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Interview von: Matthias Rauch mit Colin Newman, am: 04.05.2011 ]

Wire waren ihrer Zeit irgendwie immer voraus. Das lässt sich nicht nur über ihr Debütalbum „Pink Flag“ aus dem Jahre 1977 sagen, sondern auch über ihr aktuelles Album „Red Barked Tree“. Wenn man Wire überhaupt mit einem Begriff fassen möchte, dann ist das: Veränderung. Die Band um Mastermind Colin Newman erfindet sich seit fast 35 Jahren mit jeder Platte neu. Da ist es nur konsequent, wenn man auch mal längere Pausen einlegt, wenn keine zündenden Ideen vorliegen, wie es die Band in ihrer erstaunlichen Karriere immer wieder getan hat. Wir sprachen mit Colin Newman über das aktuelle Album, sein Verhältnis zur Musik nach all den Jahren, und das deutsche Publikum.


Musicscan: Please tell me a little bit how you approached this album? Did you do anything particularly differently compared to your previous efforts?

Wire: Actually this album was done very differently to the previous few albums - going back to the 80’s in fact - in that it was predicated on the idea that the songs would be written before the recording process rather than during. A great deal of Wire’s and many other artists’ output over the last 20-25 years has been focussed on the idea of making music by assemblage. This idea has really gained ground in the last 10 or so years with the advent of affordable computer editing and whilst it has many positive advantages from the point of view of ease and the kind of spaces people can work in it can lead to a certain sameness in output in my view. My feeling was that from two major standpoints using a different method would be good for Wire. Firstly because a song written on acoustic guitar - how I mainly wrote songs for this album - has to work well enough for the person to be excited enough to play it in the first place, it can’t be dependant on a cool sound or whatever it has to work as a song in the most basic form. Secondly because the band played a lot of shows in the 2008-2009 period I felt there should be enough forward propulsion in the way we interact to be able to come up with intuitive and individualistic arrangements as a response to the written material.

Musicscan: Did you have a certain aesthetic goal in mind when you started working on the album?

Wire: That was pretty much it! Write some songs on acoustic guitar, have the band interpret the material in an organic way and record the results for the basis of the production. Although that initial process is quite fast the actual production takes much longer due to how I work, but the root idea is that everything Is based on the song & the basic arrangement and once the original elements are all working only then will I look for additional elements. I try to make the production as transparent as possible. The final aim is to make something that sounds like the band playing.

Musicscan: How does your songwriting process look like? Is there one major songwriter or does everyone equally contribute ideas?

Wire: Going back to Pink Flag I’ve always written the majority of the tunes and the minor proportion of the words. Graham always writes his own tunes and either contributes words or edits my original drafts. Wire has never written as a band. I write very fast and the band also makes arrangements very fast.

Musicscan: How did you experience the German dates on the current tour?

Wire: I think they went well! Pretty much everywhere the audiences were larger than during the last German dates in 2009 and people seemed to like what they saw. This would seem to follow the pattern of other places where our audience seems to have grown and depending on where we play to have got younger by varying degrees.

Musicscan: What do you hope people to take away from a Wire show?

Wire: I hope what people take away is that they saw Wire and it lived up to or exceeded their expectations. Wire has a high reputation and it’s really important not to reduce this by being average or just doing what is expected. There are enough older bands out there milking their own reputations, we don’t want to be one of them.

Musicscan: What is the difference between art and entertainment in your opinion?

Wire: I think it’s about intent. Art can entertain but it’s not the primary function. Something designed with an artistic intent is always going to be more considered from many points of view if the artist is good and will just be deeper and richer and include concepts and emotions which may be disturbing as well as those that are comforting. Art can be and should be about everything.

Musicscan: How does the band feel for you now compared to when you first started many years ago and what significance does it have in your lives now?

Wire: Well everything is different including us! Everyone is older if not necessarily wiser. We are, however, a bit more at ease with each other and with it. I don’t think there has been a period in my life since the band formed when Wire didn't significantly feature in it. Right now is a more intense period for the band as we are on the album/ tour cycle. It’s highly significant.

Musicscan: What keeps playing music for you interesting after all these years? Why is music special as an avenue of expression compared to the other arts?

Wire: Amongst all arts music has a unique way to communicate directly with people’s emotions. It can operate in an almost unfiltered way, which visual arts can’t compete with. In that way it doesn’t really require explanation although we may need to become familiar with certain of its “languages”. Although I do other things, music remains for me the most direct form of artistic expression. I can’t imagine living without that method being available in some form or other.

Musicscan: How do you make ends meet when you are not on the road or involved with music?

Wire: I personally make my living as an artist but that involves engaging with the business of my chosen artistic form. I’m in two bands (Wire & Githead) and run two labels (pinkflag & swim). I’ve never had a “proper” job but because I have, since the 90‘s, been very involved in how the music of myself & others works in the market I can survive off of music. All Wire & Githead releases are produced “in house” in my studio (apart from initial recording), we have decent independent distribution for physical products & are into all the digital sellers plus we have a significant mail order business.

Musicscan: What can we expect from you in the near future? Any further albums, tours, collaborations planned?

Wire: This year is pretty much dedicated to the “Red Barked Tree” cycle. With Australian & New Zealand plus European tours done I’ve so far spent only around 10 days at home this year! We are off to USA & Canada in April with a French tour in May then we will be doing some festivals through the summer. There will be more tour dates in autumn, but I can’t really say anything about them yet as they are not announced. It’s too early to talk about the next Wire album although there will be one! For other stuff, my main studio project this year is Malka Spigel’s next solo album. Malka is my wife and also part of Githead & the swim label, she used to and still occasionally does play with Minimal Compact. Her first solo album “Rosh Ballata” in 1993 actually launched the swim label and we haven’t made an album with her name on the cover since “My Pet Fish” in 1998. This one will be made in both English & her native Hebrew. We also have plans to do some recording towards the next Githead album when I have a moment to catch my breath. There’s a bunch of other stuff including our “real time performance installation/ rock band” Hopper & early Newman album re-releases (next year) there’s no space to talk about here.

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  Wire @ Myspace