Incendiary speak to Remote Islands

I'd prefer to keep people guessing.



Incendiary speak to Remote Islands

Recently Incendiary caught up with Colin from Remote Islands, who were in the middle of a long tour and, (with that in mind), very kindly supplied some answers to our fraught questions...


IN: Sum up Smother Party in one sentence, if you can.


C: I hope nothing I make could be summed up that easily. If there is any specific thing I want to do with music it is to make it in a way that doesn't let people who listen to it (or me) off the hook so quickly. Personally, I'm bored by most things with only one layer. That said, I remember thinking it would be fun to make an album that was like if Loaded was written by The Magnetic Fields. That was the start of Smother Party, I think. But my interests changed a lot as recording time went by.


IN: It seems (to me) like an album made up of three hundred and twenty seven songs, then chopped, sliced, diced and reassembled into a handful. It's like listening to a whole record collection in one sitting. Is that fair?


C: I have a lot of influences and I spend a lot of time listening to all sorts of music. To my ears they sound like fairly conventional pop songs in terms to structure and melody, but with liberties taken in the textures, arrangements and rhythms. I don't think that there is a whole lot of traditional cohesiveness from song to song in the way that a Strokes record sounds. But I'd prefer to keep people guessing. Though I think the next record will have a bit more of a consistent musical character because I'm making almost all of it with our keyboard player Dan. He's got more of an interest in very accessible music than I do, which has been great, actually.


IN: How do you arrive at a point when you think a song is finished? Do you just fix them and fix them until you think "I've had enough"?


C: Yeah, pretty much exactly. For Smother Party I worked on them awhile and then let them rest and then went back later on and added or took things away. I went through that process a bunch of times so the original recordings sound much different at the end than at the beginning. It can be really overwhelming, especially since I don't have my own studio really.


IN: Do the songs appear wholly formed or are they the production of endless rewrites and experiments? In other words, explain your creative process.


C: Well, there were some songs like Luxury Liner, Me and My Knife and Reveille that were written very quickly and didn't change much at all over the course of recording. And then there were some like King Elvis, Apartment Stripe or The Mean Beak that were very arduous to complete, subject to lots of revisions. But the songs always start as ideas on my acoustic guitar, piano or this little sequencer I have.


IN: What's the best time and location to listen to Remote Islands?


C: I always wanted to make a night-time album. But I think I'm the worst person to ask this question of. I'm too close to it.



IN: Why does Remote Islands exist? What drives you? What keeps you motivated?


C: Boredom definitely started my interest in music. As for what keeps my hacking away--I don't know what else to do with my free time. And I feel that I have to act on all of my impulses. It's hard to keep going sometimes though.


IN: If you weren't doing Remote Islands, what else would you be doing?


C: Working in National Public Radio. I'm actually trying to break into that now.


IN: There's been some turmoil in the Remote islands camp of late....would you care to elaborate on that?


C: There's been turmoil in Remote Islands since our first practice at the end of 2004. The February tour was cancelled because our van was in a bad car accident, which was due of the fact that Philadelphia doesn't plough its streets after snowfall. There were also some other personal issues with a member that left right after the accident. I can't really go into those. But this tour we're on now has been great so far and I think that this is the best we've sounded live.


IN: Where do Remote Islands go from here and when can you next supply me with some brain melting music?


C: Since I made Smother Party nearly by myself and because I'm playing with three other fellas now, all of whom have there own ideas the next record is bound to be a lot different. In some ways it sounds much more like a band of four guys recorded it together, but there are some songs that sound wilder than the wildest moments on Smother Party. I've felt a little more subdued recently so that has lead to me writing songs with more restraint. Dan and I co-wrote a few of the songs, too.


IN: What's your favourite biscuit (cookie)?


C: Nutter butters...


Words: Damian Leslie