Musicscan: I suppose a good place to start is with the new record, that just has been released. Now I'm pretty interested in the idea behind Post-Historic, so I was hoping you could shortly elaborate on where the title came from, and how you think it relates to the rest of the record.
Death Letters.: The title stands for progress. I feel the world is standing still on so many levels. We have to move forward in everything. In music, love, death and religion (which are the main themes on the record). I feel people are hanging on to the past way too much and are more nostalgic and sentimental about it rather than to embrace the past and to move on. In (again) music, love, death and religion. That's the main story about the meaning of Post-Historic.
Musicscan: A strong part of the Death Letters sound is about experimentation. Of the songs you have recorded, which one do you feel crosses the most borders? What other borders, musically speaking, do you guys wanna knock down?
Death Letters.: There are several songs that really mix up so many different genres, vibes, worlds or whatever it is people want to call it. But I think "Death Of The Sincere" stands out the most regarding that. It has so much in it. Well, I'm never self-conscious about that when I'm writing songs, but when I start to listen to a new type of music I know it'll eventually ends up in my music in some kind of way. I'm really into electronic music at the moment, so who knows. Everything can happen.
Musicscan: And of the entire band catalog, what song do you feel is the most representative of all the facets of Death Letters?
Death Letters.: That's so hard because there are a lot of sides to this band. So, when I'll pick one song it'll never cover everything this band has to offer, you know. But if I had to pick one I'd say "Death Of The Sincere" again.
Musicscan: What exactly does Post-Historic sound like from your point of view? Do you think it is any kind of departure to what people might expect from a band consisting of two musicians?
Death Letters.: Yeah, I think it kind of is. Because most two piece bands people know are playing a kind of Blues/Rock type of music. And when we're playing live we get reactions like "If I didn't know any better I'd say you're a 4 or even 5 piece band" we get that a lot and that's really one of the most beautiful compliments we can get. It says we're doing something right, you know.
Musicscan: By the way: Does being a duo make managing the band easier or harder?
Death Letters.: It depends. When it comes to touring it's easier because we are just with the two of us. So, it's cheaper and we can bring along crew more easy than most bands. You know, the practical side of things. But being on stage is a different story because, for example, if my amp breaks up or something you can't just continue the song, 'cause there's no other guitarist or bassist. You're on your own, basically. But that is really liberating at the same time. And at the end of the day we feel more liberated about it than anything else.
Musicscan: Death Letters seems to thrive on contrast musically. There is so much to find in your songs. What influences you to make this "crossover-styled" music in between several rock-genres. Does most of the influence come from personal experiences and moods, or from listening to other/similar bands?
Death Letters.: It's never a conscious thing when I'm writing music, like I said before, it's always a natural process. I listen to so much different music it'll eventually finds its way in my own in some kind of way. But I don't think it's a complete coincidence it's like that, although I never really think about it. Because the most interesting music to me is music that combines even the most uncommon genres in one, you know, not that it's a conscious decision of course. I wanna make the record I can't find, you know. That kind of feeling.
Musicscan: What current bands do you think of as your peers or bands that you feel a commonality with?
Death Letters.: These bands may not be obvious choices, sonically speaking, but I really feel a commonality with The Dillinger Escape Plan, Explosion In The Sky, Oceansize (although they split up last year), Enter Shikari, Death Cab for Cutie and many more but these are the main ones.
Musicscan: Your style of playing could be criticized for being too excursive or nervous. Others view it as challenging and speak of several potential hits. What do you say to those contrary perceptions?
Death Letters.: Wow, that's a really good question. I think it's a matter of musical background and it's really personal. For example, we did an instore gig in Göttingen last week and the owner of the record store first said he had to get used to the music because he thought it was a little too 'commercial' at first, but now thinks otherwise. That's the first time I have ever heard someone say that about Death Letters. And at the same time some people think it's just noise. But I can see why people feel it's nervous, because it is. It's sometimes unsettling and a little uncomfortable. But that's what makes it interesting, I guess. I can't imagine listening to music that is easy to digest and not at least somewhat unsettling. That's not the music I wanna listen to, because it's not interesting to listen to something that isn't pushing some kind of boundaries. Thanks for that question, it's really something to think about.
Musicscan: How important are the elements of volume, intensity and variety to Death Letters? Do you feel like your songs could exist in a standard full-band lineup, and would they be the same songs? I wouldn't...
Death Letters.: Well, when I write/record songs I never limit myself in any kind of way. I play bass, piano and synthesizer on the record. Because I create music that way. Playing live is a totally different thing, because we have to do it with just the two of us. But I don't want to copy the songs that are on the record. I wanna create something new WITH those songs at live shows. If there were more people in the band sure the songs would sound different live than they do now, but just because there would be more instruments, the core of the songs wouldn't change.
Musicscan: As far as lyrical themes go, for anyone who's unfamiliar with them, could you give us a little insight into it? Are there any unifying themes to your songs?
Death Letters.: The main themes are about making progress in everything (in music, love,death and religion), like what I said when I was explaining the story behind Post-Historic. Progressing as human beings, not having the newest iPhone or something. That's definitely what unifies all the lyrics with each other.
Musicscan: What is it that Post-Historic offers you personally, and what are you trying to accomplish with it? Are there any songs that stand out in your mind, or songs that have the most value or inner meaning to you?
Death Letters.: Well, I never see an album as it to accomplish something. I'm in it for the process not the end result, you know. That sounds a little 'out there' but when I finish a song or even a record, it's done, it's 'off my chest'. It's a relief of sorts. It's therapy to me. It's always hard to pick one song that hast the most value or inner meaning because it can depend on what mood/period in your life you're in. But the song "A Silent Voice Destroys" keeps resonating to me the most because, although it can sound quite cryptic, I know exactly where it comes from and every single word in that song has a deep meaning.
Musicscan: Have you been able to play any of the new stuff live yet? What are your feelings on performing live? I assume that improvising is a large part of what you guys do on stage - due to the nature of the music...
Death Letters.: Yeah, definitely. Post-Historic actually came out in Germany a year after the 'original' release in the first countries it came out. So, we play a lot of it live. Well, improvising is definitely a part of what we do on stage but not in a way of playing a lot of 'jams' or 'solos'. We create a lot of 'moments' live and the atmosphere of what those improvised moments sound like is really driven by the way we're feeling at THAT particular moment.
Musicscan: What, in your opinion are the most exciting aspects about Post-Historic, when you sum it up?
Death Letters.: It's always hard to talk about the opinion of your own record without sounding arrogant, haha. But what I love about Post-Historic is that it's diverse, has interesting subjects to think about, it can be really loud and aggressive but tenderly quiet at the same time.
Musicscan: Lastly, what was your most proudest moment being in Death Letters?
Death Letters.: There are so many! But the proudest moments are when people come up to me and say that my music is a big inspiration for them. Nothing beats that. That's so humbling and amazing to hear. Incredibly grateful for that.