Musicscan: Your new album "The difference..." seems a lot more structured, melodic, well rounded and conceptualized in its entirety than your previous efforts. Do you think you have pushed things as far as they would go and are now able or willing to push into a little different direction?
Mclusky: Yes, though it wasnt a conscious decision to do anything at all other than not repeat ourselves. We dont sit down and conceptualise records we simply play, play and play again. Then we pick the most effective or appropriate songs. For the record. In my opinion the music we create should be completely natural, whether good or bad although Do Dallas would have been an intensely regrettable conclusion for all concerned, especially us.
Musicscan: The album also sounds more dynamic to me as there are more quiet and melodic parts within the songs reaching a wider spectrum of sound. Was that one of the goals when you started working on the new record?
Mclusky: I think the dynamism is simply the natural progression of the band through time but that again is probably a sub-conscious reaction to not repeating the relatively simple tricks of the last record. Certainly on some songs like Slay! and Support Systems we started off trying to take that (infamous) indie rock quiet/loud tradition to its logical conclusion almost as an exercise or a joke ... that they ended up as songs we loved Id call happy accidents, which just about sums up our songwriting process in general.
Musicscan: You recorded with Steve Albini once again. What is so special about him and his studio? What can he do that others can't? What is it like to work with him?
Mclusky: The reasons for working with Steve are simple. Firstly, he makes a great coffee, and secondly, the toilet facilities at Electrical Audio are indisputably gold standard. Really, the special thing about working with him is that there is no bullshit, neither personally nor in the recording
process, you get exactly what you give. With other engineers/recorders/producers an explicit part of the job is `shaping` the sound of the artist whereas Steves job is simply to capture the performance of a band on a given day, even if that day be a Wednesday.
Musicscan: Have you ever considered adding another guitar player to your live set in order to have more possibilities as far as sound is concerned? What are the advantages of being a three piece?
Mclusky: We flirt with the idea of an extra member all the time, then usually forget about it just as quickly. If somebody did come in, though, theyd have to be able to play a couple of instruments because having someone there just to thicken out the guitar sound would be depressingly predictable. The advantages of being a three piece? Less people to wait around for. Also, it saves on hotel bills.
Musicscan: How would you describe your relationship with the press? Do you read reviews or stories about yourselves?
Mclusky: I happen upon occasional reviews but Im more clinically interested than anything else. Reviews usually reveal as much or more about the reviewer than the band. Other than that, who cares? It doesnt effect the music we play so I cant get so bothered about it.
Musicscan: How important do you think is the media nowadays for the success of a band?
Mclusky: As important as it ever was, but I guess the internet has allowed people to decide for themselves. Instead of being fed crap about a band you can just jump online and download some mp3s and make your consumer choice on that basis. Id rather not get into the whole downloading debate, though as I dont believe its quite as simple as the good vs. evil fight that many people seem to have it pegged as.
Musicscan: How is the songwriting process structured? Does everyone contribute equally? Do the lyrics or the music come first?
Mclusky: We simply walk into the rehearsal room, plug in and play. Organised chaos, I suppose. Later on I listen back to the tapes and add and subtract whatever seems to be required at the time. Occasionally, songs will be written at home and then brought in and fleshed out although this isnt so common.
Musicscan: Another interesting fact I noticed about the new album is that it sounds a lot more "American" in a way (which is meant neither negative nor positive in this case), would you agree? I am particularly referring to songs like "She will only bring you happiness" that to me, seem to follow a certain American indie tradition.
Mclusky: Id agree about She Will Only.. in which I can hear a lot of Pavement (in particular) but otherwise I would totally disagree, although Im not offended. I think the album sounds overtly British but hey, what do I know? Maybe Im in denial.
Musicscan: Does music have a cathartic function for you? What do you think you would be doing if McLusky never existed or if you had never picked up a guitar?
Mclusky: Music doesnt really have a cathartic function for me, I simply feel compelled to do it. As for if McLusky never existed I cant really deal in hypotheticals, but I suppose I would have been in another band doing a similar thing and wearing similar clothes in a similarly sloppy way.
Musicscan: What inspires you, not necessarily limited to music or other arts?
Mclusky: As Ive said above, I simply feel compelled to make music. I grew up listening to and loving certain albums and I want to make records that live to and hopefully exceed that tradition . The most wonderful feeling in the world is having the impression that someone has really got the essence of the band and has been inspired to do something themselves.
Musicscan: Have you ever experienced times when McLusky felt like a job?
Mclusky: Sure, sitting around in vans, staring at the ceiling, wishing I could be back home in the arms of my sweet lady. Most of the time, however, its fucking great. Personally I feel incredibly lucky to have had so much freedom for almost two years now.
Musicscan: How is your relationship with Too Pure? Is it pretty much solely a business relationship or do you regard the people working for the label as friends?
Mclusky: I wouldnt want to tempt fate but Id like to think its a lot more than a business arrangement. German Beggars Banquet are incredibly supportive of our efforts in your country and as for Too Pure, well, weve effectively grown with them over the last few years.
Musicscan: 3 current favorite records and books?
Mclusky: Records: Do Rabbits Wonder? - Whirlwind Heat; Jarcrew Jarcrew; Paradise Don`t Come Cheap - New Kingdom
Books: The Arrogance Of Power (Richard Nixon Bio) - Anthony Summers; Return Of The Last Gang In Town (Clash Bio) - Marcus Gray; Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Musicscan: What are the plans for the near future? Tours, collaborations, further releases...
Mclusky: Tour, tour and tour again, all over the goddamn world and back again. Buy my lady some presents, get another cat. Get a haircut, take some time off, and write another record, hopefully for a release next summer (though I may be getting ahead of myself here). Id like to learn a language so I dont feel so ignorant on mainland Europe but hey, where will I find the time?
Musicscan: Any last words or comments?
Mclusky: Thank you very much for your time. Let Family Guy and ten-pin bowling into your life.