STRANGE FORCES

7 Aug

Perhaps the strangest thing about Strange Forces – a band for whom strangeness has never been a stranger – is our absolute inability to recall when we first heard the band’s massive, mind-melting sonic missives.

Strictly speaking, there aren’t too many choices. It was either the band’s self-titled EP or last year’s monster full-length LP, “I’d Rather Listen to the Bloody Birds.” What’s contained on that release in particular – and in the music of Strange Forces in general – is an utterly compelling sense of familiarity, a kind of cosmic, stereo-driven déjà-vu that we rarely encounter.

Familiarity here can be a dangerous word. We ask that you strike down any thoughts bubbling up that make you infer that Strange Forces are a sound-alike band. They are not. The band may orbit in the same general space that a band like Hawkwind once set out in search of and, perhaps somewhat closer to home, may share similarly glorified, amplified exploration equipment that serves to propel favorites of ours like Electric Moon or Hills, let there be no mistake – Strange Forces sound like Strange Forces.

The familiarity we speak of in regard to Strange Forces is a downright Faulknerian familiarity; in the author’s words, familiar “as things are familiar in dreams, like the dreams of falling to one who has never climbed.” This familiarity comes closest to describing why we’d rather listen to “I’d Rather Listen to the Bloody Birds” – a record where inner and outer space merge, a record both comforting and challenging, a record both serious and flashing a sly smile.

We couldn’t feel more fortunate to have the band kindly respond to our ridiculous questions below, and to share the resulting dialogue with you, here, on this ridiculous website. Enjoy. 

What do you believe is the strangest experience ever to happen in your life that you failed to fully comprehend at the time, but later had significant impact on yourself, personally? How do you feel about this event today? In what ways – if any – has this experience influenced the way you think about music? 

Eli: Hard to say. There are strange things happening everyday. Once I saw a ghost, once I saw a UFO, once we really put our heads together, once I went out of my body. Naturally these sort of experiences impact me greatly and are the kind of things that one doesn’t really forget. They’re hard to describe, but I’m glad they’re happening. I think if anything, these sort of experiences make us aware of the vibrations that exist everywhere. I think the strange days are not over yet.

Matt: I was flying home in 2009 on QF72 and the plane dropped out of the air twice in a row. I thought I was going to die. The pilot had to perform an emergency landing at a secret air force base at Exmouth, WA. The night before in Singapore I had purchased a lot of special crystals from a man with a red toupée. I had them with me at the time and while people in front of me had broken their necks, my girlfriend and I were unharmed. A few days after the flight in Perth I won second division in the state lottery and when I got back to Berlin I used that money to rent Strange Forces first studio and buy gear.

After the flight, a journalist told me that the secret base was to blame as it has the southern hemisphere equivalent of HAARP and they have back-engineered alien technology to create both that and the componentry in modern airplanes; thus the interference in that area. All commercial aircraft now have to fly around this airspace. If we all took the time to travel on horses and whales from one place to another I think we would be better off.

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What are the forces that have most defined your own relationship with music throughout your life? Can you think of a single event that forced you to look at music in a way that you never had before? What are the forces that make you feel connected to music and encourage you to continue to pursue a relationship with music?

Nick: I’d say the forces between us as individuals and as a band have been pretty intense and no doubt have forced us to think outside our own musical agendas. Some kind of resonance between the three of us has always played a part in the spontaneity of our jams, which develop into our songs. This resonance was the only way of communication while we practiced during most of the band’s life. The same forces are probably guilty of bringing us together as friends twenty years ago, which is probably the event which later in life has forced us to think differently about music.

Eli: I can’t think of any one thing that has defined my relationship with music but definitely being exposed to other cultures and traditional music as I was growing up. Another thing would be experiences I’ve had during altered states. But really it’s just a damn good time.

What were your very first attempts to create music like? How do you feel about these experiences now and how do they continue to influence the perspective you have on music today?

Nick: Well, I learned piano and played guitar as a kid and that no doubt has some subconscious influence on on me. When Matt and I moved to London in 2006 we set up some random instruments in a crowded flat in Hackney. We would spend nights lying on the floor in a drug-haze, thumping and dreaming at our instruments. I think in those days we just wanted to smash out weird sounds with any means possible and experience lots of fucked up shit. Those strange jams were probably the genesis of Strange Forces and no doubt still influence our music.

Matt:  One of our first purchases in London was an old PA and then I bought a Moogerfooger pedal for my guitar. I remember just experimenting a lot in our living room with this PA and various pedals. We would just make noises with a whole bunch of feedback and melodies thrown in. Then we convinced Eli to learn the drums before he came over to Europe. Much of the spirit hasn’t changed since then – our main focus or angle on music is still experimental.

What can you tell us about the formation of Strange Forces? In what ways had the three of you interacted prior to starting the band? How do you think your relationships have evolved since you starting playing together at very, very, very high volumes (we’re assuming)?

Eli: We’ve all been friends since primary school, so we all grew up together, and have done a lot of stuff together over that time. Sometimes that helps when you’re making music together, but sometimes not.

Matt: In the end I think we’ve probably stuck it out due to this one type of crystal called Mundaba which is an Aboriginal word. Since we started playing at very, very, very high volumes we have all had tinnitus for some time now.

Nick: We were smoking weed and listening to Radiohead and Chemical Brothers when we were teenagers. Being in a band together has probably made us closer. Shit, for a while we were playing music together, drinking together, eating together and sleeping pretty much side-by-side. That, with the huge number of psychedelic experiences we’ve had together, means there is no more hiding. Not to mention the fucking telepathy. And the volume means it goes deep, like right into your skull and sits there like a horse.

The Strange Forces EP closes with a spectacular song called “Hungry Ghost Nation.” Can you tell us anything about the inspiration for this song? Who (or what) are the vocals addressing in the repeated address, “I will walk with you”? What relevancy does the concept of hungry ghosts – traditionally, creatures “not fully capable of living and appreciating what the moment has to offer” – have in your life today?

Matt: The name is taken from a cracker of an article I read on Reality Sandwich quite a while ago. I’m half Korean and naturally inclined to some Eastern perspectives. I can really relate to this clash of Eastern and Western ideas in the article and the various definitions of hungry ghosts. The vocals are pretty simple repetitive lyrics that I made up on the spot one day. Most of our lyrics are done like that but I guess there’s a possibility then that a hungry fella could be in the studio with us at times.

Eli:  I think there are spirits, ghosts, goblins and ghouls all around us. And we should give them some bloody respect!

Please tell us something about “Maybe We Could Mediate Together or Something,” our favorite song on your tremendous album, “I’d Rather Listen to the Bloody Birds,” and perhaps our single favorite song title of all-time, period. Is that a guitar we’re hearing, or a UFO? 

Eli:  It’s a guitar playing a UFO … would you believe?

Matt: Ha, yea, actually we should try and sample some UFO’s sometime. I found some recordings once on Earthfiles but it was just an ominous buzz. We often joke about meditating together, burying our feet into the earth and eating some mushies; I think we will do that this summer. The sound is a guitar and envelope filter.

Would you care to comment on the rumor (the rumor that we are attempting to start right now) that your next release will be a mash-up of the music by Patti Smith and ZZ Top, entitled “La Grange Horses”?

Nick: Well, that’s meant to be a secret. So I’m guessing you have been using spies. It’s not something we appreciate, the use of spies, but at the same time I think we have nothing to hide. In this day and age if you’re hiding your mash-ups then you really should think about your goals in life, and what type of world you want to leave behind for your children. Ginsberg once said to Patti Smith, or vica versa, “Let the spirits of the departed leave you, and then continue in life’s celebration!”

Matt: It will be released under our Strange Horses moniker.

Eli:  Also working on a mash-up of Slim Dusty and Jim Morrison and calling it, “Slim and Jim’s Range of Sauces.”

What music have you been listening to lately? If push comes to shove, what is your favorite Can song of all-time and why? Please show your work.

Eli: Lately I’ve been listening to some OM, Boards of Canada, Ceephax, White Hills, Andy Stott, and some good old world music.

So many great songs of the Can, but I do always enjoy “Mother Sky.” It’s a good old-fashioned trance out, everything flows in and out perfectly. When you think it’s gonna stop, there’s more and more. It’s like the song that keeps on giving. and it sounds like a snippet from a much longer jam. Maybe they were just in the zone that day jamming away on “Mother Sky” for over an hour! And of course the drum breakdown with the bongos really hits the spot for me.

Nick: Haha, do you mean show your work, like to prove your not cheating? I’ve been listening to everything. I can’t remember it – it just passes through. Doesn’t hang around like it used to. If push really came to shove I would listen to “She Brings the Rain.” But I don’t think I’ve listened to all Can songs. There’s a shit load.

Matt: “Tomorrow’s Harvest” has been on repeat. Latest Lumerians, James Holden and Wraetlic is good, too. On our recent tour with High Wolf we did a cosmic cover of “Vitamin C” as our last song. I think we pulled it off.

Norman Vincent Peale – the author of “The Power of Positive Thinking” and a one-time roadie for Paul Revere and The Raiders, we’re certain – wrote the following:

“This is a dynamic and mysterious universe and human life is, no doubt, conditioned by imponderables of which we are only dimly aware. People sometimes say, ‘the strangest coincidence happened.’ Coincidences may seem strange, but they are never a result of caprice. They are orderly laws in the spiritual life of man. They affect and influence our lives profoundly. These so-called imponderables are so important that you should become spiritually sensitized to them. Indeed, the more spiritually minded you become the more acute your contact will be with these behind-the-scenes forces. By being alive to them through insight, instruction, and illumination, you can make your way past errors and mistakes on which, were you less spiritually sensitive, you might often stumble.”

Your thoughts?

Eli: Coincidently, I think this is spot on.

Nick: Um, well … I reckon you could go into a cave and meditate for ten years while fasting, then read libraries on spiritualism from all the cultures of the world, take part in one-hundred ayahuasca ceremonies with the Don of all Don shamans, lock yourself in a cupboard and take heroic doses while doing yoga and reading all the works of Dostoevsky. Then after spending your whole life working as an alchemist on The Great Work, achieving individuation through therapy with Jung and turning iron to gold, you’ll still come out and have absolutely no control of coincidence or the imponderables that condition them.

Positive thinking is great stuff. But its hard to do if you’re depressed. I think you should just trust the forces. And don’t resist shit. I think it was a buddha who said all problems come from resistance to something. But it might have been the barman.

Matt: Maybe we could meditate on it together or something.

What’s next for Strange Forces?

Matt: Remixes of the LP, plus some other new jams will be released on cassette very soon. I think some guy in Russia is going to release a single for us, too. Also have a few recording sessions worth of stuff to mix. Euro shows in the next few months and then hopefully hit the States next year.

ELi: Tape release to go triple-platinum. Play a gig in space … before Jared Leto’s band. And then the “Resurrection Tour.”

Nick: Probably get real famous soon and then get assassinated.

Strange Forces‘ “I’d Rather Listen to the Bloody Birds” is available from the band’s Bandcamp page.
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2 Responses to “STRANGE FORCES”

  1. Strange Forces August 8, 2013 at 11:13 am #

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