2014 Artist Survey: Woman’s Hour

Will Burgess on His Former Headmaster, Gun Control, Time Travel, Going to Mars, and His Teenaged Celebrity Crush

Feb 09, 2015 Issue #52 - January/February 2015 - St. Vincent
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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, Owen Pallett, The Rosebuds, Still Corners, 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 Will Burgess of Woman's Hour.

[A shorter version of this interview ran in Issue 52, the Best of 2014 and January/February 2015 Issue, which is still on newsstands. This is the full version of the interview.]

Top 10 Albums of 2014

1. The War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream

2. Wild Beasts: Present Tense

3. Amen Dunes: Love

4. Grouper: Ruins

5. Shabazz Palaces: Lese Majesty

6. Merchandise: After the End

7. Cocteau Twins: Heaven or Las Vegas (reissue)

8. Remember Remember: Forgetting the Present

9. The Bug: Angels and Devils

10. Lewis: L'amour (reissue)

What was the highlight of 2014 for either you personally or for the band? 

Probably releasing our debut record, all things considered. It's a portentous event in any band's life.

What was the low point of 2014 for you? 

In August we drove from our homes in London towards a town called Skipton, which is home to Beacons Festival. We were meant to be playing a decent slot on the main stage and basically because of storms and traffic we only made it as far as Leeds. Realizing that we weren't gonna make it, we had some fish and chips then drove back to London. All in all, it was a 13-hour round trip for fish and chips. Brutal.

What are your hopes and plans for 2015?

That it disappears and turns into 2016 with Twin Peaks season three ready for consumption.

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?

This actually happened? I wouldn't wish that on any band or music lover.

Did you take part in the ice bucket challenge? If not, why not? Grimes declined due to animal testing issues, was the grief she got for that deserved?

To the best of my knowledge, we were never nominated. I must confess I'm not that sure what it's all about really.

The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri opened up a new national dialogue on police shootings and racism in America. Do you think anything will actually change because of it?

I've seen this debate very much as an outsider looking in. It would be easy to surmise that the amount of guns the public has make the police nervous and therefore more trigger-happy, so there's a solution: increase gun laws. But coming from a country with so few guns in it, and different national attitudes, I don't really understand the subtleties of the argument, so I won't wade in very far on this one.

What's your craziest theory for what happened to the missing Malaysian Air flight?

It never even set off, or it was just a dream.

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?

There's no responsibility really, but they can probably expect to play in front of fewer people next time they're in town. To be honest though, no artist has a divine right for people to be attentive during their set.

"Weird Al" Yankovic was back in a big way this year. If he were to lampoon any one of your songs, which one would you want it to be? What would the "Weird Al" version's lyrics be about? 

Maybe "Our Love Has No Rhythm." Good luck, pal.

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

That it's good.

What's the most uplifting or heartwarming fan interaction you've ever had?

Our old headmaster pre-ordered our album from us and sent us an email saying how proud he and the school were. That was a moment to realize how everything is outside of the little bubble you exist in as a band.

What's the topic no one asks you about in interviews that you wish they would? Conversely, if you could get journalists to stop asking you one question, which would it be?

I wish we were asked more in-depth questions about how tough it is to be in a band financially and how many sacrifices we've had to make. I know people don't want to hear it, so that's why it's not asked, but it is a bit strange that people think when you're signed, you're gonna be able to quit your job and travel the world, partying constantly. I could do without anyone asking us who we're influenced by anymore.

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?

All my ex-girlfriends.

Which musician or celebrity did you most have a crush on as a child or teenager?

I definitely wanted to be Damon Albarn. I think week to week it would have changed between any of the Spice Girls for a while.

Which subject do you wish you paid more attention to in school?

History.

In 2024, as part of the Mars One program, four people might be sent to Mars with no hope of ever returning to Earth. Are they completely crazy or brave? Would you ever consider such a thing?

I really think I would be up for it, you know? It's like those four people have the opportunity to live through a real-life sci-fi film. They are going to be on the forefront of exploration and attempting something that may never be attempted again. I mean, that's pretty exciting, right?

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

I'd probably go back to the first railroads and standardize the gauge of them. I only see good coming from that little interference.

Which unique location on Earth would you most like to perform in (for examples, the top of the Eiffel Tower or at the North Pole)?

I think on a submarine. I always felt that our music would work well underwater.

In 2014, what was the best movie you saw, book you read, comic book you read, video game you played, and/or TV show you watched?

The best book I read was probably Donna Tart's The Goldfinch. A fantastic book that very humanely explores the way we deal with things.

www.womanshourband.co.uk

 

 

 



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