2016 Artist Survey: Duncan Wallis of Dutch Uncles | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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2016 Artist Survey: Duncan Wallis of Dutch Uncles

Wallis on Trump and the Election, Brexit, Bowie and Prince, First Kisses, and Scary Movies

Feb 03, 2017 Issue # 59 - 15th Anniversary Bookmark and Share

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For Under the Radar‘s 14th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2016. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2016 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Duncan Wallis of Dutch Uncles. The British art-pop quartet are releasing a new album, Big Balloon, on February 17 via Memphis Industries.

For our annual Artist Surveys we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about Trump and the election, 2016’s deaths, self-driving cars, Stranger Things, first kisses, scary movies they shouldn’t have seen as a child, which Friends character they are most like, and much more.

Pick up or download Under the Radar’s Best of 2016 / 15th Anniversary Issue for Artist Survey interviews with Amber Arcades, Austra, Faris Badwan of Cat’s Eyes and The Horrors, Boxed In, Caveman, The Charlatans, Cursive, Lucy Dacus, The Dears, C Duncan, Sadie Dupuis of Sad13 and Speedy Ortiz, Dutch Uncles, Ezra Furman, Robyn Hitchcock, The Invisible, Justin Lockey of Editors and Minor Victories, Lost Under Heaven (LUH), Lush, Midlake, Phantogram, The Range, Springtime Carnivore, Sunflower Bean, Surfer Blood, TEEN, The Thermals, Nick Valensi of CRX and The Strokes, Jenn Wasner of Flock of Dimes and Wye Oak, and Yuck.

A shorter version of Dutch Uncle’s survey appeared in the print version of Under the Radar’s Best of 2016 / 15th Anniversary Issue, this is the full unedited version.

2016 was regarded by many as a fairly tough and negative year. Was it also a hard year for you personally? If so, how? And also what were the high points for you?

Yes it was a tough year, personally. But every year gets tougher personally, so it’s not really worth dwelling on. One notable struggle I had was determining whether I was actually a fan of our band or not. It’s a question that often pops up when you’re writing the next LP. Still haven’t decided…

What are your thoughts on how the U.S. presidential election played out?

As Brits we were luckily able to distance ourselves from it for about five minutes before realizing that it affects everyone. Ultimately it wasn’t surprising really. The media caused this, and Hillary caused it too. She cheated Sanders out of a fair contest, and felt that people would vote for her out of a sense of duty towards progression. That isn’t how it should work. Obama won twice because he was the right man for the job, not because he was black.

Let’s discuss Donald Trump. What does the rise of Trump tell you about America in 2016? What concerns you most about a Trump presidency? How do you think his presidency might personally change your life? What message do you have for those who voted for Trump? What actions will you take over the course of the next four years to either protest a Trump presidency or support it?

It tells me that America was screwed for a proper choice really. It’s one hell of a protest vote, and I feel confident that not only will congress block a lot of his whacky proposals, but that he’ll actually impeach himself very soon down the road indeed. Then Pence will step in, and it will get WORSE. The thing that shocked me the most was seeing Trump’s first address to the nation with the use of a teleprompter. For a guy with SO much TV experience under his belt, he can’t read for shit. At first I thought it was just the situation he was facing after the “grab ‘em by the pussy” scandal, but seeing him read off a teleprompter again recently just showed how little charisma he’s got. Ultimately though I hope this brings an end to religion affecting the political landscape in America, as Trump has shown a lot of the conservative Christian organizations for what they are in supporting him. It’s laughable that it should even play a part in it.

What reality TV star would you have rather been elected president?

Flavor Flav.

If you were president, what would you try to accomplish in your first 100 days in office?

Replacing myself with Bernie Sanders in the first six hours of taking office.

What are your thoughts on Brexit and the future of the European Union? To what extent do you think the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump were motivated by the same factors?

I know that it’s bad for musicians in the U.K. as it will make touring in Europe as hard as it is to tour the U.S., in many bureaucratic ways. I think it’s a shame that many people who voted to leave Brexit, no matter how well or “informed” they claim their intentions to be, can’t seem to acknowledge the fact that they sided with an overwhelmingly large amount of racists and bigots, and all they’ve done so far is validate their outrageous outbursts. I mean if you were given a plate of spaghetti Bolognese, but half of it was covered in rancid dog diarrhea, would you just eat around it? I think not. The bigger problem it shows though is that Rupert Murdoch still runs the country (the western world for that matter re: Trump). And this problem won’t go away until he his dead, and ONLY if we have a plan to stop his successor from carrying on the same fucking bullshit that they all should’ve been locked up for a few years back after they were caught hacking the phones of innocent murdered girls and 9/11 victims, but nobody did. And whatever happened to that independent press regulator that was promised after the Leveson inquiry? Fuck knows.

We lost three highly influential music icons in 2016. What are your thoughts on the passing of David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen? And what are your favorite albums by each artist?

It was shocking, and felt like a disemboweling of a lot of peoples musical identities. Bowie’s was crazy with the album release, it felt like life imitating art. It was perfect really, and for that reason Blackstar is my favorite Bowie album (Young Americans is second). For Prince, it was devastating, as I had to do a DJ set that night and only had a couple hours to buy all his tracks off iTunes (I own a lot of his albums on vinyl, but the bastard bar I was DJing at only had CDJs, FML) and nobody even knew half of the party tunes. That’s what was so devastating about that. Everyone jumped on the bandwagon without realizing he wrote “I Feel For You” and not Chaka Khan. Plastic bitches, the lot of them. Leonard Cohen, I genuinely don’t know much of. Apart from he was great. I really loved that song “The Future” at the end of Natural Born Killers. I’m just intrigued to listen to more of him really, and that’s the best thing about the death of an artist. The context it all slides into all of a sudden.

What do you think Prince and Bowie’s afterlife project sounds like?

Probably shit. Prince’s quality control has been peaky at best since 1991, and I don’t think Bowie would save those odds. The only time Bowie’s collaborated well was with Queen. Now THAT was fucking genius, and only written in half a day, supposedly.

Which Friends character are you most like?

Hopefully, none of them. Every person in their late 20s has that realization when they’re the same age as them, that they would hate to be associated with any of them. Fucking phonies

What scary movie did you see way too young as a child, how’d you end up seeing it, and does it still scare you now?

It was Sleepy Hollow. I watched it on a flight back from NY when I was 11. Shit me up proper with the head rolling along the floorboards scene, and the worst bit was, I wasn’t even sat with any of my family for it, so I was just cowering in front of strangers. That film hasn’t aged well, narratively speaking, but I don’t mind the shit graphics.

Are you ready for self-driving cars and a more automated future?

Yeah, guess so.

Tell us about the most memorable fan encounter you had this year.

It wasn’t this year, but back in December 2013, we were sat backstage at London Islington Assembly Hall, anxiously waiting for Pete and Neil in the band to arrive into London (strong weather conditions had stopped all train travel, leaving them stranded in Stoke and there wasn’t enough space in our van to take the whole band and the string section we had for this particular tourthey showed up with half an hour to spare in the end). Anyway, there was a knock at the door, and some guy called Darren who was a fan had turned up early and somehow managed to blag himself into an empty venue with some tinnies of all things, and asked if he could drink them with us around this big conference table we had in our dressing room. We were just watching football, and were pretty stumped by the situation and he had this air about him that we bizarrely just couldn’t refuse. Anyway, we chattered and watched football for a couple hours, and after he finished his tinnies he left us to join the audience before our show time. It was only after he left that our tour manager told us that he told him that he was the guy that had been trolling us on ALL of our music videos on Youtube, commenting “That paedo sure can dance” on EVERY video of ours. Cheeky bastard.

Tell us about your first kiss.

It was during class in Year Two. I was the oldest in the class, which made me cool obviously. I had me a honey called Laura. She full on frenched me in front of the rest of the gobsmacked class whilst the teacher was explaining something and we were all sat on the carpet. The teacher didn’t see amazingly, and neither did I to tell the truth. All I remember was a big meaty tongue.

Under the Radar has been around for 15 years now, since December 2001. How do you feel the music industry has most changed in that time, both for the better and the worst?

It’s become more complacent in its marketing techniques, and it’s showing less and less enthusiasm for actual music making. As long as the band looks good, it doesn’t seem to matter.

What’s your all-time favorite movie?

Addams Family Values. That script is pure gold.

What would be the worst punishment the devil could devise for you in hell, if he exists?

Give me a massive penis that would never cum no matter how hard I wanked.

What song would you like to be performed at your funeral and who would you like to sing it?

The Blue Nile: “Easter Parade.” I’ve thought too much about this…


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