We recently caught up with J. WILLGOOSE, ESQ. from Public Service Broadcasting while educating and entertaining in Chicago.
NT: You have been quoted as saying the main goal of your music is “to inform, educate, and most importantly entertain.” In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s the band’s mantra. How has this been going?
JWE: Judging by the reactions on our audience’s faces, I’d say we’re achieving close to a 100% success rate with this so far. They definitely leave the show looking more intelligent, if slightly more sad and browbeaten. Basically, if you don’t learn something from one of our live shows then it’s definitely your fault – there’s nothing more we can do.
NT: How did you come up with the concept for your live show? It sounds like it could be a bit of a challenge.
JWE: Ha, it’s definitely a challenge – mostly for the poor folk forced to watch it! To answer more seriously for a second, it can be a bit of a technical nightmare and – like space flight, I often tell people – there are a lot of things that can (and probably will) go wrong, but we’ve been doing this for a few years now and have a reasonably solid setup that allows us to relax and perform without too much worry. Building the whole set from the start was a bit of a head-scratcher though, as is working out how to play any new songs live whenever we bring them into the set.
NT: When did you become so intrigued with war and history?
JWE: I wouldn’t say we were particularly intrigued by war – we released one EP focused on it and were lucky enough that it got a good reaction, but it’s certainly not been a lifelong passion or something that we feel the need to revisit in the particularly near future. And even the samples, in terms of a broader historical sense, were originally chosen because of the sound, not the context – it was only really as this whole thing started getting more serious, and we started wanting to write more emotionally involving and interesting music, that the historical angle became more apparent. Since then though, I have enjoyed doing the research that we do before working on topics – I gave up history at school at the first available opportunity and am now enjoying rediscovering it as an adult.
NT: Can you talk about the recording process of your upcoming album? Did you manage to source most of the archives?
JWE: I’ve been working on the next release in terms of research for well over a year now already, so, yes, we’re lucky enough that we’ve got most of the material that we think we’ll need. We’ve got a few demos done and will look to get some proper recording done in June or July, we hope, and from there, there’ll be a lot of finessing and fine-tuning before we come to release it (whatever ‘it’ is!) around the end of the year.
NT: You composed a couple of songs about “Elsftedentocht”, the world’s largest ice skating marathon, what interested you so much about the event?
JWE: I knew nothing about it at first, but we were approached by two nice gentlemen from a festival in Leeuwarden who had some material and wanted us to do something with it. It seemed bonkers enough to be worth giving a go, so we did! I like the fact it was on a total tangent to the stuff we did earlier in the year, and was in a foreign language – I think it shows that there is a massive amount of material of all kinds that we can focus on in future.
NT: What kind of impact has the internet had on people? Do you think it’s been a help or hindrance to society?
JWE: I think you only need to look at what happened in Egypt during the Arab Spring to answer this. What was the first thing the government turned off? What were they most scared of? It was the internet. Anything that can make a totalitarian government scared, through peaceable means, can only be a good thing in the long run, never mind the access to information and increased communication it encourages across the world. It’s bound to be abused by some people, but if you can name me a system designed by humans anywhere in the world that isn’t abused by anyone then I will give you 5p.
NT: Which five albums are influencing you these days?
JWE: Recently I’ve been listening a lot to:
Mogwai – Rave Tapes
London Is The Place For Me 5
Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
David Bowie – Low
Grizzly Bear – Shields