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2015 Artist Survey: A Place to Bury Strangers

Oliver Ackermann on Disastrous Dates, Streaming Music, Mainstream Pop, and Star Wars

Feb 03, 2016 A Place to Bury Strangers
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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 Oliver Ackermann of A Place to Bury Strangers. The band’s latest album, Transfixiation, came out in 2015 via Dead Oceans.

Top 10 Albums of 2015

1. Coneheads: L​.​P​.​1. Aka 14 Year Old High School PC​-​Fascist Hype Lords Rip Off Devo For The Sake Of Extorting $​$​$ From Helpless Impressionable Midwestern Internet Peoplepunks L​.​P​.Young kids always know what’s up!
2. Dan Deacon: Gliss RifferDanny boy is always up to something really interesting.
3. Grooms: Comb the Feelings Through Your HairSo underrated how great these guys are. We were just on tour with them and the original melodies are insane!
4. Yonatan Gat: DirectorThe album is wicked but if you haven’t seen this band live you are missing out. It is nothing short of absolutely fucking amazing.
5. Lightning Bolt: Fantasy EmpireCool new direction for these guys. They are definitely one of the reasons I play music the way I do. They just destroyed the model for what a show could ever be.
6. Spray Paint: Dopers
7. Protomartyr: The Agent IntellectFucking wicked record.
8. Shannon and The Clams: Gone By The DawnThe voices of Shannon and Cody are solid diamond.
9. Mikal Cronin: MCIIIWorking up to MCV.
10. Static Daydream: Static DaydreamJust purrrfect.

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

I think there were some shows that were just killer this year. There was one where I felt like I had just awoken from passing out, after. It was an out of body experience. I can’t even remember if the show was any good. The low point has just been watching human disgust and greed as such horrible things are going on around the world.

What are your hopes and plans for 2016?

I’d really like to record a record. There have been a lot of songs that we’ve written recently and I am excited to write more after the experience and inspiration from this last tour. It is so heavy, the feeling over here in Europe and Eastern Europe, that I sometimes forget just how important and lucky we are to get to do what we want to do.

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 prefer bit torrents and illegal downloads. I think that is a more fair and sharing way to distribute streaming music. Don’t fake it and think that you are going to be doing this service to musicians by turning it into some bullshit thing where you make money off of people thinking they are finding music. It takes any joy out of it and there is no discretion. I do like those services for shops and such so that a McDonald’s or Urban Outfitters can just put on some ambiance in their business to keep up the entertainment while in there. I also don’t like Apple competing with themselves as one of the last ways artists can get paid for digital sales. If this Apple thing takes off it might kill iTunes which keeps albums as albums. And there is something romantic about albums.

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

I didn’t know that was a thing. I think all that marketing and crap about what day an album comes out is bullshit. There just needs to be excitement for records when they come out. Maybe people just need to make better records.

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?

I think there are distinctions for sure. I think pop music is getting more adventurous. Lady Gaga and Daft Punk and all that other junk wouldn’t have been listenable by people 10 years ago. It’s too noisy. It’s like Nirvana breaking into the mainstream. Now, if you wanna say “fuck the record industry” you have to do something more bold or interesting. This is fine because there are plenty of absolutely mind-melting people creating cool out there now.

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

Seems like it could be a joke. I guess we’ll have to see. Maybe we need a joke or to be a joke. Americans can be pretty nuts.

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 think I would pick the first Ramones record or Misfits’ Walk Among Us. It’d be fun to record something I was such a fan of when I was younger and get to warp it in new ways.

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

I don’t think so. I am a quitter.

What’s your earliest music-related childhood memory?

My dad playing guitar. Either “Salty Dog” or “Help This Drowning Man.”

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

Popcorn. It’s the funniest of all snacks.

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

I remember this girl asking me if I was into hardcore and I was like, “fuck yeah” because I liked punk, and then it turned out she was talking about hardcore rap. Not a big deal but it was a surprise!

Which Star Wars character are you most like?


Where do you see yourself in five beers?

Ordering another beer.

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

I want to devote my time to my stamp collection.

What do you most like and hate about promoting yourself on social media?

I don’t think you should.

Are you sick to death of feuds (on Twitter and the like) between musicians/celebrities, or do you find them endlessly entertaining?

I don’t know of any. But I stay away from most social media.

In 2015, what do the words “indie rock” mean?

Mainstream bullshit.



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