2015 Artist Survey: Coves

John Ridgard on Music Streaming, Dating, Star Wars, and the Presidential Election

Jan 20, 2016 Photography by Steve_Gullick Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar's 13th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2015. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2015 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2015 print and digital issues for answers from Arcade Fire's Will Butler, Julien Baker, Blanck Mass, CHVRCHES, Dan Deacon, The Dears, Dutch Uncles, EL VY, Everything Everything, Father John Misty, Field Music, The Flaming Lips, How to Dress Well, Sondre Lerche, Low, Luna, Mew, NZCA Lines, Cullen Omori, Natalie Prass, Small Black, Surfer Blood, Tamaryn, Telekinesis, Vampire Weekend's Chris Baio, The Walkmen, Youth Lagoon, and others.

Here are some answers from John Ridgard of Coves, whose debut album, Soft Friday, came out in 2014 via Nettwerk. The band's sophomore album is expected this year.

Top 10 Albums of 2015 

1. La Luz: Weirdo Shrine
2. Pinkshinyultrablast: Everything Else Matters
3. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard: Quarters
4. Helen: The Original Faces
5. Viet Cong: Viet Cong
6. Lusts: Illuminations
7. Ata Kak: Obaa Sima
8. Gwenno: Y Dydd Olaf
9. Deerhunter: Fading Frontier
10. Unloved: Guilty of Love EP

What was the highlight of 2015, for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

The high point was listening to the playback of the album when it was mixed and mastered and realizing that we had made an album. Up until that point it was like a messy scrapbook of ideas that had become too all over the place to make sense of. The low point is probably all the waiting around you have to do while the business side of it is taken care of. It takes roughly a month for a person who works in the music industry to reply to an email, which slows everything down a bit.

What are your hopes and plans for 2016?

We spent so much of 2015 putting this album together, I just want to spend as much of 2016 playing it or getting it played.

With the launch of TIDAL and Apple Music in 2015, there are more streaming music options, but the same issues of adequate artist compensation persist. What are your current thoughts on streaming and which service would you most like to have your music on?

I wish that there was a business model that ensured that musicians could get paid. Like most bands we work other jobs and squeeze writing, rehearsing and recording around that, and pay for the privilege of doing it. The upside of that is that it weeds out any people coming at making music as a lifestyle choice. It's a labor of love and it will end up only people who have that music in them that they have to get out, people who will work 9 to 6, play a show and get back at 4 a.m. to get back up for work at 8 a.m. because they have to. I think it may just increase the quality of music available. Generally when a musician is well-fed, has plenty of money in their pocket and a nice house, their music starts to sound pretty shit anyway. Don't feed the bands. 

What are your thoughts on Friday being the new global release day for albums? Is it helping or hurting album sales?

Release days are so pointless now. It's a date for industry people and no one else. Nowadays your music is premiered on various blogs and sites, appears on various streaming services, put on YouTube and played on the radio on a variety of different dates. By the time the official date has come around everyone has heard everything they need and have moved on. That amount of saturation probably has a lot to do with a demise in record sales.

Mainstream pop music is increasingly embraced by indie rock musicians and listeners, as well as serious music critics. At this point, do you draw any distinctions between Top 40 pop and indie rock/pop? Are you comfortable with this shift?

There's a lot of great music and a lot of terrible music about, just like the whole history of music, but now the lines are totally blurred. It's all down to personal taste. There is certainly a sound that seemed to grow from when Disclosure released that album a few years ago—that kind of "credible pop" that has seeped into all the indie blogswith the really glassy clean beats and wobbly vocals, I can't stand it, but that's just my taste. Nothing against it.

What are your thoughts on how the 2016 U.S. Presidential election is shaping up?

I think, often, asking musicians about politics is like asking politicians about music. They will respond with some ill-informed answer like "I really like Coldplay." I would only answer with something that has a lack of informed weight behind it. However, I will say that the fact that Trump can become a spokesperson for anybody makes me hate humanity a bit.

Ryan Adams covered Taylor Swift's 1989 (and then Father John Misty covered Adams covering Swift). If you were to cover another artist's album in its entirety, which would you pick and why?

I don't know. Certainly not any empty vacuous pop nonsense designed to come with the "OMG RYAN ADMAZ COVERED TAYLOR SWIFT" in some Buzzfeed-style clickbait waste of time. Maybe an Os Mutantes album or something, those South Americans had it going on in the late '60s, early '70s. 

Have you ever been fired from a job (be it a day job or musical one)? Why were you fired?

I've never been fired. I went through a period of constantly being made redundant when the company goes bankrupt. I'm like a bad luck charm.

What's your earliest music-related childhood memory?

Either coloring in John Lennon's glasses on my dad's vinyl copy of Let It Be or listening to "Love Is a Stranger" by Eurythmicsmy parents used to play that to me every night as apparently it sent me straight to sleep.

What outrageous request would you most like to put in your tour rider as a joke?

Me and Beck worked in a venue for a while and spent lots of time in supermarkets buying band riders. We've seen enough attempts at lame quirkiness to keep it simple. 

What's the most disastrous date you've ever been on?

I have never been on a date. I think I'm part of a generation where romance begins from a wasted encounter on the stairs to the pub toilets.

Which Star Wars character are you most like?

Jar Jar Binks. Everyone regrets my existence.

Following the terrorist attack at the Eagles of Death Metal concert in Paris do you think that security at music venues should be improved and do you now worry about something similar happening at one of your shows?

If it keeps people going to gigs, then okay. But really nothing should change. Bad stuff always happens, the world is filled with people who wish to do others harm. ISIS or whatever they are called today are so packageable for the media to run stories and sell papers and scare people into giving up their liberty and staying indoors. Also, gig-goers are not the enemy, these people are just targeting gatherings. If you're going to stop going to gigs, stop going to the mall, stop riding on the Tube, stop going to the pubit's a choice of living or not living.

What's the lamest breakup excuse you've ever given or been given?

"You're a mess."

Joanna Newsom took five years to release her new album, while Beach House released two albums only a couple of months apart. What's your ideal window between album releases?

Every cake takes a different time to bake.

What currently overlooked artist is creating a body of work that will one day be considered a work of genius?

Tame Impala, that guy has made some really impressive albums and does it all himself. He is getting pretty huge from it as well. 

Many musicians seem to become less relevant and creative with age, relying on greatest hits and covers albums or releasing music nowhere near as strong as their earlier work. What do you plan to do to combat this?

I think comfort is the killer of creativity. I don't think we will ever have the luxury of earning enough from making music to be comfortable. I also have pledged to never stop giving a good amount of my time to finding new music. So many people I know who were so into music suddenly hit a brick wall in their late 20s and just stop checking out new stuff and then they run out of fuel and keep making the same record.

Mass shootings continue to be a problem, and yet the U.S. government still has yet to take action on curbing gun violence. What are your thoughts on gun control?

Anyone who thinks that it's their right to own a gun is a maniac. Guns shouldn't be available for anyone. It's so backwardsget with the timessend your enemy a virus or hack their bank account or something.

If Mark Kozelek starts a fresh beef in a forest and nobody is around to write a 600-word think piece about it, does he still make a sound?

That question has broken my mind. What?

In 2015, what do the words "indie rock" mean?

That either the band or the person categorizing them are fully lame.

Which recent anniversary for an album, film, TV show, or historical event has most made you feel old?

There's so many of them, and the gaps are become shorter. Soon it's going to be "OH MY GOD CAN YOU REMEMBER LAST YEAR??? IT WAS SO CRAZY!" Let's remaster all the albums no one bought then so we can squeeze a few more monies from the idiots. Nothing can make me feel as old as the mirror in the morning.

If your house were on fire, what would you grab as you were running out?

Probably the cat.

2015 is the year that Marty McFly traveled to the future in Back to the Future Part II. Beyond not having hoverboards, what most disappoints you about 2015 now that we're here?

The fact that it is not currently acceptable to dial your cap to fun.

What was the most baffling cultural phenomenon in 2015?

Damn Buzzfeeds and emojis. And people saying, "I can't even..." and people starting sentences with "so..."

What's the biggest goal for your life that you have yet to achieve?

For my whole life to revolve around music.

In which way would you least like to die?

In a storm drain in winter.

www.covesband.co.uk

 



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