CM>>>Normally I wouldn't start an interview with such a "normal" journalistic question. But I really want to find out something about the early days of Stateless. I ask that because after I've listened to your forthcoming debut I wondered about the fact that the band Stateless unites so many different musical styles and influences. So from where do you know each other and when have you founded Stateless? And was the sound and style of Stateless "planned" right from the start or was this unique style a result of a lot of rehearsals and discussions?
Chris - We started in high school playing in various rock, funk and soul bands, Dave, Justin and me were all mates at school and we played music together all the time while we were growing up. We all moved away, grew up a bit and in 2003 I had the idea to start Stateless. At this time I had grown very bored with the current rock music trends and I had basically stopped listening to it. Instead I was listening to lots of electronic music from Warp records and similar labels, some dance music and just starting to get into hip-hop. So I felt like I wanted to start a band that reflected my tastes and when I met Rod and DJ kidkanevil it seemed possible to really do something different. So we left guitars behind and started with samplers. The only thing that was planned from the start was that it would NOT be a guitar band, and that we would use turntables, samplers and keyboards to create our sounds instead.
David - Between us we’re into loads of styles of music and they all come through in Stateless. It’s like a big melting pot. And because we’ve known eachother and played music together for years, it’s really easy to blend them all together. It also means we know all each others dirty secrets!
CM>>>Who's doing what in the band, I mean do Chris write the lyrics and for example Justin ... writes the music. Or how must I imagine the creative process?
Chris - We all write music in Stateless which keeps it exciting. I am the main songwriter and lyricist, but I also work in the studio alot and play keyboards and guitars. Justin is an awesome singer and bass player and he also writes songs and plays guitar, he has started writing lyrics in Stateless recently so you'll probably hear some of that on album 2. kidkanevil is a wicked beatmaker, producer and DJ but he also plays guitar. Rod is great at making sounds with synthesisers and computers but also loves messing with all sorts of instruments. David is our drummer, but he loves jamming around on bass too. So you see everyone has their role in the band, but we all play various things and love nothing more than to mess around on each others instruments, just for fun really. We're like a bunch of children when we're jamming and that keeps it fresh. Music should always be fun I think, or you've lost sight of what really matters.
CM>>>When have you started to record the first tracks and ideas for your debut album? And how did you get signed to !K7?
Chris - We started recording in 2004 with producer Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian), we did 6 weeks in this amazing old farmhouse called Rockfield Studio. Its a very famous studio in Wales, its where Queen recorded Bohemian Rhapsody. It was incredible the first time we went, it felt like a strange dream. We got signed to !K7 in 2006, we had decided after our unpleasant experience with Sony that we definitely only wanted a record deal with an independent label, !K7 felt like the right choice. We met them a few times and we liked them as people, their catalogue is really good. So far it seems like we made the right choice. Fingers crossed.
David - Rockfield was a magical experience, It was one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. It brought us together a lot closer as a band and got the best out of us musically. I recorded my drums in the spot where Ozzy Osbourne threw up! I’m really glad we signed with !K7, so far working with them has been wicked. They seem to really understand us and we’re getting to understand them and they really know how to party! I’ll never forget the night they took us to Panorama bar…
CM>>>When I translated Stateless in my language I found two meanings "being stateless means not to belong to a country" or "without a condition". I guess the first translation is the right one... Why have you chosen this band name? What was the idea behind it?
Chris - I guess we like the fact that it is ambiguous. I think we as a band are a bit ambiguous. It mainly means; Freedom. We want to be free from barriers, borders and any restrictions really.
David - Musically we’re stateless, we don’t belong to any particular scene. Actually we’re the founding members of the stateless scene. It’s cool being in a band that has no musical boundaries, it feels like running round a field with no clothes on.
CM>>>I am really overwhelmed by the string and piano arrangements paired with the beats & breaks... Very difficult to classify, so which musical pigeon-whole would you choose? Or do you think we need a new one for the band Stateless?
Chris - Yes we need a new one for Stateless. Lets call it... Stateless.
David - Pigeon-holes are for pigeons. We’re not pigeons so please don’t put us in their hole.
CM>>>How long have you worked in the studio for the album and who produced the album? Have you recorded it in Leeds?
Chris - We recorded and co-produced two thirds of our album with Jim Abbiss, then the final third we recorded and produced ourselves, we recorded half in Rockfield in Wales and half at home in Leeds. We also mixed 3 of the songs in Leeds.
CM>>>Who played the violin on "This Language" is it a real string instrument or a keyboard?
Chris - It is a real violin. It is played by an amazing musician called Stephen Schulman.
David - I woke up once and Steve was playing violin downstairs in my kitchen, it sounded so amazing that I thought I was dreaming. He’s a legend.
CM>>>I really won't annoy you, but a lot of journalists and people compare your sound to Coldplay, how do you feel about this comparison? By the way Crowded House also had to life with the comparison to the Beatles...
Chris - I don't mind it at all, because I understand a journalist’s job is to give listeners signposts towards music they might like. It’s important, and I think a lot of Coldplay fans probably would like Stateless. Just don't expect me to agree that we should like them, because I don't. Our album really doesn't sound like those guys. If you think it does you need your ears cleaning!
David - We sound about as much like Coldplay as Arctic Monkeys sound like Beethoven! I do like that long black jacket Chris Martin sometimes wears though, I might have to get one like it.
CM>>>I would like to compare you, in a deeper meaning, more bands like Radiohead, Portishead, a little bit Unkle paired with the power of the early days of Grunge flavoured with the sweetness of Prefab Sprout or Jeff Buckley.. But honestly which bands would you name as a reference for the sound of Stateless? Or better say which influences would you name?
Chris - You’re very close. I'm happy to say we all like DJ Shadow, Radiohead, Bjork, these guys influenced us as a band. But this is the tip of the iceberg really; we listen to alot of music. Between the five of us it’s a hell of a lot of music, from classical music to psychedelic rock to dancehall reggae with lots in between. I think that is the main influence; the fact that our tastes are so diverse.
David - I love Portishead and Radiohead. I love head.
CM>>>How does it came to the fact that you toured with Josh Davis better known as DJ Shadow?
Chris - Jim Abbiss the producer worked with Shadow on the U.N.K.L.E. record. So when we had some tracks together we asked Jim to send them over to Shadow. A few months later Shadow called Jim saying he was loving our music. We couldn't believe that! Then it got even weirder when he invited me to sing on his new album. I think I went into shock. We all grew up listening to Endtroducing constantly, so it was a great honour to work with one of my heroes. I did two tracks on his album, followed by a world tour. We went to 19 countries touring and played over 70 shows! It was unbelievable. Then when we toured the UK Stateless became the support act, so we toured together. It was so cool I can't put it into words.
David - Supporting DJ Shadow on tour was mind-blowing for all of us. We had so much fun and learnt so much and it made us a better band. Having Shadow watch us from the side of the stage was really special, especially considering I’ve spent years stealing his beats! For drummers DJ Shadow is like Superman and hanging out with Superman is bound to be exciting.
CM>>>Just a short topic jump I remarked that you own a huge MySpace community. How useful do you find this tool? Does it also help you to get to known to new musicians and bands or is it more like a fan base thing?
Chris- It is a great tool myspace. We use it mainly for picking up girls...only kidding! It is good for everyone really; it’s an easy way to check out people’s music. Its also nice for fans to post comments, photos etc. It’s interactive. It’s a good thing.
David - We’ve got lots of love for our Myspace friends. If you’re not one of them already get your arse to www.myspace.com/statelessonline and get involved immediately! Anyone who adds us as a friend in 2007 will get a free foot rub from Justin.
CM>>>Ok back to DJ Shadow... What was the most impressive moment on the tour? And even if it sounds a little bit childish, what impresses you about the man/person Josh Davis?
Chris - For me there was so many its hard to choose. One that springs to mind was in The Greek Theatre in Berkley, California. It is a massive outdoor roman style stone theatre. It looks incredible at night under the stars. It was in the Bay area so all of Shadow’s friends and family were there which was lovely, and we were playing there with massive attack. So I knew all those people were watching and it felt like such a special occasion. Walking out to the centre of that stage and looking out at the crowd under the stars...It was probably a life changing experience. You can't go back once you've done that.
What impresses me most about Josh Davies the man? Many things impress me about him... maybe, his honest commitment to his work and his humble dignified approach to being a musician. He taught me to be humble I suppose, but he is a very clever man and he has listened to so many albums, and when you think about that, about the endless ocean of forgotten albums, of forgotten musicians, it is humbling. You just have to fight to make your mark. And make damn sure it’s a good one. He's already done that. He's like a Jedi master. I hope we can make some more music together.
David - My favourite memory of us supporting Shadow on the UK tour is the last night at Brixton Academy in London. It’s such an amazing venue, I’ve been to loads of wicked gigs there before so for us to be onstage there was really special. That was also the only gig so far where Lateef the Truthspeaker joined us onstage to do his thing on This Language. It was sick, he smashed it. It was such a great night.
CM>>>Kidkanevil and Rod ever asked Josh about his MPC 60... ?
Chris - No, Rod and kidkanevil don't need any help with samplers! Although I did see Kidkanevil sneaking on stage taking photos of Shadows stage set-up when no one was looking...just kidding.
CM>>>Lateef the Truth Speaker lend his vocals for your wonderful track "This Language" - Is his appearance a result of the DJ Shadow shows? And did he record the track separately or together with you in the studio?
Chris - I got to know Lateef on the world tour. He's a really cool guy. Funny too. We talked about it on the road and listened to it together. Then when we had a bit of time off he recorded his rap parts at home and gave them to me when we started touring again.
David - While we were on tour Lateef said that I look like him. Actually he accused me of copying his look as we had similar hats. Mine is just a bit cooler and I’ve got bigger muscles. Actually don’t tell him that, he’ll knack me!
CM>>>So which of you is the biggest "Solesides" - "Dj Shadow" fan? Who of you owns "Entroducing"?
Chris - All of us own Endtroducing. Doesn't everybody? Everybody should.
David - Someone nicked my copy at a party, you know who you are you little fucker!! Then I bought another copy only for my brother to nick it. And now it’s safely on my ipod so yes everybody should go out and buy it, just make sure you lock it up, thieves are everywhere!!
CM>>>Leeds is the hometown of some well known music groups like Gang of Four, Kaiser Chiefs, Chumbawamba or not to forget The Sisters of Mercy... do you think that a town or environment like Leeds influences the cultural life and the musicians?
Chris - Yes. I think that towns in the north of England are good places to start bands. They are quite boring to be honest. They don't have that much going on really, so I think kids need to find fun stuff to do, and for us there was no comparison. Music is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.
David - What?! Towns in the North of England are the best places in the world, especially Leeds!! When I was 14, I used to go round to Chumbawumba’s house and play on their drumkit when I first started learning. They are really funny people, they knocked me down once then I got back up again. I think they probably write their song about that.
CM>>>A few days before the release of your debut how do you feel?
Chris - In the words of the empress Nina Simone "I'm feeling good."
David - Excited. Nervous. Giddy. Horny. And a little bit more excited! It feels like we’re pregnant and about to give birth.
CM>>>What comes next, I mean you toured a lot with DJ Shadow, when can we see you again on stage? Also in Germany?
Chris - We will start touring later in the year. I hope we come to Germany. I came recently to Berlin and I absolutely loved it, it is a very cool city. I may move there for a while.
David - I can’t wait for us to play in Germany, Berlin was amazing. I want us to play at Panorama bar.
CM>>>What do you need for a perfect day?
Chris - Sex, music, food, wine, adventure.
David - Currywurst and Panorama bar. Fantastiche!
Photos taken from Myspace and were taken by Eva Vemande
Interview Michael Mück
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