K I N O K O M A

architecture in helsinki

NUR FÜR DEN FALL ...

So junge Indie-Bands aus Down Under schaffen ja nur selten den Weg auf den europäischen Markt. Und wenn es ihnen wider Erwarten doch mal gelingt, handelt es sich in der Regel um Exoten. The Avalanches sind quirlig in der Montage von tausendundeinem Sample, Machine Gun Fellatio verfügen über ein extrem exzentrisches Auftreten und Gerling geben sich selbst keine Richtung vor. Das alles legt die Vermutung nahe, dass die australische Musikszene von einer Horde Bekloppter beherrscht wird. Und weil das ganz im Sinne der europäischen Projektion ist, erscheinen mit Architecture In Helsinki acht weitere schräge Vögel auf der Bildfläche. Ach, diese Australier aber auch ...

Und da Architecture In Helsinki nicht als erste den Kopf hinhalten, wird ihnen hierzulande recht viel Aufmerksamkeit zuteil. Das ist in Bezug auf ihre Vorgänger vielleicht ein wenig ungerecht, aber so will es das Gesetz des Marktes. Der scheint reif für den Melbourn’schen Achter, der mit „In Case We Die“ ein sehr vielschichtiges Album präsentiert, an dem laut Hörensagen an die 40 Musiker beteiligt sind. Das hört sich demzufolge weit mehr nach einem Haufen Hippies an, als nach Arcade Fire. Das ist zumindest meine Meinung. Aber mir gefällt das dann doch so gut, dass ich einem der drei Gründungsmitglieder, Sam Perry (Bass), mit einer Handvoll Fragen zu Leibe gerückt bin.

Architecture in Helsinki is a strange name for an Australian band. What exactly does it mean to you?

To us, the name means having to answer many questions and inquiries about the name, which I guess, is entirely understandable. The architecture in Melbourne has changed so much in the last year (let alone, the 5 years since the band was named), that I’m still not quite sure whether I like it or not. It’s becoming quite the retro-futurist high-rise metropolis right now…

Have you already been playing in Finland?

We are yet to play in Finland, but when we were in Norway at the end of last year there were a few Finnish interviewers who came to interview us mainly about the name. I think they were quite perplexed.

How do you explain the fact that most Australian bands are not known outside Australia?

I guess you could explain that by reason of the distance involved (ie. Northern and Southern Hemispheres) … but with the internet-fuelled culture of wider music knowledge in the world right now, that’s really no excuse. I just think that Australia, (being such a relatively young country), has a problem with self confidence that is not helped by the constant barrage of US and UK music being promoted here as some kind of bullshit vanguard or something … This is something that thwarts many otherwise amazing bands from gaining recognition in overseas lands. Maybe somebody should start an amnesty to get the world to point their ears our way?

Which Australian bands are definitely worth listening to?

They are all worth listening to, and any list would always be inept at describing the width and girth of talent, but here goes: The Go-Betweens, Clue to Kalo, New Buffalo, Mid-State Orange, Minimum Chips, the Tranquilizers, Frances Plagne, the Crayon Fields, Icehouse and 1927 all spring to mind immediately…

You started off in a kind of grunge milieu. How would you describe your style right now?

First of all, I think it’s been mistaken that AiH once played grunge music. Some of our previous bands did, but I don’t think that this band has even touched on our grunge phase yet. So when we do, look out! Our style now is kind of party-time freak rock with touches of soul and hip-hop…but I have a strong hope that the next record will come out sounding like some kind of Black Metal and doo-wop crossover …

Bands like Machine Gun Fellatio debuted in Europe with a couple of re-releases. What about you? Do you like the idea of re-releasing older material?

It’s a strange feeling to have a record coming out in one country, when it was first released six to ten months earlier in Australia, but I think that it’s something that just happens naturally, and hopefully the next record we do can be released more synchronously around the world, so that there is not that big time lag. As for older material, I would hope that ‘Fingers Crossed’ does get a European release at some stage as I think it is a good representation of AiH, at a point where the band was just becoming a band.

What about the idea of being completely unknown to foreign journalists?

Being unknown by foreign journalists is a really exciting prospect, because here at home there is so much back-room talk about us, that sometimes journalists actually forget to talk about our music … which is sort of irritating, considering they are meant to be ‘music reviewers.’

Do you have to reinvent yourselves for the American and European market?

We shed many skins on tour to stay as fresh-faced and good-natured as we are onstage … ha! But in terms of changing our style or image for different markets … Well, we don’t really have one (style or image) in the first place, so that doesn’t really apply to us. All of the artwork for the records stays the same.

Does travelling around have an impact on the things you do?

Yes, travelling around changes lots of things about ones daily (bodily, and, otherwise) functions ... Sometimes I brush my teeth four or five times a day, instead of two or three … just because I’m bored.

If you had to make up a mix tape of Architecture in Helsinki, which three songs would certainly be on there?

If you mean some kind of compilation of our own music,

Max Tundra’s re-interpretation of ‘The Owls Go’ because it’s the best mix of thrash guitar and ‘video killed the radio star,’ styled vocal harmonies I’ve ever heard.

‘In Case We Die’ because when I first heard the demo that Cameron and James did for that song I almost fell off my chair (and that was just the first two movements)!

‘Maybe You Can Owe Me’ because it’s the song I feel closest to from in case we die, and I’m a sucker for power-ballads, which is kind-of what it is …

If you mean a mix tape of songs that are important to all of us:

‘Easybeat’ by Dr. Dog because it was the first song of theirs that I ever heard, and that band means so much to our band now, that it has some special kind of relevance that can only be communicated through the language of interpretive dance …

‘Genius of Love’ by the Tom Tom Club, because it’s one of the most vibin’ songs ever, and we’ve all spent many long nights dancing to it.

‘Kong’ by King Kong, because we listened to it so much in the tour van two years ago, that it’s imprinted on our brains.

To what kind of music are you listening to at the moment?

It’s very summery here at the moment, so ‘summer vibes’ is the current flavour. This includes Fleetwood Mac and Kevin Ayers’ ‘Yes we have no Mananas’ record … but I’m also giving things like Deerhoof, Roy Woods’ ‘Boulders’, Michael Rothers’ ‘Sterntaler’, Joe Meek studio outtakes, and the Fiery Furnaces’ ‘EP’ a flogging.

What is your favourite B-side of anyone ever?

If you’re talking B-sides of LPs, I’d have to say side b of The Cars’ first album, or Dolly Partons’ ‘Just the Way I am’.

If you’re talking B-sides of Singles … I can’t go past ‘Footsteps on the Roof’ as the B-side to the Shangri-Las’ 1967 ‘Take the Time’ single … or maybe the Dave Grohl song ‘Marigold’ as the B-side to Nirvana’s 1994 single, ‘Heart Shaped Box’.

Lars Schneider