Here’s our conversation with Mike from Here We Go Magic. We talk a bit about krautrock, working with Nigel Goderich, and few other interesting topics.
NT: Tell me about the band’s vast influence of sounds from krautrock to ambient to Baroque, and how they translate in a live setting.
Mike: We come from pretty disparate musical backgrounds, but it all kind of comes together in this group and it tends to involve strong melodies, first off, and then as far as stylistically, I think that we all tend to gravitate towards things that are restrained, and repetitive, and more minimal than grandiose, I would say. Things tend to get broken down to just rhythm a lot, so simple motives and simple ideas, and different repetitive patterns, so we all tend to get off on similar things, in that respect. You know, my background before playing rock music was playing Spanish music. Kim’s background is a lot different, and she’s been in a lot of rock bands and a lot of pop bands. Peter as a drummer has always been very groove-oriented, and he’s a big part of the krautrock thing that we get tagged with a lot. I mean, we all listen to that and we all get influenced by that, but I think Peter’s sense for a lot of motor-like, simple, driving beat has a lot to do with that. The heart and soul of our band is that we’re a live band, I mean, that’s what makes us tick. With an audience there it’s all the better of course, because then we get into the territory where we’re feeding off the energy of the audience, but even when there’s no audience there, the way that we play together is that we play and see what happens, see where things go.We really hesitate to keep things locked up like, “this is the way we play the songs, this is the way we’ll always play the songs”: instead, I think we’re really responsive to one another, and so as musicians, we all bring our strong voices to it, always, and we vibe off each other actively that way. When there’s an audience there, it’s open to anything, and so hopefully our audiences get really involved in our music and there’s a lot of give and take of energy back and forth.
NT: Tell me a bit about working with producer Nigel Godrich, famous for working with Radiohead, Beck, and many others. Then of course, getting a chance to meet Thom Yorke and learning about his admiration for the band.
Mike: We had the pleasure of meeting him at our set there in Glastonbury, which was an early in the day set, and we had all woken up in various parts of the festival grounds, hung over, and we got to the stage and played our set, in the sun, a little bit before noon, and these two guys in the front were very excited about it—dancing and giving us a lot of positive reinforcement—and they were wearing hats and sunglasses, but then they came backstage afterwards and it was Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich. They introduced themselves and they were really appreciative of the music, and they really enjoy the show, and we got to be friends from then, so that was really nice. It’s one of the things that you don’t believe, going into it, or how to compensate for it in your mind: we didn’t really know what to expect ‘cause we’d always just recorded ourselves and right now, it doesn’t feel like there’s any other way we could have worked at that moment in time without Nigel. It’s one of those serendipitous things that feels like it happens for a reason, and feels like everything about it was just totally right. I mean, we very quickly got into a groove with him that felt inclusive and like we were all kind of discovering something together, which is a great thing about the way that he works. I feel like he constantly keeps a certain amount of objectivity in his mind where he doesn’t quite let himself get deep enough into something where he’s lost the capacity to pull back and get sort of a bird’s eye view and then delve back in again, so he’s constantly exciting himself and re-energizing himself about things, and kind of rides the ups and downs with us while keeping things tethered and… maybe what we wouldn’t be able to see without him. It’s really… I think all of us, we just ran into Nigel last night because we
were out in California and Radiohead just played Coachella, and it’s a bond—like, we all just went through something together for months, making this music, and it’s something that we all just “get” at this point. We look at each other, and it’s like we’re all just veterans of whatever just happened, you know? Like army buddies or something.
NT: Tell me about the Desert Daze Fest, it sounds like a great festival. Did you want to play that
festival instead of Coachella?
Mike: We played Coachella last year, and they don’t tend to book two years in a row: we would
have happily played Coachella if we could have this year, but we played last year, and so the guy
from Desert Days called us and said he really wanted to try to get us on the bill for the last night
of the little ancillary festival he was running in Desert Hot Springs, and it worked out that it was
a way for us to get out here and spend the weekend out here. We had a lot of friends out here at
this time, and the festival seemed like it was a fun, so we did it and it was a lot of fun, and it was
a lot of fun.
NT: I wanted to ask you about the video for “Make Up Your Mind”. Kind of a different concept for sure.
Mike: It was made by our friend Matt Johnson and Greg who made our videos before
for “Casual” and “Collector” and “Tunnel Vision”, and they’re very talented and gifted guys.
The concept… I guess it’s hard to say exactly where it was born from. We tend to work with
those guys in sort of a spontaneous way. They definitely have a good idea of the possession
thing, and so we sort of just let them go with it. I feel that some people didn’t quite expect that
from us, or didn’t know what to make of it because it didn’t seem like it had a point or anything
like that, but I think like it had a heavy stylistic reference on a lot of stuff, like horror movies,
and , so it’s a cool piece in that way. It’s very beautifully shot, and it’s just really a vehicle for
listening to the song—just something to watch while the song happens, so there’s not heavy
concept there… it’s that there are different tropes that are common to horror movies, and it’s
evocative of certain silly things that are depicted in movies, so I think it’s not to be taken very
seriously. Luke’s performance in it was pretty phenomenal, I thought, and he was like some kind
of evil ghost character that was able to get into women’s minds and through the music there was
the idea that he ‘d plant this music in them that would suspend them in this state of this writhing
indecision, and the song is “make up your mind”