SEXTILE in interview: “We may have started the revolution”
SEXTILE in interview: “We may have started the revolution”
SEXTILE in interview: “We may have started the revolution”
On Sunday, February 25th, we interviewed the North-American band Sextile on their first ever concert in Portuguese territory. They came to present the new album Albeit Living (Felte Records, 2017), their second studio album, and to give a concert with accelerated BPMS. In this interview, we wanted to know about the band, their sonority, ideologies, perspectives on the music market, plans for the future among other things. You can read the interview below.
Brady – Oh that’s a big question!
Eddie – Sextile is a loud alien transforming brain in the future music to the masses.
Brady – It’s definitely a collective idea amongst all of us. I would say it’s music we all make and listen to.
TM – Have you always been a quartet?
Brady – Yes we have.
Melissa – Technically, but the other one that used to be in the band contributed not much, and for me, that sounds rude. He wasn’t even there for recording, he didn’t show up. His name is on the first album and he played only two songs.
Brady – He didn’t write any parts. Cameron is writing now, these guys have all written. Cameron – I’ve been in the band for like eight months.
Melissa – I feel like in the beginning, when the band first started, it wasn’t really fully formed, compared to what it became later on.
Brady – And before Sextile was Sextile, it was different. Melissa was playing synthesizers, Eddie was playing guitar, we had another bass player, a drummer, and everything.
Melissa – That wasn’t even Sextile.
Brady – We played a show and got signed to Felte. Then, we recorded a record in the way he had it in the beginning, and we didn’t like it, we felt it was too “rocky”. So we had the idea of switching all up and changing it around.
Eddie – We just set the record straight, they all knew each other in New York and Melissa actually met Cameron before.
Melissa – Yeah, I actually knew Cameron in a long time. When we first started the band, the other member we needed showed us signs of not working out, I’m talking about before we even played our first show, so we talked about with Cameron.
TM – So, you were saying that you got signed to Felte Records after your first show, once Jeff Owens (the owner of the label), was there, saw your concert and went to talk to you. Do you still remember how the talks went? This took place in which year?
Eddie – He said: the future of the music is here.
Melissa – No, he didn’t. He said “I really like your band, I would like to speak to you later” and then we met out on a coffee.
Eddie – We played on a Sunday and then we met on a Tuesday, three days later.
Brady – That was a good deal for us once we had nothing.
Eddie – We just met like two weeks before, me and Brady, and we played on a Sunday. Then on Monday he called me and asked if we wanted to meet with the label tomorrow. That was December of 2014, Sextile’s first show was May of 2015, as Sextile.
TM – At that time, did you have some songs for A Thousand Hands?
Eddie – The album was complete, just not released.
Brady – Not when we played the first show for Jeff, no. None of those songs.
Eddie – A couple of songs, maybe. “Smoke in The Eye” and “Into The Unknown” are from the original recording sessions.
Brady – But the show we played at the Echo, those songs were not written yet.
Eddie – “Smoke In The Eye” was, we played it in the first show.
TM – In terms of musical genres/styles what are the major differences that you would point out between A Thousand Hands and Albeit Living?
Melissa – Albeit Living has a lot more of synthesizers on it. I honestly feel like we really grown as a band, during A Thousand Hands. People really liked it, though. It seems like a lot of people who like Sextile really like that first record, some like it even better. I personally like the new one better. It comes into musical genres that I would prefer to hear now. Something fun, as well as being dark. In our first record, I can see why we’re more classified as a death “rocky” band or all the comparisons to Joy Division. Unfortunately, any band gets compared to Joy Division these days. It just really doesn’t make any sense, considering there are so many post-punk bands that sound like Joy Division. But Joy Division didn’t have that many synths, it’s more about the vocals that people automatically identify with one thing.
TM – Personally I think your first album sounds more post-punk than Albeit Living.
Melissa – Do you think so? Our first record it’s way more dramatic and I think this new record is more post-punk. Whatever post-punk is being called now probably, it’s more identifiable with it. To me, the first record it’s more “darkwavy”. But when I think about classic post-punk and stuff that’s more danceable and disco, I think of what we are doing now.
Eddie – We got more abstract.
Melissa – No, I think it’s more like no-wave and then everything it followed from, once everyone was listening to Cabaret Voltaire, Human League, and Suicide, like that kind of stuff. Anytime someone compares us to them it’s awesome. When do you hear Suicide it makes you feel like a badass, and I want people to feel like that when they hear us. Because we feel like fucking tuff and sexy. That is a good feeling to have. I feel like the new record kinda has more of that. The first record was more sad or dramatic (laughs).
TM – From a subjective perspective, I would consider that your music, has an ideological doctrine, the darker side of the American politics, which is essentially notable in your lyrics. Do you consider yourselves a revolutionary/political band?
Brady – I would say yes, we are a political band. To me, personally, and I don’t think they may agree with me, but in the United States right now, if you are not doing anything about the situation, you are part of the problem.
Eddie – We all agree.
Brady – I didn’t even really wanted to make Sextile a political band, but there are issues going on, and if we pretend they don’t exist we are just bad as everything that is happening. The reason why the record feels aggressive is because we are trying aggressively to bring attention to these issues, but not in a “gutural” way. It’s more like: hey let’s get up and do something about it, more movement, more energy, kinetic.
Eddie – First, we all agree that there’s a responsibility for being an artist. It’s like he said, we are seeing the way things are happening in the world and we’re not comfortable with it, we are not ok with it. So we’re going to talk about it. We are not like activists.
Melissa – I would say that if you have a platform like music is so much easier. It doesn’t make sense that people that have platforms don’t mention these things. Especially when you are a band that can travel the world. You do carry this kind of message and people pay attention, or feel whatever you are doing. So they connect in other ways and there’s a really good way to find people too. Punk music always becomes more political whenever there’s a…
Eddie – An enemy! (laughs)
Brady – We may have started the revolution. Hopefully, some people that came to our show were political activists, and they started the revolution. The music is a platform for people with the same political ideologies to meet each other.
TM – “Current Affair”, the most recent song, has the voicework of Sienna Scarritt, who also composed the lyrics. Do you want to work with another artist or if you have a dream name to work with, which one would it be?
Melissa – Yeah, Johnny Jewel (laughs). He owns that record label, Italians Do It Better, and he is in the bands Chromatics and Glass Candy, he produces so much stuff. He did all the whole Drive soundtrack.
Eddie – Johnny Jewel is a great producer, man! He approaches electronics in a cool modern way, he makes retro-sounds his own.
Melissa – Our friend, Choir Boy, he is pretty new but he sings like Jimmy Somerville from Bronski Bea, and he has got this really great operatic crazy 80’s like he is perfect for 80’s like synthpop. I just think he would be so good at the Sienna song, it would just sound different.
Eddie – Keep your eyes peeled for Choir Boy.
Melissa – The Sienna Song happened because we were all living together. She was our roommate at that time, during the elections, and that’s how the song was made.
Eddie – I will choose Nine Inch Nails.
Brady – Brian Eno for me.
Melissa – You don’t have Coldplay money.
Brady – I don’t have got Coldplay money but I have dreams.
Eddie – Brian Eno, we know you’ve got a heart, dude (laughs).
Melissa – He doesn’t give a shit.
TM – You are about to open the concerts of A Place to Bury Strangers during their US West Coast tour, as a promotional act for their new album Pinned. How did this happen?
Eddie – Let’s not forget about Ty Segall, too. I mean we love our booking agent.
Melissa – Our booking agent is good but I think A Place To Bury Strangers have reached out to our booking agent to sit with us. He actually asked us to do their Europe tour in April.
Brady – Also I think Jeff Owens had a hand in organizing that because he is friends with the manager so, we have a little team working with us now. It’s really cool they are helping put that together.
Melissa – Yeah, basically the people that are working for us made all that shit. They’re awesome. I’m very excited and also kind of nervous because A Place To Bury Strangers are so amazing live, and I think we are good live too, but they just break shit. We can’t afford to break shit (laughs). But they do that awesome thing, their performance is so loud. I can’t imagine that they don’t blow speakers all the time, I never seem them live but they are super chaotic.
TM – By the way, you were talking about Ty Segall, once you’ll have concerts with him. Do you feel like now is the moment with the most hype in SEXTILE’s career?
Eddie – Absolutely, the biggest time!
Melissa – I think it’s probably going to be the best time for this band. The Ty Segall thing is a perfect example of how it didn’t come for people that work for masses, later just from him seeing us. It’s like music taking a life on its own.
Brady – The show before we left. We played a show before we left and Ty Segall was there, tell them the story (to Melissa).
Melissa – He was at the show, and he just came up to me and said: “Hey man, I really like your fucking band!” and I was joking about it: “So take something to remember the music”, and he said, “I Will”. I was like joking around and he actually made it happen. Most people don’t really keep their word but Ty seems to do it better, like a solid dude. And he offers way more money than most people do for support tours.
Brady – Yeah he is very unique.
Melissa – I think he knows when it’s like to be a musician and not make money for all the work you’re doing. I think he wants to be really fair and I have so much respect for that, because, especially touring America, they don’t give you shit, they don’t give you food, they don’t give you a place to stay…
Brady – You get three gin tickets and 5 dollars.
Cameron – Things are kinda harder because of a struggle, sometimes the artists benefit from the that. I think there’s a lot of great American punk music and rock music because you are on your own, it’s not guaranteed.
Melissa – There’s a lot of bands in the 80’s too, that if it wasn’t for being on the dull at the time, if it wasn’t for welfare, they wouldn’t be able to make their music, the Jesus and Mary Chain being one of them. Those guys refused to get a job and recorded all day at their house, and that’s how they made.
Brady – I definitely feel like we’re going this way: on the rise.
Melissa – Yeah, we are progressing.
Eddie – So if we think about it, it hasn’t even been three years since our first tour, and on our first tour, we didn’t even have the first album out yet. We are doing fucking alright and we are happy. We’ve been all of the United States, we’ve been on Europe, a couple of shows in Texas… We are writing and working…
Brady – And working other jobs. Just kinda surviving between tours, and then we live again.
TM – We read that Melissa has an obsession with music and that greatly influences the other band members…
Melissa – Not Cameron! Cameron, it’s always been, like, all over since I knew him. He always looks exactly the same way too.
Cameron – But we witnessed a lot of music in Brooklyn together. There was a lot of movement in New York when we lived in New York.
Melissa – Yeah, we lived there at a really special time, in the mid 2000’s.
Brady – I knew about sound design techniques stuff because that was what I was studying, I wasn’t really into punk when I met Melissa.
Melissa – Didn’t know about punk at all.
Brady – I knew about producers (laughs).
Melissa – The first thing we mentioned was about The Germs, and you had never heard of them.
Brady – No. But I was really into Brian Eno.
Melissa – Yeah, you were into David Bowie, Brian Eno songs. But I also was excited to show somebody else those bands. I moved to New York when I was 17, so I was right away around all these people and in an immersive culture, but I went there – I was already doing this in Florida – I just get stoned and go to the record store and buy albums I thought the cover looked cool. Music always had a strong impact, some people feel it more than others. I just felt particularly inspired by. When I met him (Brady), I felt inspired to show him some stuff, and then I played a couple of chords on the guitar and started writing songs right away. Eddie was already a well-versed musician.
Eddie – I love all the kinds of music and I play all kind of shits, but whenever I listen to her, like her knowledge, I don’t know, she remembers dates, albums, the years. And Cameron is an artist in all kinds of shit.
TM – What’s your opinion regarding the digital era that the musical industry current lives in? In which ways does it affect your path as a band?
Melissa – I feel like, if the time is changing, I have to go with it, fighting it, if it does make any sense. Nothing is changing if you are still a narc and an asshole. I love that there is easy access to records, even for records that I couldn’t afford to buy because they didn’t come out on tape. I came here now because someone put it on the internet. There’s a lot of people and things that actually come out, they are super revolutionary. I mean there has been a million bands no one gave a shit about but now, all of a sudden when they get reissued, everybody loves them and know who they are. But of course, there’s no money to be made now, especially for bands who have been around for a long time. The Jesus and Mary Chain they are a perfect example of a band that, clearly to me, when we see them live they don’t like playing songs and they even seem to like each other. But they definitely are doing it because they don’t make money from record sales anymore. And I totally understand why that is, that seems like a rough scenario for that time, even if they put on a new record now, people aren’t really gonna buy it, there are no finances to come from it. I think now it is different, people used to think that if you borrow your music to a commercial you were not really a punk band, you were an indie band, you were part of the problem and the system, but now people don’t seem to shy away from that.
Brady – When I talked to Penny Rimbaud, he even said the drummer of Crass had a conversation with him and he said: “If Macy’s wants to buy your song for 4 thousand dollars and they’re not asking you to change yourself artistically in any way, that’s not selling out, just get the 4 thousand dollars and play for some many people”.
Eddie – Here’s the thing: At the end of the day, a musician makes less than everyone around the musician. So, in my opinion, I agree with accessibility because you can record and upload an album or EP, right now to the internet. You’re fully in control which is great, but in terms of selling out the records it’s like: dude, musicians either, for the sake of culture and art, perform to live with nothing all the time, unless you’re lucky.
Cameron – Besides the capitalistic point, I think the format – we always think our records like Side A, Side B, and other records could be like a 40 min song, but now all you have to do is – there is no such thing such as an EP or LP or a 7”-inch anymore, and so you can have a three album record where you don’t have to do Side A, Side B. Side B always starts with another song and now you don’t have to do that, you can have a record then it’s ten minutes long.
Melissa – Now people have no intention to listen to a full album. If you go to Spotify or to YouTube and people never heard of a certain band, they’ll listen to the thing that has the most plays.
Brady – Or the first song. So you have to think about what the first song is going to be on your record every time, because when people go to Spotify it suggests a record and you press play. It will play the first on the record, so that first song is going to determine what people will continue to listen to.
TM – Your European tour ends tomorrow, in Lisbon. What do you take home from this first experience in European territory?
Eddie – Oh, that’s hard to tell you! Do you mean like physically or spiritually?
TM – Like the things that had the biggest impact on you.
Eddie – Oh, it’s so hard to tell you right now because I had no processing time. I can tell you, for me, this is been the greatest adventure of my life and I’m leaving with so much, like spiritually speaking. I’m leaving with excitement to come back and to keep moving forward for myself.
Cameron – For me, it’s nice just to be able to visit other people. You play for your friends all the time, it’s preaching to the choir. You can reach people that you never ever will see maybe again and so it’s kinda cool, you’re just delivering information.
Brady – For me, I definitely feel like a grew a lot, and met a lot of new people and friends. Also, there are so many similarities between the United States and Europe. Except Spain and Portugal. But actually going through the cities, they looked so much like Southern California. A lot of interesting things, like he said, I haven’t really had time to process it.
TM – To conclude, what are your plans for the future?
Melissa – We were trying to talk to people to figure out if we can put something out in August or September, but we don’t know yet. We have been writing but you can imagine how much time takes to record all that stuff. Everyone needs to bring 5 demos each.
Brady – The future will continue to be in the direction of “Current Affair”.
Melissa – That’s what he says. You keep saying that!
Brady – I like it. More music, more shit, more survival (laughs).
TM – Thank you.