Incendiary speak to Codes in the Clouds

…I think we like to see the band to be something fun you do with your mates… we are fairly close knit and we like having a laugh.

 

 

It’s the day after the Erased tapes showcase at Haldern Pop festival and we’re sitting with the affable Codes in the Clouds, chatting amiably and wondering how to start this particular interview without reminding the band of my impassioned entreaty the night before where, under more bucolic circumstances, I grabbed them and insisted that they got pissed and have a natter with Incendiary “or else”. For the record, as the interview was a collective effort (they do come across as being happy to operate as a “gang”), we’ll lump the individual comments of Stephen Peeling, Ciaran Morahan and Rob Smith, Jack Major and Joe Power together, though Jack and Joe did the majority of the talking.


IN: So, what was it like coming on in the Spiegel Tent?


CC:
Yeah it was good… after a rousing introduction from our label boss (laughter all round as Robert’s impassioned and nervous speech is recalled).


IN: I enjoyed that actually. I also enjoyed the feeling I got at the beginning of your gig; where there seemed to be a collective decision to say “right, no more wittering let’s blow this place apart” And “whack” you charged into a really loud track. Is that your party piece?


CC:
That track’s brand new. We thought it would be better to begin like that than having an awkward walk on stage and then setting up and then starting the gig…


IN: So the label boss was the sacrificial victim? A Wicker Man figure? I think you should do that concert beginning all the time (laughs all round)….


…I like your LP a lot, and I like the fact that your recorded sound and live sound are so different. On record you seem to favour a very delicate balance, almost at times like a C86 or C87 record. But live you are loud. Is that deliberate?


CC:
That’s always been the intention I think, from the first album to this album, we always like the change in dynamics. With the new song I guess it’s a case of working with a more traditional post rock thing of going round a motif and building it up, but we wanted it to sound nothing like a post rock song, if that makes sense, almost like a soul record or something.


IN: I did like it when you said during the gig that you were going to “get fucking rocking”, or words to that effect. One of my bugbears with post-rock is the fact that it does veer towards the intellectual. You just want to get down and smear yourselves with peanut butter I’d have thought?


CC:
Exactly... it’s the dream (laughs)…


…I think we like to see the band to be something fun you do with your mates… we are fairly close knit and we like having a laugh. When we’re in the studio, then it’s a different thing, we take our time. But when you’re playing live you like to run on energy.

 


IN: The record is a nice cheeky record too.


CC:
Yeah… we’d agree with that….It was definitely a process of… with the first record we were sort of well… I suppose we were being a bit safe. Not over the top safe I don’t think that but we felt (with this second LP) we could let loose to a certain extent. We were making a rock record.


IN: So tell us about Erased Tapes. They have they have a strong aesthetic that seems to be split between a loud and quiet approach. There’s a lot of intellectually stimulating music on the label, like Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm, and then on the other side you have Rival Consoles and then you, so it’s a balance between you and this new classical vibe. How did you get with Erased Tapes?


CC:
Robert’s work ethic and the way he does things sits with us really well, it’s like everything that he does and the way he presents everything is super simple and it all just seems a bit more chilled. And I think it’s fair to say we like the whole aesthetic, and even when there are such different parties involved – as you say - there’s a sort of common ground between us…


…Well I think he believes that signing a similar band means you just foster a bad attitude of internal, needless competition and because we’re all so different we find that it’s stimulating to listen to each other.


IN: Yeah that makes sense. You were all dancing to each other’s gigs last night, weren’t you?


CC:
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. We always do.


IN: So there’s an intimate atmosphere you probably won’t get at Rough Trade (laughs)


CC:
There’s this really intimate atmosphere; that’s what is special.


IN: There’s a nice commonality of purpose with the label.  They take this idea of being moody but almost being naïve at the same time. You look at the artwork and it’s super simple, as you say. Being an old git you see the similarities between this and the Factory aesthetic. Do you like to keep everything super simple?


CC:
We have ideas and they spark the whole thing off musically, and it’s nice that people maybe want to investigate into the depth we try to provide. But also it should have a surface level of impact in everything we do. I feel we are open and our personalities are “right there” for you to see, there are little ideas and influences there.


IN: You’re not going to be rioting, as your boss said last night (laughs all round again)


CC:
Well most of us are from Kent but I (Joe) am from London… (laughs)


IN: So this new record when’s that coming out? I heard you talk last night about that?


CC:
We’ve started working on it, and there’s either a single or an EP in the offing, we’ve just done the video for it, but the album’s not that old and we’re still touring that.


IN: Do you find your relationships with the songs changes when you play them live?


CC: Definitely yeah… there’s so many times we’ve been playing a song for years and then we get to a stage when we think, that song’s not gonna really work anymore, and you just change your whole idea of the song, and sometimes when you’re playing it live you try out playing things slower or a bit faster and you see things working better or in a different way…


…There’s also the thing when you get more songs together as a band and you’re able to play what you want when you want.


IN: I think it’s very funny to see bands talking about songs having a lifecycle. Running its natural course, you can’t do any more with the material, like Picasso’s blue period… I’m done with blue…


….I was thinking that throws up an interesting difficulty for bands perceived as you are as a “post rock” band, because surely your audience will bring a lot of pre-conceived ideas to the table… How do get your crowds? Are they drawn from the traditional cool post/math rock crowds?


CC:
Yeah… It’s hard to know or try and target people who like us, and it’s very unpredictable. Some of the post rock crowd are obviously our crowd, with weird offshoots of people who like post rock and have foot in another scene and people who have never seen an instrumental band live before. It’s sometimes too big a hurdle for people…  It’s a complex process of picking the best opportunities we have.


IN: I always find this interesting, this dilemma of what to say about this kind of music. As a reviewer it’s very, very easy to get bored of post rock and you do start to build up a store of clichés when reviewing gigs or LPs. I’d like to know how you think of yourself as a band, how on earth do you position yourselves?


CC: I personally try to avoid it. I don’t listen to much of it to be honest, at least I try not to because I think if you listen too much to the music you’re creating I think you worry too much and damage your own music too much by worrying about what you’re doing or not doing.


…We try to avoid the post rock clichés, even though post rock elements are in there, but we’d never deny that we’re essentially a post rock band. But the things like playing behind a white sheet or never once looking or speaking to the audience, things like that… there’s a kind of pretentious element to the whole thing which we ALL hate.

 


IN: Glad you do. There are certain bands in that genre that I want to punch; it’s the whole “I don’t pay good money to see you being rude to me” thing…


CC:
I think a lot of reviewers expect us to be like the standard post rock band, I remember a review of us in the Netherlands last year they didn’t look like they were enjoying it that kind of thing… and yet next to the review the next thing you see is a picture of me smiling on stage, it was a great gig and I think we might have been a bit too subtle (laughs).


IN: I think there is a problem growing not only amongst reviewers but amongst audiences in pre-determining their choice of music and pre-judging it, trying to make it fit to their expectations. Yesterday I saw Socalled in the Spiegel Tent, and it was astonishing, But if you’d say “go and see this band they’re a mix of Klezmer soul and rap” I bet 99% of people wouldn’t bother….

…. Anyway, I heard Robert say you all like different things. What are the sum totals of musical influences around this band?


CC:
Very wide we all have different things. There are lots of things we all like, lots of things we’re all into now and again. So, I think that’s the great thing about being in a band, there’s this confluence of lots of different sounds and influences and ideas.


IN: I think your influences shape your approach, in all the aspects your music. How you walk on stage, all of it.


CC:
It’s a subconscious process with all these kinds of music. It’s not deliberate; you know I was listening to Dre on the way in… I’m a big fan of all those West Coast beats. We make the music we make and it all just happens naturally. 


…We had some brass musicians in the studio, we got pretty into what they did.


… I was pretty anti brass when they came into our studio.


IN: Bros? For a minute I thought you said you were anti Bros… Southern accents (laughs)


CC
: No no we are definitely NOT anti Bros (laughs). Let’s get over that hurdle (laughs)


IN: I always like the fact that they didn’t know the difference between gross and net, did you know that Had no idea what tax was.

 

(Stunned silence).


IN: when is the new EP out then?


CC:
Going at our rate, probably about 2050?


…There’s the new song we played last night and two others are pretty much finished That’s enough for an EP don’t you think?


…Rival’s going to do a remix? We’re gonna work with Rival as well. He was great last night wasn’t he? He was brilliant.