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Interview with Caspian

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
We are doing very well thanks! Right now I'm in Beverly, MA starting the hibernation process for what feels like a very cold winter ahead.

What’s on your schedule at the moment?
From now until late January we are putting the finishing touches on pre-production for the new record which involves finishing the songwriting, polishing up loose ends on finished songs and discussing amongst ourselves and the engineer how we want to approach the recording process this time around. We have a show in Boston in late December that we are a part of annually that we are really looking forward to and practicing for as well.

You’ve just completed an extensive European tour. In which way, would you say, did the experience differ from comparable gigs in the States?
Since it was our first time playing overseas there was a strong sense of anticipation and curiosity amongst us that probably made it hard to look at the tour from a really objective comparative vantage point. That said, we got to play for more people in one tour over in Europe than in 2 tours in the States combined which inspired us to play to the best of our abilities every night, and made us feel like there are people out there who are sincerely appreciating our music on a wider scale then we originally thought. It provided a small but important sense of legitimacy that was good for us.

When This Will Destroy You performed live in Münster, Germany earlier this year, there seemed to be a palpable hunger among the audience for this kind of music being played and performed live again. Is this an impression you also had while on tour?
Yes. People in Europe seem to approach this kind of music as something that they want in on before it gets hugely popular and commercial, almost like they want to be on the cutting edge and catch it while its still fresh. Europeans have that sense of foresight better than most cultures. That combined with what feels like a real, strong emotional connection to this kind of music creates a large part of the hungry environment you pointed out in my personal opinion.

If I noticed correctly, you were also playing some new songs during your latest stage apperances (“Ghosts of the Garden City”). How, in general, were they received?
From the stage it can be hard to tell sometimes but for the most part it seemed very positive and there was a sense of excitement about the new record most definitely.

Speaking of new material: You’ve set a deadline of February 1st to commence work on the new album while currently being without a place to practise. How are you coping with the situation?
Last week we finally found what seems to be the best practice facility in all of Massachusetts and we've been in there 3-4 times already getting down to business. The people who run the space don't usually accommodate bands on a long term basis but after some discussions with them they opened their doors to us and pretty much saved the next record from disaster and further painful delay.

Can you already envision the general musical direction the new full-length is going to take? On the one hand, it follows in the wake of a succesful tour, which could point towards a more live-oriented approach and on the other a production phase of three weeks would allow you to create a deeply detailed work...
We have a very clear vision for this record but as always we want to keep room for flexibility. We still view albums and a live show as two very different sonic and emotional experiences, and don't feel any hesitation texturing a record as much as we can to make it match the vision we have for a specific piece and the album as a whole. We do want to find a way to capture some of that unbridled live energy though more this time around and use it as a foundation from which to build on better than our more mechanical methods of the past.

How much are you consciously leaving up to spontaneous decisions in the studio concept-wise and composition-wise?
Concept and color wise we are definitely open to extending on whatever our foundational ideas are in the studio. We don't feel like the record will capture the moment in time in which it was recorded adequately if we ignore those impulses, and that'd be unfortunate since the best records seem to capture that moment effortlessly. Composition wise though things remain pretty lock tight. We spend enough time going back and forth about composition when we are writing and rehearsing and have to let it go before we record or else we'd probably go insane.

You’ve singled out “Black Sea” by Fennesz as one of your current favourites. There are already some similarities to your approaches (next to some probably more obvious differences, of course). Could you envision Caspian occasionally taking a similarly “ambient” route in the future?
That's my personal favorite record of 2008 I think. Ambient music means a lot of different things to different people though... Under my loose definition of it, I would love to see Caspian develop in that direction, but to me that just means increasingly minimal compositions, and a more focused, concentrated range of subjective textures and moods - not removing the rythym section all together and recording a 20 minute noise drone. I can (and do) do that in my own time with The Atlas Ladder. Caspian is an atmospheric rock band always open to whatever sounds best to us.

Next to working on new material, you have just re-released your debut album “The Four Trees” on Make My Day Records. How was contact established?
Make My Day released our Boston friends and US label mates Junius' record over there in the Spring and that's how the relationship was established. They are great people who work hard for us.

Why did you decide to re-design the artwork for the new version of “The Four Trees”?
We re-designed the artwork for the vinyl release with The Mylene Sheath and then Make My Day subsequently recommended the same for the Euro release. If you've seen the US version you'd understand why it had to be re-designed. I take full responsibility for that horrible artwork and felt like the European version needed to be redeemed.  It's a long story but... I think we got it back on track for the Vinyl and European versions. 

Thanks to the re-release, the album put you even stronger on the European map next to your initial success in the USA. Would it be correct to say that points to the fact that you were always trying to create music of timeless and borderless quality?
That's a very interesting question. To be frank I think the instrumental genre that we are a part of does have a way of connecting very strongly between different cultures than other kinds of rock music, but that could be just because this is the kind of music we play, and those are the only types of fans we've played for outside of America. It's all we know contextually so naturally we'd draw that conclusion about our music. Our intentions have always been and always will be to simply make music that the 5 of us like listening to, and if other people enjoy it then they are along for the ride with us. If that makes it timeless and borderless then that is wonderful.

Are there any plans to re-release “You are the Conductor” in Europe as well?
No current plans. Maybe it will see a re-release with the new album but nothing has been finalized or discussed.

The media have of course been quick in drawing links between different bands and genres. On the other hand, there are obviously other bands who share similar approaches and aesthetics. In which way, would you say, do you feel attached to a “scene” and directly inspired by what other, befriended acts are doing?
Speaking just for myself personally, I love music more than anything else in the entire world, but I am more inspired to create via personal experiences with people and places than by actual music more of the time. And I think to a certain degree the other guys are affected the same way as well as far as I can tell. Our friends whom we tour with, play shows with, and people considered to be in our "scene" etc. inspire us more by the people they are and the things we do together than the music they create since we're essentially driven by those experiential encounters the most. Obviously though we love music and it definitely finds its way in to ours without a doubt in many different ways as well. It's impossible not to, especially when so many of your peers are making great music like ours are these days.

Favourite anecdote from the European tour?
We met a guy named Andreas from Germany who went to I think 4-5 shows on the tour. Of course, we didn't know that until the last one he was at since it wasn't as though he came up to us every show reminding us that he had just driven 6 hours to see us play for 45 minutes and had song requests and all that. There was a certain humility about him and that experience that I found refreshing and inspiring.  Having a huge club in Budapest all to yourselves after the show with some close friends, your own DJ, unlimited fooseball and free drinks isn't too shabby either I gotta say :)

Image by Tony Wallace

By Tobias Fischer

You are the Conductor (Dopamine) 2005
The Four Trees (Dopamine/Make My Day) 2007


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