment of sadness and anguish for some listeners. Ornette Coleman might be their definition. Or they might find us similar. Who knows. I'm trailing off here...

HSJ:On a similar note...I've found that most people seem to overlook my favorite part of Have A Nice Life,that being the use of pop structures and sounds to convey utterly violent and hateful words and messages.Its a really great angle,and one that I hope will always stay with the project.

T: Save Dan or I waking up the majority of mornings for the rest of our lives saying "Wow, everything's going to work out just fine!", yeah, I think that's a reasonable expectation.

D: The pop influence has been part of our music forever, even our earliest stuff. I've always been addicted to ironic contrast, saying something ugly in a pretty way.

HSJ:So the professor who wrote the book for Deathconsciousness....not something you seem to want to talk much about.Will we EVER find out the story behind it all? I also heard you were writing your own book.Are they connected at all?

D: I'm thinking about writing something, probably in conjunction with the upcoming Giles Corey (my acoustic project) release, but I'm undecided as to whether or not I have the energy or time. That book would deal with a lot of the stuff that's come out recently about On An Obscure Text (the Deathconsciousness booklet). I want to do it, but it's a huge, exhausting process for me...I'm also a bit concerned with repeating ourselves with the book+cd thing, but in the end it really just comes down to whether I really want to do it or not.

HSJ:I have to admit that it took a few listens for all of the album to sink in....and it honestly didn't fully hit me until I listened to it while reading the book.So were you worried at all about it being repressed without the book?Or have people's reactions been mostly towards the music?Also,how thick will the booklet be for the Tumult reissue?Will you try to approximate any of the original writings at all?

D: As for the specific issue of the tUMULt release, I don't know. We haven't ironed that out yet, though we know there won't be a full printing of the book ever again, after the printing for the vinyl reissue. I don't think you need the book to appreciate the record, or vice versa. They go together. I think it's a better experience together, which is why we include a PDF of the booklet with the digital copy of the record. But I know that the majority of people will never get into the booklet, and that's fine. I like how it gives back a little more to people who feel like putting in some time with it.

HSJ:So,it looks like you guys will be releasing an EP or two before moving on to the next full length...which,in my opinion,is a great way to move forward.Sophomore records can be a real bitch,as people expect more of the same,but too much of the same,and they really give you hell for it.Also,so much of the first record is about isolation.Must be daunting to be doing this in the public eye now.

T: Well, we have a lot of material. It is what it is, we do what we do, A is A, etc. If we get hell and people hate it, that's the arts, I suppose. We're pretty excited with what we're doing. We feel it's unforced. In as much as our music comes from personal experience, it also comes from our friendship - what happens and what we talk about when we hang out. But if listeners think its disappointing, glib or disingenuous, I guess we can't really change that. "Well, that's just, like, your opinion, man." and all. I realize that people out there like Gene Simmons have been unapologetic about doing what they do for purposes other than musical/intellectual/spiritual/whatever integrity, and the music listening world (especially The Underground, however defined) has reason to be suspect that certain artists don't give a sufficient shit (however defined) about the honesty of what they put out into the world. This skepticism is the Public Eye. These are home recordings/self-reflections that we are proud of. Let the ingredients mix.

D: We have a large amount of unfinished material. The whole process for us consists of working very gradually on material until concepts emerge on their own. There are two "records" we're working on now, maybe an EP...I don't know what's going to happen. That's kind of the joy in how we work. It's the same as with Deathconsciousness, really - we like it, and we hope other people like it, but even if no one buys a single copy we're still going to be moving on to the next one.

HSJ:The album is definetly not blackmetal,but very blackmetal-informed...and Nahvalr,your open sourced black metal record,turned out really well.Do you ever see yourself doing a more "traditional" black metal project?Will we get another Nahvalr record?

D: It's definitely possible that there will be another Nahvalr recording, though we're not working on anything for it right now. I don't know if I'm interested in writing "traditional" black metal - honestly, I don't feel technically skilled enough to really pull that off. I really enjoy listening to it, but it's not what comes out of me when I write, and I'm not sure what we could really contribute to what's already been written, so many intense, amazing records. We want to try to do something new. Nahvalr fit that purpose, I think, and I am very proud of that record. I'm not sure what comes next. Not Nahvalr part 2, whatever it is. We have to take it to the next level.

HSJ:My copy of Deathconsciousness STILL smells like paint when I open it.Did you guys get high on paint fumes and record some more Have A Nice Life tracks?Ha!!!Also,any idea how many copies or pressings you guys went through?Must've been a bitch.

D: There were about 700 of the painted copies made. It was a huge pain in the ass, though I love how they look. I actually don't even have a copy anymore. I gave away my last one.

HSJ:I know that you've stated before how you'd love to make Have A Nice Life more of a live band.Have you made any strides towards this?Would it be a big setup,or just you guys rolling around screaming like the early days?God I wish I could've witnessed some of that!

T: We're working on it. ELHR luminaries M.Kestigian and Will are likely to help out. Tough to recreate the wall of sound as recorded as well as afford Dan the ability to max out his Dio-like stage presence.

D: We are investing the entirety of our label money thus far in building a live set up. Essentially, the band will be comprised of every single ENEMIES LIST artist. We really hope it's going to be intense. We're scheduled to do a short tour this November, so that's what we're working towards.

HSJ:Favorite Sabbath song?

T: Speaking of Dio, Falling Off The Edge Of The World. Without a doubt. Hole In The Sky a close second, though.

HSJ:So when can we expect more Have A Nice Life?I don't expect it will take 5 years for the next record.Also,you've got a great label going.Tell us a bit about that

T: In some months. Still sorting out material. New America Addio is due soon, though. Very specifically, the tracks I've heard consistently make me want to be Looking Forward To A Vacation. Not actually being on vacation, mind you. But that "Hey, my vacation's right around the corner. It _could_ be awesome!" feeling. I've known him for a long time - Cody is early summer incarnate.

D: The new America Addio is going to be amazing. I'm working really hard on Giles Corey, which is an acoustic sort of depressing, doomy gospel project. I'm going to put that out this year if it kills me. I'd like to have some new HANL out before the year's end, but only if the songs are ready. We're not on a time table. I can honestly say that those, along with the Afterlives record earlier this year, are all records I am extremely proud of. The label has done things I never would've thought possible a few years ago, and it gives us total freedom to think of and pursue anything we think of. I don't know what I would do without it

1 comment:

Christian Jones said...

Have a Nice Life

As far as im concerned, you're well on your way to being the next Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Neurosis. Love your music, and im looking forward to the Giles Corey release!

-- Sekans Aval