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Fuck Buttons - Push The Buttons

Author: Carlisle Rogers
Monday, 1 December 2008

British experimental duo, Fuck Buttons, have been chosen by none other than Nick Cave himself to play the first ever All Tomorrow’s Parties festival Down Under. 3D’s Carlisle Rogers chatted with Andrew Hung about Mogwai, Pitchfork and droning.

Fuck ButtonsStreet Horrsing takes what began as a rollicking experiment in noise jams a la Metal Machine Music three years ago and distils them, via a hell of a lot of live shows and self-education, into something closer to the discipline of My Disco, without the minimalism. Think Throbbing Gristle with feelings, or Telepathe with balls.

“We wanted Street Horrsing to be a representation of our life at that time,” says one half of the experimental duo, Andrew Hung. He shares the stage and the studio with Benjamin John Power. “It was our life we were playing. We also wanted it to be a bit more than that and I guess at that time, that is why it involved John from Mogwai, who produced it. We knew he could add some extra dimensions to it. We wanted it to have the feel of the live show, but at the same time we wanted it to be dynamic and well, just good.

“We are very much interested in the nature of the sound, that is a big part for us as a band. It’s easy for us to have a very good understanding of the qualities of the sound and the instrumentation so it was easy for us to understand what we wanted our sound to do on record.”

Andrew says that the move from completely free-form jams to something a little more structured was definitely a conscious decision. “Nowadays, the songs are definitely structured. They are songs that are pre-planned, but there have been times during equipment failure that we’ve had to ad lib. We do have that control over the instrumentation to do that, but it is predominantly structured. Our first shows were famous for being drone oriented with pieces that last for 15 to 20 minutes at a time with very little dynamics or change. Since then it has become much more lively and enthusiastic. It took us two or three shows of playing that way early on to go ‘Right, this isn’t what we’re interested in.’ It has developed in a hell of a way since then.”

All of the right people seem to be agreeing that the band is doing the right thing with their shows and recordings. ATP signed the act last year after a very inauspicious show, John Cummings from Mogwai recorded the album and Bob Weston mastered it. Pitchfork actually gave the album an 8.6, which, among certain circles, is like getting the seal of the Queen. “I don’t think there is a single thing I don’t like about ATP. We were already big fans of ATP from the beginning and I really enjoy their ethos and working methods. A friend of ours came to one of our shows in London and started raving on about how much he liked our band. He said he was going to tell Barry from ATP first thing in the morning, which I didn’t think much of, but the next thing we heard was Barry sending an email saying a good friend of his told him to put out our record. He came to see us a week after and wanted to put our record out.

“The part about the Pitchfork review I really enjoyed was the part about a sun rising over a supernova. I really dig that kind of imagery, it’s in sync with the vibe I get from our music.”

One of the hardest things about making music that build and builds and crashes and shimmers at top volume is having a good exit strategy. Andrew says he learned a good one from a comedian. “He said at the end of the show you just go ‘OK, that’s the end of our show.’ I thought that was really jarring and a great idea, so we started ending our sets with complete sudden silence which I think is a jarring juxtaposition to our loud, full music. That’s how we are ending our sets at the moment.”

WHO: Fuck Buttons
WHAT: Plays ATP Australia on Cockatoo Island / Street Horrsing through ATP / Remote Control
WHEN: Saturday 17 January & Sunday 18 / Out now
MORE: sydneyfestival.org.au / atpfestival.com

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