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31 Knots

Interview von: Matthias Rauch mit Joe Haege, am: 19.06.2011 ]

Im letzten Text zur Band vor einigen Jahren, wurde sie als sträflich unterbewertet vorgestellt. Nun, an diesem Zustand hat sich leider nicht viel verändert. Dabei kann man der Band keinen Vorwurf machen. Die Musik von 31 Knots ist immer noch komplex, vielschichtig, musikalisch versiert und dennoch ohne nerviges Muckergebaren. Man hat am eigenwilligen und deshalb umso interessanteren Stil aus Post-Irgendwas, Punk, Prog und Indie-Charme festgehalten, ohne dabei zu stagnieren. Sympathisch sind die Herren noch dazu. Ohren auf! Wir sprachen mit Mastermind Joe Haege über Bedauern, Begehren und Berlin.


Musicscan: It sometimes seems like you are more appreciated in Europe than you are in the States. Have you ever considered moving to Europe? Would this interest you?

31 Knots: I would love to move to Europe. Seriously, it’s not just cheap talk. I think about it all the time. The toughest part for me is work. I would not be able to move over and just afford being a musician so that would mean other work, which is possible but kind of difficult to imagine when your only skill is writing somewhat unconventional songs and getting people drunk in a bar.

Musicscan: This album being your 7th full-length, do you find you have arrived at a certain routine when it comes to writing and releasing albums?

31 Knots: I think that's exactly what we wanted to avoid with this album. We intentionally did it a little different than we normally do. Routines are great and yet scary things.

Musicscan: What is particularly inspiring about Portland in terms of being an artist? Why do you think so many creatively inclined people gravitate towards Portland these days?

31 Knots: Very simple, actually. It has been the cheapest city on the West Coast for years now. When that stays the same for long enough you build up a community of people that are typically more concerned with quality of life and the time and space to work on projects in which they don't get paid for. Enough of these kinds of people move to a city and put it on the map of culture and buzz and that just makes more people want to move there. I guess it’s like cancer in that way.

Musicscan: What do you hope people to take away from a 31 Knots show?

31 Knots: I hope they get excited. I hope they find it absurd. I hope they are a little uneasy and I hope they scream out of joy.

Musicscan: What does an average day of yours look like when you are not on the road?

31 Knots: Very different lately. Before this past year of touring - I was on the road six months out of the last twelve - I managed a bar, so I was always busy. I was acting in a film, practicing with Tu Fawning, Menomena, working on the 31knots record, bartending four nights a week. I have no normal. All I know is that right now I am not working and it’s been the strangest and greatest time I've had in a long while.

Musicscan: What do you think you’d be doing if the whole music idea wouldn’t have worked out?

31 Knots: Well, I still think about that. I have no idea what I'll do in a couple years of my life also. Culture changes so damn fast. I would say I would like to work in a coffee roastery. I fucking love good coffee.

Musicscan: What are some of the things you would have done differently in terms of your musical carrier in retrospect?

31 Knots: That is a great question! I think I would have forced myself to become better at the rules of pop music before trying to break them. I was kind of like that "experimental" musician type that I hate: they can't really play so they call it experimental jazz. But in reality they can't play conventional jazz! I feel that way about my younger self trying to destroy the convention of writing songs. However, at the same time I just don't naturally write in the normal way. It does make it kind of a fun exercise now, though.

Musicscan: What makes 31 Knots special to you personally?

31 Knots: At this point it has changed a lot from when I was younger. Now I think I find it really special that we didn't get really big as a band. We are this little cult band lurking in the shadows. We will be the record that someone will find in 10 years and they will (hopefully) be shocked at how they had never heard of it. I like having the fans we have, too. They are people who just like music, even when it doesn't fit into a box and doesn't smell of sex and hype. Another huge thing for me is friendship. Sounds really boring, I know, but I have been playing with Jay Winebrenner since 1994. It's insane how long we've known each other. And for the amount of dumb grief we've put each other through I am happy to say that we are still friends.

Musicscan: What makes for the perfect song in your opinion? Have you ever achieved something like a perfect song in your opinion? How would you define a perfect song?

31 Knots: That is a difficult question all around. Personally, no, I don't think I have written the perfect song. Sometimes I go back to old songs and feel like I got closer than I thought when I wrote it. Overall, though, I think I am too idiosyncratic. I can't quit relying on my weird intuition, which is usually too much by very intense or intricate classical music or jazz as much as it is by the Beach Boys. That doesn't bode well for a song. My love of songs, really good songs, is typically kind of safe and pure. I love old R&B a lot. Some old country. Honestly, there is this album re-released by a label here in Portland. The woman is Irma Thomas and the album is Irma Thomas Sings. Every damn song on that record is amazing to me. I know she didn't write all of it but the combination of everything is just perfect to me. I also think "Hoist That Rag" by Tom Waits is a great song. Oh, and “Big Time” by Peter Gabriel. Also, anything off of Dave Brubek's “Take Five” or Neil Young's “Harvest Moon”. Ok, I should stop. This could go on for days.

Musicscan: Is it necessary to create a certain distance between you and the music in order to get a better understanding of its inherent quality?

31 Knots: It doesn't hurt. I think that's why so many people benefit when they have time to step back from what they are working on and kind of get a fresh perspective. It just kind of pulls you out of it enough so you can fake yourself as if you don't know what’s coming next or what it's going to sound like. However, sometimes it’s the lack of thought and separation that makes great records as well. There are so many stories of bands going in and recording / mixing everything in two days. Then that record goes on to change the face of music. For me, though, I think a little distance before pulling the trigger on a recording is very helpful.

Musicscan: What is the difference between art and entertainment in your opinion?

31 Knots: Wow, I love these questions. I find art and entertainment similar to high art / fashion photography and pornography. They are very closely related. Sometimes they look exactly the same and cause the same emotions. Yet in some instances you can always achieve some greater and holier status by saying its "art". I think that's why I fell in love with making our live shows more entertainment. Our music makes it hard to tell and I think a lot of people would hear us and think that we are trying to be artists who crave challenging people. As it really is, though, we just love rocking out in kind of a strange way.

Musicscan: What can we expect from 31 Knots in the near future? Any releases, tours, collaborations planned?

31 Knots: Nothing. I have no idea. We have definitely entered a new era of the band, so I think things will move at a slower pace. I know we'll start working on something sooner than later, though.

Musicscan: Is there anything you would like to add?

31 Knots: Does anyone have a job for me in Berlin?

  31 Knots @ Myspace
  Poly Vinyl Records