Battles | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, October 27th, 2021  

Battles

Jul 02, 2007 Battles Bookmark and Share


Scheduling mishaps. They happen. For example, one might prepare a set of questions for a phone interview with Battles bassist/guitarist Dave Konopka only to have them answered via email by Battles drummer John Stanier. The result is just as informative—until you get to the questions about John Stanier, of course. Then things get silly. Battles are currently touring in support of the groundbreaking Mirrored, a truly exciting and singular album destined for many a critic’s best-of list for 2007. The band formed in 2002 as the side project of guitarist/keyboardist Ian Williams (Don Caballero, Storm & Stress) and guitarist/keyboardist/noisemaker Tyondai Braxton (son of jazz legend Anthony Braxton). Konopka added to the math-rock pedigree as a former guitarist of Lynx. Stanier previously tasted fame as the drummer of Helmet, and currently plays with Tomahawk as well. Mirrored is the band’s first proper full-length after a string of EPs, and has propelled the band to a new notoriety that brings into question the “side project” descriptor.

Under the Radar: You’re on tour as usual. Any highlights or lowlights so far?

John Stanier: The highlights would be Tampa, L.A., S.F., Portland, Seattle, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Toronto, Denver, Baltimore, Austin, San Diego, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Houston, Boise, Chicago, Iowa City, Boston, N.Y.C., Baton Rouge, Omaha, Montreal, Miami, and Orlando. The lowlight would be Vancouver, but I’m not going to tell you what happened there.

UTR: Has the press surrounding Mirrored led to a lot more people at the shows?

Stanier: I’m sure it has—it seems like it, but then again I can’t really tell, but yes I suppose so.

UTR: What are you listening to/reading/otherwise ingesting on the road?

Stanier: I just read Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power by Niall Ferguson and I always have with me Ultimate German (Beginner-Intermediate). New Interpol is great as well as all the Deerhunter stuff.

UTR: Can you tell me a little about what went into thinking up and then creating the two-way mirrored structure on the cover of Mirrored and in the Atlas video?

Stanier: The entire concept was thought up and created by our very own Mr. David J.T.R. Konopka IIV.

UTR: What’s it like standing in there?

Stanier: Hot as fuck! So hot!

UTR: How do you feel about being called futuristic music? Do favor Italian race cars?

Stanier: Nah, too corny. Being called “futuristic” is quite a compliment! That’s really great, we work very hard at what we do, and that is quite a flattering comment. (Who said that?)

UTR: How tied to machines really is your music? What separates it from sample-based electronic music?

Stanier: Everything we do is done live on stage, there are no samples or preprogrammed anything. This is one of the most important things about Battles. This is why, in reality, we are a rock band, just very different.

UTR: Was there an official MO to the band from the start? Has it changed as you’ve gone on?

Stanier: There was never a plan from day one or anything of the sort, which was my initial attraction to this whole thing. It was a complete blank slate, anything goes kind of operation from day one and I think it’s still like that.

UTR: When the members of Battles see heavily rhythmic, danceable bands, do you dance?

Stanier: Like fools. Actually Dave really can dance, he’s got the ill moves.

UTR: Did you expect the critical success that Mirrored has enjoyed?

Stanier: Not at all and I’m still pinching myself and giddying myself to sleep every night. I knew it would be well received, but we had no idea it would be like this! Very exciting for us all!

UTR: Mirrored is a musical leap for the band, it seems like your sound has coalesced a little more. Did you consciously make changes or did it happen more naturally as you played together longer?

Stanier: When we did those first couple of EP’s, we were just starting out and it felt rushed. Mirrored is the product of four people playing together nonstop for three years—we know each other better, musically and personally. Also, we wanted to introduce two very big changes in our sound—bass and vocals—which I think we achieved in a tasteful manner.

UTR: How did [Tyondai] Braxton come upon the deranged midget vocal thing?

Stanier: It’s a Connecticut thing…

UTR: What’s it like playing rhythm with John Stanier? Does that guy have a tempo selector?

Stanier: I think John is the greatest musician we’ve ever played with and we are privileged to be in his presence.

UTR: Do the three non-drummers in the band ever feel jealous that so many people ask why Stanier’s cymbal is so high but ignore the fact that your guitars are nearly to your chins?

Stanier: Not at all…

UTR: Let’s play word association. Math.

Stanier: Don’t you dare say “rock” with that!

UTR: Warp.

Stanier: Best buddies.

UTR: Pitchfork.

Stanier: They like us/we like them.

UTR: Prog.

Stanier: Grew up with it, don’t want to be associated with it—sorry.

UTR: Williamsburg.

Stanier: Mmmmm…what about it? Still cool I guess…I dunno…too jaded.

UTR: Experimental.

Stanier: A very dangerous word with horrible implications, but somewhat relevant.

UTR: Beer.

Stanier: Werd up! “Beer me!”

UTR: Success.

Stanier: If at a young age, very bad—it takes awhile to figure everything out.

UTR: Petrucci

Stanier: ????

UTR: Echoplex.

Stanier: That’s the stupid little box that all me boys have.

UTR: Multiplex.

Stanier: Cinemas? Yeah, I like going to those huge mall places where you can see like four movies in one day. Actually, my man Sam from L.A., his Dad is like some bigwig at Columbia or something, and he has this credit card that’s good for any mega-cineplex place in the U.S.—free movies whenever—it’s pretty cool.

UTR: Wreckx-n-Effect.

Stanier: Rump Shaker 12”—worn out!

UTR: The future.

Stanier: More groundbreaking music and even more groundbreaking stage props.

UTR: What’s next for Battles? Have you guys already started to write new material or has the touring prevented that?

Stanier: For this band, it’s way hard to write on the road, but we have some tricks up our sleeves, so we’ll see.

www.myspace.com/battlestheband



Comments

Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published

URL

Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Rolex Watches
January 1st 2011
6:00am

It’s a tough time to be a rock band right now. The whole garage revival thing that was all the rage around 2000 has pretty much died down as more and more musicians realize there’s more to it than putting a plural noun after the word “The” and calling yourself a band. The Internet has made it so any Joe Schmo with a computer and a cord can record an album and sell it to the world on iTunes, but there’s so much of it out there, it’s damn near impossible to sort out what’s really the best (unless Apple does it for you in a TV commercial). Oh, and Battles is around, so every other band in the world has to live up to their new standard. Because Battles is the greatest band on the planet. And make sure you read the Rolex Submariner Introduction on their website.

Are the members of Battles the world’s most technically skilled musicians? If you have read the Rolex Yachtmaster Introduction, you’ll say probably not. Does Battles make the best music on Earth? I love their tunes, but I couldn’t argue that their songwriting itself is the absolute BEST, nope. But as a band, a group, a collective, four individuals musically congealed into a single, breathing, siamise-like thinking unit, they are THE greatest, the #1, with very little doubt. In fact, no doubt. Battles is the greatest band on the planet.

Rolex Watches
January 1st 2011
6:03am

It’s a tough time to be a rock band right now. The whole garage revival thing that was all the rage around 2000 has pretty much died down as more and more musicians realize there’s more to it than putting a plural noun after the word “The” and calling yourself a band. The Internet has made it so any Joe Schmo with a computer and a cord can record an album and sell it to the world on iTunes, but there’s so much of it out there, it’s damn near impossible to sort out what’s really the best (unless Apple does it for you in a TV commercial). Oh, and Battles is around, so every other band in the world has to live up to their new standard. Because Battles is the greatest on the planet.

Are the members of Battles the world’s most technically skilled musicians? Probably not. Does Battles make the best music on Earth? I love their tunes, but I couldn’t argue that their songwriting itself is the absolute BEST, nope. But as a band, a group, a collective, four individuals musically congealed into a single, breathing, siamise-like thinking unit, they are THE greatest, the #1, with very little doubt. In fact, no doubt. Battles is the greatest band on the planet.

Ginault
January 9th 2011
9:45am

Mirrored proves that Battles are an original band who can make math rock and electronic music into addictive, fun stuff. Despite being mostly instrumental, Mirrored is addictive and endlessly listenable as much for its sense of discovery and invention as it is a surprisingly lyrical and memorable sense of songwriting. Rolex Submariner Watches

Ginault
January 9th 2011
9:46am

Mirrored proves that Battles are an original band who can make math rock and electronic music into addictive, fun stuff. Despite being mostly instrumental, Mirrored is addictive and endlessly listenable as much for its Rolex Submariner Watches  sense of discovery and invention as it is a surprisingly lyrical and memorable sense of songwriting.

Ginault
January 9th 2011
9:47am

Mirrored proves that Battles are an original band who can make math rock and electronic music into addictive, fun stuff. Despite being mostly instrumental, Mirrored is addictive and endlessly listenable as much for its Rolex Submariner Watches  sense of discovery and invention as it is a surprisingly lyrical and memorable sense of songwriting.

Ginault
January 9th 2011
9:50am

Mirrored proves that Battles are an original band who can make math rock and electronic music into addictive, fun stuff. Despite being mostly instrumental, Mirrored is addictive and endlessly listenable as much for its Rolex Prices sense of discovery and invention as it is a surprisingly lyrical and memorable sense of songwriting.

G
January 9th 2011
9:52am

In many ways, Volcano Choir is Bon Iver’s alter-ego, and while Unmap isn’t quite the Mr Hyde to For Emma Forever Ago’s Dr Jekyll, there are moments where Rolex Prices
struggles to convince and tries the patience in a way that Justin Vernon’s last record never did.

[url=http://www.ginault.com]Rolex Prices[/url]
January 9th 2011
9:58am

Mirrored proves that Battles are an original band who can make math rock and electronic music into addictive, fun stuff. Despite being mostly instrumental, Mirrored is addictive and endlessly listenable as much for its sense of discovery and invention as it is a surprisingly lyrical and memorable sense of songwriting.

G
January 9th 2011
9:59am

Mirrored proves that Battles are an original band who can make math rock and electronic music into addictive, fun stuff. Despite being mostly instrumental, Mirrored is addictive and endlessly listenable as much for its sense of discovery and invention as it is a surprisingly lyrical and memorable sense of songwriting.

G
January 9th 2011
10:00am

Mirrored proves that Battles are an original band who can make math rock and electronic music into addictive, fun stuff. Despite being mostly instrumental, Mirrored is addictive and endlessly listenable as much for its Rolex Submariner Watches sense of discovery and invention as it is a surprisingly lyrical and memorable sense of songwriting.

G
January 9th 2011
10:02am

Mirrored proves that Battles are an original band who can make math rock and electronic music into addictive, fun stuff. Despite being mostly instrumental, Mirrored is addictive and endlessly listenable as much for its XXX sense of discovery and invention as it is a surprisingly lyrical and memorable sense of songwriting.

G
January 9th 2011
10:30am

Mirrored proves that Battles are an original band who can make math rock and electronic music into addictive, fun stuff. Despite being mostly instrumental, Mirrored is addictive and endlessly listenable as much for its sense of discovery and invention as it is a surprisingly lyrical and memorable sense of songwriting.

Nausicrate
January 9th 2011
2:15pm

Mirrored proves that Battles are an original band who can make math rock and electronic music into addictive, fun stuff. Despite being mostly instrumental, Mirrored is addictive and endlessly listenable as much for its sense of discovery and invention as Rolex Prices is a surprisingly lyrical and memorable sense of songwriting.

Nausicrate
January 9th 2011
2:28pm

Battles have created some sort of robotic remixing machine, ignoring their own musical skills, collecting up all of their favorite songs and running them through their contraption. “Rolex Prices” There is no other way to describe this music. It’s like some sort of chaotic, robotic journey.

Nausicrate
January 11th 2011
2:20pm

In many ways, Volcano Choir is Bon Iver’s alter-ego, and while Unmap isn’t quite the Mr Hyde to For Emma Forever Ago’s Dr Jekyll, there are moments where Rolex Prices
struggles to convince and tries the patience in a way that Justin Vernon’s last record never did. “Rolex Prices