Questions and Answers with The Airfields
I'm going to try to start doing little interviews (though this one is quite extensive!) here more often, because they're fun and fun things almost always tend to be good – and fun. To get the ball rolling, who better to interview than my favorite Canadian popgazers, The Airfields
! More or less coincidentally, they also happen to be releasing their first LP, Up All Night
, very soon – February 5th, infact – on Humblebee Recordings
. I can personally vouch for it being excellent in every possible way. Now here's some questions, and some answers to those questions. I hope you enjoy it!
For reference, The Airfields
Vox Phantoming and writing and singingIan Jackson:
Jazzmastering, as well as TelecasteringAli Sunderji:
Bass guitaring designerJakob Thiesen:
Drumming and beat-keeping, as well as bee-keepingSheila Sampath:
Farfisa, synthing, bells, whistles, the kitchen sinkCould you possibly explain how The Airfields eventually became The Airfields?David:
We had our first show in the summer of 2004, but Ian and I had met two summers previously and got together now and again to talk about music, trade song ideas, and generally bitch about growing up in Mississauga (our home town – the name “The Airfields” refers to the fact that I used to live very close to the airport when i was about five or six and i could watch the airplanes take off from my bedroom window). It took us a long time to find the nerve to form a band. When we finally did get started, I was living in a place in Toronto with a massive concrete basement and a shoddy p.a. system which was perfect for rehearsing and a lot of friends of ours, who’ve belonged to the Airfields at some point or other (there are too many to mention here), started bands in that basement too. I only wanted to play ten shows, record something, and then call it a day. But, somehow the first EP turned out well and people came and went and then we made a second EP – which was saved in the studio by Jakob, who is a real cowboy behind the controls (and the drums too).Jakob:
I met David doing shoddy, feedback-y live sound for another band he played in. We chatted and discovered our mutual love for guitar abuse, then when The Airfields lost their drummer mid-first EP (during the session I was recording) I was recruited... I think their last drummer was better though, but fistfights and drug use at the studio grew tiresome – especially during the glockenspiel overdubs.David:
Ian and I met Sheila a long time ago at a Toronto indie-pop night called “The Stolen Wine Social” and she was even the dj once for a show we did just before she joined the band. I think Sheila saw us open for The Clientele in 2005 and then her first show with us was when we opened for The Wedding Present – I thought she’d have been falling to pieces with nervousness (like me), but she was excellent! Ali is someone I met for the first time after watching him rip it up on bass with his old band and i thought to myself, “Who the fuck is that? look at him go!” I’m just glad he’s on our side these days…The new record is fantastic, are you pretty happy with how it turned out? Do you have a favorite song?David:
I’m astonished that it happened at all. If it sounds any good, it’s got a lot to do with the fact that our friend Mark Thibideau and his brother Matt went to great lengths to mix it at their home studio, RepairLab, which is probably better outfitted than most ‘professional’ studios. Jakob:
Yeah, Dale Morningstar (tracking) rocked the analog tape hard, Mark and Matt hit the reverb and eventide harmonizer with aplomb, and Jon (mastering) tied it into a neat little bow. If I had to do it again, I'd do it just the same, I think we did the best we could! We all worked really hard on it. I can't wait to start the next one.David:
If I had to name a favourite song, for personal reasons, I'd say ‘Icing Sugar’ – is the best of the bunch, but I’m really proud of how the rest of the band played on ‘Happy & Safe’ – that song is HARD to play.Sheila:
The album was difficult to make, but it really made me realise how talented our friends are. Mark and Matt were amazing, and Dale Morningstar and Jon Drew (mastering) were also really fun to work with. My favourite songs before hearing the finished album were 'Icing Sugar' and 'Love Tariffs,' but after hearing the mixes, I'd have to say 'Happy & Safe'. As an aside, I think that 'Happy & Safe' was the song that we wrote the most organically, and it's really special to me, because it's really reflective of us as individuals in a band. Ian:
I’m really happy with how it turned out. It was a long time in the making and I’m very proud of what we created. As for a favourite song, it changes all the time. Currently ‘Love Tariffs’ I really love cause it turned out so warm and fuzzy and thumping, and ‘The End of the Evening’ cause it really captures the mood we strived for in recording it – and we did record it at the end of a wonderful evening, too. Ali:
I'd say I'm very happy with the finished record. I'd be hard pressed to pick a favorite song though. Recording on Toronto Island was fantastic though! We got awfully smashed with the island lighthouse keeper after one full day of recording and went swimming in the nice part of Lake Ontario. I'd say it ranks as one of my most cherished memories. Also, Mark and Matt Thibideau are synthesizer wizards who can shoot rainbows out of their Prophet 5, I can't thank them enough for the work they put into this project. I think Dale Morningstar is my third favorite person in the universe.
[MP3]: The Airfields :: Never See You Smile (Super Highly Rec'd!)
Are you guys planning on playing anymore shows in the U.S. either before or after Pop Mayhem in Florida in May? Any other plans?
Jakob: We plan on opening up the Obama conventions as they traverse the states - he is cool beans.
David: We’d love to play the 2008 NYC Popfest in June, but we’ll see… it’s not really up to us. There’s also some plans to play the New England Popfest in November. I’d like for us to skip down to Philadelphia to visit our friend (and label-mate!) Ari from Wax & Wane, or perhaps Baltimore (his home town) which has a good music scene I hear… [The Baltimore music scene is pretty great, but I think it could use a bit more P!O!P]
What's your live show like?
David: Like a chainsaw through sheet metal! Okay, not really…, but Ali is a menace on bass and Sheila and Ian hop around a lot.
Sheila: Loud. Occasionally destructive.
Jakob: Brief fits of sadness and anger and lust, interspersed with uncomfortable silent pauses and fidgeting with guitar tuning pegs.
Why is the vox phantom so awesome?
Ali: Just look at how cool it looks!
David: It has a tremolo arm, so you can bend all 12-strings. I guess it attracts attention too – someone always taps me on the shoulder after we play to ask about it. One time, a famous local musician even offered to buy it off me while we were riding the bus! I said, “no way." Ian has a 60s, Italian-made Eko 12-string guitar that shall one day eclipse the Phantom. I can only hope that it makes a reappearance!
Ian: Yeah, I love my Eko, but it’s got issues. Mostly with all the capoed tunings we use.
I know it's silly to ask, but what would you consider your biggest influences?
David: Czech Pilsner in Summer, red wine in Winter.
Sheila: I'm with David on the red wine. Also: small places.
Ali: The Communist Daughter is a lovely bar round the corner from my apartment…
What have you been listening to lately?
Sheila: The past week: Carsick Cars (loud, from Beijing), Suburban Kids with Biblical Names (Sweden), Inspiral Carpets (Manchester nostalgia), The Weakerthans (Winnipeg love), The Paper Cranes (total band-crush, and Unfamiliar label-mates), and Patsy Cline (for good measure). I also saw A Place to Bury Strangers a few week ago with David and they blew me away.
David: My Moscow Olympics ‘Still’ 7” just came in the mail yesterday - only 98 Swedish Kroner! and there’s a Baltimore band that used to be called Monarch but now they’ve changed their name to Wye Oak; they have a record called If Children – it’s good. Also, if you ever liked Skywave, the new A Place to Bury Strangers continues where that band left off – saw them just two weeks ago and it was just the right kind of deafening.
Ali: I'd agree with David on the Moscow Olympics 7" [as would I!] - arguably one of the finer singles I've heard all year, and the b-side is fantastic. Otherwise, I think the not-so-recent Love Dance record and the-more-recent Bridal Shop records are fantastic. Also, I'd say that The Radio Dept. is an old favorite, perfect for drab Canadian winters.
David: “Therese” by the Bodines is also on every mixtape Ali’s ever made.
Ian: Richard Hawley’s new record Lady’s Bridge has rekindled my ever-growing Hawley obsession. Also Donovan’s Hurdy Gurdy Man for some bizarre reason.
Jakob: Kompakt Pop Ambient 2008 compilation, Deepchord "Grandbend."
what is your favorite record ever? Favorite bands?
Ian: Impossible. I can’t really pick just one record or band. – except maybe Boyracer’s boyfuckingracer.
David: A tie between Ecstacy & Wine by My Bloody Valentine and Here Comes Everybody by The Wake.
Ali: I couldn't tell you… New Order's Low Life maybe?
Jakob: Model 500's Sonic Sunset or The Cure's Disintegration = guilty pleasures.
Sheila: I spent about 20 minutes trying to decide on an answer, but think it's better not to respond at all...
What is your favorite record cover art ever?
David: Wire’s Map Ref 7” single.
Sheila: Off the top of my head, The Weakerthans' Reconstruction Site artwork (Illustrations by Marcel Dzama).
Ian: The entire package for Sheet One by Plastikman is as ingenious as it is hilarious and Siamese Dream by Smashing Pumpkins would have to be up there for sheer nostalgia.
Ali: I'd say The Germs' record MIA.
What is the best song The Cat's Miaow ever wrote?
David: "Not Like I Was Doing Anything’ is just right (both versions), but all of their songs are kinda perfect.
Ian: Every song they ever made. I’m a bit biased.
[Buzz! I'm sorry, the correct answer was "Hollow Inside" – but thanks for playing, folks.]
Do you like snow?
Sheila: Only before it hits the ground.
David: Not after Christmas and definitely not before Halloween.
Ian: Yeah, but the freezing cold that comes with the season kinda taints it for me.
Ali: Absolutely not!
Oh and also, will Up All Night be cd only or will there be vinyl?
David: February 5th is the release date. It’ll be out on cd with Humblebee Recordings – please visit their website if you like. I’d love it if we could do a limited vinyl pressing like we did for the Laneways EP, but we’ll see. I know that we’re planning to release “Never See You Smile” (on Unfamiliar Records) later this year as a 7” or possibly as a 10” EP with some other stuff, but we still have work to finish before then. A Field Mice cover maybe? [Yessssss!!!]
A huge thank you to The Airfields for humouring my silly questions! Make sure you pick up Up All Night in February, it's sure to be one of the finer records of the year!
The Airfields on MySpace
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Labels: Humblebee Recordings, The Airfields