2014 Artist Survey: The Death of Pop

Angus James, Thom James, and Isaac Jones on Their Parents, Former Bullies, and Back to the Future

Jan 30, 2015 Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar's 12th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2014. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2014 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2014 print and digital issues for answers from alt-J, Camera Obscura, Chromeo, The Dears, Death From Above 1979, Deerhoof, The Drums, The Flaming Lips, Glass Animals, Hookworms, Sondre Lerche, of Montreal, Ought, Owen Pallett, The Rosebuds, Strand of Oaks, Teleman, Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs, Warpaint, Woman's Hour, Wye Oak, Zola Jesus, and others.

Here are some answers from Angus James, Thom James, and Isaac Jones of The Death of Pop.

 Top 10 Albums of 2014

1. Deerhoof: La Isla Bonita

2. Jon McCallum: Surf Nazis Must Die (Original 1987 Motion Picture Soundtrack) (Reissue)-This is genius and we're glad it's finally got a reissue 27 years later, some incredible pieces of music played on warm sounding lo-fi '80s Synths. Sounds strangely contemporary. 

3. Mac DeMarco: Salad Days 

4. Metronomy: Love Letters-Love their direction for this album. The production is really nice, it's quite minimal, raw and direct. Really like the analogue sound of it, also Metronomy videos are always brilliant.  

5. Cheatahs: Cheatahs

6. Ariel Pink: pom pom

7. Fennesz: Bécs  

8. Mark Kozeleki: Benji 

9. Brian Jonestown Massacre: Revelation-Anton Newcombe is really consistent, I always look forward to a new BJM album and this doesn't disappoint. Went to see them live recently and they blew me away. 

10. Eagulls: Eagulls

(List by all of the band.)

U2's new album was downloaded for free into millions of users' iTunes accounts without their permission. Was it a wonderful gift to music fans or an invasive action that devalues music? Also, which artist, other than you, deserves to have their album automatically downloaded to half a billion people more than U2?

Thom James: No one deserves that. It's pretty stupid, but it's interesting that people are trying out new ways to get music heard. It's not the worst thing that's happened this year. Other artists that deserve automatic download? Probably Craig David, what's he up to?

Angus James: I guess if you've got nothing left to give creatively, the only thing left is to use your power and influence to push your way onto someone's iPhone. I thought music was about choice and taste.

Mark Kozelek was criticized in 2014 for insulting his audience (calling them "hillbillies" for talking during his set) and for making fun of The War on Drugs when their sound bled over to the stage he was playing. What responsibility do performers have to be respectful of their audiences and fellow bands?

Thom: I don't really know the whole story. It's not big to shout at people, but playing a festival is always a little harder as the crowd aren't necessarily there to see you. He also seems very sarcastic so it wouldn't surprise me if he was joking, same with The War on Drugs thing-I think he's getting a kick out of how wound up it's making them.

Which common criticism of your music do you most agree with?

Angus: That we sound like a band on Creation [Records] from the early '90s, I guess I can't disagree with that. It's probably not a bad thing either...

Who from your youth (such as a former bully, an unrequited love) do you most hope pays attention to the fact that you're now a successful musician?

Thom: Haha, a former bully...assuming he/she is now a reformed character?

Isaac Jones: The kid who pissed himself in maths class.

What has most surprised you about getting to know your parents as an adult?

Thom: My Christmas presents have really got worse.

Angus: I think it's always interesting to hear their views on modern music and culture, especially playing them our music. The comparisons from the parents are always different, they think we sound like Simon and Garfunkel, which is flattering, I guess. I went to see the parents the other day and Dad pointed to my shoes and said, "I had a pair of those in 1980, cost me £4."

If you could travel through time, which historical event would you most like to alter the outcome of and why?

Thom: I'd stop Biff from attacking Marty's future mum (Lorraine) in 1955, take her to the dance and mess up the whole plot.

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