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A Magazine for Sheffield

65daysofstatic: Wild Light

65daysofstatic are a rock band based in Sheffield with five studio albums to their name, beginning with the acclaimed The Fall of Math, recorded at the city's 2fly Studios and released in 2004. Their most recent release, Wild Light, was given an outing in the US at the end of 2013, and makes its way to Sheffield on 20th January. Their live shows are a sonic tour de force, known for their powerful dynamics and sheer volume. I spoke to founding member Paul Wolinski about the history of the band, the creative process and branching out into film and exhibitions. How were your recent gigs in the US? In the five years since we've been there, everything seems to have gotten a lot sketchier. Maybe (probably) we were projecting to an extent, and judging a country by its truck stops and music venues is no way to get a balanced perspective, but completely subjectively speaking it felt like being on the brink of a failed state. I have no idea how that country is going to cope when oil prices become prohibitively expensive. When you're stuck in a parking lot in Salt Lake City for eight hours because the engine of the rickety van you're travelling in has imploded, for example, you eventually start to wonder where all the housing and public transport is. Vast, low-lying expanses of restaurants, motels, parking lots, fast food, more fast food, but no way of getting to any of these places unless you drive to them. It's like a city-wide Centertainment. How do the people stuck on minimum wage even travel in to work at these places? Where do they live? Do they have to spend all their money on gasoline? It's not a new observation – that America is entirely reliant on oil – but when you're broken down somewhere like that because your vehicle didn't have enough of it, it all kind of leaps out at you. The actual shows were okay, although it cemented to us the fact that we are not the band we were ten years ago. Once, we could turn up to these scruffy little rock venues and if the P.A was busted we'd still be able to put on a scruffy, punky show, because that's the kind of music we were making. These days, it felt like a real struggle to properly represent ourselves. Bit of a catch 22, that, since we're certainly not successful enough over there to be playing bigger venues any time soon. The new album took you a while to finish. I know you write lots of material and throw lots away. Is it difficult to let go of songs in that way and how do you continue to see the wood for the trees after working on an album for over two years? It's more the letting go of ideas that's tricky. These precious, intangible sparks of melody, rhythm or noise never become 'songs' unless they've been tamed (diluted), and then they're either good songs or bad songs. It's not difficult to throw away a bad song. It's a pleasure. 'Ideas' in this context are maybe analogous to how 'energy' is explained in a GCSE physics class. They never really disappear. They're just these weird, malleable things that can change form; if you handle them carefully enough, they can be morphed into new beginnings. Or sometimes they turn out to be not malleable at all, but actually quite brittle and useless, in which case you smash them to pieces, knowing that any useful splinters will hang around and eventually get stuck in something else that you make. The clumsiness of the above metaphor is in itself a useful metaphor for how we try and make music. Metametaphors! As for being able to step outside the forest of a record to catch a glimpse of those song trees, after two years all I know is that with Wild Light, it wasn't very hard. The landscape was more like Tunguska, post-meteor, than a healthy, thriving forest. Our job was to scour the scorched tundra for any trees that were still left standing. Do you have disagreements about what to keep and what to chuck? If we do, we just solve them with passive aggressiveness contests. It's (almost) ten years since the release of The Fall of Math and you're planning to play it in its entirety in London in March. How do you feel about that album with the benefit of hindsight? For a lot of people, myself included, I imagine it was their first taste of 65days. Honestly, I don't think about The Fall of Math all that often. We have spent the past decade stubbornly looking forward to the next thing. Nostalgia has always felt like a trap you should make sure you don't fall into. I believe that as a band we are still improving, that our new record is our best record, and that we are capable of making the next thing we do better than that. We were very tentative about the Fall of Math show at first, because it involved looking back, pausing for a moment of reflection, and the second that we feel we've become a band that is trading on old glories, that's when we'll split up. Then we announced it and loads of people got really excited about it and we realised that quite often the four of us, tied up in our little 65 world, worn down by a decade of having to make the band work via this painful conduit of music industry nonsense, can often be pretty stupid and often accidentally self-destructive. It's incredibly flattering that so many people like that record, and we are now looking forward to putting together an exciting live show to celebrate it with them. The video for 'Prisms' is mad. Tell us a bit about it. The graphics were made by Matt Pearson, a digital artist based in Brighton. There's no animation involved at all. Instead, we provided him with some specially-made audio stems of the song, which he then fed into an algorithm that he'd written for the video, and then it all gets a bit fuzzy in my understanding. I guess he hit 'go', the code he had made generated all those patters in realtime and he caught it. I would recommend his essay The Third Era of Visual Art Is Finally Upon Us for a more enlightened explanation. I not sure I agree with everything he says about generative art being the future, but you gotta admire his enthusiasm for the form. You seem to have followers all over the world, particularly in Japan. Have you ever felt like being based in Sheffield has restricted you, and have you ever been tempted to set up shop elsewhere? The diplomatic way to answer this question would be to say no, but the honest answer is yes. I have found Sheffield both restrictive and am forever tempted to set up shop elsewhere. In defence of Sheffield, I don't think that feeling has anything to do with this city specifically, more the nature of being in a band and the fact that I have been lucky/spoilt enough to experience so many other cities all over the world, combined with an in-built, often unhelpful desire for transience. That's more of a personal perspective though. For a band like 65, Sheffield is a pretty good city to be based in. It's probable, or at least possible, that we might have had a bit more success if we'd relocated to London or Berlin or somewhere like that ten years ago. I'd still move to Berlin in a heartbeat, but imagining living in London and not being able to hide from the music industry sounds horrible. Being in Sheffield allows us to hold them at arm's length. You've done some film scores and you seem very keen on film as a medium. Have you considered teaming up with a filmmaker and working with them on the script writing and score of an original film? Yes. The problem is, us considering it isn't really much of a stepping stone to it actually happening. We're primed, we're ready to go, we have soundtrack themes dripping out of our fingers. Just waiting for the right opportunity to present itself. What film should our readers watch in the background while listening to Wild Light? None. I'd say Wild Light is a cinematic record, but the songs do not follow the rules of a soundtrack. They do not stay in the background. They demand attention. I think it's more of a sit-in-a-dark-room-with-your-eyes-closed album. You can make up your own film then. Can you see yourself moving towards more exhibitions and installations, like the one you did at Millennium Gallery recently? It would certainly be great if we could move more in that direction. It's typical of 65 though to jump from one collapsing industry to another. We've been watching the idiots in charge dismantle the arts in this country for ages now, but it was eye-opening and massively disheartening to be working with these wonderful people at the Millennium Gallery and seeing how their staff/budgets/plans have been decimated by the cuts. So I'm not sure if I can honestly see 65 moving into more of these kinds of projects. I can more readily see us trying our best to develop more sound installations/exhibitions, only to be swallowed up in the abyss of not being economically viable. Any general film recommendations? Recently watched Stoker. It was compelling. There's quite a violent division within 65 as to whether Upstream Colour is great or, in fact, one of the worst films ever made. If in doubt: Back to the Future. )

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