2010 Artist Survey: Colin Newman of Wire | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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2010 Artist Survey: Colin Newman of Wire

Dec 24, 2010 Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar’s 8th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2010. Pick up a copy of Under the Radar’s Year End issue for interviews with: The Antlers, Bon Iver, Caribou, Club 8, Delphic, Rose Elinor Dougall, Gayngs, Hot Chip, Lost in the Trees, Love is All, The Love Language, Mogwai, of Montreal, Okkervil River, Yoko Ono, Owen Pallett, Plants and Animals, Mark Ronson, Superchunk, Tame Impala, Vampire Weekend, Sharon Van Etten, and Vivian Girls. Here’s a survey from Colin Newman of Wire.

Top 10 Albums of 2010

I’ve thought and struggled with this since I received this survey and am probably too late to respond because of this question. I spent the majority of 2010 closeted in a studio making the Wire album. I didn’t get out a lot, didn’t even go on holiday. Yes I did hear some other music but not enough to gain any overview of what has been released this year and certainly not enough to be able to come up with a list in order of preference, and anyway to be honest, I tend to leave that kind of stuff up to guys like you. I can send you someone else’s list if you like?? :)

What was the highlight of 2010 for either you personally or for the band?

Actually achieving to finish, in good order, the best Wire album in a good many years.

What was the low point of 2010 for you?

Arriving at Heathrow Terminal 1, proceeding to the car park attached to the terminal, and finding my car had been broken into.

What are your hopes and plans for 2011?

Big plans for Wire!

What are your thoughts on President Obama’s job performance in the last year? Has your optimism, if you were an Obama supporter, waned?

Like most politicians to the left of centre, he gets damned by the right for being too liberal and damned by the left for not being liberal enough. Viewed from a European perspective, Americans, who think that the mildest of necessary health reform is a form of Communism, have been sold a lie by deeply cynical self seeking people and organizations. Or maybe they think we are all Communists?

What are your thoughts on the Tea Party movement?

They are the North American Taliban.

With the Internet making every artist’s music potentially available to a wide audience, is it now easier to find listeners or more difficult because you have to compete with so many other musicians?

Depends on who. It has given bands like Wire a potentially more level playing field but anyone with a big budget behind them can always do better.

Who would you rather listen to—a totally original musician whose compositions are groundbreaking but difficult to listen to or a musician whose songs are immediately enjoyable but derivative? Why?

Why should groundbreaking be “difficult?” What you think is difficult really depends on your perspective. However to be wholly original is very difficult, so from that point of view, everything is a bit derivative and in the end it comes down to if it’s any good or not.

In the race to find new bands, are too many unworthy bands being hyped up by music blogs and websites? How are music fans supposed to filter through all these new bands being hyped?

Good question. There is no culture about how to handle this, but if you are going to get someone (or a group of people) to present curated content from an unbiased POV, they are going to have to get paid to do that. Who will pay them? We tried something not dissimilar years ago with Posteverything (adding the ability to buy) but the idea failed because people want a shop that sells everything… or maybe we were just ahead of our time.

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

My Macbook Pro—the internal hard drives have huge internal content relevant to my working life.

If you could relive one day of your life, which would it be?

Not sure.

What’s the strangest fan encounter you’ve ever had?

Discovering one of the biggest Wire fans was in my class at school.

If you had a bucket list, what would be the Top 4 things on that list?

What’s a bucket list?

Do you have any recurring dreams or nightmares?

None I wish to share.

Who was your first love and do you still keep in touch with them?

Probably in primary school, she might have been called Vicky. Are you kidding?? I’m barely in touch with anyone from Secondary School!

Is there anything that most people are able to do that you can’t (such as drive a car, swim, ride a bike)?

Don’t think so.

Have you ever been starstruck when meeting another musician? If so, by who?

Not really. This is not arrogance, it’s just generational attitude. (The Stranglers sang “No more heroes,” but they totally nicked the concept.)

What or whom do you miss most when you’re touring?

Easy—Malka (if I’m not on tour with her).

When you think of the future, what scares you most?

Being too old to properly function.

What was the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician? What was the moment you realized that you were a musician?

I guess I was seven or eight when I realized I wanted to be involved in music. It really depends what you mean by “musician.” I’m a singular guitarist (i.e. I’d be rubbish at playing anyone else’s stuff) and I perpetually shock myself at how pathetically easy anything I write is to play. So I’d say I’m barely a musician and certainly couldn’t earn a living from my playing skills alone.

What moment made you maddest in 2010?

It’s very easy to indulge when the inevitable shit happens. There are many things in my life with the ability to make me angry but I think I’m bored with anger now. It never achieves what you desire it to achieve.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring musician, what would it be? What was the best piece of advice that you’ve ever gotten?

The only advice you can give anyone is to “be yourself.” I received two plaices of advice early on, neither of which proved to be at all useful. One person told me I’d never make it playing my own material, and the second said to not go to America, as it will destroy your band.

What was the first movie you saw in the theatre as a child and do you still enjoy it now?

Can’t remember.

In 2010, what was the best movie you saw, book you read, comic book you read, video game you played, and/or TV show you watched?

Are you kidding? I gave up my year to making the new Wire album. I experienced nada.

Do you have any other thoughts about the current state of the world or the state of the music industry?

Yeah plenty. :)




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